Number One | May 2010                                       
 
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In this Issue
MSP Workshop in Delhi
Forthcoming book
Research Next Steps
Gender Research
Other News from the World of Alternatives
New Publications
New Multimedia
Municipal Services Project
 

EXPLORING ALTERNATIVES TO PRIVATIZATION 

The Municipal Service Project (MSP) explores alternatives to the privatization and commercialization of service provision in the health, water, sanitation and electricity sectors.  We evaluate service delivery models deemed to be successful alternatives to commercialization in an effort to understand the conditions required for their sustainability and reproducibility. 

Welcome to the first issue of the Municipal Services Project (MSP) Newsletter.  The newsletter will provide you with a quarterly snapshot of new research and activities of the MSP and keep you up to date on what's happening in the exciting world of 'alternatives to privatization'.
MSP Workshop in Delhi
ChandraMohanty The Municipal Services Project and Focus on the Global South held a one-day workshop with Indian researchers and activists to share experiences on building alternatives to the privatization of basic services. A series of panels highlighted MSP's recent research on the topic, as well as the Indian experience, in three service sectors: water, health and electricity. The panels provided a resounding critique of the discourse of "TINA" (There Is No Alternative) and demonstrated that there are indeed public systems worth fighting for. Read the Workshop report.
The MSP will release a new book on 'alternatives to privatization' in early 2011, based on its first year of research.  With contributions from leading scholars, unionists and activists from around the world, the book will provide a cutting edge contribution to theoretical, methodological and empirical debates on 'definitions of alternatives', how we measure their 'success' and what this means for future research and practice.  The focus of the book is on water, electricity and primary health care in the global South, but the findings will be relevant to service delivery debates around the world.  Stay tuned...
The next stage of MSP research will focus on key thematic trends in the field of 'alternatives to privatization'.  We have identified several strategic research topics and will be exploring these themes across different regions and sectors.  Research themes include:  remunicipalization of essential services; community and worker-run initiatives; the role of technology in creating alternatives; gender and alternatives; counter-propaganda efforts to defend public services; the role of alternative finance mechanisms; the pros and cons of 'corporatization'; the limits and potentials of 'rights' legislation; and a systematic review of historical experiences of alternatives service delivery systems.  Once again, stay tuned...  
Gender ResearchChandraMohanty
One of the key insights from previous MSP research is the complex interaction between gender and service provision.  As privatization has exacerbated gender inequities it is critical that 'alternative' models do not repeat these mistakes.  The MSP is fortunate to have Professor Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Sarah Miraglia (PhD candidate in Sociology) working with us on this.  A commissioned a paper from Professor Mohanty and Sarah Miraglia and will explore the theoretical, methodological and practical challenges of developing alternative systems and will assist the MSP and its partners in taking a critical look at how different models of service delivery may or may not promote gender equity and female empowerment.  Look for their paper on the MSP website in the coming months.  In the meantime, check out Chandra's webpage for more information on her past and current work. 
Other News from the World of Alternatives
Paris water back in public hands!
The news that Paris' municipal water utility would be in public hands after a century of private monopoly was met with great excitement and celebration around the world. Click here to read an article by Julio Guody on the decision by many European municipalities to regain control of their water services. MSP Steering Committee member David Hall, of PSIRU, recently sat down with Ann Le Strat, Deputy Mayor of Paris and president of Eau de Paris to talk about the transfer back to public control - watch the interview here.

What are your thoughts on the wave of remunicipalitzation in Europe? Share your thoughts in the MSP Discussion Forum!

Reclaiming Public Water Network - Seminar in Brussels
Several members of the MSP participated in the Reclaiming Public Water Network Seminar in Brussels in February, 2010. The global strategy session brought together water activists, researchers, public water operators and labour unions from around the world to discuss achievements made thus far to improve public water provision and what more needs to be done. To learn more about the seminar's outcomes,check out the Reportback and video of the Roundtable Discussion on the MSP website.

New Centre of Excellence for Change in Tamil Nadu
An exciting new centre for 'public sector management' has been established in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, by the Change Management Team. The Centre aims to strengthen public water provision by focusing on sustainable, democratic, and equitable water management systems. Their programs include a Community-Based Water Management Program and a Model Villages Project. Click here to learn more about the centre, and check out a video message from the Change Management Team about the new centre.

3rd International Water Fair
The 3rd International Water Fair, held in Cochabamba, Bolivia on April 15-18, 2010, brought water and environmental activists together in the lead-up to the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. In their final declaration, participants called on governments to take action on climate change and to move away from the "extractive, destructive and polluting production pattern created by large-scale mining, oil, coal and gas extraction operations and water dams intended to meet wasteful energy consumption needs." Instead the participants proposed alternative systems built on democracy, sustainability and respect for indigenous rights.
Check out the final Declaration here.

New Publications by MSP Researchers
MSP researchers have been busy producing a number of interesting publications based on their research into alternatives to privatization. Check out a few of them below!

Karen Cocq and David A McDonald Minding the Undertow: Assessing Water "Privatization" in Cuba, Antipode 42(1), 2010

Susan Spronk Water Privatization and the Prospects for Trade Union Revitalization in the Public Sector: Case Studies from Bolivia and Peru, Just Labour, Volume 14, 2009

Danielle Chavez Sub-Municipal Decentralisation at the Crossroads: The transition from Participatory Budgeting to Local Solidarity Governance in Porto Alegre, Brazil, 2010

New Multimedia material on MSP Website
There have been a number of excellent new videos and podcasts produced that delve into the important questions around alternatives to privatization and highlight some of the work being done on the ground.

Check out these and more on the MSP website's Multimedia section:

The Story of Bottled Water - the makers of the Story of Stuff bring you an informative and engaging video about the social and environmental dangers of bottled water, and the corporations who try to convince us we need it.

Blue Summit Podcasts - If you missed out on the Blue Summit, here's your chance to hear what you missed. Held November 27-29, 2009, in Ottawa, Canada, the Blue Summit was a three-day conference organized by the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Public Employees to share experiences in working to make water public and accessible to all.