Expanding public participation of women in water projects

Enhancing role of women in sanitation management
Facilitating women's involvement in water supply management
The primary role played by women in the management of domestic water supply is well-recognized. Women are the primary collectors of water; they determine which water sources are to be used, the quantity and hygienic condition of available water. Women also play a pivotal role in environmental sanitation. They take primary responsibility for the hygienic operation and maintenance of sanitation facilities. It is women's behaviour in water collection, storage utilization, waste disposal, human-waste disposal and solid-waste disposal, as well as in food handling and hygiene practices which determines the state of health and well-being of the entire family and household. In spite of this intimate responsibility for water-related matters at the domestic level, the role and participation of women in the planning and management of water resources are far from reaching desired levels. Their water-related work has been taken for granted, and its economic and social value is greatly under-estimated.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends mobilizing and facilitating the active involvement of women in water management teams.

The Department of Technical Cooperation for Development of the UN trains users, especial women, in the efficient use of water and in village-level operations and maintenance. This has been extended to peri-urban areas. FAO projects on the provision of safe water includes training of women in sanitation issues. UNIFEM, in emphasizing transport technologies, recognizes that low-income women spend 2,000 to 5,000 hours annually in transporting water, fuel and goods.

Water is repeatedly an organizing focus for women in poor communities all over the world and many local initiatives have occurred, including: the [matabi] women's groups in rural central Kenya who, through communal self-help, upgraded their roofs from thatch to corrugated iron ( [matabi], which enables collection of rainwater run-off; women's water co-operatives of Lima, Peru; water kiosks in the informal settlements of Nairobi, run by women's groups and supported by UNICEF, the Undugu Society, the Kenya Water for Health Organization (KWAHO) and other NGOs.

Not only does the work of women as water carriers take away education and leisure time, it also takes women's time for participation in neighbourhood management at the political level. So women are also more vulnerable to policy changes. They have less access to water-related education, credit, extension services and technologies than men.
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure