Today’s San Francisco Chronicle has a wonderful story about the U.N. considering mandating the right to water.
This is in part a response to water riots in Bolivia, Mali, Uruguay, Argentina and South Africa where the governments were unable to anticipate or explain unusually high water rates brought on by privatization of water services.
While private industry is critical to better purification and delivery systems, water must remain a public resource so as to prevent its exploitation. Classifying water as a human right would send the right message – that Governments have an obligation to allocate adequate resources that provide equal access to water for all their citizens.
Enshrining water as a right sounds innocent. But it carries multiple implications. On one level, such a right would put nations on notice to upgrade water systems to make sure all their citizens have access. It’s an inarguable ideal for a human necessity.
Poor nations, the real audience for the water-as-a-right campaign, have experienced a confusing spin cycle of rich-country ideas. First, foreign aid failed to improve water deliveries, as weak governments weren’t up to the task of rebuilding. Then a new wave of aid from the World Bank and the United Nations came with a condition: Here’s the money, but it needs to be handled by private companies with the management and experience to pull off an infrastructure rebuild.
source: Is there a right to water?, San Francisco Chronicle, Friday, December 26, 2008