In January, an international summit on the human right to water in Abuja, Nigeria, which brought together over 150 civil society participants, called on African governments to reject World Bank water privatisation projects (see Observer Autumn 2018). As reported in Nigerian-based newspaper Vanguard, participants urged the municipal government to reject the failed public-private partnership (PPP) model, which has “left the city with dry taps”, and adopt their Alternative Roadmap for Lagos’s water sector.
Tunji Buhari, with Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, one of the summit’s organisers, commented, “We are concerned about the role of the World Bank in its promotion of PPPs in the water sector despite popular opposition. It is known that privatisation leads to tariff hikes, job losses, labour abuses and shut-offs for those who cannot pay.” He went on, “The World Bank’s activities in the water sector have failed and it’s time for it to side with the people by adopting a rights-based approach. There is ample evidence that countries that have experimented with the PPP and other models of water privatisation have learnt bitter lessons and opted out by re-municipalisation.”
Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty, also condemned the Bank’s attempt to sign a water privatisation deal with Lagos State, stressing that the human right to water must be respected (see Observer Winter 2018).