Social services


Nigeria water privatisation questioned

2 February 2015

Civil society in Nigeria has criticised and called for full disclosure of a water privatisation scheme in Lagos involving the World Bank. In late October 2014 the Bank claimed the advisory role of its private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), in the scheme was cancelled, however, according to January media reports the privatisation plans are still going ahead as a public-private partnership (PPP). Akinbode Oluwafemi of NGO Environmental Rights Action and Friends of the Earth said: “For decades, the World Bank has driven the privatisation of water worldwide … with devastating consequences for people’s ability to access safe, clean water.” A December 2014 report by US-based NGO Corporate Accountability International criticised the World Bank’s push for water PPPs in India and in the Philippines, where steep price rises have reduced access to clean water and led to negative consequences on health.

A July 2014 case study by the US NGO Bank Information Center, in partnership with Malawi NGO Citizens for Justice, found that a Bank funded water development project, involving installing prepaid water meters in people’s homes, could “further entrench the cycle of poverty in Malawi”. According to the study the Bank has failed to consider potential impacts on communities, and in particular on children, when payment for water is charged up front. Children’s development can be hampered when access to water is restricted, and indirect impacts include girls missing out on school as they have to collect water for their families.