Mischa Balen, Fellow, Globalisation Institute ( http://www.globalisationinstitute.org/
a billion people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water, and 2.6
billion people have no sanitation facilities. More than two million people die
each year from diarrhoea, and over six
million people are blind as a result of trachoma, a disease strongly related to
lack of face washing. In Sub Saharan Africa, 42% of the population lacks access
to decent water.
diseases which are caused by water poverty include scabies, typhoid and malaria.
The need for clean water to prevent the spread of these and other diseases is
therefore paramount. This is one of the greatest problems humanity faces. It is
a problem which is taking place under the auspices of the state sector: 95% of
the world’s population gets its water from state-run services. Government
provision in water has overseen millions of deaths through poor quality and lack
companies, conversely, do have an incentive to prevent rivers and other sources
of water from becoming polluted. If their water supplies become contaminated,
then they risk provoking consumer unrest, being fined by the regulator, and the
costs of clean-up. Rather than spending a lot of money on a clean up operation,
it makes better economic sense for companies to protect the environment in the
first place. Similarly, private companies, because their bottom line is at
stake, will take legal action against others polluting water sources they use.
the vast majority of cases, where the private sector has been called upon, it
has delivered the goods – even in cases decried by critics as ‘failures’.
The most effective and efficient way to increase water access to countries in
the developing world is to make good use of the private sector. The investment,
technology and expertise which private companies can bring are integral to
sensible development strategies. The private sector has increased access to
water, it has helped to avert conflicts, and it has made a significant
contribution to economic growth in many developing states.
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