One community’s journey to lobby for water in an environment of privatized water: is Usoma too poor for the pro-poor program?
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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 realized. Particularly in rural areas, among urban poor populations and marginalized 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 realization of a human right to water and sanitation. In the face of international pressure for increasingly privatized water and sanitation services that emphasize 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 realized as a human right.
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