Gender Equality through Climate Resilient Water Investment in Uganda and Eastern Africa

Gender equality is essential for ensuring inclusive water security and building climate resilience in Eastern Africa, and Uganda. At Africa level, the AU Heads of States launched a ten-year strategy for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (2018 – 2027) during the February 2019 Summit. The AU noted that despite improvements in national gender policies, guidelines and plans addressing gender inequalities, implementation still falls short.

In East African Community (EAC), there is an EAC Gender Policy, a Gender Equality Bill and gender mainstreaming guidelines for EAC organs and institutions. Uganda is a member state of AU and EAC and has made considerable progress in addressing gender inequality. The formal legal framework is progressive, key institutions exist to promote gender equality1. Government of Uganda has in place climate change Policy, water policy, gender policy and water sector gender strategy policy, water and climate change adaptation programs. However, there are important gaps between Uganda's very positive legal framework and the lack of effective implementation or enforcement of gender-responsive laws and Policies and programmes. Gender inequality remains and continues unabated despite high level declarations to the contrary in the region and country. Unless gender equity and equality is specifically targeted at the systemic level, the fast growing initiatives and investments in water security and climate resilience may not be inclusive and sustainable hence may significantly exacerbate gender inequalities. According to African Development Bank group Uganda Gender Profile, its noted that attitudes, beliefs and practices that serve to exclude women are still deeply entrenched throughout the country. This means that unbalanced power relations between men and women continue to have a negative impact on women's agency, their human capital development, and their ability to contribute equitably to, and benefit equitably from climate resilience and water investments.

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity in East Africa and Uganda and vulnerable populations mainly the poor and most marginalised, including children, women, older persons and people with disabilities are particularly poorly equipped to cope with the adverse impacts of climate change2. Initiatives to address the climate change challenges are in place however they are not gender responsive and transformative. Gender Issues in Agriculture and Linkages to Climate Change pose a difference in needs resulting from roles performed by women and men. In relation to promoting gender equality, women’s daily needs which are practical are not complemented by those needs which can transform the unfavourable gender roles and relations. Inadequate gender disaggregate data on gender and climate actions. This is a very big challenge for gender responsive programming and sustainable development agenda of leaving no one behind. Limited access to financing for gender and climate change programming and limited skills for gender responsive mitigation and adaptation actions. This has impacted negatively on mitigation and adaptation plans/ ambition that has been stated in Uganda’s Nationally Determined contributions.
In East Africa and Uganda, there are still inequalities in access to and control over water resources. Women are primarily responsible for the use and management of water sources and at the same time, women and girls are obliged to walk averagely 6 hours every day to fetch water, which may expose them to threats of violence and health hazards. However, men still dominate the arena of planning, budgeting and decision-making regarding water and women’s views are often under- represented, implying that women’s practical and strategic needs are not addressed3.
1 African Development Bank Group 2016,Uganda Gender Profile
2 National Climate Change Policy 2015.
3 The Ministry of Water and Environment water and sanitation sub sector gender strategy 2018-22

As mentioned earlier, that there is considerable progress made by Uganda in addressing gender related issues and is commendable with much effort leaning towards gender quality. Considering the formal legal framework-its progressive and key institutions are promoting the gender equality drive and substantial improvement has been made in human development on this front without necessarily looking at the holistic agenda of making it gender transformative. Therefore, the The AIP WACDEP-G Program in Eastern Africa and Uganda will focus on providing strategic guidance on integrating gender transformative approach in climate resilient water investments, establishing a common progress review mechanism and strengthening capacity in the region. The approach for WACDEP-G implementation in the East- Africa region will be to focus on implementing the program at country level (Uganda) while facilitating capacity development and learnings at basin and regional levels. The AIP WACDEP-G Program in Uganda will focus on providing support to integrate gender in the National Adaptation Planning process; developing mechanisms/tools for integrating gender into plans and budget processes; supporting key government institutions to take gender transformative actions; and demonstrating gender transformative actions for learning and influencing policies and practices at national, Kagera/Lake Victoria Basin and EA region.