Global Resources

Gender, water and sanitation case studies on best practices

Publication Date: Jan 2006

During its 58th Session, the United Nations General Assembly declared the period 2005-2015 the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’. The goal of the decade were to bring about a greater focus on water related issues at all levels and on the implementation of water-related programmes and projects, while striving to ensure the participation and involvement of women in water-related development efforts. This resource, published in 2006 by the UN Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, sought to add to the current knowledge on the importance of applying a gender aware perspective in designing sustainable development interventions. These 15 best practice case studies show that a gender aware perspective reaps significant benefits for the whole community, particularly when power relationships between men and women alter, and men see the value and accept the need for changing women’s roles.

The case studies are based in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East; each follow the same format looking at the challenges, implemented projects or programmes, outcomes, key factors for success, main obstacles and looking ahead for sustainability and transferability. For example, in the Samari-Nkwanta community in Ghana, women and children are the primary collectors, users and managers of household water, with girls often dropping out of school during the dry season in order to travel further to collect water. As a response to a severe infestation of Guinea Worm, the Ghana Rural water Project (GRWP), using a community-based people-orientated approach, supplied the village with two boreholes fitted with hand pumps, two public Ventilated Improved Pit latrines and a urinal. Positive outcomes of this project included a shift from a male-dominance to more equitable sharing of power and decision-making and greater prevalence of girls in primary school.

 In the Brazilian case study, the key objectives of their water project were to stop the pollution of a local river through a number of activities, which included raising awareness, education and training on the environment, and gender mainstreaming and involvement of the entire community. The women involved led a successful process of environmental education and river and vegetation rehabilitation. In the process, women’s political participation was strengthened, and public perceptions regarding their leadership capability were changed. Key factors in the success of this project included technical support from an interdisciplinary group through the entire process, and using a diverse range of activities to enable all community members to participate.

(adapted from source)