On World Water Day, African leaders urged to ‘accelerate change’ from privatisation, false solutions

In commemoration of World Water Day 2023, civil society, labour and community activists, leading the Our Water, Our Right Africa Coalition (OWORAC), yesterday, called on local, national and regional leaders to heed the lessons of history by dumping the false solution of water privatisation under any guise.

The coalition, which comprised activists and trade unionists in Cameroun, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda, among other African nations, during a news conference in Lagos, condemned the disturbing rise of neocolonial efforts to turn over control of essential services to multinational corporations, which seek to exploit “our need for water to profit.”

Reiterating the theme of this year’s celebration, Accelerating Change, OWORAC said: “It is abundantly clear, from the decades of failed experiments with water privatisation, that we must accelerate change away from this exploitative model and towards public ownership and control. We must also accelerate public investments and ensure accountability of public officials, who hold an obligation to serve the interests of the masses, not the privileged few.”

“This week, as governments, civil society and the corporate sector convene in New York City for the United Nations Water Conference, the daily realities of the water crisis are felt by hundreds of millions throughout the African continent.

“The continued role of water privatising corporations and their representatives in shaping the agenda and priorities of the UN Water Conference and UN Water more broadly undermines the legitimacy of these spaces. The involvement of AquaFed, the organisation representing this abusive industry on the world stage, in coordinating World Water Day is entirely inappropriate and must end. Preventing corporate capture is essential if the continent is to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 6, which advocates for availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by year 2030.”

OWORAC, which was launched in October 2021 in response to the deepening global water crisis and disaster capitalism, which the pandemic opened the floodgates to, detailed the real world impacts of water privatisation on communities in its report, Africa Must Rise & Resist Water Privatisation.

It went on: “Like other countries in Africa, Nigeria is under threat of water privatisation at state and federal levels. Activists have been battling plans by the Nigerian government to privatise water via an unpopular and widely criticised National Water Resources Bill.

“Disturbing accounts of the abuses of multinational corporations such as Veolia and Suez, both members of AquaFed, have led communities across the continent to reject water privatisation in its many forms, including so-called public-private partnerships.”

Executive Director of Corporate Accountability & Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Akinbode Oluwafemi, speaking on behalf of OWORAC, observed: “The theme of this year’s World Water Day commemoration reinforces the need for

governments to look unto proven solutions to the water crisis on the continent within the realm of democratic community-controlled and publicly funded options. Water privatisation is a failed option, which only puts profits above people.”

He canvassed increased funding for public water utilities and urged World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other multilateral organisations to shun water privatisation agenda in Africa.

Regional Secretary for Africa & Arab Countries at Public Services International (PSI), Sani Baba, said: “Water privatisation robs communities of their right to life and wellbeing in the same way it also robs workers of their right to decent work. African governments must refuse to pander to the dictates of the World Bank and other institutions that want to colonise our water resources.”

The focus of the 2023 World Water Day is on accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis. The global campaign, Be the change, “encourages people to act in their own lives to change the way they use, consume and manage water.

Source: The Guardian

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