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One community’s journey to lobby for water in an environment of privatized water: is Usoma too poor

An African Geographical Review

Elijah Bisunga*, Diana M. Karanjabc, Bernard Abudhob, Yonah Ogunac, Nicholas Mwaurac, Paul Egoc, Corinne J. Schuster-Wallaced & Susan J. Elliotta

pages 70-82


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Abstract

Achieving the proposed water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) post-MDG goals will require targeted measures if the human right to water and sanitation is ever to be realised. Particularly in rural areas, among urban poor populations and marginalised communities where access remains low, the human right to water and sanitation is an important vehicle to raise attention to inequalities in access. In this paper, we explore the journey of Usoma, a small community in Western Kenya, as they move toward the realisation of a human right to water and sanitation. In the face of international pressure for increasingly privatised water and sanitation services that emphasise efficiency and financial sustainability, we conclude that translating the human right to water and sanitation requires adequate commitment to ‘pro-poor’ policies, innovative financing models, monitoring of water service providers, and stakeholder engagement at all levels of government. Only in this way will access to water and sanitation be realised as a human right.