Masters Thesis

The water privatization debate : a critique of and alternative to the international financial institutions' promotion of the private provision of water services

This thesis focuses on the debate over the private provision of water services. One billion people worldwide lack access to clean water, which results in millions of illnesses and deaths every year. The international financial institutions have blamed lack of access to clean water on government corruption and deficient funding. Their solution has been promoting the private provision of water services to increase access to clean water. Growing international social movements have been disputing the value of the private provision of water services. This thesis adds to the debates by arguing that the private provision of water services is a political choice, not an economic inevitability and that the private provision of water services does not promote the mission of the international financial institutions to decrease poverty by increasing access to clean water. The private provision of water services is not efficient because it is a natural monopoly and it tends to: increase water costs and service disconnections, not account for the costs from water-borne illness, concentrate investment in wealthy areas, and perpetrate corruption. The alternative solution promoted in this thesis is strong democracy based on the right to water.

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