How women group protested against water privatization in Lagos

At Alausa Ikeja, the seat of power in Lagos State, a group of young women converged on Thursday October 14, 2021. All clad in blue t-shirt and jean trousers, they sang and chanted, “Our water; our right,” “No to water privatization,” as they matched to the Government House, Alausa, to convey their message to the governor.

Blaring the Afrobeat music, “Water no get enermy,” of the late legendry African musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the women, who joined others worldwide to mark Africa Week of Action Against Water Privatisation – Uphold Human Right to Water, unveiled their mission to the state government through the Director, Civil Engagement, Mr. Kolawole Hundeyin, who came out to receive them.

On the platform of the African Women Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Network (AWWASHNet), the women, while rejecting the proposed water privatization in Nigeria,

commended Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s efforts at rehabilitating several waterworks in Lagos and revamping the Adiyan II waterworks, which is targeted at improving public water supply.

Aderonke Ige, who addressed the state government officials, was worried that the state government was yet to unveil a blueprint on how to develop the water sector to guarantee universal access to the people of Lagos.

“Our interpretation of the comments from some of the officials of your administration indicate that there is a fascination with the concept of water privatization and particularly the Public Private Partnership (PPP).

“Our network has been advocating against this course since 2014 and has made several recommendations on how to address the lingering water crises in Lagos.

“The Africa Week of Action against water privatization is a convergence of all the resistance struggles against commodification of water on the African continent and push back actions against impediments to the human right to water in Africa,” she said.

She disclosed that the women action was planned to coincide with the ongoing yearly meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) – the key drivers of water privatization around the world.

Ige however wondered why the World Bank would continue to market privatization and the PPP myth to poor and developing countries in disguise even when many cities that experimented them documented failures.

“Experiences from cities where water had been privatized show rates hike, job losses, low water quality, shut offs and ultimately government thrown into perpetual debts.

“Most of these cities have embraced remunicipalisation – another word for taking back water from privatizers and putting it where it should be – under public and democratic control.

“Buenos Aires, Berlin, Ghana, Gabon, Jakarta, Paris, Tanzania, and lately Cameroon are some examples to note,” she said.

She also reminded the state governor that women suffer water problem the most because they go the extra mile to make water available for their families.

The group therefore appealed to the Lagos State government to:

  1. Reject all forms of corporate control of water and privatisation of water services, including through “public-private partnerships.”
  2. Fulfill your obligation to respect, protect, and fulfil the human right to water for all people by prioritizing robust public investment, ensuring meaningful public participation in water governance (with particular focus on the perspectives of those typically left out of decision-making, namely women, low-income, and rural communities), and enshrining the human right to water in law.
  3. Respect and protect the livelihood of workers by ensuring safe working conditions, protection from retribution for raising complaints, and investment in salaries and pensions reflective of the public service these workers undertake every day.
  4. Resist pressure from international financial institutions, private water corporations, and other financial actors to commercialize the water sector and, instead, ensure universal access to safe water regardless of the ability to pay.
  5. Prohibit public officials from holding positions in the private water industry for 10 years preceding and after their tenure in the public sector to prevent a revolving door or conflict of interest.

Recall the group, AWWASHNet, in conjunction with Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), AUPCTRE and other civil society organizations, had proposed solutions to the Lagos water crisis, which hed been submitted to the state governor.

The group’s coordinators include: Veronica Nwanya of Africa Women Water Sanitation & Hygiene Network;  Akinbode Oluwafemi, the executive director, Corporate Public Participation Africa (CAPPA); and Vicky Uremma, the executive director, Child Health Organisation.

Source: Nigeria News Flight

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