n Malawi Law Journal - Human rights, gender and water : a case study of women, active citizenship, law reform and water governance in Malawi

Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1996-7675



Malawi faces 'water stress' despite the fact that water bodies cover 21 percent of the country. Water scarcity will severely limit access to water for the 'ultra-poor'. Decentralisation of water governance, increasing the participation of women in water governance structures, and fulfilling the right to water are crucial for guaranteeing access to water for all in the country. This article investigates the extent to which law reform reflects a rights-based approach to water governance and people's perceptions and needs in relation to access to water. It stresses the need for the active involvement of the people, especially women, in water governance. Using data collected through a grounded approach in two research sites (peri-urban and rural), this article reveals that water users, especially women, do not consider themselves to be holders of the right to water, which impedes their ability to demand greater access to water, to participate (effectively) in water governance structures and to hold water services providers accountable.

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