ACCESS TO SAFE WATER AND THE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT QUANDARY IN AFRICA: IMPLICATIONS OF A RIGHTS-BASED APPROACH
Keywords:access to clean water, funding, rights-based approach, policy responses, water access, water distribution, water management in Africa
Despite formal and concerted commitments by African governments to achieve universal access to clean water through various initiatives since 2000, access to clean drinking water remains a continuous challenge for human development in Sub-
Saharan Africa. While some states have achieved some progress, achieving largescale availability of safe water remains a humanitarian crisis in much of Africa. The underpinning premise of this article is that a comprehensive and integrated approach can ensure the sustainability of expanding access to drinking water and sanitation while facilitating economic growth and human development. This article thus investigates the institutional, political, economic, and communal constraints in achieving expanded access to clean water among vast African populations. What are the roles and responsibilities that the civil society and local government agencies have to assume (a) to ensure that local water users and their organizations can assume their responsibilities for sustainable water resource management; and (b) to make sure that water is indeed considered a human right, and not in the least for those who have little or no access to power and influence: women and other underprivileged groups in local societies? Beyond the question of funding, what will be the role and place of a rights-based approach to the underlying structural challenges of participatory planning; ownership of the distribution processes as well as local accountability, all of which determine the sustainability of development programming pertaining to water? This article proffers a series of trajectories within a right-based approaches framework and accentuates how pragmatic responses to the foregoing questions could contribute to the policy responses necessary to ensure the realization of a well-managed regime of water access, distribution, and management in Africa.
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