Friday, 16 November 2007

Thursday 15 November

Post by Mussa Billgeya, Tanzanian Association of NGOs

The Annual General Meeting of the Africa Water Network (AWN) started on 15th November. On the First Day, the participants focused the presentations and discussions on three main Issues: Water Audits and the Work Done by Civil Society Members in the represented countries; the Donor Strategies on pushing for Water Privatization; and the future AWN strategies.

During the discussions on the first issues (Water Audits), some of the key issues came out strongly included the following:

1) The need to consider informal ownership of water and the non-formal water systems. These include the traditional ways used by people in different areas, especially in Africa, and avoiding the need to impose foreign management systems that at the end of the day prove not to be working and not serving the communities as they should.
2) The need to campaign for public water services providers to be provided with enough funds to support the provision of water services and avoid the need for privatization.
3) The need to make water a global political issues and win the political will of different donors.
4) Also the need to rethink the role of Foreign Investment – is it always good?

On the Second issue (Donor strategies) the main discussion was drawn from the presentations made from three countries: Tanzania, South Africa and Cameroon on their experience on Water Management Contracts. The general conclusion from all the participants was that this is a new form of privatization and hence the AWN also must oppose its imposition in any of the countries.

Lastly, the meeting proposed and discussed some strategies and tactics for the AWN. These strategies were developed from the different scenarios in the water audits and donor strategies discussions. These included conducting detailed studies to understand different countries water policies and other legal frameworks. This will have to go hand in hand with learning about the World Bank’s position and policies on water. More strategies include forming a strong information sharing network, making a good use of the media to further our arguments and for public support, and influence the legislators and public officials on the need to improve the performance of the public entities and stop privatization of water services.

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