On 29th October, Leicester WDM and Christians Aware jointly hosted an evening on the theme of “Water, water”.
Alhassan Adam of Oxfam spoke about countering water privatisation in Ghana. Ghana was required to charge everyone for access to water and implement water privatisation as a condition of receiving a structural adjustment loan from the World Bank. In response to this, the National Coalition Against Water Privatisation was formed. The coalition gained impact by working with related networks in Africa and worldwide to keep the needs of water consumers on the agenda. While privatising water there were many problems, including alleged corruption and utility companies working in the short term to make quick money, without a long term commitment.
Everyone needs water to live, but privatisation has meant that some people cannot afford to buy clean water. They end up travelling distances to find sources, which are often polluted. Rural communities are not good candidates for water privatisation as they are not profitable and they often depend on water projects funded by non-governmental organisations.
Mansoor Ali of Practical Action spoke about ‘Small schemes for the better use of water’. Practical Action specialises in providing technological solutions for development problems. In a heavily urbanised world, Mansoor talked of the need to find creative solutions in difficult urban environments. Practical Action now increasingly has to facilitate dialogue so that the needs of vulnerable people are taken into account when developing community services. Mansoor’s presentation led to a lively discussion about how to make a real difference to the lives of people who lack the basic necessities of life.
We greatly appreciated both presentations. There was an encouraging message that by working together we can make a real difference in the lives of some of the world’s poorest people.