Water management hesitates between Public and Private

Nota publicada al butlletí del 6th World Water Forum.

Public or Private? That is the question which opposed the pro “public water management and sanitation services” to the liberal approach holders the 13 March during the 6th World Water Forum.

David Boys, “Public Services International” utilities officer pledges for water management to remain public. According to him, this system guarantees access to water for all thanks to social fares. Moreover, there is no commercial secret and transparency has become a well known reality in public management.

“No money, no water!”

“Public and private water and sanitation operators are facing similar problems”, moderates Gérard Payen, President of Aquafed, The International Federation of Private Water Operators.

And he added: “water supply and management induce minimum costs that need to be financed especially through fares which cover the costs: no money no water!”

Marie-Hélène Lauron, “Water for people” network coordinator testifies of the Philippines experience in the private water management. In 2007, she observed that commitments defined in contracts signed in 1997 were not respected. According to here, “reality is harsher than fiction”. Water prices have increased from 45% to 80% which excludes entire communities from accessing drinkable water, whereas water cuts are still extensive and recurrent. Furthermore, quality is insufficient. From a social perspective, several water supply company employees have lost their jobs due to profitability motives. Marie-Hélène Lauron goes one step further “water is not an economic commodity (…) its management should remain within the public sector.”

Half way between public and private, moderates Mamadou Dia, Sénégalaise des eaux Director General. As a national public operator, he entrusted the private sector with water management services.

“The mode of water and sanitation service management used is only a tool amongst several to reach the targets set by the State. The main objective is to satisfy users, secure water access and guarantee acceptable social fares to populations”. Access to water services in Senegal has increased by 120% between 1995 and 2011 due to joint cooperation between public and private actors.

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