Session FT 5.17
Managing safe drinking water in areas of armed conflict and ecological disaster from a gender perspective
- Women in Europe for a Common Future
- Environment and Population Research Center, Bangladesh
This session presented successful local actions of women’s organisations in 5 conflict and disaster regions. The local actions provide safe water and/or sanitation to poor families. The work of these women organisations is like the work of the fire-fighter, putting water on the flames; reducing violence in conlict areas and reducing pain in disaster areas. This reduces the risk of conflict and disaster, and might prevent future conflict
Lessons learned, key messages, and orientations for action
- Considerably increase donor funds to existing women’s and civil society organisations, both for capacity building and implementation.
- The Globa Monitoring Report data should include data on quality of drinking water, access data alone gives a wrong message
- Private banks like SNS (on the panel) want public participation as a guarantee for investment. Public participation should assure that funds are spend wisely and efficiently. It would be possible to provide a mix of capital, from donor and private sources, even for the poor parts of Cochabamba Bolivia.
- Increasing the local capacity to operate water systems is a means of strengthening social structures and democratization
- Carry out with local students, an analysis of the communities capacity and most of all, willingness to pay by home visits and focus interviews which etablish expenses (not income).
- Not only sign, but also implement, the operation contracts with the national government, which establish the investments by the local authority and the state, as well as the subsidies for the water-CBOs
- Women are the one’s who manage the water in the communities, and therefore, as a women’s organisation, we are more easily accepted to help them build up their community based water organisations.
- As a women’s organisation we have an better negotiation position with the armed groups, they trust us more easily, and believe that we will really help the communities.
- The women we help to improve their quality of life will no longer migrate to the city slums
- By reducing the poverty in the communities, we reduce the economic interest for joining the armed forces
Local Actions presented
Water Supply in Rural Columbia
Located in 3 departments along the pacific ocean, Cauca, Chocó y Nariño, isolated regions where armed groups are acting outside of the law, and there is an illegal production of coca, the project aimed at organising Community Based Organisation to take care of hygiene, water and sanitation activities.
There are now 23 functioning Community Based Organisations (CBOs), with 250 people involved in hygiene, water and sanitation activities, 10 social control committees and y 2 citizen’s monitoring groups. 35 women and 44 men have been trained to increase the low level of committment communities and because women were not recognized a Women’s representation by quota in the CBOs has been set up. A better presence of control entities of the state is required to mitigate the frequent political manipulation, and donors should provide funds timely and for longer periods to ensure the sustainibility of these organisations.
Rural water supply in Northern Afghanistan
Sybille Schnehage, Katachel
The organisation Katachel has worked for over 15 years in north Afghanistan, around Kunduz, building 770 wells, providing pensions for 300 widows, building 20 schools, building 60 km of road and bridges, paying for operations for wounded, building 170 loam houses and setting up income generating activities for war refugees returning from Pakistan. The founder of the organisation Sybille Schnehage, from Germany, explains that she is the only NGO to be working in the rural areas in North Afghanisatn. There are many NGOs in Kabul, but they and the state should be giving priority to the rural areas. Child mortality and poverty are extremely high, and the rural population remains an easy target for fundamentalists and drug barrons. With 99% illiteracy rate, education is the second priority, after safe drinking waters. The wells cost 500 Euro each, the schools are equipped with dry urine-separating toilets. In the village Akachel, on the highlands, it is impossible to make the 500 euro wells, as the groundwater is 100 meters deep. In this village it are not the girls, but the boys that need most support. The boys spend all day getting polluted water from a 15 kilometers far river, and have only 2 hours each day to go to school. Drilling a well for the village would be essential, but outside the means of Katachel. There is much more too do than Katachel, with an average annual budget of only 500.000 euro can pay for. Even though working in Afghanistan is still very dangerous, and the NG0 needs armed staff, it is necessary that more is done for the rural areas. One way to do so, is to support this women’s initiative.
Emergency latrines in Sri Lanka
Kusum Athukorala, Network of Women’s Water Professionals
After the Tsunami, the refugee camps had thousands of people been given shelter and food…but they shared one toilet. Many went into the surrounding areas, until a girl was raped. NetWwater, the Network of Women’s Water Professionals in Sri Lanka, got together with universities and designed emergency latrines. The firs latrines, called ‘Amila’ which means priceless and clean in Tsingali, were simple pit latrines, but as the area is sandy, the pit was an old oil-barrel, foreseen to last 3 months. But as the refugees needed to stay longer and longer in the camps, NetWwater developed 2 other models, one with a desludging capacity and one with an aerobic filter.
Water quality mitigation in rural Uzbekistan
Gulbachar Izentaeva, Mehriban
With more than 85% of its water resources used for irrigation, water resources quality in Uzbekistan are highly affected with salinisation reaching 3 mg salt p/litre, and elements such as manganese, chlorine, sulphate and fluorine exceed EU standards and, according to our tests of water from rural areas (hand pumps) are not suitable for drinking. 5 million people continue to use water from open canals and polluted wells.
To raise awareness and improve safe drinking water and sanitation Mehriban started a pilot project in a rural school and in the village, in Karakalpakstan, the region affected the most by this poor water quality. The project focused on education and technology with the training of teachers and locals on health education, drinking water and ecological sanitation, the use of information materials (leaflets and posters), the preparation for construction of ecosan toilets (reuse of nutrients) in the school & households. And monthly water tests provide now a good information to the population. A pilot watercone was also tested, its average production is still low, about 0.7 litres per day, but the water was safe, salts were gone. And a research project with the University of Agriculture of Netherlands on improving agricultural practices in salty lands.
In the future, the organisation is finalist for a small project of the World Bank Development Marketplace entitled “Low-Cost Home Desalination project for the village”. They plan to develop 100 household solar desalination stills, with a system that could work in cold climate.
Bilqis Amin Hoque, EPRC
Banladesh is one of the most densly populated countries in the world. Bangladesha lays at the end of three large international river basins, the largest being the Ganges. This leads to annual flooding, which peak between June and October, in the last 40 years, large floods and cyclones have cost between 300.000 and 900 lives, and into the billion dollars of damage. Banladesh has a new disaster, arsenic pollution of drinking water wells, 85% of territory is affected, some 30-60 million people. Drinking water contaminated with arsenic can lead to cancer and be deadly. The legislation in Bangladesh gives opportunities for women to become more involved in finding solutions to the above described disasters. Article 28(2): “Women shall have equal rights with men in all spheres of the state and public affairs” Atricle 28 (4): “Nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from making special provision in favor of women…….. “. Moreover, a policy for Safe drinking water for all has been set up, focusing on women and children, with the goal of providing Free safe drinking water for 80% contaminated villages
But, findings of EPRC’s research show that despite these opportunities Floods and scarcity of water increased as well as. Microbiological risks. And that women are not trained and involved in the decision making and that their needs are neglected. The poor global monitoring system and the poor knowledge on pro-poor and gender-oriented capacity-building initiatives do not help facing this situation.
In conclusions, this study identified the steps needed to be taken :
· Improve policy, program and institutional capacity for appropriate gender mainstreaming
· Improve capacity building programs including knowledge and facilities
· Develop appropriate technologies
· Support networking and collaboration among women focused groups at local and international level
· Develop appropriate global and local monitoring programs, add water quality data
· Include river basin based (national and international) initiatives in IWRM towards sustainable drinking water
Uberlinda Reyes, Aqua Tuya, Cochabamba
Cochabamba was the scene of the water war, where some 30 civilians died. The reason for this water war was that the richer Northern part of the town received drinking water, and the southern parts not, and that the southern parts were asked to pay high prices by the new privatized company (from the US) for DW connection, prices they could not pay. The US firm has been thrown out, the leader of the water revolt is now minister of water in Bolivia, but the poor Southern neighbourhoods of Cochabamba still are not connected to the municipal water supply. Uberlinda Reyes, citizen of Cochabamba, has set up a neighbourhood water supply company, with 260 neighbours, supported by the programme “Aqua Tuya”. They have negotiated hard with the municipal water supply, so that they could buy the needed equipment directly from the factories at reduced prices. Also, they receive the water in a central reservoir, and from there, they as citizen’s organisation are responsible for disbtributing the water to the 260 households and for cashing the water fees. By this method, they managed to reduce the water price from 0,4 USD per cubic meter, to 0,2 USD per cubic meter. This is a very encouraging example, and would be good to copy to the other households of Cochabanba. However, to connect all households the municipality has calculated 80 million USD. How should this capital be found, and how should it be repaid, when the inhabitants of Southern Cochabamba are so poor, with average income of 20 USD per family per month? The programme Aqua Tuya, together with more citizen’s initiatives, as well as with support of the private Dutch bank SNS, could maybe put together a mixture of donor and private funding, and applying the example of Uberlinda Reyes community organisation.