Access to clean water and improved sanitation is being hindered by problems of growing demand (due to population growth, rapid urbanisation, agricultural irrigation and industrial use), changes in long-term resource availability (arising from climate change and over-abstraction) and rising costs of resource management and service provision (higher volumes of wastewater are aggravating purification efforts).
Differences persist over how best to improve the provision of water services in developing countries. There are those who argue that liberalisation is needed to allow both domestic and foreign private sector participation and financing. Others see water and sanitation services as public goods and are concerned that profit motives within short-term business cycles may not be appropriate, and suggest that governments redouble efforts to improve access for the poor, supported by official development assistance.
The European Commission (DG DEV) commissioned this study which maps the pro-trade versus pro-development interaction in three countries: Senegal, Mexico and South Africa, all of which were included in the EU's GATS requests for liberalisation of WSS and where exisitng markets offer opportunity for analysis in 'live' situations.
This executive summary is accompanied by a full report and separate report of the Mexico case study.
Relations between the EC development policies and the ongoing EU position in the WTO/GATS negotiations on the liberalisation of water services. Executive summary of final report, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), London, UK, 17 pp.