Experts form coalition, kick against water privatisation in Lagos

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam   |   24 August 2015   |   1:25 am  
Water

Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Godwin Ojo (left); Shayda Naficy of Corporate Accountability International and Executive Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nnimmo Bassey during the Lagos Water Summit at Dovers Hotel, Ikeja, recently.

AN initiative by a network of civil society and development experts has been launched to carry out targeted actions towards promoting the human right to water.

The new platform known as Africa Coalition Against Water Privatisation (ACAWP) will address the challenges of governance, human rights and corruption in the water sector across the African continent.

An African Women Water Network has also been established, working in coordination with the ACAWP. Amongst the groups and institutions that spearheaded the networks are Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Corporate Accountability International, Public Services International, Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), and Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF).

Others are Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), Transnational Institute (TNI), African Women Water Network, Women Environment Programme (WEP) and Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development.

The organisations and experts met at a two-day Lagos Water Summit with the theme: Connecting Local Outrage to Global Resistance of Corporate Control of Water organized by ERA/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria (FoEN) in partnership with AUPCTRE, PSI, Transnational Institute, Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt & Development, and Freedom from Debt Coalition.

Participants were drawn from local, national and international partners in Ghana, Belgium, the Philippines and the United States, representing a growing global movement committed to resisting corporate control of water and securing water as a human right.

The groups agreed that a bill to guarantee access to water as a human right should be sponsored at the Lagos State House of Assembly and national levels to forestall plans to use the state and other Nigerian cities as the laboratory for water privatisation in Nigeria and across the African region.

In a communiqué issued, the participants argued that Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) in the water sector are not the solution to the water challenge, but rather a new form of colonialism aggressively marketed by the World Bank and its corporate partners, that defines success in terms of profit rather than universal affordable water access.

They called for a probe of all loans and funding for the existing water system and infrastructure managed by the Lagos State Water Corporation (LSWC).

Privatization is a justification or excuse for introducing market forces that cannot guarantee rights to water. “The failure of the World Bank’s privatization of the water system in Manila, Philippines, which has been marketed to government officials across Africa, is a cautionary example of the dire consequences that would face Lagos if it pursued the PPP model.”

The groups noted that “land grabs by multinational corporations have increased in Africa and pose serious challenges on access to water, thus depriving locals of their right to safe and potable water.

Corporate takeover of water sources in Lagos and cities across Africa is a new form of colonialism. They observed that women’s rights and the rights of other vulnerable groups are a central concern in the realization of the human right to water, but are not accorded priority in government planning in Lagos and across Africa.

Women and children are at the receiving end of water shortages and inaccessibility. For them, “a growing global trend of reclaiming and building strong public water systems – including through remunicipalisation – offers opportunities to build local democratic governance of water sources and infrastructure.

The linkage between water access, the environment and sanitation is important and therefore should be at the front burner of campaigns against the privatisation of water.

Local communities at the grassroots level, and in particular Community Development Associations (CDAs), must be fully integrated into campaigns on [the human right to water].”

They agreed that a bill to guarantee access to water as a human right should be sponsored at the Lagos State House of Assembly and national levels to forestall plans to use the state and other Nigerian cities as the laboratory for water privatisation in Nigeria and across the African Region.

Women and vulnerable groups should be accorded priority in plans to guarantee access to water. The monthly surcharge on electricity tariff stopped by the Nigerian Senate should also be extended to the water sector.”



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