A gender perspective to understand & enhance the functionality of water supply systems in Nepal

A happy woman is standing washing a large vessel by a pipe with clear running water in Nepal

A woman collecting water for domestic use from a communal tap in Dailekh district, Nepal (Manita Raut / IWMI) 

 

How does the role of gender and social inclusion impact how water is managed by rural communities of Nepal?

 

This what research partner, International Water Management Institute (IWMI) is seeking to find out through their Water for Women project, Water Supply and Gender, supported by the Australian Government.

 

The project explores how gender relationships and power dynamics influence the sustainability and functionality of water supply systems in the country, with the aim of addressing a major limitation in current approaches to women’s empowerment in the water sector. The focus for both research and development interventions to date has been on women’s individual empowerment, with inadequate attention given to collective action and collective empowerment.

 

Research is an important element of Water for Women, through research, the program aims to raise the bar in terms of gender and socially inclusive research, analysis, design and program delivery in WASH, and in doing so, strengthen the impact of our work.

 

Community-based water resources management has driven water management in Nepal since the 1970s. This has resulted in the formation of water user groups (WUGs) that manage and decide on concerns related to common water sources and systems. However, a study conducted in 2014 indicates that only 25% of water supply systems in place remain fully functional (Department of Water Supply and Sewerage 2014). Lack of functionality first affects the marginalised groups, particularly women and young girls, who are largely responsible for ensuring household water security.

 

This is often the case - women and marginalised groups bear the brunt of problems, ranging from poverty to water access, to climate change, but they also possess the capabilities, knowledge and talents to solve these problems. That is why women must be part of the decision making process and that is why gender and social inclusion is embedded across Australia’s development programs.

 

We cannot adequately address an issue without first understanding the causes. It is more important than ever to understand and achieve equitable water access especially now that water is critical in COVID-19 prevention while accessing it is complicated by preexisting inequalities in the sector.

 

As part of IWMI's ongoing work, this technical brief sheds light on the status of water system functionality in the project sites, mechanisms that govern these systems, and the extent to which these mechanisms are inclusive and promote gender equality and diversity.

 

Societies that include women in all aspects of economic, political and cultural life are more likely to be vibrant, inclusive, productive and stable, for everyone.

 

Thumbnail of cover of brief with text and picture of a woman

 

The value of women is infinite – women bear the brunt of problems, ranging from poverty to health, to climate change, but they also possess the capabilities, knowledge and talents to solve these problems. That is why gender and social inclusion is embedded across Australia’s development programs.

 

For International Women's Day and World Water Day, we are celebrating the value of women and the value of water. Both are critical to building healthy and climate-resilient communities. 

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