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    Gender, Power and Local Water Governance in Rural Uganda

    Bagonza Asaba, Richard (2013) Gender, Power and Local Water Governance in Rural Uganda. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    Gender inequality is one of the biggest challenges to equitable and sustainable natural resource and water governance in developing communities. This thesis investigates the gendered politics of access to water and participation in water governance, using a case study of Makondo Parish in rural Uganda. It empirically explores the micro political and institutional mechanisms that gender access and management of water resources in a rural context in Uganda. The study draws on a theoretical framework that includes: power and difference, particularly the works of Michel Foucault; the politics of access to resources; and theories of gender and participatory democracy and governance. A ‘qualitative-dominant’ mixed method approach was used, in which a cross-sectional survey, focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, participant observation and community meetings were conducted in the study area. It is argued that whereas there are technical and administrative flaws in water governance at all levels in Makondo Parish, gender divisions and inequalities determine men and women’s access to water, water collection and participation in local water governance. The study contends that children and women are negatively impacted by the current modes of access to water, such as water technologies; formal institutions; knowledge and information; and payments or in-kind contributions. For example, despite the existence of “improved” and perhaps safer water sources in the study area, children and women mainly use “unimproved” water sources due to closer proximity, ‘reliability’ of source, and it not being necessary to pay repair or maintenance fees to use them, among other reasons. Men’s reluctance to pay repair fees and women’s inadequate access to money, a major determinant of functionality of “improved” water sources, increases the troubles that women and children face in accessing water. The study further confirms that the burden of collecting water on a daily basis falls primarily on children and women, who move long distances to fetch water, and/or queue for long periods at “improved” water sources, activities that consume their time. Women and children’s health and safety are also unevenly impacted by this burden. Health problems arise from the strain of carrying water, from accidents while negotiating hilly and uneven roads and paths, and in addition children and women’s safety can be compromised as deaths occur from drowning at ‘unimproved’ sources. Both women and children can find themselves vulnerable to verbal and physical assault as gendered social interaction unfolds around water processes. With regard to participation in water governance, this study exposes that despite their recognised roles as water managers at the household-level and national objectives to include women in community management processes, they are less involved in the governance of water than men and therefore have little influence on how water is managed. Women are not effectively represented in water resource management in Makondo parish, and although they attend water meetings more than men (largely due to their household water management role and their higher enthusiasm compared to men’s), women’s physical presence is not enough for them to voice their water needs and concerns in local water spaces. Women’s voices and choices are undermined in local water decision-making processes due to patriarchal norms and stereotypes that give men more power and opportunities and give women low self-belief in their abilities. More transformative, gender-equitable, and inclusive approaches are needed to bring about sustainable water governance in rural developing communities.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Gender; Power; Local Water Governance; Rural Uganda;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology
    Item ID: 6752
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2016 11:52
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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