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Earlier this month the Mayor of Quito, Ecuador announced he was ending plans to privatize water in the city. This is a major victory for the Coalition for the Defence of Public Water, a national organization of trade unions and community groups.

The challenge now is to extend provision of safe, affordable water for all Quito’s citizens. The municipality had been planning to privatize its water and sewage company (EMAAP-Q) since 2003. The municipality brought in Price Waterhouse to study how to privatize part of the system, arguing there was a lack of public funds to make the necessary new investments.

The coalition was able to prove that the consultant’s financial calculations required the municipality to provide almost US $20 million over the first 5 years, while the corporations would only have to pony up US $7 million.

The coalition also showed that after year six of the contract, the private company could expect to make a profit over the next 30 years of up to US $226 million. Further, the company would have exclusive rights to the water sources in the Quito region.

The coalition carried out a very successful information and education campaign denouncing the privatization process, calling for water to remain in public hands and asserting the right to water. The coalition is made up of trade unions, lawyers and ecological groups, community groups, women’s groups and indigenous peoples networks and is supported by global trade union federation Public Services International.

Find out more from Public Services International’s web site.