Privatisation in Deep Water? : Water Governance and Options for Development Cooperation
Water is an essential factor for human development and health, but also for agricultural production, the development of the tourism sector and industrial growth. The increasing scarcity of the resource contributes to high competition between these user groups. Growing tension and conflict over water allocation urge for new approaches in demand management. The provision of safe drinking water constitutes one of the Millennium Development Goals, but is still far from being achieved. While the public sector has often been blamed for bad water service and corruption, the subsequent involvement of the private sector has frequently resulted in a lack of supply to poor population groups and has not kept the promise of large investments in infrastructure. The currently heated debates over the pros and cons of a privatisation of water services have led to sometimes violent conflict. The report explores the global trends, which have led to the promotion of privatisation as a solution for deficits in development. Furthermore, it investigates the cooperation of international financial institutions and the private sector. It provides an insight into the underlying interests, norms and values of the different actors involved, be they public, private, or from the civil society. Based on this analysis, the authors propose a concept of socially, economically and ecologically sustainable water governance and point to two essential options for development cooperation: the implementation of political regulation and the equilibration of power relations at the institutional level.