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

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Viva African Water Network!

Today is the last day of organised WSF activities and a very big day. After three days of workshops and strategy sessions, we have been building towards today’s final part of our programme of water events at the WSF – the launch of the African Water Network.

The meeting surpassed all our expectations. Over 250 people pack out the room. Virginia Setshedi from the Campaign Against Water Privatisation in South Africa led the meeting and after revving us all up with chants (“Down with privatisation!" “Viva World Social Forum!”) speaker after speaker praises and welcomes the creation of the AWN.

More than 40 African countries are represented in the meeting, with representatives from 20 countries choosing to join the interim committee that will see the Network through its first, few critical months.

Afterwards Al-hassan Adam from Ghana, one of the leaders of the new coalition, says: “For us, this is the beginning of drawing activists together from across the African continent to create a platform to give the World Bank and our governments a fight on privatisation.“

Jennifer Makoatsane from South Africa is taking a court case against Johannesburg Water and their use of pre-paid water meters. She says, “The whole African continent has been robbed of their rights to adequate quality and quantity of water. That’s why the AWN has been formed - to stand up as a continent with our international supporters - like WDM - to oppose privatisation in all its forms.”

Virginia ends the meeting saying, “The powerful never listen to the powerless, until the powerless unite. Enough is enough! Our water has been taken away from us – and we want to strengthen our voice. To those who are filling their pockets with profits made from our water, we will send a message to them.”

When we arrived in Nairobi 5 days ago, we were all optimistic about the potential of creating an AWN, but not 100% sure it would happen. The collective efforts of the week have really paid off – and it was a real privilege to be present at this exciting and historic moment.

Viva African Water Network!

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