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06 Dec 2021

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‘African governments must regain control of water sector’ 

‘African governments must regain control of water sector’

By Rodrigue Forku

YAOUNDE – CAMEROON (Cameroon Report) – A Humanitarian organization has urged African countries to take control of the water sector as most of the population do not have access to clean water which is a fundamental right.

In a statement on Thursday, the African Center for Advocacy (ACA) said water crises remain a major problem in Cameroon and the Central African region.

Only 57% of Cameroon’s population has access to drinking water, according to the UN.

In 2018 Cameroon made a great step by renationalizing its water sector after ten years under corporate management and also decided to remove taxes on water billings for all consummation under 20m3, according to the statement.

“It shows that the public sector can outperform the private sector and can be an efficient water provider.”

Gabon has followed Cameroon’s example by nationalizing its water sector after 20 years under the management of The Société d’Energie et d’Eau du Gabon, a subsidiary of the Veolia Group.

Meanwhile, in February 2018, the Republic of Congo privatized its water and electricity to Veolia, a company that was just chased out of Gabon because of water shortages, high operating costs, and unsafe water delivery, which violates citizens’ human right to water, according to ACA.

On July 28, 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 64/292, which declares that clean, safe water is a fundamental right, essential to the full enjoyment of the right to life and all human rights. 

“Cameroon has learned the bitter lesson of privatization and taken measures to renationalize water sectors in 2018,” Younoussa Abbosouka, ACA’s advocacy officer said.

He said now that the government has regained control of the water sector, they must increase their efforts to ensure continuous access to safe water for all irrespective of gender, age, disability, social status, and geographical location. 

Most importantly, they must not fall prey to the lure of private companies, again!

Water privatization entails rate increases, lack of public accountability and transparency, higher operating costs, worse customer service, and loss of jobs, according to Abbosouka. 

“At the African Center for Advocacy, we know that our governments have the capacity to prioritize their citizens in every decision that is made. “

“We are also aware of the role of World Bank and IMF which impose the water privatization within the context of macroeconomic reform packages,” he added.

Abbosouka said his organization advocates in collaboration with other NGOs and labor unions like Corporate Accountability and Public Participation (CAPPA), Corporate Accountability (CA), Public Service International (PSI), and Syndicat National Autonome des Travailleurs de l’Énergie, de l’Eau et des mines du Cameroun (SYNATEEC) to keep water in the public domain and to reject any form of water privatization in Cameroon.

‘’We do not compromise on water!’’

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