The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch (202) 683-2500

World Bank Urged to Promote Public Control of Water Resources

New report shows why private water hurts people in developing nations


The World Bank's encouragement of private investment in water
services harms the people living in developing nations, according to a
new report released today by the consumer advocacy group Food &
Water Watch. Dried Up, Sold Out: How the World Bank's Push for Private Water Harms the Poor
documents the many downsides of private sector control of world water
infrastructure systems. Water privatization has failed to effectively
deliver reliable water services to billions of people across the globe,
and the social consequences of this failure include 5 million people
dying every year from preventable water-related diseases.

"As a leader in the international development community, the World
Bank must help developing countries create strong public utilities that
provide adequate drinking water and sanitation systems," said Wenonah
Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. "It can do this,
not by encouraging the spread of water privatization in those parts of
the world, but instead by promoting a regulatory environment that
prevents the pollution of waterways and encourages good resource

Key Findings of the report include:

  • Numerous international goals for getting water to poor countries have gone unmet.
  • Because of dangerous water quality and lack of sanitation,
    gastrointestinal diseases are the leading cause of illness and death
    throughout the developing world.
  • Corporate pressure has caused international institutions and
    national governments to decrease public investments in water
    provisions, causing a simultaneous increase in private-sector profits.
  • Rather than guaranteeing access to clean and affordable water,
    the World Bank has promoted measures that will cost consumers more
    money for water.
  • Although the messages are mixed, evidence suggests that some in
    the World Bank are gradually seeing the problems associated with the
    private control of water.
  • Case studies in Africa, Indonesia and Latin America that
    illustrate the flawed logic of water privatization and the case for
    publically owned and controlled water.

Dried Up, Sold Out: How the World Bank's Push for Private Water Harms the Poor is available online at

Food & Water Watch mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

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