Argentina: Public-private water services partnership’s impacts on right to waterPhoto credit: ECYT-AR / Polluted Riachuelo river
In 2010, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) and Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ), published a report analysing whether a new public-private partnership for water services respected the human right to water of the people of Buenos Aires. The research team studied the performance of both Aguas Argentinas and the Republic of Argentina over the life of their contract, which was terminated by the Argentine government in early 2006. During the investigation, the two main actors consulted were the company and the regulator, Ente Tripartito de Obras y Servicios Sanitarios. The concession and area under investigation comprised 12 million Argentinians. The research team interviewed affected communities and the company.
The research found that the partnership failed to comply with a number of obligations set out in General Comment 15 of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on the human right to water. Findings include discrimination in access to water, difficulty in ability to afford water, and problems with the water supply which was neither sufficient nor continuous for everyone. Water was not uniformly safe to drink due to chemical substances and radiological hazards affecting people’s health. Finally, not enough information was provided to the public on water issues. The research team made two general recommendations: 1) the government must undertake the necessary work on infrastructure to prevent contamination of water sources and the environment; and 2) the government must guarantee access to information on all aspects of the design and implementation of water and sanitation services.[EH1]