Prospects and challenges of implementing a right-based approach to water development in Uganda: A case of National Water and Sewerage Corporation.
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This study sought to establish the rationale, prospects and challenges of implementing a human rights-based approach (HRBA) to water development initiatives in National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) a major water service provider in Uganda. Lessons learned from NWSC could be used by the Corporation and other water service providers such as district Local Governments to enhance realization of the right to water. A HRBA in water development undertakings underscores the right to water for all sections of the population. Although various human rights instruments provide for the right to water; its realization is still elusive for a significant number of urban dwellers in Uganda. The 1986 UN Declaration on the Right to Development pronounced the right of individuals to participate in development including water development undertakings – a process that enables them to maximize enjoyment of the benefits accruing thereof. In 2002, the right to water; entrenched in the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) was expounded upon by General Comment No. 15 of the same Covenant. To examine the basis, prospects and challenges of implementing a HRBA in water development initiatives, major human rights instruments relevant to water development, and NWSC’s activities with regard to the right to water were scrutinized. Data was collected using checklist questionnaires, unstructured interviews and focus group discussions. Content analysis of relevant documents was also undertaken. The study revealed that there are inadequate resources required to ensure provision of water socially and economically which inhibits realization of the right to water. The study also revealed existence of a legal and policy framework that mandates NWSC to implement a HRBA. Water laws however, do not explicitly entail the right to water as contained in General Comment No. 15 (2002) of ICESCR. The research undertaking also revealed that NWSC personnel and clients are aware that the population including the poor has a right to water but this knowledge is inadequate. The study also highlights existence of irresponsible public behavior that hampers realization of the right to water. The need for Government to prioritize more resources towards the water sector and for NWSC to engage development partners to expand the resource base required to actualize the right to water became apparent. The capacity of rights-holders to “claim” their right to water and the capability of duty-bearers to “fulfil” their duties also needs to be enhanced. There is also need to sensitize the public to appreciate their responsibility in ensuring the right to water and to review existing water laws to guarantee various elements of the right to water.Due diligence and consistence when applying a HRBA if its application is to result to realization of the right to water economically and socially was also highlighted.
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