Suing the poor

As if botching a water project in one of the world’s poorest countries weren’t bad enough, UK company Biwater is now taking the Tanzanian government to court for cancelling its contract. Here are a few things that make me want to hand in my British passport right now:

1. Water privatisation was imposed on Tanzania as a condition of debt relief.
2. Biwater has opposed the tribunal taking place “on African soil.”
3. Before the original contract was signed, the British government gave British consultancy Adam Smith International £273,000 of UK taxpayers’ aid money to produce pro-privatisation PR to convince the sceptical Tanzanian people of the benefits of handing over their water system to Biwater (and of the benefits of paying US$102 million to Biwater over 10 years).
4. Tanzania is the 162nd poorest country in the world out of 177. 38% of people don’t have access to safe water (great job, Biwater!).

Thanks to the World Development Movement for drawing attention to the case beginning at the Hague today, which Biwater not surprisingly tried to keep out of the public eye.