Third World water supply concerns
MEMBERS of the Bexhill and Hastings branch of the World Development Movement met town MP Gregory Barker on Sunday. The WDM wanted to express their views concerning water supply to the Third World.
The movement is worried that the UK is supporting private financing of water contracts to the Third World. It argues that if private companies supply water they are accountable to their shareholders and must aim to make as much profit as possible.
The movement believes that this approach is not suitable for Third World countries where supplying water cannot always be done profitably. Water is a human right and cannot be sold in the same way that one sells clothes or furniture.
Members pointed out to Mr Barker that the Archbishop of Josh in Northern Nigeria had revealed that the supply of water in this area was still as basic as it was 40 years ago.
They say private enterprises are failing to deliver to poor countries such as Nigeria. The record of public private partnerships advising or supplying water was so unsatisfactory that Norway has stopped supporting them. Public money should go to public water companies in Third World countries.
Gregory Barker asked if public water companies would have the necessary capital. Members said the answer to that was that very little private money is invested by private water companies anyway. The private water companies are using public money and then creaming off any profits for their shareholders.
Gregory Barker was then asked if he would write to the Secretary of State for International Development, Hilary Benn, urging him to support UK funding of public companies in Third World countries.
Mr Barker said he was in favour of privatisation of water where the country is rich enough e.g UK. However, he could see that privatisation does not work everywhere and he was not in favour of the one-size-fits-all approach. There should be a combination of different groups and methods tailored to suit the needs of different countries.
The group thanked Gregory Barker for his interest and helpfulness. He was then given a letter outlining the concerns of WDM concerning water privatisation.