Posted by: r.m. | April 4, 2014

Blue Gold – pretending not to privatize, while calling for privatization of water in Lebanon

Hmm… So, Ziad Sayegh, the CEO of the Civic Influence Hub which is launching the Blue Gold Project, estimates that the project will cost US $5 billion – and that the majority of this money will come from the private sector – but – although the “Lebanon’s private sector will invest, [he] insists the plan does not amount to privatization of the water network.”

Uh… so, the logic is that the private sector will spend billions of dollars into a project, and then allow the public sector – the government – to control the source, distribution, and billing of this network?Really?

Sayegh continues to claim that Blue Gold does not amount to privatization – although in their own Blue Gold booklet, they speak quite clearly that the “private sector must” have control of the distribution, billing, and source of water.  Isn’t that privatization?

What does he want to do?

the vision requires a complete legal and regulatory overhaul of the water sector, including anti-monopoly laws and specific public-private partnership laws, with political top cover to implement. Sayegh hopes to replace the current water authorities, run by the Ministry of Energy and Water, with a National Water Council, a Water Regulatory Authority, a National Monitoring Center and a users’ association, as well as an independent watchdog.

“It’s time to lobby. There is no time to lose. We are working in parallel with the decision-makers and should be ready to submit to the parliament a serious, comprehensive and consultative law for the national water council in three months.”

The devil is in the details.  This “independent watchdog” is already a part of the Civic Influence Hub (as their own booklet indicates), so, not quite ‘independent.”  And this new oversight that Sayegh and company are planning lack transparency and accountability.

No to further privatization!

Yes to cleaning our government from its corruption and mismanagement.

Yes to enabling our government to provide what is our RIGHT: access to clean water to all.





  1. Well nothing to comment much on this article because I agree totally with it. Water resources in general should not be an option for privatization.Hope everyone realizes the fact why this project should be rejected and stop voting (on cell phones. Simply, awareness on this contradictory project is a must!

  2. Aida Metri (BIOL207)

    Privatizing water now? really? Water is probably the one thing that should legally belong to everyone. No one pays or is responsible for the water getting to earth, so why should people have to pay for it?
    There’s something fishy about this whole “blue gold” idea. First of all, water should’t have to be compared to gold. If people started actually using it right, we probably wouldn’t even have the problem of water shortage to begin with. “Poor resource management, a lack of regulatory framework and an aging and inefficient infrastructure means only 17 percent of available water resources are used, according to researchers.” People should start coming up with ideas to use their water efficiently. like the example mentioned in the article about saving water when showering.

    ““We have a lot of wastage on the network,” she adds, listing outdated agricultural techniques and leaking pipes in the domestic sector as just two of the many ways precious water vanishes from the system.” Maybe, instead of searching for ways to benefit from water shortages, these people could actually use their “non-priviatizing” generosity and concern for lebanon’s water shortages to help save the water. This world is actually coming to a place where people want to own water. It sounds like someone wants to try and make a few extra dollars, not like someone who is concerned of their nations people. No matter how much they say its completely public, there’s always something hidden. Like the part that their “independent watchdog” is already a part of the Civic Influence Hub.

  3. “He who says it cannot be done should not stand in the way of he who is doing it ” – Chinese Proverb.
    Rania, where do I start?
    1-water and the nation. For 67 years , the governments of Lebanon were unable to fix the water infrastructure in Lebanon. Be aware that until today we use only 17 % of our water. Israel uses 107% of it. Water has become the most strategic element of the regional geopolitic paradigms. The reason for it is the incapacity of our ministers to agree on an integrated water plan for the nation. Tell me Rania, what do we do? We let go? Or do we try to fix it?
    2- the role of the citizen . We believe that if the politicians cannot do it, maybe the civil society can propose a water plan that make sense. this is exactly what CIH civic Influence Hub has done-the hard way- not through demagogic blogging but the professional way of gathering citizens ready to sacrifice time and some funds to finance an integrated water plan with the participation of 30 lebanese water experts, 20 NGo’s volunteers, and more then 300 citizens joining forces to gather data, do field work, write, illustrate, edit the most comprehensive integrated water plan ever done in lebanon: BlueGold 5 year plan. We called it bluegold because if bountiful, water can be gold in value and if scarce in times of global warming and drought , it is rare and valuable as gold. so gold terminology is not about greed but value. gold is in the eye of the experts, citizens, and volunteeers who contributed to the initiative.
    3-the truth about the plan. As a scientist who read the plan , I suppose that you understood its core mecanism. INTEGRATION of all the water paradigms in one plan . IE : less dams, generalization of drop irrigation, forestation, recycling , harvesting, grey water network in parallel to fresh water, fresh water springs under the sea, water quality and water purification, 40 initiatives on 20 years and 14 immediately to create a strategic water reserve for days of drought, for bringing the water bill down to the people, for getting 24h water a day, for exchange of water v/s food to reduce the food bill of the nation and create a sustainable calory/citizen equation that make sense. Of course, you read maybe about all this but maybe you didnot find any sensationalism in talking about the value of the plan. You stick to the big privatization word. so let’s talk about privatization, Not according to world bank and the many researches done and submitted by you but according to the BlueGold.
    4- Privatization. BlueGold calls for the establishing of the National Water Council who will assess the plans under the supervision of a regulatory authority and a watch dog association composed by citizens and experts,
    The NWC will send tenders to operators who will sign BOT contracts with the government for building the water needed infrastructure. This will cost zero to the government. Who will invest the money and who will earn the dividends? a law will ask for each operator to include in his capital 1/3 public funds, 1/3 private funds and 1/3 citizens participation, all will earn about 12% for their investment. the water property remains to the state , BOT are not concessions. BlueGold need 5 billion$ to be. the government plan need 7.5 billion $ to be and the government cannot get this cash, you know that we are already indebted by 60 billion $
    5-the anti-trust law. there will be a minimum of 60 operators , operating in all the regions of lebanon, favoring the decentralization scheme proposed by Taef and the government and spreading the water benefits all round the country in a fair way between all the regions. AN OPERATOR cannot be in more than one operation. private investment is limited to a certain quota, citizen’s investment as well per person
    6-misunderstandings. It is easy to raise concerns and big theories about privatization, but which one? in which country? is private/public/ civil participation PPCP a form of privatization? should and can lebanon, due to its notorious incapacity of managing its water, TRY a formula that will be unique for him
    7-Common sense. Do you have a better idea then asking for a petition to destroy a sound initiative that can save the water of lebanon? do you give yourself a chance to dig into the plan and eventually being a scientist to improve on it? do you want to create a nuclear weapon, or do you prefer to build a nuclear power station ? more useful to mankind?
    8- your supporters. Have the courage -by honesty to your supporters- to present all the aspects of the plan with full integrity and then ask them if they still want to vote against it?
    9- Scientific debate . Face the CIH experts and bring with you your closest supporters and transform partiality in an open constructive debate, THEN procede with your petition if you still want it, at least you will not be accused of demagogy and obscurantism. AS far as CIH is concerned, BLueGOLd is designed by the lebanese people to the lebanese people, we have only one leader to guide us, THE IDEA THAT WE CANNOT CARRY ON LOSING OUR WATER IN THE SEA. Is it what you want?
    10- Our supporters. BlueGold is already supported until today april 25, 2014 by 60000 voters on internet and sms and 52000 facebook supporters 112000 in all. are they all ignorant about the realities of the plan? do you know more then them ? did you do more homework than compiling irrelevant studies to the specific , complicated lebanese water problem?
    A BlueGold supporter

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