The State of Water in Bolivia: Unveiling the Current Status of Privatization

Yes, water in Bolivia is no longer privatized.

Comprehensive answer to the question

Water in Bolivia is no longer privatized. This significant change occurred in 2000 when the Bolivian government faced widespread protests against the privatization of water services by foreign companies. The water privatization in Bolivia, particularly in the city of Cochabamba, had caused a surge in water prices, leading to public outrage and a movement known as the “Water War.” After intense demonstrations and clashes with police, the government cancelled the privatization contract.

Since then, Bolivia has adopted a new approach to water management, with a focus on public ownership and community participation. The country has recognized water as a fundamental human right and enshrined it in their constitution. In Article 373 of Bolivia’s Constitution, it states, “Water is a fundamental right for life and is a strategic natural resource for Bolivia.”

During the process of reversing water privatization, Evo Morales, the then-President of Bolivia, expressed his commitment to public control and accountable management of water resources. He affirmed, “Our objective: water services for all Bolivians, and not just for profit.”

Interesting facts about the water situation in Bolivia:

  1. Cochabamba’s “Water War” was a major turning point in Bolivia’s water management. This civil unrest galvanized the population and led to the cancellation of the controversial privatization contract.

  2. The water protests in Bolivia also inspired similar movements in other countries, highlighting the power of grassroots movements in shaping water governance.

  3. Bolivia’s water rights legislation has become a model for other nations seeking to ensure access to clean water for all citizens.

  4. Bolivia has implemented innovative policies such as the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), which aim to balance the needs of different stakeholders while preserving water ecosystems.

  5. The country has invested in public institutions and community-based organizations to manage water resources effectively, ensuring local participation and decision-making.

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Table: Comparison of Water Management Approaches

Privatized Water Management Current Water Management in Bolivia
Controlled by foreign companies Public ownership and community participation
Focus on profit-making Emphasis on access to water as a fundamental right
Lack of local involvement Local community participation in decision-making
High water prices Measures to ensure affordable and equitable water services
Outsourced management Public institutions and community-based organizations involved in water management

In conclusion, Bolivia has moved away from water privatization and embraced a model of public ownership and community participation. Recognizing water as a basic human right, the country has taken significant steps to ensure access to clean and affordable water for all its citizens. This shift in water management approaches has brought about positive change and serves as an inspiration for other nations grappling with similar challenges. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Water, like life, is a fundamental right. We must protect it, cherish it, and ensure its availability to all.”

Video answer to “Is water in Bolivia still privatized?”

The video discusses the privatization of the water supply in Cochabamba, Bolivia, which led to widespread protests and eventually the return of control to a public company. Prior to privatization, the water situation in the city was poor, but when the private company took over, they raised prices without improving the service. This created a sense of injustice, as people felt their water sources were being taken away. The situation escalated into a crisis of national and international importance, with police repression and riots. Although the control of water was returned to a public company, water provision in Cochabamba continues to be a serious problem.

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There are other opinions

The government ended a water privatization contract with foreign-led consortium Aguas de Tunari, and reversed water rate hikes.

In April 2000, the Bolivian Congress rescinded the 1999 law that permitted water privatization and Hugo Banzer — former dictator turned elected president— canceled the government’s contract with Aguas del Tunari.

Following two popular uprisings against water privatization, the first in Cochabamba in April 2000 and the second in La Paz / El Alto in January 2005, the two concessions were terminated. In the latter case, Aguas de Illimani was replaced by the public utility Empresa Pública Social de Agua y Saneamiento (EPSAS).

On January 10 the citizens of El Alto took to the streets en masse to demand that their water system, privatized in 1997 under World Bank pressure, be returned to public hands. Three days later Bolivia’s president issued a decree canceling the water concession, led by the French water giant Suez, and an arm of the World Bank itself.

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What was the result of the privatization of water in the Bolivian city?

The answer is: In 2000, privatisation of the drinking water in Cochabamba incurred violent protests and escalated into the so-called Water War of Cochabamba, which killed at least nine people. Eventually, the city’s water was renationalised and access to water received new legal backing.

What company privatized water in Bolivia?

The response is: In 1997, the World Bank made privatization of the public water system of Bolivia’s third largest city, Cochabamba, a condition of the country receiving further aid for water development. That led, in September 1999, to a 40-year concession granted to a company led by Bechtel.

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Why was water privatized in Bolivia?

The people of Bolivia did not choose to privatize their public water systems. That choice was forced on them, as it has been in many poor nations around the world, when the World Bank made privatization an explicit condition of aid in the mid-1990s.

What happened when Bolivia privatized the water systems in 1999?

Answer to this: The Cochabamba Water War, also known as the Bolivian Water War, was a series of protests that took place in Cochabamba, Bolivia’s fourth largest city, between December 1999 and April 2000 in response to the privatization of the city’s municipal water supply company SEMAPA.

Does Bolivia still need water privatization?

The response is: Two decades have passed since the original water crisis in Bolivia. The dust has settled on the matter of water privatization, but the country still faces issues related to its water supply. A 2017 report from Public Radio International (PRI) noted that Bolivia “is suffering from its worst drought in 25 years.”

Did Cochabamba win against water privatization?

Oscar Olivera, the Cochabamba union organizer and Water War leader, spoke about Cochabambinos’ victory against water privatization. I was inspired and intrigued by this movement that had won while so many others like it were losing.

What happened during the Bolivian water war?

The reply will be: During its violent climax, also known as the Bolivian Water War, the conflict attracted much international attention and coverage with activists protesting during the IMF and World Bank meetings in Washington ( Taringa, 2011 ).

Why was Semapa reinstated in Bolivia?

Response: The Bolivian public water company SEMAPA was reinstated over the municipal water source and a national bill was created which prioritised social needs over economic needs. Moreover, it ensured informal local water sources – that many of the disadvantaged parts of the population rely on – were protected by law.

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