- Faith-based Groups Weigh In, Kick Against Water Privatization
Citizens’ right to clean and portable water must be upheld over the rabid push for water privatization on the continent, the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) and faith-based groups have told African governments.
The recognition of the human right to water, according to CAPPA’s Executive Director, Comrade Akinbode Oluwafemi, will enable African communities and people to actualize their right to water and shut-out privatizers, who are now exploiting the water crisis in various African countries for profits.
Oluwafemi, who noted that the United Nations had in 2010 recognized water as a human right, explained that the right to water entitles everyone to have access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic use.
“However few countries have included a human right to water in enforceable legislation. This lacuna has been exploited by the World Bank and for-profit only entities to promote an alternate reality which has unleashed water grabs on the continent to the detriment of local communities,” the CAPPA Director said at a press briefing to commemorate the 2nd edition of Africa Week of Action Against Water Privatization 2022 in Lagos, Tuesday.
The New Diplomat reports that in Nigeria for instance, the Lagos state government had been accused of running its public water infrastructures aground to easily canvass ideas that are in support of Public-Private Partnership in the water sector. Also, controversies continue to loom large over the National Water Bill before Nigeria’s federal lawmakers. The unpopular bill is considered obnoxious by many interests groups and individuals, who had described it as an attempt to hijack and appropriate water resources belonging to communities and states to the central government.
Lashing out at multinational water corporations like Veolia and their sponsors — the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Oluwafemi observed that “the corporate water behemoths promoting water grabs across the globe have continued to strategize to become well positioned to take over Africa’s water.
“Their executives continue to expose their plans for Africa which is essentially about how to grab its water resources. Their partners, the World Bank has also been unrelenting in coercing African governments to adopt and implement the much-discredited Public Private Partnership (PPP) model of water privatization as a criterion for accessing loans.
“In all this, the greatest impacts will be borne by communities that have for generations protected what we can rightfully call their birth right.”
Drawing faith-based perspectives, Regional Coordinator, Ecumenical Water Network Africa, Rev. Kolade Fadahunsi, said in biblical history of creation, there was a reason why God created water first before creating human beings, arguing that as stewardship of the earth water cannot be privatized as it remains a public resource.
“We will not fold our hands and watch it being privatised because it’s going to be taken out of circulation and we will not be able to sustain such a development. That is why the Economical Water Network; Christian Council and all the council of churches want to commend this initiative and want to thank you. We also want to assure that we are on this and also to make our facilities, our pulpits, our ministers, our reverend and pastors to speak, and also to say, no to water privatisation Nigeria and Africa at large.”
In similar vein, Director, The Arabic Village, Ustaz Imran Rufai, who said the Quran made mention of water 66 times, insisted that the plan to privatise water is dead on arrival, explaining that “Muslims are partners in three things. Number one, Water, Number 2, Pasture, Number 3, Fire. Nobody can privatise any of these three things water, pasture and fire. We are partners, therefore the idea of Water Privatisation is dead on arrival.”
Rufai, while stating that water is at the core of various Islamic practices including ablution, said Islam encourages making provision for water on charity basis. “In actual fact the better aspect of it as encouraged by Islam is to make such a thing (water) for charity, a continuous charity.”
CAPPA in its recommendations, urged African governments to:
1. Fully uphold the human right to water as an obligation of the government, representing the people.
2. Integrate broad public participation in developing plans to achieve universal access to clean water.
3. Reject contracts designed by or involving the IFC, which operates to maximize private profit.
4. Build the political will to prioritize water for the people by investing in the water infrastructure necessary to provide universal water access, which will create jobs, improve public health
5. Increase budgetary allocation to the water sector
6. Expand public financing for the water sector.
Source: The New Diplomat