Water Privatization Good or Bad BY. Miranda Loza
INTRODUCTION Water is considered a basic human right. This is simply because humans need water to live. Unfortunately many people in underdeveloped nations do not have access to clean drinking water or the infrastructure or technology to filter water from lakes and streams. Approximately 1/8th of the Earths population doesn’t have access to clean water according to (Kumar, 2012). This has started a crusade by large companies like Nestle to privatize water. Tan (2012) shows that, water privatization is the private sectors participation and control over water services and sanitation in a region. However even though if these large private companies take over a regions water supply and enable them to have clean drinking water what would be the price for this service. This topic raises a humanitarian and environmental question. There have been underdeveloped regions that experimented with private water and have failed and this was seen as a violation of their right to water. But, there is still a push from the private sector to build water supplies in underdeveloped regions. Private water means more plastic bottled water or a mark up on water that people in these underdeveloped regions can’t afford. But, still there is an opportunity to have readily available drinking water where is does not already exist. There are pros and cons on either side and that is what we will explore through this analysis. Private water or the right to water for all? That is the big question here.
Advantages First and foremost privatization of water would mean. One of the most dangerous things that people consume every day and rely on to live is water. Billions of people every year drink water that is contaminated and out their health at risk (Dellas, 2011). Through the privatization of water, better water and infrastructure would be achieved for many communities because profitability would rely on clean water and not dirty water. Dellas (2012) shows that in India for example 80% of their water sources are contaminated and go untreated. India does not posses the right tools to treat their water and with such a huge population clean water is a necessity and citizens are going to need water weather it is treated for contaminates or not. Water privatization could help alleviate this problem. This brings me to my next advantage; Water privatization can lead to lower mortality rates among citizens in underdeveloped nations. Since citizens will have access to clean water and private sector companies will create infrastructure and in theory clean up contaminated water sources that the country won’t be able to do on its own. This would lead to less pollution and most of all lessen the likelihood of contracting water contamination related diseases. This could greatly impact the citizens in underdeveloped regions as said by Fredrik Segerfeldt in his article t “Private Water Saves Lives”. In his article he delves into both of these advantages of privatized water and attempts to show how underdeveloped nations that have water shortages are just not able to get the water because they lack resources that private companies can give them. He states throughout his article that the use of the private sector allows for water mains to be accessible to people in the poorest regions and allow them to have access to clean water (Segerfeldt, 2012). It’s hard to not think that people not having clean water and becoming victim to water borne diseases like cholera, typhoid and dysentery everyday. While involving the private sector might alleviate this problem it’s argued that it may create more bad than good.
Disadvantages Now, we will look at the disadvantages to privatization of water. The research and opposing on the behalf of private water is vast. The fact that people’s human right to water could be at stake is a huge worry to citizens in underdeveloped nations as well and human rights and environmental groups. Some of the reasons why Privatized water is considered a disadvantage by Kumar (2012), is that the new infrastructure will be expensive and hard to maintain, with a monopoly on clean drinking water in a region there is a question of ethics and prices being too high to afford, and lastly the argument that water is a basic human right and does not belong in the private sector. Even though private water would mean clean drinking water for those that can’t access it the infrastructure needed to bring water to large populations is an expensive process and hard to maintain. Investors would need to keep up on maintenance on the new water and sanitation structures and in the developing nations this has just not happened. For example in an article by J. Tan (2012) she shows the privatization of water in Malaysia and how it was a huge failure due to lack of care for infrastructure. This was because the private company wasn’t maintaining the structures but the public became responsible for the upkeep. The private companies only collected the money but never could be bothered to make sure the water mains and pumps function properly for public use.
Disatvantages Cont. The next problem regarding privatization of water is high prices due to private companies monopoly on water source. In a system of water privatization, those who can pay for the water are going to get it. However those who are unable to pay for the privatized water and can’t find public assistance will then be without water. This would create underserved communities and ultimately a new class of citizen that is more deserving in every community in the undeveloped world according to Kumar (2102). This is not only a class issue but this puts lives at risk as well. Water privatization has been tried in underdeveloped communities in the past. These communities have had to reclaim the water systems to make water a public service once again because of the poor water quality and lack of customer service that was achieved by the private institutions (Tan, 2012). There is no one too keep these companies accountable for taking care of water infrastructure and service. Additionally many communities also have also had to address the rate hikes that have occurred when water privatization has occurred in their region.
The last disadvantage regarding private water in that water is a
basic human right to all. Humans need water to live and for a private company to profit off of people’s need to live is an inconceivable idea for most. It not only becomes an environmental issue but a human rights issue as well. Essentially, by making the system of water in a community about profit instead of about meeting basic human needs, it reduces public accountability and could ultimately affect the quality of water that is being received by the individuals in the underdeveloped region. One has to understand that water is necessary to grow food, livestock and to live. Without clean water and sanitation all these processes are flawed and contaminated. Quality of life is directly linked to quality of water and infrastructure. Many scholars and people alike fear the private sector taking control of water sources and charging for what should be a right to all.
Conclusion / Opinion Here’s a quick summery of the information that has been given about water privatization. First we went through the advantages of water privatization and how it can bring water and sanitation to those who do not possess the money and technology to do so. Private companies could build and develop better infrastructure to get water to rural areas in underdeveloped nations and sanitation in the urban areas. This could help end diseases due to water pollution and improper sanitation practices. Contrastingly privatization of water also comes with disadvantages. Even though new infrastructure could make all the difference to underdeveloped regions it could also fall on the public sector to maintain the water structures. This leads to water infrastructure that is not taken care of the way it should in turn depleting water and leading to waste.
Also privatization of water can lead to high prices and
monopolies on water. If prices get too high this will create a class war and create even more poverty for those who can’t afford the water. Lastly water is a human right and to put a price on what keeps people alive in unethical and a human right violation. After assessing all these pros and cons it’s clear to me that water is indeed a basic human right and private sector involvement will only cause harm and more inequality. We need to help create better infrastructure and sanitation at the public level and help innovate the water systems in the third world without the involvement of the private sector.
Sources Dellas, E. (2011). CSD water partnerships: Privatization, participation and legitimacy.Ecological Economics,70 (11), 1916-1923. Hailu, Osorio, & Tsukada. (2012). Privatization and Renationalization: What Went Wrong in Bolivia’s Water Sector? World Development,40(12), 2564-2577. K. Naresh Kumar. (2012). Water Privitization : Causes And Consequences. Golden Research Thoughts, 2(3), 1-7. Tan, J. (2012). The Pitfalls of Water Privatization: Failure and Reform in Malaysia. World Development,40(12), 2552-2563. Photo Sources http://h20privatization.blogspot.com/2008/05/prosand-cons-of-privatization.html http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/4/watermanagementprivatizationworldbankgroupifc.html https://popularresistance.org/1-66-million-europeansput-end-to-water-privatization-on-eu-agenda/