Global Water Crisis: World Bank Plots Privatization; Innovators Build Water-Harvesters for the Poor
May 7, 2014
Human Wrongs Watch & Corporate Accountability International & Rady Ananda / Activist Post
The 2014 World Water Development Report warns that some 768 million people lack access to an improved source of water, 2.5 billion lack access to appropriate sanitation and, by 2025, two-thirds of the world's people could become water-deprived. The World Bank and corporations like Nestle see this as an opportunity to prosper from the privatization of what many argue is a "human right." Meanwhile, young innovators are creating new, affordable water-harvesting devices for the poor.
Two-thirds of World Population Could
Struggle to Get Access to Water by 2025
Human Wrongs Watch
NEW YORK, NY (March 22, 2014) -- Some 768 million people do not have access to an improved source of water, and 2.5 billion do not have access to appropriate sanitation. says the 2014 World Water Development Report, released by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UN Water. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) estimates that around 70 percent of the world's water resources are used for agriculture and warns that by 2025 two-thirds of the population could struggle to get access to this resource.
The report further reveals that places where people do not have adequate access to water largely coincide with those where people have no electric power.
It goes on to describe the various ways in which water and energy relate to each other, explaining, for example, that energy is needed for the collection, transportation and treatment of water, and that at the same time, water is required in the production and extraction of fossil fuels. Likewise, droughts make energy shortages worse, while lack of electricity reduces farmers' ability to irrigate their fields.
To mark World Water Day, the United Nations is highlighting the key role that water and energy play in economic development and the eradication of poverty worldwide, and calling for strong measures to ensure their efficient and equitable use. In his message for the Day, focused this year on the interdependence between the management of water and energy, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that "they interact with each other in ways that can help -- or hinder -- our efforts to build stable societies and lives of dignity for all."
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) estimates that approximately 70 percent of the world's water resources are used for agriculture and warns that by 2025 two-thirds of the population could struggle to get access to this resource.
Climate Change's Worsening Effects
On Water Scarcity in Many Regions
Warning about climate change and its worsening effects on water scarcity in many regions, Ban called for a sustainable and just use of this vital natural resource: "Water must be used -- and electricity must be generated and distributed -- equitably and efficiently, so all users get a fair share."
Meanwhile, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, stresses in a press release that "ill-thought out allocation of water has a disproportionate effect on the poorest sectors of society" and that "it is crucial that Governments apply a human rights framework to guide their actions."
"People should not have to spend such a big part of their household income on securing water that their access to other human rights, such as the rights to food or health care is undermined," De Albuquerque says, declaring: "Governments have a crucial role to play in making sure that increased electricity and water demands do not impose a disproportionate or unfair burden on the poor, and that water allocation prioritizes water for human consumption."
Water, Essential for Girls Education
For her part, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova emphasized that "improving access to freshwater is about enabling millions of girls to go to school instead of walking kilometres to fetch water. It is about improving maternal health, curbing child mortality, and preserving the environment."
"We need to better understand the complex interactions between resources that are closely interlinked, such as water, food and energy. And we must acknowledge that it is impossible to manage these resources sustainably if we treat them in isolation" she said, adding: "There is enough water in the world for everyone. What we continue to lack is better governance and the collective courage to craft fair compromise solutions."
UNICEF estimates that 1,400 children under five die every day from diarrhoeal diseases due to lack of safe water, and adequate sanitation and hygiene.
The children's rights organization further estimates, along with the UN World Health Organization (WHO) that 10 countries are home to almost two-thirds of the global population without access to improved drinking water sources:
India (99 million),
Kenya (16 million)
China (108 million),
Nigeria (63 million),
Ethiopia (43 million),
Pakistan (16 million),
Indonesia (39 million),
Bangladesh (26 million),
United Republic of Tanzania (22 million),
Democratic Republic of the Congo (37 million)
Source:United Nations Release
World Bank and Giant Corporations
Allied to Privatize Water Worldwide
Corporate Accountability International -- TRANSCEND
The World Bank has launched a new partnership with global corporations including Nestle, Coca-Cola and Veolia. Housed at the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC), the new venture aspires to "transform the water sector" by inserting the corporate sector into what has historically been a public service. The new partnership is part of a broader trend of industry collusion to influence global water policy.
The venture -called the 2030 Water Resources Group Phase 2 Entity- aligns global corporations that have major financial stakes in water governance with the World Bank, one of the world's leading development institutions.
Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe has been appointed to chair the Water Resources Group, which has already received $1.5 million in IFC funding. Nestle is the world's largest water bottling corporation.
Advocates for people's access to water point to this as the latest example of water corporations' efforts to interfere in legitimate, democratic water governance.
The Water Resources Group presents a conflict of interest to the World Bank's goal of poverty alleviation. It also advances an approach to water governance that is in incompatible with the U.N. recognized human right to water.
The Private Sector Campaign to Gain Funding
'This is an unmistakably activist campaign by the private water industry to gain funding and credibility for a radical power grab, with the help of the World Bank,' said Corporate Accountability International's Senior Organizer Shayda Edwards Naficy.
'According to the World Bank, 34 percent of private water contracts are in distress or terminated before maturity.
Last April, the IFC's Compliance Advisor Ombudsman reported that an astounding 40 percent of complaints received from all regions and sectors were water-related.
This is evidence that water privatization has been fraught with a range of problems, including broken promises for expanded service, wasted public funds and threats to human rights, especially for the lowest income families.
For the Bank to sanction this approach despite a track record of failure points to compromised decision-making at the Bank due to pervasive partnerships with and financial stakes in corporations.'
Currently, 90 percent of the world's water-users access water through public delivery. Turning these systems over to private corporations would result in rate hikes, cutoffs and significant layoffs of water sector employees.
Focusing on the private sector also distracts from the need to support governments in protecting human rights.
The Water Resources Group aims to 'develop new normative approaches to water management,' paving the way for an expanded private sector role into best and common practices, worldwide.
In order to be eligible for support from this new fund, all projects must "provide for at least one partner from the private sector," not simply as a charitable funder, but 'as part of its operations.'
One Country at a Time
The group's strategy is to insert the private sector into water management one country at a time, through a combination of industry-funded research and direct partnerships with government agencies.
Currently, the Water Resources Group is formally working with the governments of Jordan, Mexico, and the Indian state of Karnataka, and discussions are ongoing with the governments of South Africa, China and several other countries slated for participation in the next phase.
'Corporate Accountability International has consistently demonstrated the World Bank's inherent conflicts of interest, acting as an investor, a government advisor, an arbitrator and a public relations vehicle in support of profiteering in the water sector,' said Naficy.
Global Water Corporations Not to Be Allowed. . .
'Global water corporations must not be allowed to tap into public 'development funds' to promote their private agenda because case after case shows that profitability and fulfillment of human rights in the water sector are at odds.'
Corporate Accountability International (formerly Infact) is a membership organization that has, for the last 34 years, successfully advanced campaigns protecting health, the environment and human rights.
Through its Campaign Challenging Corporate Control of Water, Corporate Accountability International is playing a leadership role in the global movement to secure the human right to water, and people's access to water; prevent corporate control of water; preserve and protect water resources and systems for the public good; and preserve water resources as an ecological trust.
How Innovation Trumps Privatization
Rady Ananda / Activist Post
(May 2, 2014) -- The World Bank joins Nestlé in wanting to privatize water, deeming it "extremist" to suggest that those born on this planet have a natural right to clean, potable water. Meanwhile, RT's Abby Martin reports that the watchdog group Corporate Accountability International recently released a new analysis showing that:
Investing in private water does not extend access and is also counterproductive for economic development. By contrast, infrastructure investment, abandoned by the corporate sector, is where real benefit can be achieved: the World Health Organization estimates more than $10 of economic benefit from every $1 invested in water infrastructure systems.
Also commenting on the World Bank's push for water privatization, Al Jazeera reports:
Its project database for private participation in infrastructure documents a 34 percent failure rate for all private water and sewerage contracts entered into between 2000 and 2010, compared with a failure rate of just 6 percent for energy, 3 percent for telecommunications and 7 percent for transportation, during the same period.
Whether public or private, water supplies are dwindling. In one shocking report from 2012, the US Defense Intelligence Agency's Community Assessment of Global Water Security states that the global need for water will exceed the supply by 40% in the next 25 years.
"This means for every 3 people on this planet, there will only be enough water for 2 people," says Kacper (like the ghost) Postawski. Right now, the three main sources of water in the US are rapidly running dry:
• The Ogallala Aquifer;
• Lake Mead; and
• The Colorado River.
The DIA Assessment warns that 36 states already are, or soon will be, facing water shortages. They estimate that California only has a 20-year supply of fresh water left, at current usage.
We're facing extreme water problems that only a community-driven mindset can solve, not a for-profit corporate paradigm envisioned by the World Bank, Nestlé, Bechtel, etc.
In 2013, the University of Engineering and Technology in Lima, Peru used a neat techno-engineering trick to grab the attention of potential students. They posted a billboard that captures atmospheric humidity, passes it thru a reverse osmosis system, and stores it in a tank for locals to access for free. The five condensers involved provide about 100 liters of water a day, and the whole system cost $1,500.
Even better is the $500 system developed in Ethiopa. Using a completely different and more aesthetically pleasing design, Arturo Vittori and Andreas Vogler invented the Warka Water, a structure that uses local plants, and also extracts about 25 gallons a day. Because no special tools or fabricated materials are required, once the locals understand how to build the interweaving vase-like construction, they can repair as necessary, and pass on the technology to neighboring villages.
Smithsonian explains that every detail of the 30-foot-tall tower has a functional purpose. The outer housing is made of bamboo, strong enough to resist wind gusts while still allowing airflow. An inner mesh net collects dew, steering it toward the bottom collection container. Citing the Smithsonian and other sources, Kevin Samson also wrote a detailed piece on it.
No one's profiting from the Warka Water Tower, but the $500 investment in, or, rather, donation to "public infrastructure" will water thousands of people in a drought-ridden nation. This is a winning solution that far surpasses Bill Gates' $2,200 toilet that converts dirty water to potable, and costs even more to operate, putting it out of reach of those who need it.
Below is a short news piece on the structure, or you can watch a much longer presentation by the designer:
WARKAWATER | 2012
(September 28, 2012) -- 'WarkaWater' is a project conceived for the mountainous regions in Ethiopia, where women and children walk several hours to collect water. To ease this dramatic condition, the studio 'Architecture and Vision' is developing the project 'WarkaWater' which is harvesting potable water from the air and honors the disappearing Ethiopian warka trees.
The 9-meter-tall bamboo framework has a special fabric hanging inside capable to collect potable water from the air by condensation. The lightweight structure is designed with parametric computing, but can be built with local skills and materials by the village inhabitants.
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