Women activists and labour unionists stormed the seat of Lagos state government, Alausa, Ikeja, on Thursday, seeking audience with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, with a petition that privatisation of water was evil and constitute gender-based violence against women.
The women, who banded together on the platform of Our Water Our Right Coalition, converged at the gate of Shoprite, from where they marched to the state Assembly.
They carried placards with messages such as “Our water is our right,” “Africa says no to water privatisation”, “Keep public water in public hands”, “Water Privatisation is a burden to African women” and chanted solidarity songs.
Their demands, as listed in the petition addressed to Governor Sanwo-Olu, is that the state reject all forms of corporate control of water and privatisation of water services, including through “public-private partnership”;
Fulfill their obligation to respect, protect and fulfill human right to water for all people, among demand.
The women said instead of privatisation, African governments should explore regional bodies like the African Union, ECOWAS, Economic Community of Central African States and East African Development Community, to foster collaboration by supporting public-public partnership in the water sector.
The protesting women stormed the gates of the state Assembly, asking to see the lawmakers to help deliver their message to the governor.
Eventually, Mr. Hudenyin Kolawole, Director, Political Affairs, Office of Civic Engagement, Governor’s Office, came out to take the petition.
He promised to deliver it to the governor.
The women refused to yield, asking to see the lawmakers.
According to Aderonke Ige, Associate Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA, solutions had been provided in place of privatisation and are contained in a report— “Lagos Water Crisis: Alternative Roadmap for Water Sector”.
But, she contended, copies of the report and other petitions had been delivered to the governor’s office, with no response or action seen.
However, Mr. Kolawole promised that unlike previous petitions from the women, this one will be delivered and the governor will respond and an engagement on the matter will commence.
The march was part of events marking the Africa Week of Action Against Water Privatisation (October 11 to 15).
Earlier, the women, on the platform of the Our Water Our Right Coalition, told newsmen that privatisation of water would be a direct attack on women who need clean affordable water for their hygiene and homes.
Privatisation, they feared, would leave them at the mercy of profit-focused businessmen.
Signatories to the petition are: Veronica Nwanya, Coordinator, AWASHNET; Akinbode Oluwafemi, Executive Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA; Vicky Uremma, Executive Director, Child Health Organisation; and Betty Abbah, Executive Director, CEE-Hope.
The Our Water Our Right Coalition is a movement by CAPPA; Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Employees, AUPCTRE; Joint Action Front, JAF; Africa Women Water Sanitation and Hygiene Network, AWASHNET, and water justice advocates across Africa.
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