Two views on water privatization

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From South African blogger Mzansi Afrika:

Can you afford to wash today? Although not all areas have been affected, pre-paid paid water metres have become a growing problem in Soweto.  In Soweto, water is supplied by Johannesburg Water, and under the slogan “Gcina manzi”- meaning "save water", government has put a system in place that if people want access to water they need to first pay a set amount - and then they will recieve their water... There are many problems that come with pre-paid water: sewage pipe blockages, the low amount of free water supplied means that residents have to be very cautious when using water so that they don't exhaust the 6000 liters supplied by Joburg Water.

From Paul Gertler, with co-authors (HT Marginal Revolution, now published in the Journal of Political Economy)

In the 1990s Argentina embarked on one of the largest privatization campaigns in the world, including the privatization of local water companies covering approximately 30 percent of the country’s municipalities... we find that child mortality fell 8 percent in the areas that privatized their water services and that the effect was largest (26 percent) in the poorest areas.  We check the robustness of these estimates using cause-specific mortality. While privatization is associated with significant reductions in deaths from infectious and parasitic diseases, it is uncorrelated with deaths from causes unrelated to water conditions.

Since writing this paper, Paul Gertler has joined the World Bank. Comments are open.

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