In many Ugandan families, water users are equal, but some are more equal than others. Water scarcity in the Kamuli District in southeastern Uganda has led to increased domestic violence in the region, a Ugandan official said last week during a meeting in Parliament, The News Vision reported.
Parliament Deputy Speaker Rebecca Kadaga told delegates from the World Malayalee Council — an Indian nongovernmental organization — that the water depletion in Kamuli had led to many women being divorced and beaten by their husbands.
“Kamuli has 18 sub-counties and over 100 parishes, but there are cases where four villages share one water source and others do not have,” Kadaga added.
For centuries, women in the country have been fetching water for home and field use. The water shortages, however, have forced wives to travel long distances to collect water –- a delay that many husbands ascribe to secret love affairs, Kadaga said.
Family violence is not the only consequence of water scarcity to gender relations in Uganda. Even though women are the primary water keepers in the country, few of them receive formal water management education, which is still considered a man’s business.
Earlier this year, Kadaga urged participants in the 53rd Commission on the Status of Women held in New York to promote equal sharing of responsibilities for water use between men and women. She added that one of the main obstacles to women’s political participation is the challenge to balance family responsibilities and political commitments.
Gender inequality was a major theme at the 5th World Water Forum held in Istanbul in March this year. At a special gender session, delegates to the forum discussed the impact of unequal gender roles for the health, dignity and social progress of women, particularly in less developed societies.
In a forward to the Water Forum newsletter, Maria Lubega Mutagamba — Uganda’s Minister of Water and Environment — wrote: “Lessons from Africa and the rest of the world have demonstrated that increased [women's] participation in decision making leads to better operation and maintenance of water facilities, better health for the community, greater privacy and dignity for women, more girls attending school and increased income opportunities for women.”
Source: The New Vision