April 25, 2009, Saturday, 10 am to 2:30 pm
University Hotel, UP Diliman, Quezon City
Sponsored by: The Development Roundtable Series Thematic Working Group*
In the Philippines, for example, the struggles around the privatization of MWSS’ distribution/water service provision have focused on defending public interest, the right to sufficient, affordable, and clean water. Metro Manila’s water privatization, hailed as the biggest in Asia, has become an iconic example of failed privatization experiments— of how it has limited or impeded the access to water of marginalized sectors of society, especially the poor, and of how poor communities are standing up to stake their claims and rights. Struggles for empowering public and collective forms of water control and reclaiming public water through community-based water systems such as cooperatives and user-owned systems are being waged. These are fights to reclaim decision making powers from the hands of powerful elites and private water companies; against the adverse effects of privatization on water users, citizens, and workers.
India also shares similar struggles. Structural adjustments and reforms in the water sector in the 90s have prompted many communities, water activists, engineers, and public officials to re-imagine and forge a different path of alternative water management. Recently, there is an on-going public sector reform in the state of Tamil Nadu-- democratization experiments, which are bringing water to the poorest of the poor in rural communities of more than 1 million families, empowering the population, especially women, through a process of change management and Public-Public Partnerships or not-for-profit collaboration and cooperation between and among various players in the water sector.
With such diverse backgrounds— political, economic, social, and cultural— between the two countries, what can be learned from the experiences of the communities and civil societies in the Philippines and India, especially on alternative models of water management? How can we achieve an equitable access and democratic control over water, i.e. ensuring “water for all”? How can various players in the water sector work together? What should be the role of the state? How can we collectively “change the flow” of water?
The roundtable discussion (RTD) will try to address these questions,
among others. The RTD will feature presentations and experiences from
India and the Philippines on community and civil society struggles for
equitable water rights and democratization of water policies. It will
serve as a space to bring together water activists, community-based
water operators, urban poor leaders, and civil society organizations
for learning and exchanges, especially on alternatives to the current
model of water management.
9:30- 10:00 AM Registration
10:00- 10:15 Welcome Remarks
Overview and Context Setting: Water Rights and the Poor, A Video Documentation on the Struggles of Urban Poor Consumers and Communities in Metro Manila
10:15- 10:45 Community Water Cooperatives and Associations: Bridging the Gap in Water Service Provision in Metro Manila
Leticia C. Viray, Head, Antipolo City Cooperatives and Livelihood Office
Cora Aragon, Pioneer officer and Board of Director, LUSRAI Multipurpose Cooperative
10:45- 11:00 Initial Reflections from Dr. V. Suresh on the two sharing
11:00- 11:30 Democratizing and Water in Tamil Nadu, India
Dr. V. Suresh, Center for Law, Policy, and Human Rights Studies
11:30- 12:00 nn Open Forum
12:00- 1:00 PM Lunch
1:00- 2:00 Open Forum (Continuation)
2:00- 2:30 Synthesis and Closing
Mary Ann Manahan, Focus on the Global South
Kristine Quiray, Institute for Popular Democracy
* The Development Roundtable Series (DRTS) is a political process of consultation among different interest groups in the Philippines on a broad range of development policy issues and concerns. It is a venue to promote dialogue and debate, to generate policy ideas, and to build common policy platforms. The DRTS on Water aims to reach collective diagnoses of problems in urban and rural water provision and water resources conflict and regulation; to understand water situations and problems, the technical requirements for addressing them and the political opportunities that can be used by groups directly affected by the problems; to initiate policy dialogues with Water Districts, key agencies in the Philippine water sector, and key Congressional Committees in relation to specific propositions on alternatives; and to identify the nature of the flux in sector policy and the drivers of policy change. The thematic working group is composed of Bantay Tubig, Focus on the Global South-Philippines Programme, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Institute for Popular Democracy, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan, Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan, Visayas State University-Institute for Strategic Research and Development Studies, Water Commons Institute, and Women’s Legal Bureau.
About Dr. V. Suresh:
Advocate and appointed Advisor for Tamil Nadu to the Supreme Court Commissioner on Food Security; President, People’s Union for Civil Liberties-Tamil Nadu and Puducherry State Units; and Facilitator, Change Management and Institutional Transformation and Governance Reform as Founder Trustee.