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Municipal Services Project Blog

December 17, 2012
There is a lot of talk about crisis these days. It can hide the reality of winners and losers from current global processes and the fact that having a healthy society is a matter of choice. EQUINET’s 2012 Regional Equity Watch shows how health inequalities have persisted despite economic growth, leaving millions without the basic food, water, shelter, employment and income to lead a healthy life. But emerging alternatives point to the possible.
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November 8, 2012
Although Chávez and Morales tend to grab the headlines in Latin America as stars of the New Left, the Frente Amplio government in Uruguay has been quietly working away building some of the most effective public services in the world. A conference on the topic of ‘public enterprises’ was held in Montevideo last week, hosted in part by the state-owned companies for water, electricity, railways, telecoms and gas. It gathered an eclectic mix of men in suits, but their commitment to publicly owned services that take equity and universality seriously was impressive.
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October 25, 2012
We are sitting in a large Catholic hall nestled in the heart of Mexico City, the type of space where many Latin American social movements have historically sought refuge from dictatorships. Today, we are not fending off the military but big multinationals and our governments who want to sell our water, use it to grow soy or poison it with their mines. We have gathered for the general assembly of Red Vida, forty of us, debating political strategy to build on our successes against water privatization in Latin America.
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October 11, 2012
The July 2012 release of the Indian government’s draft strategy for universal health coverage has generated intense debate, with civil society groups such as Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (PHM) and even the Ministry of Health expressing their opposition to its main thrust. The debate still rages, and there is news of yet a third version in as many months. In a nutshell, what has been decried is how it would create health ‘consumers’, neglect equity goals, limit the “package” of services offered and fall short of committing to much-needed investments.
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July 12, 2012
Walking down the streets of Cape Town with hundreds of global health movement activists from over 90 countries, it all looked so familiar. Twelve years ago, we had come together in Bangladesh, and had marched down the streets of Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka, giving rise to the People’s Health Movement. At our Third Assembly in July 2012, activists were full of purpose and resolve, at the same time as celebratory and forward-looking. Held in the somber backdrop of the global crisis, it served to consolidate the movement’s advances and to envision a different future for the countless people being consigned today to leading a life that is unfulfilling, unhealthy and lacking in meaningful opportunities for human development.
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June 21, 2012
After a wave of water privatizations in the 1990s, activists started to push back with using rights and litigations to reverse private deals. To understand what’s been going on we’ve looked at some of the most interesting legal struggles from around the world, six of which have captured the international water movement’s imagination. Citizen-backed referendum campaigns and civil society-led litigation appeared to be favourite tactics in the legal arsenal to (re)claim water.
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May 7, 2012
I’d known for some time that some public pension funds had been investing in privatized services but I hadn’t realized how pervasive it was or what the potential was to do something more progressive with this money. And we are talking about trillions of dollars generated by public sector employees and employers, and money produced from natural resources or trade surpluses in the case of sovereign wealth funds. A mere 1% of such funds' current assets could generate $100 billion to kick-start an ‘infrastructure bank’ that could finance basic public services worldwide.
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April 27, 2012
It took a month before the Alternative World Water Forum (FAME) organizers released the final declaration of the participants last week, a far cry from the pre-drafted statements we normally get out of official forums. After heated debates, most concerns and issues were incorporated. Importantly, the declaration criticizes the market-based approach being promoted by the idea of the 'green economy' put forward for Rio+20, which assigns private property rights to nature, including water. Participants emphasize not only the collective resolve to rethink the dominant market-driven model of water management and governance but also propose a new vision to achieve the “future we want”.
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January 18, 2012
After 10 years of being critical of privatization it was time for a change. It can be depressing being negative all the time, and it felt like the debate on public versus private services was trapped in a stalemate. I also knew there were hundreds of remarkable examples of innovative new forms of public service delivery all over the world, and decades’ worth of successful ‘old style’ public services. The problem was that these stories weren’t getting the airtime they deserved.
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