Monday, July 10, 2006

Water privatisation a disaster in Senegal


Water privatisation has been a disaster in Britain, as infrastructure repairs to fix leaks are given lower priority than shareholders dividends. But this is in affluent Britain. How has water privatisation worked elsewhere?

During the 1980s, the Senegelese government of Abdou Diouf, followed the structural adjustment programmes dictated by the World bank. This fanaticism for privatization reached into even the most strategic state enterprises,and Senegal’s state water company SONES was broken into two and sold off. In the words of African journalist,
Hawa Ba,: “Privatisation, it was said, would be the solution to the well-known dysfunctionality of the sector which was unable to meet populations’ growing needs. But instead of addressing the many well-reported barriers to access to water and electricity, these privatisations only served to render more precarious the position of the most disadvantaged in society. Access to water and to electricity has become more chancy, exacerbated by exorbitant rising costs … … “liberalisation” and “privatisation” fetishised language littered the discourse of decision-makers while at the same time creating a living death for whole populations.”

This is what happened when water was privatized:

Water inequality has increased, with supplies to rural areas being allowed to decline. The state has therefore encouraged discrimination against parts of its own population based upon what was most profitable and conveneient for a private multinational.

Communal fountains under local democratic control that provided free clean water to households, schools and communal facilities have been shut. As a result there was a decline in the use of water for domestic hygiene, and a rise in cholera in Senegal. The communal fountains also played an important social role, and this has been lost.

Schools often have no water now, and children are sent to local houses to get drinks or wash, exposing them to danger, including sexual abuse.

Only 60000 new connections have been made in 6 years, out of a potential of 10 million.

Water quality has declined so that people no longer have confidence that it is safe to drink, and bottled water is now preferred for drinking. Water supplies are frequently cut off for hours or days at a time.

Prices have gone through the roof, with a 40% increase in 2003 alone!

Even the
World bank admits that the business model has been a failure, as private companies have no incentive for providing water to poor rural areas. But their remedy, is even more privatisation and competition, not for the water supplied to be returned to public ownership.

But there is another way. We are fortunate at the moment that Oscar Olivera, who led the revolt against water privatisation in Bolivia in 2000 is on tour in Britain. The revolt prevented the sale of Cochabamba’s water to Bechtel. The tour details can be found
here.

37 comments:

Louisefeminista said...

I remember hearing a speaker from the Philippines (forum was on GATS) at the European Social Forum in 2002 talk about water privatisation. He said they pushed it as this great advancement yet obviously the opposite was true. And the first thing the companies did was to increase the water bills.

AN said...

That is why it was such a sic joke to hear mandelson and Blair lecture the Bolivians and Venezuelans on their responsibility to live by the rules of the international community.

Louisefeminista said...

Yes, to live by the capitalists rules and the outcome is that you too can be utterly screwed by the politics of neo-liberalism. It is always the "responsibility" of the powerless and the oppressed.

A soft socialist said...

Off the topic of Senegal I have just learnt what trolling is. I can assure you I do not troll although I do find it amusing that such a practice exists.

I don't enjoy winding you up, in fact I wasn't aware I had done. I find some of the people on Dave's blog political views very strange but I find it hilarious that you think I'm a blairite.

I usually get accused of being too left wing. On the Jack Dromey issue I genuinely didn't know that he was considered right wing.

I reckon left and right is too defined anyway. If asked I could make a left wing case for top up fees and the Iraq war.

AN said...

I don't think you are a Blairite Adele, but it is not accidental that although Neil Kinnock is your profesed hero, your blog has a quote from Kinnock attacking the left, not one of the occassions that Kinnock attacked capitalism.

And no you couldn't make a left wing case for the Iraq war, or rather you could but it would only be an exercise in self delusion.

As I said somewhere in the comments on Osler's blog, I want to like you, beacaue you do say some fresh and interesting things, but I think some of us got the impression you weren't listening to what we were atually saying.

Anyway, please don't be put off, you are welcome to come and comment anytime. But don't be suprised that i your defend the record of the current labour govt, then those who remember New Labour when it was the Labour Party might get a bit arsey.

Renegade Eye said...

Water privitization was an issue in Uruguay, that got the conservatives kicked out.

Good post.

A soft socialist said...

Ah blame the comrades from Liverpool for the Kinnock quote. Redundancy notices and all that.

When people attack labour Govnt I tend to get a bit defensive. Anyway good blog

AN said...

But Adele
the redundancy notices were a misguided tactic, and most on the left thought so at the time, but it was a ruse to beat the llaw, and save jobs.

But New Labour is actually laying off health care workers now, due to ideological obsession with the free market.

If you are not a Blairite, and support Kinnockism, why don't you find a quote from Kinnock actually promoting a better world,instead of a quote attacking the left. It is simply insane to see the left as a "problem " in the Labour party, when Blair is bringing Labour to the brink of disaster, probably irrecoverable.

A soft socialist said...

Hmm, at the time militant brought the labour party to the brink of disaster. I will see if I can find an appropiate quote.

AN said...

Bear in mind Adele that the people who really brought disaster to the Labour party were the gang of Four, the traitors, David Owen, Shriley Williams, Roy Jenkins, and the one nobody can remember.

Tony Blair stands in the intellectual tradition of those scum bags!

Louisefeminista said...

But isn't that the usual ruse the right play when they say it is the fault of the left? It was the same when Kinnock blamed and witch hunted the Milies in the 80s to anyone now who just doesn't like the leadership... The problem always lies with the Left (or anyone vaguley critical) and never with the bureaucracy.

Btw: Adele, what do you mean by "I find some of the people on Dave's blog political views very strange "?

What, fighting for an equitable socialist society strange..?

So, people should go "cap in hand" for a couple of scraps to keep themselves going and then pay it back.... Strange, Adele, very strange!

AN said...

To be fair to Adele, Louise, some of the people who post on Osler's blog are indeed "strange" :o)

Louisefeminista said...

AN: the non-entity who no one remembers is Bill Rogers.

I glad someone has mentioned those tossers as they were the ones who screwed the LP and not the Milies.

Adele, as someone who has experienced a witch hunt in my own LP I can tell you it is absolutely nasty. Democracy goes out of the window and you are left without a voice.

A soft socialist said...

My Dads all time political hero is the gang of 4. I don't have to always listen to him tho!

AN said...

well it was the PDP that let thatcher win for all those years not the Labour left! So blame your dad!

AN said...

PDP should have been SDP obv

stroppybird said...

Adele

"I find some of the people on Dave's blog political views very strange ."

I think you will find its called debate . It used to happen in the labour Party :-)

Which one of the gang of 4 btw , or all of them ?

AN said...

Just to complicate it further there are of course three (at least) gangs of four:

i) the original gang; Jiang Qing (Mao's widow) plus, Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen.

ii) the shitbag traitors who split the Labour party from the right:

iii) Leeds post-punk band who recorded the brilliant "Love like Anthrax"

stroppybird said...

Andy

"To be fair to Adele, Louise, some of the people who post on Osler's blog are indeed "strange" :o) "

And who would that be, not the SU and SB bloggers !

stroppybird said...

Andy

Yep, I was thinking about the group and thinking perhaps that was what Adele meant.

stroppybird said...

Hmmm, I can see a post coming on. Who are the strangest bloggers .....

AN said...

Well the strangest blog I have come across is Sonia, the alleged Tongan naturist, who combine leftish politics with pictures of naked women.:
http://sonia-belle.blogspot.com/

stroppybird said...

Hmm, so thats where stroppyblog is going wrong :-)

AN said...

It's not for real is it. But if you really want people to view your blogger profile, this is the way to go.

stroppybird said...

I do hope the SU site does not go that way. I sometimes look at blogs whilst eating :-)

stroppybird said...

No wonder Adele thinks we are strange :-)

A soft socialist said...

Looking at traksy I been referred by a lesbian porn site!

stroppybird said...

Adele

You will find all sorts wander onto blogs.

Phil said...

I suspect I'm the strange one, or one of them. I call myself a Marxist, anyway, I imagine that qualifies as strange...

A soft socialist said...

Stroppy - Just cause I don't agree with everything doesn't mean I don't enjoy the debate.

My dad's all time hero is Shirley Williams but also liked David Steel for his 1981 speech.

Louisefeminista said...

Phil said: "I suspect I'm the strange one, or one of them. I call myself a Marxist, anyway, I imagine that qualifies as strange..."

I also call myself a Marxist and yep, that probably qualifies me as strange as well. Maybe we should set up a group called Very Strange Marxists But Proud Of Our Tradition or summat like that.

Louisefeminista said...

PS: Adele, David Steel and Shirley Williams...? Yikes, I am getting a painful migraine already.

stroppybird said...

Adele

Some things its best not to admit to :-)

Glad you like the debate .

I think the strangeness of some bloggers/commentators is more than just their politics :-)

latour said...

Privatization doesn't work. It won't work for water, healthcare, utilities, anything. Private enterprise is all about taking in as much money as it can. Any benefit to the general population that it creates is mere coincidence. But can one really call the ability to purchase something a benefit, especially in the case of water, a necessity which was cheaper before the privatization?

Damn neoliberalism... the last thing any country needs is more power and more property distributed to the ruling class.

AN said...

Adele

My mum is also a big fan of Shirley Williams. But I think that might be partly out of respect for Shirley Willam's mum, Vera Britten

AN said...

But there is no excuse for liking Dr Death, a man who split every party he was ever a member of.

Louisefeminista said...

Yeah, A Testament of Youth (Vera Britten) is an interesting book read it at school.

Gang of 4 were still scumbags.