How Privatization Gets Water To The Poor

Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey examines Fredrik Segerfeldt's new book, Water for Sale: How Business and the Market Can Resolve the World's Water Crisis.
August 20, 2005, 5am PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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More than a billion people lack access to safe drinking water today. Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey examines Fredrik Segerfeldt's new book, Water for Sale: How Business and the Market Can Resolve the World's Water Crisis, and writes, "...some countries have turned to the private sector and multinational companies for help in providing their thirsty poor citizens with water.

Privatization can mean selling entire water supply and treatment systems to private owners; long-term leases of water supply systems; or contracts to manage public water systems. In practical terms, the usual arrangement is a long-term lease. So far, only 3 percent of the poor in developing countries get their water from private-sector water systems.

However, these initial projects have provoked an outcry by anti-privatization activists around the world against a 'global water grab' by giant corporations. Segerfeldt shows that even imperfect privatization efforts have already successfully connected millions of poor people to relatively inexpensive water where government-funded efforts have failed. For example, before privatization in 1989, only 20 percent of urban dwellers the African nation of Guinea had access to safe drinking water; by 2001 70 percent did...Privatization is not a panacea, but Segerfeldt shows that, when properly done, it can play a huge role in bringing safe clean drinking water to the hundreds of millions of people who still lack it."

Thanks to Reason Alert

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Published on Wednesday, August 17, 2005 in Reason Online
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