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Apr 11, 2014

Mexico: Goldcorp´s gold project suspended

by Radio Mundo Real — last modified Apr 11, 2014 07:20 PM

Community members of El Carrizalillo in Guerrero State, Mexico, who blocked access to gold project “Los Filos” of Canadian mining company Goldcorp on April 1st, submitted on Monday a list of demands to the company related to health, environment and fair payment for their lands.

In addition, a government representative of Guerrero State visited the community and was shocked by the environmental destruction caused by Goldcorp in the region, where around 1400 people are living. This is what community leader Julio told Real World Radio.

After Goldcorp´s leasing agreement on the peasant´s lands expired on March 31, on April 1st, the community members blocked access to the mine. They are claiming a fair renegotiation or a closing and post-closing plan for the mining company that has been operating in El Carrizalillo for over ten years.

The gold project has caused serious environmental and health impacts in the area, Julio told Real World Radio. These are “2000-2500 hectares that are completely destroyed by the mine”.

Julio also said that they have also blocked federal transportation networks in order to avoid being repressed by the government, “which is supporting the transnational corporation”. Julio believes the support of national and international support has been key to avoid governmental repression. “This is extremely valuable”, he said, and urged the international community to continue expressing solidarity through letters, press releases, among other protection mechanisms for the community members resisting.

The Meso American Movement against the Mining Extractive Model (M4), together with international networks, such as Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) is circulating an urgent action with letters addressed to Goldcorp authorities and Mexican and Canadian governments to claim a dignified agreement for the affected peoples.

To join the action:

Apr 08, 2014

Harvard: Stop destroying the Iberá Wetlands!

by admin — last modified Apr 08, 2014 10:47 AM

Friends of the Earth Argentina is engaged in a campaign to protect some of that country’s most important wetlands, and their campaign will soon arrive at the doorstep of an unlikely accomplice in the potential destruction: Harvard University.

According to a report released late last year by the Oakland Institute and the Responsible Investment at Harvard coalition, industrial timber plantations owned by Harvard University in the Corrientes province of Argentina have degraded the Iberá Wetlands ecosystem and endangered thousands of small-holder farmers in the region.

Harvard owns 212,500 acres of land in the Iberá Wetlands -- one of the world's largest reserves of freshwater -- and also owns two timber companies that are converting the land to monoculture pine and eucalyptus plantations. Since Harvard purchased the companies in 2007, the timber plantations have expanded into protected wetland areas and surrounding communities.

According to local residents, the companies generate little economic benefit for the local population because young people have to leave their hometowns as plantations decrease the productivity of their farms. Moreover, the plantations harm public health with their pesticides use and cause damage to public roads.

The monoculture plantations also devastate the environment as they reduce the availability of water for farming, increase summer droughts, create water shortages, and threaten critical habitat for hundreds of plant and animal species.

The Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition is asking supporters to sign an Avaaz petition to demand that Harvard stop the plantations' expansion. This month, two organizers from Corrientes, Emilio Spataro and Adrián Obregón, will come from Argentina to Harvard Yard for a Week of Action to speak to student groups and administrators about the urgent need for Harvard to desist its exploitation and mismanagement of the Iberá Wetlands.

To learn more and join the rally in Harvard Yard on Friday, April 11, at 2:00 P.M, go to To sign the Avaaz petition, click here.


See more about this case on the website of Friends of the Earth US

Apr 01, 2014

Tell the FAO to develop a less damaging definition of 'forests'

by admin — last modified Apr 01, 2014 10:20 AM

The FAO's (The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization) current definition actually promotes deforestation. Any area covered by trees could be counted as a forest under the FAO's current definition. But forests are complex ecosystems; the structural, functional and biological diversity of non-tree elements that make up a forest are not taken into consideration. The cultural importance of the interaction between forests and communities is overlooked. Alarmingly, the inclusion of monoculture tree plantations in the definition misleadingly gives the impression that global deforestation is not the problem it once was. You really may as well call a swimming pool a lake.

The World Rainforest Movement, Friends of the Earth International, La Via Campesina, and Focus on the Global South wrote a joint letter on March 21 - International Day of Forests - asking the FAO to change the way it defines forests.


Write a letter or email to your local, national or regional FAO office asking them to urgently begin the process of devising a new definition for forests. Use some of the talking points below (or just copy paste if you're in a hurry).




To whom it may concern,

The current definition of forest used by the FAO is inadequate. It does not adequately protect forests or the people who depend on them. At least 300 million women and men worldwide depend directly on forests for their livelihoods. These people must be consulted and their priorities included in devising a new definition.

The current definition preferences the perspectives of the timber, pulp/paper and rubber companies who benefit from planting large monoculture plantations. A new definition must reflect how forest dependent peoples see and use forests.


States and multilateral institutions such as the FAO and the World Bank still see forests as land where the commercial extraction of valuable timber by private companies is the best way for countries to get on the so called “development” track and take people out of “poverty”, yet the current definition leaves forest communities vulnerable to land grabs and undermines their food sovereignty.

The present reductionist definition also justifies the expansion of large-scale monoculture tree plantations as so called “planted forests". Such large-scale monocultures are even considered “reforestation” and are said to compensate for forest loss. In practice, industrial tree plantations and other industrial monocultures like oil palm and soy have contributed immensely to the destruction of forests and other biomes like grasslands and savannas throughout the world. While providing a handful of transnational companies with enormous profits, they have left forest-dependent communities impoverished and often even driven them off their territories.

The FAO’s State of the world´s forests report continues to support the myth that deforestation is less of a problem than it was in the past. The supposedly positive news is the result of the current definition, which confuses forests and plantations, permitting tens of millions of industrial fast-growing monoculture plantations (such as eucalyptus, acacia and rubber) to be counted as “planted forests” in countries’ forest statistics.


Under FAO’s present forest definition, even a genetically modified fast-growing eucalyptus plantation of 100,000 hectares is called a “forest”, in spite of all the negative impact it has as a large-scale monoculture crop, not to speak of the risk of contaminating the genetic composition of surrounding trees and forests.


For all of these reasons and many more, I implore you to begin the process of creating a new, more representative, less damaging definition for forests as soon as possible.


Best wishes,


[Your name]


1. View of palm oil plantation in Cigudeg, Bogor by Achmad Rabin Taim from Jakarta, Indonesia
2. An underwater picture of a swimming pool by Tukka

Mar 31, 2014

Why we need climate justice: the climate crisis is an environmental justice issue

by admin — last modified Mar 31, 2014 01:36 PM

On March 31, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its report on the latest scientific understanding of climate change impacts.

The report's findings draw our attention to the many reasons why the climate crisis is an environmental justice issue.

Climate change is hitting the poorest people and the poorest countries hardest, despite these being least responsible for causing it. These examples from the UN report exemplify why the climate crisis is an environmental justice issue:

1. The poorest are already most affected by climate change
Extreme weather can destroy homes and infrastructure, and changing weather patterns can reduce crop yields and make some conditions unworkable. While richer people and richer countries may be positioned to adapt to these new circumstances, poorer countries and poorer people are already struggling with higher food prices and reduced crop yields.

2. Poverty and extreme weather
Countries and districts lacking essential infrastructure and quality housing are simply less able to cope with extreme heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones and wildfires. Water scarcity and lack of access to food following extreme weather is also a greater problem for poorer countries and poorer people in richer countries.

3. Access to food
Essential crop yields, such as wheat and maize, have already been negatively affected by climate change. Further change could mean the breakdown of food systems and supply chains in vulnerable areas. Once again it is the urban and rural poor who are worst hit.

4. Health impacts
Delivery of basic medical services will suffer in some particularly vulnerable areas, exacerbating existing health complaints and leaving preventable conditions unchecked. As the twenty first century rolls on, climate change is expected to lead to increases in ill-health.

5. Fishing and coastal communities
As climate change causes the loss of marine ecosystems and damages others, the impact on already fragile fishing communities could be catastrophic. Changing marine migration patterns are vastly unpredictable. Meanwhile, storm surges, coastal flooding and rising sea-levels are likely to disrupt livelihoods and cause injury, ill-health and death in coastal regions.

6. Poverty reduction efforts will be set back
With the erosion in food security comes the likelihood that efforts to reduce existing inequalities will be scaled back. Economic growth is likely to decline. Poverty reduction will be more difficult and less effective.

The impacts of climate change are already being felt, particularly by the poorest. Further climate change brings substantial risks to human well being, again particularly the poorest, as well as to ecosystems.

Coping with the effects of climate change will require rapid and significant reductions in emissions from the wealthiest people across the world and from the wealthiest countries.
It will also require significant financial and technical assistance to help poorer countries and regions to adapt  and develop low-carbon economies.

But there is also an urgent  need to reduce vulnerability to climate change by reducing inequalities between and within countries.

Image: Mayeenul Islam, Cyclone Aila Climate Change Nijhum Dwip 2009 Bangladesh

Mar 21, 2014

Friends of the Earth International supports week of action against Israeli water company Mekorot

by admin — last modified Mar 21, 2014 03:10 PM

Lack of access to clean water for Palestinians is a major problem. Opposition to Israeli state water company Mekorot's discriminatory policies has spurred people into action around the world. Friends of the Earth Palestine is co-organizing a week of action against Mekerot beginning on March 22, World Water Day.


The occupied Palestinian territory shares water sources with Israel, but the vast majority of their shared water is piped to Israelis and illegal Israeli settlements.

All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are connected to piped water supplied by Mekorot, while an estimated 15% of the Palestinian population is not serviced at all.

Even Mekerot's paying Palestinian customers often do not have a sufficient supply. During summer, water is routinely rationed and supply can be reduced by up to 70% in certain places. Some Palestinian cities, towns and villages may have water only once a week or even once a month.

This injustice and the inequity of access to water supply has always been a source of tension, especially when Palestinian villagers see water pipes leading to Israeli colonies passing  through their land without supplying their village with water.

Friends of the Earth International is supporting the Week of Action Against Mekorot co-organised by PENGON/Friends of the Earth Palestine and other Palestinian organisations because of the water company's discriminatory water policies and practices.

What is the week of action?

A global call to stand up and insist that governments, public and private utility companies, and investors worldwide avoid or terminate all contracts and cooperation agreements with Mekorot.

Mekorot is working to expand its international activities, participating in bids for public contracts and partnerships with utility companies in countries such as the U.S., Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Cyprus, and Uganda.

In December 2013 the largest drinking water supplier in the Netherlands, Vitens, set a precedent when it decided that its commitment to international law meant it had to withdraw from a cooperation agreement with Mekorot.

What can you do?




For more information


Friends of the Earth International press release 'Israeli water company Mekorot under pressure from NGOs'

Read 'Water injustice in Palestine'

More about the Week of Action Against Mekorot

For more about Mekorot's international activities see the Mekorot factsheet prepared by Stop The Wall (STW) and the company's  website

Jan 11, 2012

Under Pressure: How our material consumption threatens the planet’s water resources

by PhilLee — last modified Jan 11, 2012 12:15 PM
Filed Under:

A new report by Friends of the Earth Europe shows that European consumption is threatening the world's water supply.

This research shows how Europe’s material consumption is threatening the world’s water supply and Europe is neglecting the catastrophic consequences that water stress and scarcity will have in the continent and in the rest of the world. Europe’s high levels of water use are characteristic of alarming levels of resource use by a minority of the global population. This imbalance in water use has already resulted in water conflicts in parts of the world where water is scarcest.


Read the report here

Mar 24, 2011

Colombia: Demonstrations mark International Day Against Dams

by PhilLee — last modified Mar 24, 2011 04:16 PM
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On Wednesday March 16, civil society organisations in Colombia took to the streets of the capital Bogota, to mark the International Day of Action Against Dams and for the defence of rivers, water and life. They were joined by other like-minded organisations from the continent and beyond.

Demonstrations and cultural events also took place in Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador.


In Neiva, in the south of Colombia, 2000 people marched to express their opposition to plans to build a dam in the Magdalena river. More than 200 peasants from the region took part in a sit-in outside the site where the dam would be built.


In the north of the country up to 4,000 people demonstrated against the construction of the Ituango Dam on the Cauca river. The people's slogans demanded guarantees of the right to land, work and the rejection of forcible evictions.


In Santander, peasants, fisherfolk, environmental activists, workers and students demonstrated against a project to build a dam in the Chicamocha river, one of the most diverse places in the region. The dam would cause severe damage to the fisheries, and peasants who live on the river.


In Cauca, to the west, black communities conducted a General Assembly to mark the day and to prepare an action plan to respond to threats on their territory from a proposed hydroelectricity project. They also agreed to put together an environmental management plan for its Basin.

Aug 02, 2010

un vote to recognise water as a human right

by PhilLee — last modified Aug 02, 2010 11:42 AM

On July 28 the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly agreed to a resolution declaring the human right to "safe and clean drinking water and sanitation."

demonstration_water_mexico.jpgThe UN General Assembly passed on Wednesday in New York, US, a resolution that recognizes the human right to clean water and sanitation, with 122 votes in favour, 41 abstentions and zero votes against it. Hundreds of social movements around the world welcome this historic decision.


“After over a decade of hard work, the global water justice movement achieved a major victory”, states the Council of Canadians in a press release issued Wednesday. The Council of Canadians is an organization that has been crucial in the international struggle for this right and that works for social, economic and environmental justice in Canada and the rest of the world.


Three members of the Council of Canadians were present at the UN General Assembly session yesterday. One of them, Anil Naidoo, said “this resolution has the overwhelming support of a strong majority of countries, despite a handful of powerful opponents. It must now be followed-up with a renewed push for water justice.”


The initiative, introduced by Bolivia with the support of over 30 countries, declares “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.” And is “deeply concerned” since “approximately 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water and that over 2.6 billion do not have access to basic sanitation”. It also states its alarm since “approximately 1.5 million children under 5 years of age die and 443 million school days are lost each year from water and sanitation related diseases”.


The movements fighting for the human right to water at an international level are aware of the fact that their work and mobilization must continue, to ensure the enforcement of the resolution. “We are calling for actions on the ground in communities around the world to ensure that the rights to water and sanitation are implemented”, said Naidoo. “Governments, aid agencies and the UN must take their responsibilities seriously”, he added.


Several developed countries pushed to prevent the resolution from being passed, although when it was time to vote they abstained, to protect their international image. The United Kingdom, Canada, US, Australia and New Zealand are among these countries.


It was reported that these countries tried to change the text of the resolution to reduce their future obligations to ensure the human right to water.


Most of the abstaining countries are European, mostly the EU or aligned to the EU. The six African countries that abstained (Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Tanzania and Zambia) are former European colonies, as the two Caribbean countries (Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago).

Jul 22, 2010

Friends of the Earth Korea protest against four major rivers project

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 22, 2010 02:48 PM
Filed Under:

Friends of the Earth Korea / KFEM have recently occupied a 6 metre high dam to show their opposition to the four major rivers development project.

four-riversAt 4am on July 22, 2010, Five KFEM campaigners occupied a 6 metre high dam on the Namhan River, part of the four major rivers project. The group of five were protesting at the environmental destruction the project is causing. 


A spokesman from the group said:


"As environmentalists we cannot understand the irrational and ecologically destructive four major rivers project. Protesting is the only thing we can do because the government ignores and rejects all the suggestions from the people on the ground."   


The South Korean government announced the four major rivers restoration project in June 2009. They claim that the Four Major Rivers Project is part of its efforts to combat climate change. However, the project threatens conservation efforts of wetlands and will stop rivers from flowing freely. Friends of the Earth Korea believe that more than 100 river wetlands on the National Wetland Inventory will be affected by the project.
Wetlands play a crucial role in flood control, water supply and water purification. The construction of levies and dams on rivers to improve flood control has often had the reverse effect. Floodplain restoration and removal of nearby structures should be considered as an alternative solution.


Friends of the Earth Korea are demanding that President Lee Myung-Bak:


  • recognise the public concerns about the project and stop it immediately
  • create an organisation to create alternatives to the four major rivers development project
  • discuss with civil society organisations and local people any future ideas for development projects


further information 

View pictures of the protest here



Apr 17, 2009

colombians call on government to honour water referendum

by PhilLee — last modified Apr 17, 2009 04:40 PM

More than 1000 Colombians demonstrated in the capital as part of international water week in order to reclaim water as a fundamental right.

Columbian water protestOn March 18 2009, Colombians demonstrated in support of a referendum on the right to water as part of International Water Week. More than 1000 people participated in the demonstration which included young people from universities and schools, environmentalists, trade unionists and neighbourhood communities from all over Bogota.


The demonstration’s strength and impact rested on the young people’s cultural expressions as they sought to reclaim water as a vital element of their territory and access to water as a fundamental right, far removed from the thinking promoted by transnational corporations and other private actors.



colombian water protest2The march sent a strong message to the MPs who were discussing the Water Referendum Bill in the House of Representatives. The bill demands the enforcement of the popular decision, supported by over two million Colombians, to treat water as a fundamental human right for everyone.


However, while the Columbian congress is questioning the cost implied by the implementation of the proposal, delaying its approval, the figures of inequality in the country continue to rise.  Nearly 53% of the rural population has no access to drinking water. In the capital alone, there are nearly one million people without access to water, because they cannot afford it.


Friends of the Earth Colombia/CENSAT demand the lawmakers reflect the citizen’s decision in the recent referendum and they encourage the national and international community to support this initiative and to continue moving forward in the building of a social and environmental movement that defends access to water as a fundamental human right.



On May 19 the Colombian congress ignored the will of the people and 'modified' the bill taking out the reference to water being a basic human right. 

Rafael Colmenares from the Committee in Defence of Water and Life decalred that the popular initiative "no longer exists, it was blocked"
"We are not advocates of the referendum that will be voted on," he continued, after two and a half years of efforts to gather signatures and raise awareness on the issue." 
In response the committee is studying possible legal actions to ensure that the original text of the bill is put before the legislative committe. Meanwhile, the Colombian citizens who signed the referendum calling for access to water for everyone, will once again take to the streets and demand that the will of the people is recognised. 

Apr 20, 2007

Uruguay says Yes to Water Sovereignty

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:50 PM
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referendum result - 60% reject water privatization

On the historical day October 31 st , 62,75% of the Uruguayan people supported the Constitutional Reform in Defense of Water, adding water as a human right to the Constitution and setting the basis for its exclusive public, participative and sustainable management.


This referendum resource was promoted by the National Commission in Defense of Water and Life (CNDAV) . The commission was created in 2002 as an answer to the signing of a Letter of Intent between the Uruguayan government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which committed to extend the privatization of potable water and sanitation services to the entire country.

Privatizations started in Maldonado department, firstly with the presence of French multinational company Suez Lyonnese Des Aux followed by Spanish company Aguas de Bilbao.

As in most of water privatizations performed last year, these processes have had negative consequences.

From the social point of view, wide sectors were prevented access to potable water for not being able to afford the cost of the service, which considerably decreased its quality with respect to the services granted by water state company OSE.

The conditions of the service were of such low quality that quality control bodies in that matter recommended not to consume water because it didn't comply with minimum quality standards.

From an economic point of view, the “business” was really bad for the Uruguayan state. Not only did the companies failed to comply with the chronograms provided in the contracts, but they didn't pay what was established as well. Having to file for contractual reconsiderations before the state, which assumed the losses caused in each of the cases.

From an environmental point of view, Aguas de la Costa company (subsidiary of Suez) was responsible for drying Blanca Lagoon, which used to be used as potablilization source. Precisely for this cause, neighbors of Maldonado department filed a law suit against the company for environmental damages.

Water against everything

The victory of the water plebiscite was actually a social one. CNDAV is a wide group of social and political organizations which oppose a merchandising conception of water.

Among their founders are neighbors' organizations, FFOSE (water state company's trade union) and REDES-FOE (Friends of the Earth Uruguay). After its foundation, the commission became greater, including the majority left wing political party (Frente Amplio, winner of October 31st elections) and one nationalist party's sectors.

However, despite its political support, the water plebiscite was secondary within the politic and media agenda. In addition to this, privatizing companies, of water and other sectors (as bottling companies) as well as conservative business sectors (large estate owners, forestal and rice) carried out a strong politic and media lobby against the reform.

During the nine months previous to the campaign, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) started a public debate with the CNDAV, denying any imposition to the Uruguayan government and refusing the responsibility attributed to the content of 2002 Intentions Letter.


The work, which enabled the triumph of the Constitutional Reform , was based on the grassroots, which transmitted the spirit and content of the proposed articles.

The auspicious result of the plebiscite opens the doors for a water policy designed from a vision of this resource as a common good, to be publicly managed on social participation and sustainability criteria.

read about the background

list of local stories about water and wetlands

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:46 PM

asian development bank water project

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:19 PM


asian development bank water projects

sri lanka

Sri Lanka

image: FoE Sri Lanka
The Government of Sri Lanka is receiving a $10.7 million loan from the Asian Development Bank to improve the management of water resources. This is part of a scheme promoted by the World Bank and the Development Bank to stop farmers growing non-export food crops and to start charging farming families for irrigation water. Both farmers and the poor will be forced to sell their water rights to high value sectors such as export food crops, industrial sectors or modern economic sectors in urban areas.

In 2000 ministers approved a 'National Water Resources Policy'. Its major recommendation is that all the water resources should rest with the government. Once implemented every user of water will have to pay for their water entitlement. This is only one step towards transferring the ownership of water resources to international companies so they can make profits through distribution. Historically, water has always been regarded as the common property of the Sri Lankan people. The State is only a guardian. However, about 12 foreign companies have already visited Sri Lanka and held international workshops to explore business opportunities with water.

Paddy cultivation will be seriously affected if water is issued as a commodity on the market. The World Bank has advised the government that paddy cultivation in Sri Lanka is a non-profitable venture and recommended the diversification of agriculture into cash crops. Making water a commodity and fixing a market price amounts to taking away the livelihoods of the urban and rural poor, as well as farmers, animals and plants.

visit the website of the Sri Lankan Friends of the Earth group, Environmental Foundation Ltd


In Thailand, the Asian Development Bank's $600 million Agricultural Sector Program Loan demands fundamental reforms of national water policy, despite possibly contravening the Thai constitution.

The Asian Development Bank called for:

  • a National Water Resources Policy;
  • a Water Law;
  • a policy on cost recovery in irrigation;
  • an increase in National Water Resource Committee's authority in managing water resources nationwide;
  • river basin organizations in three pilot river basins;
  • the privatization of the irrigation system so that farmers pay for the costs of private water management.

The Thai government has been required to use the free market model. Groups who can make a high profit from water are given priority in access to water resources. Farmers, who do not generate much profit from water, are given the lowest priority.

In drafting National Water Resources policy, the National Water Resources Committee obtained technical assistance from consultant companies hired by the Asian Development Bank and some committee members had close relationships with consultant companies hired by the Asian Development Bank. The decision-making was processed behind closed doors. Put simply, the direction of National Policy on Water Resource was determined by the Asian Development Bank.


The Government of Pakistan, with the help of the Asian Development Bank, set up the Water Resources Strategy Study. It was undertaken by the Ministry of Water and Power, the Office of the Chief Engineering Advisor and the Chairman of the Federal Flood Commission. The Study's main objective was to prepare a road map for the future development of the water sector towards more efficient service delivery and the optimum utilization of resources to meet the competing demands of all water users in the future.

The Strategy and the Medium Term Investment Plan prioritize fairness in water allocation, improving and maintaining the quality of water, the conservation of the country's water resources and the need for efficiency and financial sustainability in water service delivery. These terms mean privatization and full-cost recovery – higher tariffs for the consumer.

The privatization of Karachi 's water supply

The government has pointed to the massive losses that the public sector makes; and the World Bank has stressed quite correctly that it is the poor who bear the burden of these public sector losses because Pakistan have a very regressive taxation system. However, the only thing that Government can do is to bring in the private sector and replace public corruption with private profit.

If the Government guaranteed similar profits and salaries to the public sector, it would do just as well. Pakistan 's main problem is a lack of public funding as an enormous share of the budget, over a third of it, goes to the military. Another third or more goes to debt servicing and the remainder is for running the government. So the only way the Pakistani government can get the money it needs is through the private sector.


The Asian Development Bank has approved $1.4 million technical assistance grant to support water and sanitation sector reform in Kathmandu Valley. It includes the establishment of the National Water Supply Regulatory Board and the Kathmandu Valley Water Authority, and a private sector participation scheme.

The Nepal Water Supply Corporation says the Asian Development Bank has failed to supply efficient and affordable services or significantly to expand its service coverage for residents of the Kathmandu Valley. The Asian Development Bank project in Nepal is pushing for implementation of cost recovery, water costs and charges, and privatization.

Private management of the Nepal Water Supply Corporation would increase the price of water five-fold by the time water starts flowing in the pipes of Kathmandu.

visit the website of the Nepali Friends of the Earth group, Pro Public

find out more about the asian development bank.

Source: P. Raja Siregar (2003) “World Bank and ADB’s role in privatizing water in Asia Region” presented at the Asia Pacific Conference on Debt and Privatization of Water and Power Service , held by Jubilee South/APMDD, in Bangkok 8-12 December. P. Raja Siregar is Coordinator of KAU/ Anti Debt Coalition-Indonesia. The author also works with WALHI (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) as Policy Campaigner. Any input, or suggestions can be sent to or . Information regarding KAU’s activity and issues available on: .

world bank water project in asia

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:19 PM


world bank water projects in asia


Philippines : Asia's Largest Water Privatization

In January 1997, Manila opened the bidding for the privatization of the city's Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), Asia's largest and, by some measures, the world's largest water sector privatization to date.

MWSS, responsible for delivering water and sewerage services to Manila's 11 million residents, invited private water groups to bid for two 25-year concessions, one for the city's west side, one for the east.

Manila Water Co., won the eastern concession by promising a huge 74% cut in water rates. On the other hand, the Maynilad Water Services Inc., won the western zone with a promise to lower rates by 44%.

Both concessions would run for 25 years with the pledge that no rate increases will be implemented in the first 10 years of operation. Consequently, people welcomed the prospects of better and cheaper services but some keen observers already warned of the entry of old oligarchs and foreign capital into vital public utilities of the country.

Six years after the privatization, water fees were increased five times without corresponding improvements on water services and existing infrastructure. Water charges tripled in 2001 and in 2003 has an 81% increase in the eastern zone and 36% in the western district. As services become more expensive and inefficient, poorer households suffered. Similarly, millions of Filipinos are still not connected to piped water and almost 50% of the water supply is lost due to leakage and theft.

Water Districts Outside Metro Manila

The Local Water Utility Administration (LWUA) is in charge of managing water systems outside Metro Manila. The same agency exercises an exclusive right to provide water and collect fees from around 500 water districts nationwide. LWUA funds the construction of all water facilities from fees collected from consumers, loans from ADB and the World Bank and official development assistance (ODA). Local government units either on the provincial, city or municipal level appoint LWUA Board Members for each water district. LWUA is not a profit-making agency but its mode of operation is commercialized in the sense that it is allowed to recover its investments at full cost. As a consequence, LWUA only operates in urban areas where the population is huge and whose residents can afford to pay water services.

The Freedom from Debt Coalition monitors the socio-economic impact of local water districts that have been privatized. Some of these districts suffer the fate of Metro Manila residents who are paying higher water fees in exchange of poorer service.

visit the website of the Philippine Friends of the Earth group, The Legal Rights & Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan

Indonesia: Privatization of Jakarta Water Utilities

image: WAHLI/FoE Indonesia
The World Bank's involvement in water privatization in Jakarta started in June 1991, with a $92 million loan. The loan was used to build a new water purification installation at Pulogadung, Jakarta . Both the World Bank and the Overseas Economic Co-operation Fund of Japan advised the government to privatize its water utilities in Jakarta .

The privatization of Jakarta's water is the story of powerful multinationals that deftly used the World Bank and a compliant dictatorship to grab control of a major city's waterworks. In alliance with the Suharto family and Suharto cronies, Thames and Suez won favorable concessions without public consultation or bidding. As riots spread, the companies' executives fled, according to Indonesian waterworks officials, exposing millions of Jakarta residents to a potential catastrophe. Eventually they returned and renegotiated their contracts under somewhat less generous terms. As for the ostensible reason for privatization — bringing water to the poor and improving the finances of the waterworks — the companies' record is mixed.

World Bank Loan to Reform Water Policy

In 1998, the World Bank approved a $300 million loan to the Indonesian government. The proposed loan would support a structural adjustment program of policy, institutional, regulatory, legal, and organizational reforms in the management of the water resources and irrigation sector.

The World Bank placed two key conditions on the payment of the loan:

  • A new Irrigation Policy, decentralizing the management of irrigation to farmers' organizations. Decentralization means farmers will bear the cost of management and maintenance.
  • A new Water Management Bill, which has caused widespread protest from NGOs, farmers, urban poor groups and academia. The main issues coming from the draft of the Bill are lack of protection of water rights of the community. Instead of giving a clear recognition and protection of water for people, it gives more access to private investment to have concession on water resources, from water surface and ground water.

visit the website of the Indonesian Friends of the Earth group, Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (Indonesian Forum for the Environment)


Cambodia is remarkable for the number of private initiatives in water supply provision that have sprung up in urban and rural areas, encouraged by the weakness of public utilities and the absence of a regulatory regime. Outside Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, almost all new investments in water supply networks have been made by local private investors, ranging from a few thousand dollars for villages of a few hundred families to $900,000 for the provincial town of Banteay Meanchey (population 100,000 in 2000). In 1997 and 1998, four private companies were granted concession rights for water supply in four large towns.

The concessions were granted without appropriate bidding, resulting in different privatization processes. The Government sees no need to add specific provisions to encourage service access for all because it assumes that the private sector automatically wants to sell water to the greatest number of people. Understandably, the private investors have established networks in the most densely populated urban and commercial neighborhoods, where the investment required is lowest and consumption is highest.

Households served by private utilities pay significantly more for piped water services, and some lower-income households that are not served by private utilities are partially limited by the high connection fees (as opposed to the regular monthly payments). Overall, while this recent effort to introduce private sector involvement in the water sector in Cambodia is encouraging, the full gains have not yet been realized.

read more about the world bank's involvement in natural resources

Source: P. Raja Siregar (2003) “World Bank and ADB’s role in privatizing water in Asia Region” presented at the Asia Pacific Conference on Debt and Privatization of Water and Power Service , held by Jubilee South/APMDD, in Bangkok 8-12 December. P. Raja Siregar is Coordinator of KAU/ Anti Debt Coalition-Indonesia. The author also works with WALHI (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) as Policy Campaigner. Any input, or suggestions can be sent to or . Information regarding KAU’s activity and issues available on: .

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