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KYOTO (22 March 03) – As ministers from around the globe gathered in Kyoto to look at ways to improve access to clean water, Public Services International (PSI) said the ministers should look to the public sector to meet the needs.

“The only way we will reach the goal of water and sanitation for all is through strengthening and extending public water systems,” said PSI spokesperson David Boys. “We have a number of concrete, immediate actions that governments could take to provide safe, clean and affordable water to all those who are suffering for lack of access.”

PSI called on governments to increase their support to public-public partnerships, twinning municipal water systems to build skills and promote improved services. “Public-public partnerships will build on the quality, efficiency and strong record of innovation that we see in many public sector water services in the north and in the developing south,” said Boys.

PSI delegates from 25 countries who participated in the World Water Forum leading up to the ministerial meeting also called for action to ensure local governments have access to public sources of capital, including municipal bonds, to expand and upgrade water and wastewater services.

“The ministers should also be building on the inherent advantages of democratically-controlled public utilities to increase public participation and community accountability of local water services,” said Boys. “And we should build on the experience of the workers who actually deliver water services to increase efficiency and identify ways to improve service.”

PSI released several reports before the ministerial meeting, showing the failure of the water multinationals to meet the needs of the poor, proposing new strategies for financing, and demonstrating the success of public-public partnering. [These reports can be found at www.psiru.org.]

“It’s clear the model being pushed by the water multinationals is falling apart under the weight of its own contradictions,” said Boys. “Rather than putting energies into propping up the profits of the water giants, governments and donors should be focusing their efforts on the public sector. It’s here that the solutions to the world’s water crisis lie.”


For further information:
Robert Fox – 090 5400 6576
David Boys – 090 5402 0433