Water conservation and the role of NGOs

Learning Objective
• To understand what TNCs and NGOs ( key
players) are doing to solve water scarcity
Why ?
Using named examples, assess the role of
different players and decision makers in trying
to secure a sustainable ‘water future’.(15)
1. Why will TNC have more of a say over water in
the future?
2. What advantages does privatisation of water
supplies bring?
3. What problems can privatisation bring?
4. Do you think privatisation of water supplies is a
solution to water scarcity?
• P90 Oxford
There are many advantages of water
Private companies are often more efficient than governments due to free market
competition leading to ‘lower prices, improved water quality, more choice, less red tape and
quicker delivery’.
Privately-owned industries often have more incentive and expertise to ensure their
businesses succeed, whilst governments may be politically motivated and prone to
corruption. Such factors allow private water companies to generate large profits and a high
rate of return, allowing further investment.
publicly owned companies are ‘required to be more accountable to the broader community
and political stakeholders’ private companies are better able to serve their customers and
make unbiased decisions.
Private companies also have a greater financial ability to finance the large investments and
technical expertise needed to repair and improve the water systems and meet new European
water quality standards.
In cities in India, private operator, Veolia, increased water supply from once every two to 15
days for a couple of hours to 24/7 water for 180,000 people (12 per cent of the population of
the three cities) within two years of starting operations in 2006.
Though in many cases prices increased for those who previously had access to water, millions
finally had access to piped water, thereby lowering child mortality — and facilitating better
the current inefficient system actually is much more expensive for the poor because of the
high cost per unit and productive time lost in collecting water.
Classified “R-2” Morales’
household is among the very
poorest of the poor.
As the bill indicates, there is no
meter reading, no increase in
water use. This is one of many
houses that have no water meter
and billed based on a basic rate.
This bill would amount to more
than 10% of the monthly
minimum wage at the time.
Classified “R-3” Jaldin’s household is
just a notch among the very poorest,
meaning that they may have an indoor
shower or tap in the kitchen.
Mr. Jaldin’s monthly increase was
equal to more than 20% of a
monthly minimum wage salary, a
typical earning for households
with his water rate classification.
Cons of privatisation
In their efforts to recoup often significant investments, private water companies usually
increase prices on the water they provide. In some cases, these price increases have been so
hefty as to knock poor consumers out of the market entirely, leaving them, again, with no
access to water because they cannot afford it even when it is physically accessible.
The UN Development Program notes that privatization has hurt many in the developing
world, where poor people pay some of the highest prices for water. For example, the
poorest 20% of households in El Salvador, Jamaica, and Nicaragua spend up to 10% of their
income on water.
Privatization schemes often appear undemocratic in that they exclude the citizenry from the
decision-making processes in what was formerly a public utility.
Privatization often results in local job losses as multinational corporations and conglomerates
both reduce work forces through improved efficiencies and transfer jobs to workers in other
When profit is a motive in water provision, less lucrative services often suffer. Efficiency
dictates that resources go where they produce the highest return – this means poor rural
areas and other hard-to-serve customer bases get lower priority.
In some cases, private companies have retreated from particularly poor areas where returns
on investment have been low or from areas where local resistance and protests against
privatization have made for bad public relations – see below. In these cases, the cost of
picking up the pieces is often higher for local governments than it might have been had the
private companies not been there in the first place.
Rising Prices and Deteriorating Water Quality
Australia - In 1998, the water in Sydney, was contaminated with high levels of
giardia and cryptosporidium shortly after its water was overtaken by Suez Lyonnaise
des Eaux.
Canada - At least seven people died as a result of E. coli bacteria in Walkerton,
Ontario, after water testing had been privatized by A&L Labs. The company treated
the test results as "confidential intellectual property" and did not make them public.
Morocco - Consumers saw the price of water increase threefold after the water
service was privatized in Casablanca.
Argentina - When a Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux subsidiary purchased the state-run
water company Obras Sanitarias de la Nacion, water rates doubled but water quality
deteriorated. The company was forced to leave the country when residents refused
to pay their bills.
Britain - Water and sewage bills increased 67 percent between 1989 and 1995. The
rate at which people's services were disconnected rose by 177 percent.
New Zealand - Citizens took to the streets to protest the commercialization of water.
South Africa - Water became inaccessible, unaffordable, and unsafe after the water
supply was privatized by Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux in Johannesburg. Cholera
infections became widespread and thousands of people were disconnected from
their supply of water.
Other things TNC can do
• GM crops
• Trade more in virtual water
Name as many NGOs as you can
What is the Link?
WaterAid – an NGO
Very good advert on water aid
Water aid solutions
Water Aid Projects - Sustainable?
Works in 17 countries globally http://www.wateraid.org/uk/what_we_do/where_we_work/default.asp
Mobile toilets have been established in the capital Addis Ababa
These help keep the environment clean
Provides the homeless with employment
In the Wakiso district educate people about sanitation methods. Involves :
- Maintain water sources and stop animals using it
- Locals are taught how to construct latrines, so the water does not become contaminated with faeces
Here over 5 million have no access to clean water
Wateraid provided tools and education on how to dig wells to pump clean water – go below the water
table and put stones in bottom to act as filter
Villagers form a committee and decided where the well will be
Some trained in how to repair
Impacts – more people attend school, less illness, more people sell food and ice water, less time to fetch
Water Aid and its partners negotiated with the Dhaka city water authorities for permission to establish
communal water points, where slum communities can access water from the city water supplies through
hand pumps
The water points are run on a cost-recovery basis where users pay a small fee to the community
management committee to use the facilities
Watch if time – advert on solutions
from WaterAid
Plan an answer to the following question
Evaluate the view that reducing water demand
is better than trying to increase water supply ?
1. Dams – 3 gorges, Aswan
2. Water transfers – China, Spain
3. Restoration – Aral sea, River
4. WaterAid v Privatisation
5. Desalination
6. Virtual water
7. Conservation examples
1. Intro – why water problem
2. Main
a. Increase supply good
b. Increase supply bad
c. Reduce water demand good Evaluation
d. Reduce water demand bad throughout
3. Conclusion – look to the future,
consider sustainability
Water Conflicts overview
Water Resources
Water like energy is a fundamental need but not
evenly distributed
Factors influencing geography of supply:
Physical-surface, groundwater, desalinisation
Human: demand, management, mismanagement
Increasing demand not matched by supply= WATER GAP
Implications for human well being- which is why it is
named in the MDGs
Demand from various users
Water resources are often transboundary
Water Conflict
Potential conflicts=high both local & international
Resource use often exceeds recharge capacity leading to
long term degradation
Future is in doubt because of unsustainable use+ climate
Vulnerable populations most at risk
Management strategies to ensure supply require
cooperation of many different players = changes in way
water is valued & used
Water Futures
Water stress and scarcity are projected to increase
•Climate change will make some areas more arid and
rainfall more unreliable
•Glacial water sources will reduce due to climate
•Unsustainable use of some supplies will decrease
their quality and quantity
•Demand will rise due to population and economic
•Water wars will lead to winners and losers in water
Therefore, there are alternative futures –
It all depends on the decisions the players make....
and climate change, population trends, energy
security, superpower politics, bridging the
development gap etc…
Energy and Water: Solving Both Crises Together:
Water and energy are the two most fundamental ingredients of modern
We consume massive quantities of water to generate energy, and we consume
massive quantities of energy to deliver clean water
Peak Oil is topical. Peak Water or ‘Blue Gold’ is less thought about. There are
tensions between the two:
water restrictions
are hampering
solutions for
generating more
energy problems,
particularly rising
prices, are curtailing
efforts to supply
more clean water.
An issue in energy rich states ,which are semi arid/arid: to sell cheap oil or keep
to power desalinisation plants
Water is needed to generate energy. Energy is needed to deliver water. Both
resources are limiting the other—and both may be running short. Is there a way