Booting Corporate Power, Communities Are Taking Back Control of Their Water

October 10, 2020 0 By HearthstoneYarns

In communities across the world, people are taking back their water.

Cases of remunicipalization—getting privatized water and sanitation services back under public control—is the focus of a new book by the Netherlands-based Transnational Institute (TNI), and offers welcome respite from tales of the ever-encroaching reach of corporate power.

The trend of remunicipalization is accelerating, the new research says, and it’s “a story crying to be told.”

“This report,” stated lead editor Satoko Kishimoto of TNI, “shows that water privatization, which has been promoted so heavily in recent years, is increasingly being rejected by cities worldwide after years of failed promises, poor services, and high prices.”

Public reclamation of water services has demonstrated clear benefits to communities, the researchers write, thereby “contradict[ing] neoliberal theorists, international financial institutions, and their expectations of superior private sector performance.”

In the last 15 years, the researchers note that there have been 235 cases of such public take-backs spanning 37 countries. A recent notable example happened just last month in Jakarta, Indonesia, where, the researchers write, a citizen lawsuit brought the privatization of the city’s water systems to an end, as the private control “was deemed negligent in fulfilling the human right to water for Jakarta’s residents.”

But many of the success stories are closer to home; fifty-eight of the public reclamations since 2000 have taken place in the United States. Food & Water Watch’s Mary Grant outlines some of them for the report, writing:

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