International Summit rejects World Bank privatization projects
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – AN international summit on the human rights to water has called on Nigerian government and governments in Africa to reject the purported water privatization projects designed by the World Bank and its corporate partners.

The summit also resolved that government should replace the alleged failed Public Private Partnership (PPP) model with proven public solutions including the Public Private Partnership model and a national Water Trust Fund, as outlined in the way forward document – Lagos Water Crisis: Alternative Roadmap for Water Sector.

The summit was organized by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN in Abuja with over 150 participants drawn from local, national and international civil society and grassroots groups representing a global movement committed to resisting corporate control of water and securing the human right to water.

According to the participants, the Re-municipalisation which is increasing globally as privatization promises fade, offers opportunities to build local democratic governance of water sources and infrastructure.

Besides, the summit urged governments in Africa to embrace democratic decision-making in addressing water shortages and that women and vulnerable groups should be accorded priority in plans to guarantee access.

“The National Water Policy be reviewed to make it mandatory that all states in collaboration with local governments ensure adequate fund is made available to resuscitate all water facilities.

“The importance of women’s leadership was shown as vital to the success of this movement. Participants agreed wholeheartedly that women’s leadership shall continue to be sustained and bolstered to achieve future victories.

“African governments invest in public infrastructure and embrace democratic, participatory and transparent management of water investments. The state governments across the federation make public the sums they have obtained in form of loans or grants from donor agencies for water and how much have been expended in the last decade,” the communiqué stated.

With the theme, “Nigeria’s Water Emergency: From Resistance to Real Solutions against Corporate Control”, the summit called for a probe of all Public Private Partnership, PPP projects, loans and funding for the existing water system and infrastructure nationwide.

The participants were drawn from Nigeria, Africa, Europe, India and the United States, including representatives from Flint and Pittsburgh who have cases of lead-poisoned water, stressed the need for comprehensive data on both water infrastructure investment and access to aid planning for the now and the future.

Also contained in the communiqué include: “The Lagos government accedes to the demands of the Our Water Our Right movement that it jettison privatization, including its PPP addiction, and build the political will to fulfill the human right to water through the public sector.

“A probe of all PPP projects, loans and funding for the existing water system and infrastructure nationwide, including at the states level, particularly in Lagos State since the assumption of office by the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode administration and the new management of the Lagos Water Corporation (LWC).

“A national agenda for the human right to water, starting with a robust national campaign to demand for a Bill that protects against privatization and advances the human right to water

“Communities at the grassroots level, including Community Development Associations (CDAs) be fully integrated into campaigns on the human right to water.

“The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) be utilised in the public demand of information on funds sourced and approved for public water projects in the last three decades.

“Reinvigoration of the movement for water justice across Africa. This initiative will address the challenges of governance, human rights and corruption in the water sector across the African continent.”

Co-organisers of the summit were Corporate Accountability, Public Services International (PSI), Transnational Institute, and the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), among others.

The communiqué was signed by Nnimmo Bassey, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Shayda Edwards Naficy, Corporate Accountability, Sani Baba, Public Services International, and Comrade Benjamin Anthony, Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE).

Other signatories to the communiqué were Satoko Kishimoto, Transnational Institute (TNI), Priscilla Achakpa, Women Environment Programme (WEP), and Leslie Adoghame, Sustainable Research and (SRADeV)

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