THE ROLE OF PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE PRIVATE AND PUBLIC SECTORS IN SANITATION AND WASTE- WATER MANAGEMENT
Governments facing challenges of water and wastewater man- agement are always confronted by the issue of attracting in- vestments and the need to achieve broad public and national benefits with improved water management.
Water privatization is the outsourcing of central public wa- ter management services and responsibilities to the private sector, such as in drinking water or wastewater management. Privatization can range from management contracts, lease contracts to direct concessions, in which the latter gains re- sponsibility for the entire water system, or even asset sale, where the government actually sells the entire water rights. Because these water services are often viewed as a key public service and human right, privatization is often met with heavy resistance. The Cochabamba Water Wars are an example of a series of protests that took place in Cochabamba, Bolivia’s third largest city, between January and April 2000, when the municipal water supply was privatized, due to fears of in- creased prices (Laurie, 2005).
Currently at least 84 per cent of all water and sanitation sys- tems are publicly owned and managed, with more than 93 per cent in some developing countries (World Bank, 2009). Only an estimated seven per cent of the urban population in the de- veloping world is served by private companies (World Bank, 2009). While the population served by privatized water utilities increased from six million to 94 million in developing or tran- sition countries from 1991 to 2000, and the number of coun- tries involved in such schemes from four to 38, the outsourcing of water management to private contractors has decreased in the last decade (World Bank, 2009).
There are many cases where privatization has led to improved water services by generating cheaper loans and higher invest- ments, while bringing in expertise. However, it is also clear that unless the process is guided and under the close supervision of government agencies there is a risk that the wider public inter- est will not be served and only wealthy customers will receive services. Impoverished communities are unlikely to be the primary target for companies operating under a cost-benefit investment-return scheme.
Following a move to privatization in the 1990s, there has been a high return of wastewater services from private back to public management (World Bank, 2009). The critical factor seems to be how far privatization goes, with full control or concessions to private companies proving the most contro- versial. Whilst experience has shown that privatizing water management as a means to gain more investments rarely re- sults in positive results, the private sector has demonstrated improvements in operational efficiency and service quality. Hence, rather than outsourcing management, integrated part- nership models where the private sector is given responsibil- ity not for the full water management, but mainly for certain operational segments, can work best.
USE OF ECONOMIC POLICY INSTRUMENTS
Economic development is an important factor in environmen- tal quality (Lee et al, 2010). As countries develop their econo- mies, their citizens obtain higher living standards, yet during this process of economic development and industrialization, levels of pollution increase to a point at which citizens begin to demand a higher environmental quality – when measures come in to manage the polluting waste products of many goods (Lee et al, 2010). The construction and operation of waste
The role of multinational corporations in wastewater management
Multinational companies dominate the private water, energy and waste management business, many of which have a close relationship to the public sector. Two French multinationals – Suez and Vivendi – control 70 per cent of the world’s privatized water concessions, with an Anglo-German company, RWE- Thames, a distant third. (Hall, 2002), and the five largest oper- ating some 80 per cent of all the privatized water concessions (World Bank, 2009). The same companies dominate the waste business – Suez and Vivendi are the largest two waste man- agement multinationals in the world, having bought up the overseas operations of the former USA global giants, Waste Management Inc and BFI. RWE is number three in Europe (Davies, 2001). Many multinationals have changed names or merged with one another. In 2007 Veolia Environment (ex- Vivendi) reported US$47 billion revenue with a workforce of about 300 000 people (MSE, 2010).