Have You Washed Your Car Today?The availability of clean water is the key to the improvement of health and the quality of life of the population and the environment. Only with the participation of all parties can this Herculean task be eventually completed.
- Nila Ardhianie in Jakarta Post 22nd March 2007
Today is the United Nations sanctioned World Water Day
and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this
:This year, World Water Day coincides with the International Year of Sanitation
, challenging us to spur action on a crisis affecting more than one out of three people on the planet.
Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of the abysmal sanitation conditions endured by some 2.6 billion people globally. That adds up to an unconscionable 1.5 million young lives cut short by a cause we know well how to prevent.
Poor sanitation combines with a lack of safe drinking water and inadequate hygiene to contribute to the terrible global death toll. Those who survive face diminished chances of living a healthy and productive existence. Children, especially girls, are forced to stay out of school, while hygiene-related diseases keep adults from engaging in productive work.
Leaders who adopted the Millennium Development Goals in 2000 envisioned halving the proportion of people living without access to basic sanitation by the year 2015 -- but we are nowhere near on pace to achieve that Goal. While there have been advances, progress is hampered by population growth, widespread poverty, insufficient investments to address the problem and the biggest culprit: a lack of political will.
In the past I have written about how the world's water companies profit
while the world faces increased desertification and how here in Jakarta these same mutli-national water companies evade their responsibilities
. They would, of course, blame political interference, or lack of political will, for their incompetence.
And they would be right. Except that as private companies monopolising public resources, if they can make a financial profit from their relatively short-term contracts (25 years), then why should they bother with providing a public service?
Just over a year ago, Muli argued
for self/collective management, "as we have in the villages". He was supporting the approach advocated by the Transnational Institute
, "a worldwide fellowship of scholar-activists", one of whom, Nila Ardhianie, is director of Amrta Institute for Water Literacy.
At the 4th World Water Forum held in Mexico City two years ago, she said, "I live in Surakarta, so I know the water company is efficient and serving us well."
And how?Abimanyu, the president director of Surakarta's public water company, also at the Forum, said that since his appointment as head of the water company (PDAM) four years previously, he had been approached by seven private companies, some of them multinationals.
"I told them, no. The municipality (of Surakarta) supports me; they also don't want privatization."
Abimanyu said he had proven that public companies are not necessarily inefficient and corrupt.
"Last year (2005), we made Rp.2 billion (US$215,000) in profit. We hope to increase that to Rp.4 billion in 2007," he said, adding that if the company could maintain its healthy financial position, it would be able to repay in full its World Bank debt of Rp.30 billion by 2018.Read more:Waspola
- Indonesia Water Supply and Sanitation Policy Formulation and Action Planning ProjectWater Justice
- resource center on alternatives to privatisation