8 May 2003

Uganda: Church Urged to Act Against Privatization of Water

Nairobi — As the wave pushing for the privatisation of water spreads, the Church in Africa has been urged to make its stand clear on this important resource.

While the provision of clean drinking water is taken for granted in many places, it is a scarce resource for most people in Africa, due to inadequate water supply, contamination of its sources or lack of sanitation systems.

An adequate supply of water is an inalienable human right and a public trust to be protected and nurtured by all peoples, communities and nations.

But in many places across the world, moves are underway to transform water into a commodity to be traded and sold for commercial gain. Water and sanitation services are fast being privatised, and are increasingly run on a commercial basis.

This is happening in Burkina-Faso, Gabon, South Africa, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Sao-Tome, Uganda, Chad, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, C_d'Ivoire, Angola, Benin, Guinea-Bissau and Niger.

In Kenya this threat is just raring its head.

The disadvantages and negative consequences of such a development are a cause for grave concern.

These include a tendency to favour the rich at the expense of the poor, the use of expensive technical solutions rather than cheaper local alternatives, long term damaging effects on the community and on sustainable resources.

The Church in Africa needs to take a stand concerning this spreading trend to privatise water distribution and basic sanitation services in Africa.

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