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Jan 22 2007
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--- Media advisory ---

Water activists to launch pan-African network against privatisation at World Social Forum

Nairobi, 18 January 2007

A pan-African network to counter water privatisation will be launched at the World Social Forum (WSF) in Nairobi, Kenya, which takes place from 20-25 January.

Despite the disastrous record of water privatisations in Africa, international aid donors and governments continue to promote 'private sector participation' and commercialisation as the solution to Africa’s water crisis. Civil society groups from across Africa and other parts of the world will use the WSF to announce a plan of action to counter this misguided push for water privatisation.

Privatisation experiments in Ce d’Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa over the last decade have failed to deliver the promised improvements, argues Al-hassan Adam of the Ghana Coalition against Privatisation of Water: “Privatisation has resulted in higher water bills and, in some cities, these have been compounded by large-scale disconnections of those who cannot pay. Yet the World Bank and donor governments stubbornly continue to promote privatisation by attaching conditions to debt relief, aid and loans.”

During seminars on 21-24 January, speakers from across Africa will debunk the myth that 'private sector participation' is the way forward for improving access to clean water and sanitation in Africa. “Governments need to learn the lessons from successful public and community providers in order to make the human right to water a practical reality for everyone,” says Al-hassan Adam.

The following seminar speakers are available for interview:
Mussa Billegeya of the Tanzania Association of NGOs (TANGO) will discuss the failure of privatisation in Dar es Salaam and its aftermath. Following the cancellation of their contract, the water multinationals are now suing the Tanzanian government for millions of dollars.

Peter Werikhe of the Public Employees Union in Uganda will present the successful reforms that have helped the National Water and Sewerage Corporation boost its service coverage from 48 per cent in 1998 to 70 per cent in 2006, while keeping water tariffs affordable. NWSC now works in not-for-profit Public-Public Partnerships with utilities in Tanzania and Zambia to share expertise and improve services.

Abu O. Alhassan of the Savelugu Water Board, Ghana, will introduce the successful experiences of community-managed water in a rural town in Northern Ghana. Access to potable water in Savelugu has within a few years been increased to 74 per cent (the national average for rural areas is 36 per cent).

Christian Lawrence of the Campaign for Good Governance (Sierra Leone) is working with communities in Freetown to ensure they have a strong voice in the consultation about how to ‘reform’ the Freetown water company and 23 other public companies. The consultation process is in the hands of consultancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers which, despite its controversial pro-privatisation record, has received a major grant from the UK government for undertaking this task.

Virginia Setshedi from the Coalition Against Water Privatisation (South Africa) will present the legal challenge against the use of prepaid water meters, which have disastrous consequences for poor communities.

Sekou Diarra, Coordinator of the Malian Committee for the Defence of Water (CMDE), will present recent developments in Mali, where the national water and electricity company was effectively renationalised after Saur and other foreign water firms failed to fulfil contractual obligations on new facilities and pricing.

A longer list of African water campaigners and other speakers that are available for interview is available on request. An extensive programme of water seminars during the WSF is available online at

The World Social Forum website is:

For more information, contact:
Al-hassan Adam (Ghana Coalition against Privatisation of Water), 0736155485 (from local); 00254 736155485 (from abroad) - from Saturday 20/1, email <alhassan.adam [at]>
Vicky Cann (World Development Movement, UK), 0727 804 318 (from local); 00254 727 804 318 (from abroad) - from Friday 19/1, email <Vicky [at]>

Olivier Hoedeman, (Corporate Europe Observatory), 0736121242 (from local); 00254 736121242 (from abroad) - from Saturday 20/1, email olivier[ at]

1: The joint program of water seminars during the World Social Forum is organised by Ghana Coalition against Privatisation of Water, World Development Movement, Public Services International, Corporate Europe Observatory, Transnational Institute, Food & Water Watch, France Libert, South African Water Network, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Council of Canadians (Blue Planet Project) and others.

2: The report “Pipe Dreams” (World Development Movement, March 2006 documents that in every case where the private sector has been responsible for extending water access in sub-Saharan Africa, it has failed to deliver the promised level of investment. 25 per cent of those still in need of a water connection globally are in sub-Saharan Africa, yet it has received less than one per cent of private companies’ promises of investment. 80 per cent of the major water privatisation contracts in sub-Saharan Africa have been terminated or are being disputed in relation to investment issues.

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