Water democracy: reclaiming public water in Asia | Land Portal | Securing Land Rights Through Open Data

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Date of publication: 
January 2007
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ISBN / Resource ID: 

Water crisis is largely a problem of governance. While there is an obvious bias towards privatisation as a solution to the water sector problems, the last few years have also seen many social mobilisations, consolidation of forces, and hard-won battles for peoples and communities’ water struggles, particularly in defending water as a human right.This collection of 19 essays by civil society activists, trade unionists and other water practitioners, give an overview of these developments in the water sector by presenting examples of both struggles against water privatisation and people-centred public water management from across Asia.The papers show that

the ideology-driven privatization wave has now also reached Asian countries where public water delivery has been very successful.
in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan, where public utilities have largely achieved water for all, the governments are planning to boost the role of the private sector.
in Malaysia, the process of widespread privatisation has already led to predictable problems such as increased tariff
in India, Cambodia, Indonesia and many other Asian countries where large parts of the population have for far too long remained without adequate access to water and sanitation, concrete, workable alternatives to water privatisation do exist.
public water solutions are being developed and implemented in numerous Asian countries, i.e. progressive public water management models, often involving new forms of local cooperation between public water operators, communities, trade unions and other key groups.
experiences in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala show that empowerment of communities and the democratisation of governance are strong positive tools for improving public water supply
an important new trend is the emergence of public-public partnerships (PUPs), in which a well performing water operator assists a utility in need of support. Examples include PUPs in Indonesia and Cambodia

The overall conclusion is that although numerous public water utilities in large parts of Asia fail to supply safe water for all, privatisation is not the answer. The papers here show that there is no lack of workable public service reform approaches that could dramatically improve access to water supply and sanitation for people across the continent, if the political will is there.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 
M.A. Manahan (ed) N. Yamamoto (ed) O. Hoedeman (ed)

Focus on the Global South was established in 1995 to challenge neoliberalism, militarism and corporate-driven globalisation while strengthening just and equitable alternatives.  We work in solidarity with the Global South - the great majority of humanity that is marginalized and dispossessed by globalisation – believing that progressive social change and Global South solidarity are imperative if the needs and aspirations of oppressed peoples, particularly in Asia, Latin America and Africa, are to be met.

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