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16 Oct 2009


Sustainable Dev.

Brussels, 30 September 2009

For the first time, World Bank reports measure private operators’ contribution to providing safe drinking water in developing countries.

More and more public authorities use private operators to ensure local safe drinking water supply in developing countries.

Until now no statistical studies on the impact of these public and private partnerships had been completed. This led to an under estimation of the value and benefits contributed by private operators to overcoming an important global challenge. The World Bank has just filled this gap by publishing a report that measures precisely the impact of contracting the management of public water services to private operators throughout the developing world (1). This report which was announced at the World Water Forum in Istanbul in March 2009 complements the detailed statistical work published earlier in 2009.

The World Bank report shows that overall local and international private companies deliver much more benefit to the populations and governments of developing countries than is generally recognised.

According to the report, private operators working under contract to public authorities:

- contribute significantly to the Millennium Development Goals to provide access to safe drinking water in the developing countries, particularly for poor people.

- improve the performance of water supply, in particular the continuity of service by increasing the number of hours a day that water is available

- improve the operating efficiency of water services: reduction of leaks from the system, improvement of cash collection, increase in productivity, etc

- do not cause price rises that are higher than for public management under the equivalent conditions

- act as a catalyst to progress in neighbouring districts.

The study quantifies the improvement in the access to safe drinking water that is particularly impressive. The World Bank study examines in detail 36 contracts in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Initially these contracts supplied 48 million people. Private company management over a period of a decade has permitted an additional 25 million people to gain access to reliable water networks. This represents an increase of 50% in the number of people benefiting from a good public water service.

These good results explain the regular growth in the number of public authorities who call on professional private operators to manage their water supply systems in developing countries. This growth has also been measured by the World Bank (see figure below). The population directly supplied by private operators through the contracts identified in the study rose from a few millions in 1991 to exceed 160 million people in 2007. In recent years, this growth is mainly attributable to local operators from the countries concerned.

The World Bank estimates that approximately 7% of the urban population of developing countries is supplied with water on a daily basis by private companies.

(1)Public-Private Partnerships for Urban Water Utilities”, P.Marin, World Bank, PPIAF, Trends & Policy options n°8, February 2009

Note: only long-term contracts for water distribution up to the final customer connections are included -contracts
for drinking water treatment plants etc. that also contribute to better quality services are not covered.

“AquaFed welcomes this report, which recognises the real contribution that our members are making to one of the world’s most pressing problems: that of developing water supply to the populations, especially to the most disadvantaged, in the developing world.” says Gerard Payen, President of AquaFed.

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AquaFed is the International Federation of Private Water Operators. Open to companies and associations of companies of all sizes and from all countries, it aims to contribute to solving water challenges by making Private Sector know-how and experience available to the international community.

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For further information please contact:

. ActuPresseCom +33 1 47 20 22 61

. Thomas Van Waeyenberge, AquaFed Communications Manager

+32 479 23 78 26 /

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