Privatisation of Water in Bolivia

Carrying on from our discussion about the water crisis in China, another country with many water issues is the South American country of Bolivia. In the early 1990’s the Central Bank forced the poor nation of Bolivia to privatise its water in order to pay off its debt. As Bolivia was a struggling country it relied a lot on foreign aid and therefore succumbed to the Central Bank’s Pressures.

Control of the water was handed over to international corporations which resulted in the rapid increase of water prices in Bolivia. The main corporations in control of the water in Bolivia were Betchel and Aguas del Illimani of which Suez is the main shareholder. The water company charged residents $445USD for a connection which was an off the wall figure in comparison to the minimum wage in Bolivia which is $60USD per month!!!

Before privatisation, farmers and citizens had their own water rights, but after the corporation entered the ring their water became property which could be bought and sold for a high price out of  reach for the average Bolivian. Everybody has the right to clean fresh water, and Bolivia’s citizens were denied this right due to the greediness of corporations.

The Bolivian people, however did not stand for this, they revolted and protested against the corporations  especially when they refused to consider reducing their rates. Eventually the people power was successful and Becthe and Suezl was thrown out of Bolivia. However they did attempt to sue the country of Bolivia for $50 million but later dropped their case.

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Posted in corporate sustainability, water
One comment on “Privatisation of Water in Bolivia
  1. jeremy says:

    Water has to be priced correctly, otherwise it will be used with impunity and, as a limited resource, it will be used inefficiently. However, commodification does not mean privatisation which typically does not address the question of distributive justice. Ideally, any pricing mechanism needs to kick in only at that point where water is used for commercial purposes, and after personal and ecosystem requirements have been satisfied.

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