Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

Equity and human rights, more than a passing issue

Special guest blogger, Mrs. Catherine Mwango, Executive Director, Kenya Water for Health and member of ANEW to shares her thoughts from Africa Water Week 3...

Mrs. Catherine Mwango, KWAHO and ANEW

As AWW3 kicked off, many speakers talked about things that need to be done to achieve the Africa Water Vision 2025 and meet the MDGs. A number of speakers also referred to the principle of equity in passing. In fact, this is a key issue in water and sanitation governance and access. The rights to water and sanitation have been recognized by the United Nations and a number of African governments have also adopted human rights as part of their constitution or legislation. 

The progressive realization of human rights however, cannot be achieved without governments and all other stakeholders adopting a rights-based approach (RBA) to water and sanitation governance and service delivery and including targets on equity in WASH and other development plans. This became more clear throughout day 1, when Mr. Hanno Spitzer of BMZ referred to RBA as one of the key principles in water and sanitation governance. The more detailed discussion on rights and equity had to wait until the ANEW evening side-event (pictured below) on the rights to water and sanitation in which one speaker talked about rights as ‘positive discrimination’ and another reminded us that ‘we all have to participate in the progressive realization.’

ANEW member Hawa Amenga-Etego shares her experience on rightsIn Bondo district, Kenya, in partnership with the Kenyan government and UNDP,  KWAHO has been  holding water dialogue forums on rights based approaches which have brought rights holders (consumers), water service providers and government (duty bearers)  into common understanding of water reforms. Recently, Kenya also included the rights to water and sanitation in the bill of rights in the new constitution. These dialogues, and rights recognition by Kenya and the United Nations and others are only small steps, and yet ones that realize that equity and moving in the ‘rights’ direction are efforts that should be applauded and replicated across Africa.




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