Water Warriors: Fighting Privatization in the Philippines

Since 2007, when we began our Earth Month partnership for clean water with Aveda, we’ve supported over 600 grants to clean water projects in the countries where Aveda sources ingredients. In 2010, one of these grants went to the Alliance of Government Workers in the Water Sector, a group fighting to protect access to clean water—and against privatization—in the Philippines.

A crowded classroom in Mindanao, Philippines

An urban water crisis

Water systems in cities around the world are increasingly stressed by the demands of growing populations. In many places, people have to wait in line for hours to access a single spigot, usually for water that is not safe to drink. Oftentimes, large international banks are pushing to privatize these urban water systems, which turns a basic human right (access to clean water) into a profit-driven business (by putting it under the control of a private corporation).

In some cases, privatization has improved water access and quality, but in too many others “successful” privatization has increased prices for the world’s poorest populations, eliminated access to water for those who can’t afford it, and kept local voices out of water policy.

Is privatization the answer?

In the Philippines, World Bank policy is encouraging greater water privatization. This would further limit local control of water, while empowering companies that are driven by their bottom line—not by meeting the basic need of universal access to clean water. At the same time, communities are not given the chance to make their voices heard.

We’re helping to change this.

With a $5,000 grant, funded by sales of Aveda’s Light the Way™ candle during Earth Month 2010, the Alliance of Government Workers in the Water Sector is challenging privatization. They’re exposing the threats it poses to water access, sanitation, costs, and jobs. The Alliance is using the small grant to expand its membership, create a database of districts vulnerable to privatization, and train local leaders to monitor and respond to pressure to privatize.

Ultimately, the grant is helping to ensure that information on water privatization is available from both its advocates and its critics. In turn, we’re empowering those affected by privatization to make informed decisions and to make their voices heard. By supporting those who are most affected by water policy decisions to know and protect their rights, we are safeguarding access to clean water in the Philippines.

Global Greengrants Fund

Global Greengrants Fund

Global Greengrants Fund believes solutions to environmental harm and social injustice come from people whose lives are most impacted. Every day, our global network of people on the frontlines and donors comes together to support communities to protect their ways of life and our planet. Because when local people have a say in the health of their food, water, and resources, they are forces for change.