In case after case around the world, water has been turned into a profit-making commodity – preventing access to the most essential element on Earth. Pollution, corporate takeover, and the mismanagement of water ecosystems have resulted in dire water poverty and scarcity in many parts of the world. Private ownership of water and water-delivery systems does not resolve, but rather, compounds the longstanding and deep-seated abuse, neglect, mismanagement, and exploitation of water.
Mark Twain said, “Whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting over.” As you read this, corporations and governments the world over – backed by their allies in the World Bank, IMF, and World Trade Organisation – are putting ‘for sale’ signs on urban and rural water systems. In 90 percent of the world, the state still controls water, and even where it is partnered with a community, it often fails egregiously to protect earth rights and human rights. (We can see this in the deaths of 4000 to 5000 children each day as a result of lack of access to safe water.)
Despite this bleak reality, citizens are both effectively resisting threats and creating alternatives. They are bringing fresh perspectives, building the power and the rights of the citizen and the worker, and creating innovations in public and community water systems.