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Global challenges and role of institutions in water services

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Finns get to enjoy luxury, which is a dream to hundreds of millions of people. According to UNICEF & WHO statistics, some 0.7 billion people lack safe water and some 2.5 billion basic sanitation. In reality the figures are higher since often the water treatment systems do not operate properly. Besides, 80 per cent of wastewater is still completely untreated.

Globally municipalities or public institutions own some 90 per cent of water utilities, 95 per cent of wastewater utilities, and close to 100 per cent of storm water systems. The role of municipalities in terms of water services, however, varies a lot.

Especially in developing economies, operative water services can promote equality and living conditions for women and children, and prevent diseases. The history of developed economies, such as Finland, shows this.

In Finland, municipalities are in charge of providing water services and municipal utilities or cooperatives produce the actual services. Services and goods can be bought from the private sector. In cities, water and wastewater utilities are normally integrated as one body.

In England water utilities are privately owned. Through regulation citizens have their role but counties and local authorities are excluded. In Lithuania, the situation resembles that in Finland, although the private sector is still in its developing stage.

Worldwide, several municipalities have in the early 2000s dismantled their longterm contracts with the private sector. Yet, the private sector has been and still is very important through construction contracts, planning and material supplies.

In addition to technological artefacts we need better knowhow and understanding of institutions.


Read the whole article on our online magazine on the page 15.


Tapio Katko

The writer is UNESCO Chairholder, Adjunct Professore Tampere University of Technology.


Further information for the media:

Tapio Katko. UNESCO Chairholder, Adjunct Professore Tampere University of Technology. tapio.katko(at)tut.fi

Econet Group is a water and environment technology service company. The Group includes Econet Ltd, Dewaco Ltd and Oy Slamex Ab. Helsinki-based Econet designs and offers solutions for clean water and environment globally. Laitila-based Dewaco, in turn, is specialised in sludge thickening, dewatering and sludge removal. Lahti-based Slamex designs and manufactures equipment for treatment of water and wastewater. The Group’s turnover amounts to about EUR 22 million.

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