Out of Control Policy Blog

How privatization gets water to the poor

Here's Ron Bailey:

    Activists around the world chant the slogan that "water is a human right." Yet more than a billion poor people in the world today lack access to safe drinking water. Twelve million of them die each year from drinking disease-contaminated water.

    Among things that would most benefit the world, safe, clean drinking water is clearly a high priority, as pointed out by the Copenhagen Consensus organized by skeptical environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg in 2004.
    ...

    [Swedish analyst Fredrik] Segerfeldt shows that even imperfect privatization efforts have already successfully connected millions of poor people to relatively inexpensive water where government-funded efforts have failed. For example, before privatization in 1989, only 20 percent of urban dwellers the African nation of Guinea had access to safe drinking water; by 2001 70 percent did. The price of piped water increased from 15 cents per cubic meter to almost $1, but as Segerfeldt correctly notes, "before privatization the majority of Guineans had no access to mains water at all. They do now.

Whole thing here.

Here's Segerfeldt on World Water Day.

And this study examines water privatization in Argentina:

    [C]hild mortality fell 8 percent in the areas that privatized their water services and that the effect was largest (26 percent) in the poorest areas.

For more on water privatization, go here.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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