Public and “Social-Public” Alternatives to Commercial Models of Water Delivery
Struggles forWater Justice inLatin America
Public and “Social-Public”Alternatives to Commercial Modelsof Water Delivery
Carlos Crespo, Marcela Olivera, Susan SpronkMunicipal Services ProjectCochabamba, IndiaAbril, 2010
Contents1. Historical considerations2. Data collection3. Top five alternatives4. Questions on criteria and comparisons
Historical considerationsLong history of revolution and struggle (1492-)State-led development (1940s to 1970s)Neoliberalism (1970s to present?)
Historical considerationsResult:Highly urbanized (65% urban pop. by 1980)Access to water in urban areas higher than in ruralSocial movements have successfully “fought back”in Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay
Data collectiono SURVEY:o 62 contacts of water activists through the Red Vidao INTERVIEWS:o 17 interviewso Meetings of Red Vida and Public Services International(Colombia, May 2009)o FIELDWORKo Argentinao Colombiao Venezuelao Boliviao LITERATURE REVIEWo 34 of 181 peer-reviewed articles and books talk about“alternatives”
Indicators used1. Participation2. Equity3. Efficiency4. Service quality5. Accountability6. Transparency7. Working conditions8. Sustainability9. Solidarity10. Public ethos11. Transferability
Questions on criteria and comparisons“Efficiency” and working conditions• Tensions between social movements (users)and public sector trade unionsEquity• Endorsement of different solutions for ruralversus urban areas: “service apartheid”Participation• An end in itself or a means to an end?
diversity of actually-existing and proposedalternatives to privatization in the water sector inurban and rural areas in Latin America.
Defending the status quoSince the 1960s, the “status quo” in the region forwater provision in urban areas has been decentralizedmunicipal-run public utilities which have budgetautonomy but are highly dependent on public funds.
While operations have been funded by tax revenueand tariffs,Defending the status quo
the expansion of water services has typically beendependent on financing from bilateral andmultilateral aid organizations, including developmentagencies [e.g. the German GTZ has been particularlyactive in the Andes, see (Fritz, 2006)] and theinternational financial institutions (IFIs) such as theWorld Bank and the Inter-American DevelopmentBank.Defending the status quo
Defending the status quoSince the onset of neoliberalism, state-owned andoperated utilities have been under increasing pressureby the IFIs to behave like private businesses byadopting organizational models of service deliveryknown as “corporatization”model of service delivery is the degree of private sectorparticipation in the company
Defending the status quotrade unions have played a protagonist role indefending the status quo.
Since social movement organizations have been soactive in fighting the neoliberal water privatizationagenda in Latin America, the region is home to manycancelled contracts
A preliminary analysis suggests that none of thesecases present successful alternatives as of yet, but arebest described as “works in progress.”Cochabamba, La Paz, Santa Fe.
New forms of public servicedeliveryPublic-public partnerships (PUPs)The initiative to promote public-public partnershipshas taken off quickly in the Latin American region.
The initiative was first timidly approached in 2004 inUruguay among conversations between the OSE,FFOSE and members of the Coordinadora in Bolivia.In August 2008 there was an event in Cochabambaspecifically about this issue and in May in 2009, theprinciples were launched in Paso Severino UruguayNew forms of public servicedelivery
New forms of public service deliveryCivil society participation in large urban utilitiesThe water companies of Caracas, Venezuela andPorto Alegre, Brazil have improved services bydemocratizing decision-making rather thanadopting corporate practices
the institutionalization of popular participation in theprocesses of budgeting, planning, and even executionof water projects (particularly in the former case) hascontributed to increased coverage rates and involvedcitizens in daily aspects of service delivery.New forms of public service delivery
These successful experiences of participatorydecision-making demonstrate that involving users inthe planning and execution of water service deliverycan make water utilities more “efficient” in socialterms by making service provision more equitable.New forms of public service delivery
New forms of public service deliveryCooperativesThe cooperative model potentially presents analternative form of collective ownership that defies thecapitalist logic of private property.
Compared to private businesses or state-ownedutilities which are controlled by shareholders orelected officials, cooperatives that provide basicservices have certain organizational advantages thatmake them potentially more democratic.New forms of public service delivery
Nonetheless, as the following case studies of watercooperatives in Argentina and Bolivia suggest,cooperatives face the same market imperatives asprivate businesses and state-owned utilities,especially given increasing pressures ofcorporatizationNew forms of public service delivery
New forms of public service deliveryCommunity-run water systems in rural areasIn many ways, providing potable water to ruralcommunities is a more challenging task thanproviding water in urban areas due to high rates ofpoverty and physically dispersed populations, whichmakes the provision of networked infrastructuremore expensive and financing difficult.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO),50 million people or 9% of the population of LatinAmerica and the Caribbean did not have access toimproved water supply, and 125 million or 23% didnot have access to improved sanitation.New forms of public service delivery
As a percentage of the unserved population, ruralresidents are over-represented meaning that access towater and sanitation remains a problem in rural areasof Latin America.New forms of public service delivery
Community-run systems in peri-urbanareasGiven high rates of rural poverty,rural-urban migration has kept statewater companies in Latin Americascrambling to keep up with growingdemand as cities have spreadoutwards.New forms of public service delivery
One of the major problems related to chaoticurban growth in many of these cities is thatmigrant populations have settled increasinglyprecarious land, often establishing illegalsettlements climbing up the hillsides or next torivers that are prone to flooding.New forms of public service delivery
In many of these areas, residents have come up with theirown solutions to the urban water problem, establishingindependent systems with little or no help from the state.New forms of public service delivery
There are at least two factors that appear toexplain the emergence of communal watersystems in peri-urban areas: 1) weak (absent) stateandNew forms of public service delivery
2) indigenous/campesino knowledge about water systemsthat is transferred from rural to urban areas.New forms of public service delivery
In both rural and peri-urban areas, these systemsoften serve a dual purpose providing water forboth production (e.g. irrigation of crops, often forhousehold consumption) and reproduction (e.g.drinking water for the household).New forms of public service delivery
Peri-urban community water systems such as La Sirena inCali, Colombia and Asociación de Producción yAdministración de Agua y Saneamiento de SebastiánPagador (APAAS) in Cochabamba, Bolivia, provide high-quality services for relatively low costNew forms of public service delivery