Stop Corporations Profiting Off Thirst and Water Scarcity

Target: Sanjeev Bickram Rana, Executive Director of Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management Board

Goal: Stop private water tankers from exploiting the water crisis by selling contaminated water at inflated prices to thirsty residents of Kathmandu, Nepal.

In response to growing water scarcity in Kathmandu, Nepal, private water tankers are delivering water to residents at a large cost. As a result of unsustainable urban growth and state mismanagement, Kathmandu’s pipeline network has routinely failed to deliver water to the people. In response, fleets of private tanker trucks are selling water at 40 times the cost of government supplied pipeline water. The tanker water costs roughly 1800 Nepali rupees, or $15.60, for 5000 liters; a price residents have no choice but to pay. Some low income citizens cannot pay at all.

To make matters worse, tankers are often known to deliver poor quality water that causes sickness reported by the consumer, such as skin problems, intestinal bugs and diarrhea. In another corrupt effort to maximize profits, the New York Times article “The Merchants of Thirst”, found that “…some tanker operators even conspire among themselves to fortify the conditions that contributed to their emergence in the first place.” They have been reported to make deals with officials to limit pipeline flow and actively campaign against public projects to increase access to water.

The tanker industry is a key example of a wider global trend of water privatization; namely how the private sector profits from the effects of unsustainable urbanization and climate change. According to the World Bank, up to 1.9 million people living in cities may experience seasonal water shortages by mid century. The tanker industry operates widely in South Asia, South America and Sub-Saharan Africa, where these shortages are predicted to happen. In Mumbai, India, tanker water costs 52 times more than pipeline water. Another chilling example of corruption among the tanker industry was found by a World Resources Institute Researcher in Bolivia, who said that tankers are known to fill their trucks from chlorinated swimming pools.

If action is taken in Kathmandu, other parts of the world may follow suit. Sign below to demand the Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management Board fix pipeline failures and stop the private tanker industry from exploiting the water crisis.


Dear Mr. Rana,

On behalf of the Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management Board, I urge you to apply the resources needed to increase public access to water in order to prevent the private tanker industry from exploiting the needs of thirsty people. Contaminated water that is 40 times more expensive than government supplied pipeline water should not be the sole option for residents. The World Health Organization recommends that households spend no more than 3 to 5 percent of their income on water. However, at the hands of the tanker industry, citizens of Kathmandu are spending upwards of 20 percent of their income on an unreliable, often sickly source of water.

This is not humane and not acceptable. Please, take action to stop the tanker industry from profiting off of the water crisis through price inflation and intentional sabotage of attempts to fix pipelines.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Saraswati Thapa

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  1. Jose Espino says:

    Water in the world belongs to every living organism there is, it is free for the taking as given by God and from insects to humans it is a free gift. No one has the right to exploit this one and only source of life on earth. This is a good time to understand the terribly threat of global warming and do something about it. If you are the people, choose leaders that would prioritize life over money and if you are already a world leader and have any integral sense of humanity,give your all to saving the fragile environment from other leaders and corporations that choose to destroy it for the sake of money. Money will not buy your children and children’s children a living world.

  2. Justin Recht says:

    …he who controls the water, controls the world…

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