In solidarity

17 March 2006
Today was full of seminars, meetings and advertising War on Want events. It´s 11.00pm and I´ve just come back from strategy meetings- still feeling jetlagged. Tomorrow my last meeting will start at 10.30pm!
The message from the alternative events I´ve been to is crystal clear - end the privatisation of water and assert the right to water. Dozens of cases of the failure of water privatization and the horrific impact on the poor have been presented. These failures are painfully predictable as companies have to turn a profit at the expense of the poorest communities. In Uruguay water prices rose by up to 1000%, in Ghana and South Africa the price hikes were around 600%, in Guinea 500%, Bolivia 200%, the list goes on.
Private firms have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that they are incapable of providing affordable and safe drinking water in developing countries. The delivery of water is a matter of life or death as water-borne diseases kill 2 million people every year. Those who can´t afford these price rises resort to self-provision from unsafe water sources and this has lead to water-related diseases decimating communities. In South Africa cholera outbreaks killed 200 and poisoned 120,000 people.
Yet it is these communities with the odds stacked against them that are fighting back. In South Africa, pre-paid meter were installed and around 10 million were faced with their water being cut off if they didn´t pay these extortionate rates. War on Want ´s partners the Anti-Privatisation Forum began to protest and physically re-routed water and even destroyed these pre-paid meters. In Bolivia, thousands protested and several protestors were killed before they kicked out the water company Bechtel. These struggles continue and I´ll come back to talk about the inspiring alternatives that they have created in later blogs.
This is what we're here for, to protest in solidarity and alongside these communities from the South. The first shot across bow against the corporate agenda will take place tomorrow to coincide with the inauguration of the World Water Forum. A massive demo is planned with campaigners, trade unions, women´s and indigenous groups and activists from around the world will be heading towards the Forum. Watch this space to hear and see how it went…    

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