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Clean Water and Infant Mortality

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Yesterday, protesters in DC complained about the IMF and the World Bank and added Bechtel into the mix, charging that Bechtel is involved in water privatization.

From the Bloomberg News story [2]:

A group marching through the streets of downtown Washington paused in front of a building that houses the local office of San Francisco-based Bechtel to shout “Shame, shame, shame on Bechtel!” Protest leaders in a dark pickup truck held up a sign that said, “The World Bank and Bechtel: Water Thieves.”

The complaint is that Bechtel aids privatization which means higher prices for water. But privatization of water can allow the poor and others to have access to clean water that was unavailable when water was given away.

The only systematic study [3] (by Galiani, Gertler and Schargrodsky) I have seen of this issue looked at Argentina where privatization of water led to a drop in child mortality of 5-7 percent, with the with reductions of 24% in the poorest areas.

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