I gave my son a bath this morning, letting him splash around and play with his toys, I used water to brush his teeth, make his breakfast and wash his clothes.  In my home water is used for cooking, for laundry, for doing the dishes, and to flush the toilet. A luxury I take for granted daily unaware of its importance and vitality. Even though I pay a monthly price for its usage, at least I have water.

This is a vital source of life that other communities in the world are being deprived off because water has now become the latest commodity. It is sourced, commodified , and high prices are levied for its access and usage.

My interest with the water commons began when I came across a you tube  footage  featuring Julia De Graw from Food and Water Watch about the public’s right to water, produced by the Oregon Commons. In this documentary Julia starts by saying “Water is a public good and should not be made into a commodity and sold for private profit”.

The documentary is about Nestle wanting to bottle the spring water from the  state of Oregon’s municipal wells and cascade locks.  Julia in this documentary highlights the consequences a community faces when they partner up or let a multinational like Nestle privatise their water. The result is a massive damage to the ecosystem, dried up wells and water sheds. The documentary shows the commoners (people of Oregon) coming. together to protect their  public good.  The Oregonians believe spring water is a public resource and should not be given away to Nestle to make profit out of it.

This documentary led me to research more and read on other communities facing the wrath of MNCs wanting to privatise their water.  Amongst the many videos I have watched, one stands out the most.

I was brought to tears, watching this documentary.  From Bolivia, to Tanzania, and India rural communities are being deprived of one of life’s basic necessities- water.  Even in a country like the United States of America, you’ve got major water problems in the state of Detroit, Michigan all due to water privatisation.

In Bolivia, parents are having to watch their kids go days without a bath, go ill  because of drinking dirty water and face segregation at school as they are labelled pigs, having no friends  and worse more die.  The water company Suez is charging people 200 dollars for water connection, in a country where a good percentage of the people will have to work for several months or even a year to come up with such an amount. It is simply deplorable.  In Detroit, Michigan, a lady is having to dig up her sewage system, because she just can’t afford to pay for her bills or the charges levied on her. In the case of Tanzania, the government had to step in and send the officials of Bi-water ( a private british water corporation) packing after an unsuccessful privatisation of Tanzania’s water corporation.

In many parts of the world, the rights to fresh water is being sold to huge Multinational corporations, who then charge  users for every litre used to drink or for irrigational purposes. Those who can’ afford go thirsty, or find illegal ways of getting the water.

What’s deeply troubling is , these multinational corporations, mostly set up shop  in rural communities, in the developing world and deprive the locals of a vital basic need. Most communities being affected are very poor communities and depriving them of water is like facilitating death. Aren’t they suffering enough?

Blue Gold – the commodification of water has become a major problem around the world. This process has been facilitated by the both NAFTA and the WTO, who have defined water as a tradable commodity. More so the WTO has made specific provisions prohibiting the use of export controls to prevent the export of water and NAFTA contains a clause that gives companies the right to sue governments for lost future profits. John Cavanagh and Jerry Mander (2004)

I worry what the future holds for my son. What prices will be levied on him to access water. If he will be able to access it at all or will he have to ration how he uses it. The future of the world is at stake.  If money comes before water, before life, then our future is in  really danger.


John Cavanagh and Jerry Mander  (2004), Alternatives to Economic Globalisation, 5 ,pg 106



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