1.1Essence of Gender, Gender Equality and the Environment
Gender refers to the different roles, rights and responsibilities of men and women and the relationships between them, their qualities, behaviours, and identities which are determined through the process of socialisation to define their relationships with each other and with their environment. Gender equality on the other hand is a principle that equates men and women before and under the law; men and women have equal dignity (worthiness); and have equal opportunities in economic, political, cultural and social life. It is upon this background that the relationships and rights enjoyed by men and women foster decision making and activities that in turn have been affected in both the management and sustainability of the environment. It has been observed that there is an undesirable imbalance that has existed between men and women resulting in inadequate performance of the letter of their roles. Often this has slowed down development initiatives leading to adverse effects on the environment.
1.2 Significancy of Water in Social and Economic Development Water is a key strategic resource, vital for sustaining life, promoting development and maintaining the environment. Access to clean and safe water and improved sanitation facilities and practices are pre-requisites to a health/population and therefore have a direct impact on the quality of life and productivity of the population. Besides domestic water supply, water is also vital for: Livestock Water Supply, Industrial Water Supply, Hydropower generation, Agriculture, Marine Transport, Fisheries, Waste Discharge, Tourism, and Environmental Conservation. Water, therefore, significantly contributes to the national socio-economic development and also poverty eradication (UNWD, 2005) Water is thus an integral part of the natural resources protected under the Uganda Constitution. 1.3Government Committement.
Over the last two decades, government has committed itself to the implementation of public sector reforms meant to ensure sustainable development, through legislative and policy frameworks anchored on three key policies, namely: Decentralisation, Privatisation and Divestiture; and the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP), These were intended to reduce the burden of the nation’s concern for income generating resources and practices. The PEAP was prepared in 1997 in a move to eradicate poverty as an overall national planning framework. It has since been revised through 2007/8 and based on five pillars, namely; (1) Economic management; (2) Enhancing production, competitiveness and incomes; (3) Security, conflict-resolution and disaster management; (4) Good governance and (5) Human development (PEAP 2004/5-2007/8) Water and sanitation are some of the central elements under pillar one intended to improve the quality of life of the poor through human development. The second pillar points out a strategy to foster production, incomes and competitiveness through water consumption and production. It also addresses actions to empower and strengthen women’s gender awareness and furthermore points out inadequacies aimed at capacity building in the application of skills, limited choice in the decisions about the nature of services received and needed by women, less efforts in community gender awareness campaigns, weaknesses among decision makers including support in supervision and monitoring thus leading to reasons for low gender responsiveness in the water sector. Which way forward? With this background, this Article addresses key policy and legal frame works in the water sector, gender and environmental impact assessment of water resources which have been developed and supported by various laws, sector performance, integration of gender into environment and sustainable development,...