Flow – For Love of Water

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I saw a good film last night about the problems of access to clean drinking water in both developing and developed countries.  The film is called FLOW, which means For Love Of Water.  I say “good” and not “great” because like so many other documentaries, it relies largely upon anecdotal evidence to convey its message.  However, it conveyed its message well and, for the most part, accurately:  the message is that many, many poor people do not have access to clean drinking water and the consequences are deplorable.  Over 1 billion people is the number that I have heard.  Over 2 million people die each year from waterborne diseases and most of those deaths are children under the age of 5. 

The movie portrayed Suez and Vivendi, the global companies delivering water in developing countries like Bolivia, as evil.  Also portrayed as evil was The World Bank, who funds dams and other large capital projects. 

Webster Pacific has done some work recently in the water space and two things struck me as I thought about this movie:

  1. We are rich.  Bottled water in our country sells for about 1,000 times more than tap water.  I challenge anyone to come up with another product where a packaged and branded version sells for 1,000 times more than the non-packaged and non-branded version.  Tap and bottled water in our country are essentially the same in quality.  So, because we are so rich and because municipal water agencies have done such a lousy job of marketing their water, bottled water companies have created an industry where there was not one 30 years ago.
  2. In developing countries, the issue that water is highlighting is governance.  As far as I can see, the problem is not Suez and Vivendi.  There will always be large multinationals and we should not blame them, unless they are engaging in illegal activities.  The problem is the governments of the cities, states and countries that have not organized themselves to make provisions for the basic needs of life, which include food, water, shelter and clothing.  If the government is corrupt and makes deals with large corporations to provide privatized water, or if the government is short-sighted and makes the same deals with large corporations, something needs to be done about the government.    To do something about the government means that the people need to organize themselves and demand a government that provides certain services from their government.  Corruption must be fought.  Government must have integrity.  The main purpose of taxes in any city, state or country should be to provide basic services for its citizens.  That means infrastructure!  Clean drinking water is just one of many services that, I believe, every citizen of every country should have.

 http://www.flowthefilm.com/index.php 

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