A HUMAN RIGHTS-BASED APPROACH TO ACCESS TO WATER IN AFRICA: A CASE STUDY OF CAMEROON
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The right to access to water is recognized by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 64/292 of July 28, 2010, as a right essential for the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights.
Paragraph 2 of the United Nation’s Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights General Comment No. 15 goes further to state that everyone is entitled to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.
Despite this express recognition, there arise situations of scarcity due to natural causes and a range of human activities.
Equally, failure to explicitly state the right to access water in international human rights treaties makes it difficult, if not impossible to protect the right. Moreover, physical accessibility, water quality, climate change, and costs are other hindrances to the enjoyment of the right to access to water. Water found in rivers and lakes is not safe for drinking.
Poor quality often leads to water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, and typhoid. This study sets out to determine whether the right to access to water has been recognized in Cameroon and whether this right is justified, respected, protected, and fulfilled. To achieve these objectives, the study adopts the doctrinal method of research.
The material was gathered from both primary and secondary sources. Primary sources consisted of Treaties, Conventions, Declarations, Resolution, Laws, and Case Law.
As for secondary sources, documents consulted consisted of books, journal articles, the internet, commentaries, and reports bordering on the subject. The study reveals that various legal instruments recognize water as a fundamental right in Cameroon and that various institutions exist to ensure the realization of the right.
It equally reveals that various strategies, plans, and mechanisms have been put in place to ensure accountability. However, findings also revealed that all efforts notwithstanding, there are various challenges about the realization of this right in Cameroon.
The study recommends that the state should take specific steps to reform existing legislation, policies, and strategies to ensure the enjoyment of the right to access to water. The State should develop and make available relevant data to ensure monitoring, participation, and accountability and to strengthen existing legal and institutional frameworks.
The study further recommends that a Water Coalition to serve as a coordinating body for actors as well as a space for dialogue and the promotion of partnership between civil society, public authorities, and private companies to be set up in Cameroon.
1.1 Background to the study
1.2 Research problem
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTION
To what extent is access to water considered and realized as a fundamental human right in Africa?
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESISAccess to water is recognized and justified as a fundamental human right in Cameroon but its respect, protection, and fulfilment are limited.
1.5 OBJECTIVES OF THE RESEARCH
1.5.1 Main Objective
The main objective of this study is to determine whether the right to access to water has been recognized and justified in Cameroon and if it is being respected, protected, and fulfilled. If not, this research proposes the realization of the right to access water in Cameroon.
1.5.2 Specific Objectives
– To ascertain the recognition and justification of access to water as a fundamental human right in Cameroon;
– To examine the various institutions put in place to ensure access to water in Cameroon;
– To analyze the strategies and plans put in place by duty bearers for the empowerment of Cameroonians to claim their right to access to water and to evaluate citizens’ degree of participation in decision-making when it comes to their right to access to water;
– To assess the effectiveness and strength of the accountability strategies and mechanisms vis-à-vis duty bearers’ when it comes to the fundamental right to access to water;
– To examine the effectiveness of the realization of the right to access to water in Cameroon;
– To propose solutions that can help promote and contribute to the respect, protection, and fulfilment of the fundamental right to access to water in Cameroon.