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Can the private sector get water flowing to the poor?

Tomorrow’s Financial Times carries an op-ed by Frederik Segerfeldt, author of ‘Water for Sale: How Businesses and the Market Can Resolve the World’s Water Crisis.’ He optimistically challenges the privatization critics.

Ninety-seven per cent of all water distribution in poor countries is managed by the public sector, which is largely responsible for more than a billion people being without water… In poor countries with private investments in the water sector, more people have access to water than in those without such investments. Moreover, there are many examples of local businesses improving water distribution. Superior competence, better incentives and better access to capital for investment have allowed private distributors to enhance both the quality of the water and the scope of its distribution.

Update: Just released, Water Facts and Trends from WBCSD.


Submitted by ivan on
I think that one negative effect of privatization has been neglected: higher prices. But this need not be an argument against private provision. Let the private sector provide the water, the government can distribute the proceeds from the privatizations back to the poor. Apparently the public sector is not as good in managing water as some want us to believe. But maybe government can be good enough to provide the poor enough buying power.

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