WDM in East Africa: reports from the World Social Forum and Tanzania

Friday, 26 January 2007

Christian Lawrence :My Experience at the World Social Forum

My first experience at the World Social Forum held in Nairobi, Kenya from the 20th – 25th January 2007 was exciting, to say the least. What amazes me most was the determination and concern of people from all works of life from all over the globe to meet, discuss and find common but strategic answers to the many critical problems they are faced with. When some of the organizers first intimated me that the expected number of participants to the Forum would be one hundred thousand, I hurriedly concluded that it was a wild joke. What I saw at the Moi International Sports Centre in Naibobi was
thrilling: a sea of activists in every nook and cranny of the sports complex frantically strategizing to address the most critical world problems; excellent planning; and unwavering resolve to take realistic actions to make the world a much more better place to live in. To say I was pleased with the work of the organizers of the Forum is an understatement. I was greatly impressed and dazzled by their performance.

The sessions on water privatization were so enriching and eye opening.
Sessions like “General Threats to Water Justice: From Pollution to Privatization, Protecting Our Waters”, “Reclaiming Public Water! Seeking for possibilities of improving water supply through Public-Public Partnerships”
among a host of others were so thought-provoking, challenging and at the same time very interesting to me. One common thread that runs through most, if not all of the sessions I attended was experience sharing. Almost everyone had something to share and to take back home. Though I had initially planned to participate only in workshops dealing with water privatization issues, but the assemblage of so many relevant pro-poor issues on the programme made me alter my decision a little. I had course to attend other sessions on human rights, reality of aid, good governance, alternative budgets… etc. I was given the platform to articulate the status of the “reform processes” (euphemism for privatization) in my country-Sierra Leone and the campaign the civil society, trade union and NGO coalition - Public Enterprise Reform Monitoring Group - PERMG (the group I represented at the
Forum) is currently undertaking to engender citizens’ inputs, especially the poor into the whole process.

The main outcome that climaxed the water privatization sessions was the formation of the African Water Network, which is hoped, would coordinate and support in diverse ways all anti-water privatisation networks/bodies in the continent. The thinking behind the setting up of this network is to defeat the monster of privatization which has extended, is still extending, and has further plans to extend its choking tentacles to countries in the continent.
The fight to decimate privatization in any shape or form in the continent is not expected to be easy, but with courage, resilience and pro-active strategic action we will succeed.

Christian Lawrence
Campaign for Good Governance
Sierra Leone

No comments: