Water: Fears of a Clown
IPN Press release
LONDON – Guy Laliberté’s water awareness “Global Poetic Event” tonight highlights one of the world’s most serious problems but ignores the real barriers to water access for the poor: corruption, cronyism and state cartels.
Laliberté’s One Drop Foundation claims that the use of environmentally-friendly cleaning products and not wasting paper will help water supply.
“This is hogwash,” said Kendra Okonski of IPN, author of The Water Revolution, which details the real problems affecting access to water – and ways the entrepreneurial poor are attempting to solve the problem themselves. She added, “Laliberté’s proposals might assuage Western guilt but they will do nothing to improve the lot of the poor.”
In the slums of Africa, India, and Brazil, entrepreneurs are delivering water to the poorest, in spite of government restrictions. But Western NGOs who have moral objections to profit are working against these small businesses.
“The problem is that governments give massive water hand-outs to farmers, the elite and other special interests, while making it harder for the poor to access clean water by imposing restrictions on water entrepreneurs,” said Okonski. “As a result, both poor people and the environment are worse off.”
“Governments should scrap their patronage of special interests, get out of the business of subsidising and supplying water, and remove the restrictions on water entrepreneurs, so they can expand and improve their services – reaching more of the people who desperately need clean water,” Okonski added.
“Phoning Bono from space may make the news but it won’t solve the water supply problems of the poor,” she said.
IPN (www.policynetwork.net) is a global think-tank based in London, and is a non-profit, non-partisan organisation. IPN runs campaigns seeking to educate the public about the importance of markets and market institutions in the context of global policies relating to development, trade, health, the environment.
Kendra Okonski (IPN): has written extensively on the issue of managing water with markets (globally and in the UK), including a book called The Water Revolution (2006). She has discussed water issues in print media, including the Daily Telegraph and New Atlantis, as well as in broadcast, including Newsnight.