Talk:Water privatization

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Archive of discussion prior to May 2011

Major rewrite and suggestion to reduce country-specific details[edit]

I have begun to improve the article by removing unsourced statements, reflections and opinions, as well as doing some housekeeping (e.g. repairing broken links, bringing lists in alphabetical order etc.). More work clearly needs to be done. The structure could certainly be improved, although I am not yet quite sure how to best do this. A clarification about what is included in water privatization and what probably not (e.g. bottled water, markets for water rights) could also be useful, although there may be no consensus on where to draw the boundaries. I am also planning to add a table with all the 30 or so countries that currently have private water concessions or similar contracts, which I hope will be useful. Keeping a neutral point of view is extremely important and any constructive, good-faith advice on how to ensure this on such a controversial topic is welcome. Finally, I would suggest to remove the country sections and refer the reader to the respective country-specific articles on water privatization.--Mschiffler (talk) 23:13, 6 June 2011 (UTC)


Revision to article to reflect impact on women in developing countries[edit]

I propose a revision of the following type.


Editing of sections (8.1) will expand the section to include descriptions of women's restriction of access to water related to privatization. In the literature this issue relates to both physical distance problems, as well as social discrimi- nation regarding priority access to water supplies. Section (8.2) will be expanded to include the often adverse health prob- lems resulting from water privatization schemes, this includes, for example the Tanzanian HIV/AIDS problem of caretakers whom often happen to be women. Also, the literature reports on contamination and negligence relating to water privatization issues which e�tc women's health.

I also propose adding a section under impact of privatization specific to women in developing nations, reflecting economic and social ramifications, community response, and some mention of the relation of this issue to the larger gender discourse, under some NPOV safe framework such as relevant theories or some such. Comments? Bryancraven (talk) 18:50, 24 March 2012 (UTC)

The issue of access to water and gender is important, just as the adverse health impact of lack of access to clean water. Neglicence and contamination of water supplies are common problems in developing countries where more than 90% of water supply systems are owned and operated by publicly owned utilities and community-based organizations. If you want to cover these issues, I suggest to add a section to the article Water supply. If you would like to edit the article water privatization, I suggest that you review the article first, especially the sections concerning the often positive impact of water privatization on access and even health, despite a common perception to the contrary. If you have verifiable information on negative impacts of water privatization in addition to what is in the article, adding this information would certainly be welcome. In the case of Tanzania, there is an article Water privatization in Tanzania that you may want to review. So far it is unclear to me how the incidence of HIV/AIDS among women (pump?) caretakers could have increased due to the short-lived attempt to privatize the water supply in Tanzania's largest city, but if there is evidence to substantiate this claim please feel free to include it including, of course, the respective source.--Mschiffler (talk) 19:57, 24 March 2012 (UTC)
Would the following academic sources qualify as "verifiable information" (see below)? In what way can your claims of negligence and contamination of water supply in developing countries invalidate my claims regarding gender issues with water privatization? And I have read the article on water privatization in Tanzania and it does not address the issues I am looking to add to this article, however I will consider editing that as well. See specifically source 3 below. Is there a good reason for these issues not to be adressed on this page, these facts? Also in what way would my review of this article to reveal its "often positive impact on access and even health" invalidate the claims of academically supported literature?
[1] Inter agency Task Force on Gender and Water (GWTF). Gender, water,
and sanitation: A policy brief. UN WATER.
[2] Erik Blumel. The implications of formulating a human right to water. Ecol-
ogy Law Quarterly, 2004.
[3] Rebecca Brown. Unequal burden: water privatisation and women's human
rights in tanzania. Gender and Development, 18(1):59{67, 2010.
[4] Prabha Khosla and Rebecca Pearl. Untapped connections gender, water and
poverty: Key issues, government commitments and actions for sustainable
development. Women's Environment and Development Organization, 2003.
[5] Susana and Lastarria-Cornhiel. Impact of privatization on gender and prop-
erty rights in africa. World Development, 25(8):1317 { 1333, 1997.
[6] Alicia Ely Yamin. The future in the mirror: Incorporating strategies for
the defense and promotion of economic, social, and cultural rights into the
mainstream human rights agenda. Human Rights Quarterly, 27(4):pp. 1200{
1244, 2005.
[7] Margreet Z. and Zwarteveen. Water: From basic need to commodity: A
discussion on gender and water rights in the context of irrigation. World
Development, 25(8):1335 { 1349, 199
Bryancraven (talk) 19:28, 26 March 2012 (UTC)
Looking at the titles of the 7 publications that you listed above, only publication [3] says in its title that it covers water privatization and gender issues. The other publications may cover the topic or not, but they either do not mention privatization, or they do not mention water in their titles. As I wrote above, please feel free to include information about water privatization and gender to this article, or about water and gender to the article on water supply. When I said that you were welcome to add verifiable information on negative impacts of water privatization, I certainly did not mean to "invalidate" any "claims" that you actually did not make. If you interpreted this as some form of "invalidation", I apologize for having caused such a misunderstanding.--Mschiffler (talk) 00:43, 27 March 2012 (UTC)
I apologize for taking a defensive tone. I appreciate your viewpoint and I think we can collaborate to create an even more extensive page. Bryancraven (talk) 19:31, 28 March 2012 (UTC)
Certainly. By the way, I appreciate that you first wrote on the talk page before editing the article right away. Thank you for doing that.

It seems that you are quite familiar with the literature on the human right to water and sanitation, but - in case you did not know it - I would like to draw your attention to the following publication: The Human Right to Water and Sanitation. Translating Theory into Practice. Among other things, it addresses the issue of public and private service provision from a human rights perspective on the basis of the various UN resolutions on the topic.--Mschiffler (talk) 07:36, 29 March 2012 (UTC)

Neutrality tagged[edit]

Given the concerns of violations of our neutral point of view policy raised above by numerous editors as well as my own findings while stumbling upon the article, I've gone ahead and added a {{POV}} tag to the top of the article and gutted the peacock images to help get the ball rolling. --slakrtalk / 00:01, 13 July 2014 (UTC)

Could you please share with others what "your own findings" are to justify the tagging of the page? Could you also please explain why you removed the images and why any of these images, in your view, expresses a POV? Also, when you refer to previous discussions on this talk page, please explain which POV issues have, in your opinion, not been resolved? So far, you have not provided any credible explanation of the POV tag.--Mschiffler (talk) 20:44, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
As for the images involved, they serve to advance almost exclusively to fuel the assertion made in the caption, providing undue weight to the assertion instead of the content of the picture. Put another way, they're pretty pictures that aren't actually illustrative of the article's content but are instead used as eye-catching filler for what the caption says (along the lines of, "see, water privatization works fine for this pretty place," or, "see, water privatization worked horribly in this ugly place.") There are other issues, of course, including use of weasel words (e.g., "Often proponents and opponents of water...." / "Often, water privatization can hinder the accessibility of water....") and opinion (e.g., "Forms of regulation" section; although likely true that they need to be regulated, the article feels more like it's giving advice or providing original research than reflecting what "source A" or "source B" has said).
That said, the POV issues aren't that severe with the images removed, and my tagging was more as a courtesy to various editors who'd repeatedly been like "zOMG! POV!" in several old threads above, without any real response, to evoke some discussion here if there are still concerns. I'm by no means an expert in the topic, nor do I really have any opinions on it, but I did happen upon it and noticed that the image issue—what I noticed—did, at the very least, concur with the concerns raised previously on the talk page once I clicked over to it. :P
--slakrtalk / 01:50, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for explaining what you meant. Let me take these issues one by one. Previous criticism: This article was in very poor state for many years, consisting of sections that either had a heavy anti-privatization or pro-privatization bias, written by many authors. It was a real mess. Nobody addressed it. I suggested to rewrite the article on the talk page. Then, in a major effort, I completely rewrote it to improve it in general and ensure conformity with NPOV. But I now do see how a quick glance at the talk page could mislead a reader, especially since nobody answered to the old criticism on the talk page. Perhaps the old comments should be moved to an archive to avoid this kind of misinterpretation. Weasel words: You are right, the word "often" is considered a weasel word, and it appears 11 times in the article. But in 9 of these cases it is not used to promote a particular point of view on the subject of the article. In two cases - both in the section "impact on access" - it could be perceived as promoting an anti-privatization bias. In one case, the assertion is not true in my view. I will look at the entire section and work on it to replace assertions with empirical data to the extent possible.Regulation section and original research: I agree that this section is still a bit weak and has some elements that could be viewed as original research, but I do not think it is a serious issue. Pictures:
Mani aigua008.jpg
. I can see your point, but only to some extent. The pictures available for use on Wikipedia are usually nice pictures. Any article on any city is accompanied by nice pictures. The same goes for an article on a person. The fact that there are only nice pictures in an article does not constitute, in my view, a POV. Also, you removed most pictures, but not all. It is not clear to me on what basis you removed some pictures and kept others. Perhaps you can find pictures that provide more balance, such as pictures of protests against water privatization. I searched for some and found only one, which is perhaps not a very telling picture, showing anti-privatization protests in South Africa (see on the right). You may want to provide reasons for the removal of specific pictures. Perhaps you may want also want to reconsider the removal, and instead work on the captions. Captions: The captions of the pictures you removed give indeed undue weight to the positive impact of privatization, e.g. in the case of the Manila picture. If the pictures are reinserted, I am happy to work on the captions to remove any impression of bias.--Mschiffler (talk) 17:57, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

Dead links in references[edit]

I encountered a surprising (to me) amount of something in this article that I haven't seen all that often on Wikipedia, especially clustered in one place — though I freely admit it's possible I simply haven't been paying attention / looking hard enough — so I wanted to bring it up here and seek guidance/consensus.

The issue, in a nutshell: A number of the entries in the References section cite works from mainstream publications (newspapers and magazines), but link to sites other than, and not affiliated with, the publication's own website. In short, unaffiliated (and possibly unauthorized) reproductions/mirrors of the cited work are apparently being used as references in the article.

Not surprisingly, many of these links are now dead links, either landing at 404 pages, or not even connecting as the entire site has gone offline.

At least the following references (and possibly more) are affected by this:

  • Juan Forero (14 December 2005). "Bolivia regrets IMF experiment". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 February 2007.
Actually links to http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/12/14/business/water.php
Link leads to a 404 page
  • William Finnegan (8 April 2002). "Leasing The Rain". The New Yorker. Retrieved 15 February 2007.
Actually links to http://www.waterobservatory.org/library.cfm?refID=33711
Link loads a blank page
  • Benjamin Blackwell (11 November 2002). "From Coca To Congress". The Ecologist. Retrieved 13 February 2007.
Actually links to http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=2612
Server does not connect
  • Private Water Saves Lives, Fredrik Segerfeldt, Financial Times, 25 August 2005.
Actually links to: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=4462
Link is still valid, to a CATO Institute "Commentary" post that claims, below the byline, "This article appeared in the Financial Times, August 25, 2005."

Obviously, dead links are a problem. The use of unofficial, possibly-unauthorized mirrors is therefore a concern, because it makes the source less reliable (in the technical sense) long-term, and increases the likelihood that the citations will become dead links.

But even where the source pages are still accessible, citing unofficial reproductions to a original source can be problematic because there's simply no way to be sure that the original was reproduced correctly. It's possible that the reference, despite being cited to a particular source, doesn't actually represent the source's work at all. In effect, we may be accidentally participating in a misrepresentation of our claimed source material.

I'll share an example I was personally involved with:

There was a discrepancy on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act page regarding the bill's sponsorship, with the article claiming one set of sponsors in one place, and then a different set in another. I eventually traced the discrepancy down to the fact that one of the claims was cited to a page on an activist group website, and that site had incorrectly reproduced the text of the bill. The editor who cited that page thus made a good-faith edit that listed the wrong sponsors, based on the external site's reproduction error. (My full summary, with links, can be found on the article's talk page.)

I'm not entirely sure of Wikipedia policy on this matter (though I intend to look into it). I don't know if using mirrored works as sources is acceptable or not. Nor do I know if citing mirrored works to their original source is actually prohibited. But I strongly feel that this should be against policy, as it's a bad practice that can be detrimental to Wikipedia's accuracy and verifiability — I think my example clearly illustrates why.

Does anyone know of any warning/cleanup templates addressing this issue, that should be applied to the article? Pointers to relevant policy would also be quite welcome. And, of course, help chasing down those sources would be great. Discussion or commentary, including (especially?) disagreement with or counterpoints to any of what I've written here, is also encouraged. (Let me amend that: respectful discussion, commentary, or disagreement encouraged.) -- FeRD_NYC (talk) 14:14, 6 April 2016 (UTC)

Thanks for spotting this. Have you tried to find the articles on the websites of the respective publications? If it is possible to find them, replacing the links would be the most obvious solution in my view.--Mschiffler (talk) 15:27, 6 April 2016 (UTC)
Mschiffler, I haven't yet, mostly for lack of resources. I would like to. I agree that's the best solution for the dead-link problem. However the issue is (because of the situation I described above) that in replacing those citations, because the source will be changing and the previous source is unavailable for comparison, I kind of feel like it's incumbent upon whoever does it to also confirm that any claims cited to that source are actually supported by the referenced work. So, I'm reluctant to just blindly replace the citation URLs with new ones even if I obtain them.
Which doesn't mean it's not worth doing, just that it's a bigger undertaking that requires a bit more time. Perhaps over the weekend I'll find time to at least start on it. -- FeRD_NYC (talk) 15:07, 7 April 2016 (UTC)
I believe that the situation you describe - someone reproducing an article incorrectly and that the fact quoted in the article is based on that incorrect reproduction - is rather unusual. I think that it is rather safe to replace the URLs without the onerous additional checks that you mention.--Mschiffler (talk) 20:46, 7 April 2016 (UTC)
Mschiffler, you're welcome to. I certainly won't object. I don't feel comfortable making that sort of assumption, myself. -- FeRD_NYC (talk) 08:14, 10 April 2016 (UTC)
I just finished confirming all four of the refs listed in my initial posting. The Segerfeldt article I simply changed to list "Cato Institute" as the source, rather than the Financial Times. The New Yorker and New York Times articles are available at their publishers' sites, so their URLs now point to the canonical source and I've verified that all of their cited claims are supported by the article text.
The only sticking point was the Economist article, which doesn't appear to be available online. It was cited in only two places. One of the two claims had a second source. The other was supported by the New Yorker article with a small adjustment (the value of the lawsuit was reported as $25 million rather than $40 million), so I updated the article accordingly and cited the New Yorker piece. I removed the references to the Economist article, simply because I don't have access to it in order to cite it. If someone who does have access wishes to add back citations and reference the article as an offline source, that would be great. But, as this article stands right now it isn't strictly needed; all of the information referenced is still supported by other citations. -- FeRD_NYC (talk) 11:18, 29 June 2016 (UTC)
For my own reference (a year and a half later), and in the hope that it might possibly be of some use to others reading this as well, the policy which covers this situation is part of WP:COPYRIGHT, specifically the section quick-linked by WP:COPYLINK. It reads, in part:

However, if you know or reasonably suspect that an external Web site is carrying a work in violation of the creator's copyright, do not link to that copy of the work. An example would be linking to a site hosting the lyrics of many popular songs without permission from their copyright holders. Knowingly and intentionally directing others to a site that violates copyright has been considered a form of contributory infringement in the United States (Intellectual Reserve v. Utah Lighthouse Ministry [1]). Linking to a page that illegally distributes someone else's work sheds a bad light on Wikipedia and its editors.

So there are not merely policy implications in situations like the one I describe here, but legal ones. -- FeRD_NYC (talk) 08:29, 14 February 2018 (UTC)