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Research: Let the Poor Have Water, not Ideology

This year's World Water Week will see activists gather in Stockholm to discuss ways of getting clean water to the 1 billion people around the world who are currently without it. The new research by Alex Nash argues that if water activists remain blinkered by ideology and continue to oppose private water provision, this goal will not be met.



This year's World Water Week will see activists gather in Stockholm to discuss ways of getting clean water to the 1 billion people around the world who are currently without it. The new research by Alex Nash argues that if water activists remain blinkered by ideology and continue to oppose private water provision, this goal will not be met. This research paper has been released in Pakistan by the Alternate Solutions Institute, a partner organization of the Sustainable Development Network UK, publisher of the Nash's research report.

Even though private water provision sees clean and safe water delivered to millions around the world, many politicians and NGOs remain irrationally opposed to the idea that profit should be made from "essential resources" like water. According to the paper’s author, Alex Nash, a water engineer with experience of public and private sector water projects in less-developed countries, this mindset is actively hindering universal access to water and with it the achievement of several Millennium Development Goals.

The truth is that many public utilities in less-developed countries suffer from endemic corruption and rarely deliver services equitably – even refusing to recognize and connect slum-dwellers: "The reality of many state run utilities is not pretty. Bribes, extortion, kickbacks, nepotism, patronage, shoddy technical standards; it’s all in a day’s work."

Meanwhile, it is the private sector - from individual water porters to larger companies - that fill in the gaps left by dysfunctional state utilities.

The World Bank estimates that in most cities in less developed countries, more than half the population get their water from suppliers other than the public utility. But political opposition to private water could spell the end of such vital services. "The net result of these ideologues' well-meaning efforts is a staunch defense of the corrupt, lazy or incompetent utility managers and mayors. It is a defense of the comfortable middle classes in developing countries who have cheap water while their poorer compatriots queue and walk all day."

"Water Provision for the Poor- How ideology muddies the debate"
by Alex Nash

Download the paper (PDF)

The 26 sponsoring organizations of "Water Provision for the Poor- How ideology muddies the debate" by Alex Nash are as follows:

Ag Bio World Foundation, USA
Africa Fighting Malaria, South Africa
Alternate Solutions Institute, Pakistan
Asociación de Consumidores Libres, Costa Rica
Association for Liberal Thinking
CEDICE, Venezuela
CEPPRO, Paraguay
Centro de Innovación y Desarrollo Humano, Uruguay
ESEADE University, Argentina
Fundación Atlas 1853, Argentina
Fundación Libertad, Panamá
Free Market Foundation, South Africa
Forum on China's Economic Growth and Business Cycle, China
Instituto Ecuatoriano de Economía Política, Ecuador
International Policy Network, UK
IMANI Center for Policy and Education, Ghana
INLAP, Costa Rica
Instituto de Libre Empresa, Peru
Instituto Liberdade, Brazil
Instituto Libertad y Progreso
Institute of Public Affairs, Australia
Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, Israel
Liberty Institute, India
Lion Rock Institute, Hong Kong
RSE – Centre for Social and Economic Research, Iceland
Zambia Institute for Public Policy Analysis, Zambia



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