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Water ideology hurts world’s poorest, says new report

freemarketeer | 20.03.2007 13:28 | Analysis | Globalisation

Mismanagement of water systems is hurting the world’s poor according a new report being published on World Water Day, Thursday 22 March 2007.

"Agents of Change: How private companies are revolutionising poor countries’ water systems" says that where the private sector has been called in to manage water in developing countries, access and quality have improved, and the cost of water for the poorest has been cut.

The report points to Amman where a private company was called into rescue the city’s water system. Chronic mismanagement under the government meant the water was unfit for human consumption, with consumers complaining about contamination and a foul smell, causing sickness. But thanks to the private sector (in the form of a management contract), the people of Amman today have some of the world’s cleanest water. Moreover, access has increased: the water company’s customers have increased from 150,000 in 1999 to 480,000 today. Following the success of the management contract, the government now plans a fuller privatisation.

“Amman’s once deadly water is now among the cleanest in the world. More people than ever now have access to water. Yet anti-capitalist Western activists claim this is a failure because a private company was involved. They evidently prefer to put ideological purity before water purity,” the report says.

“Groups like the World Development Movement and Public Services International pose as friends of the world’s poor, but they are their worst enemies,” says Alex Singleton, Director-General of the Globalisation Institute. “Their ideological opposition to the private sector is slowing the policies that actually increase access to clean, running water.”

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