Seeds for sustainable solutions toolkit

A blue graphic for a COP28 session including many tropical fruits representing several transformative tools from Water for Women and partners

Water for Women, Australian Water Partnership, the University of Technology, Sydney's Institute for Sustainable Futures and Monash University presented six key transformative tools for sustainable solutions at the Monash University Pavilion in Dubai this week 


Locally-led water-climate solutions require strong gender equality, disability, and social inclusion (GEDSI) approaches in programs and organisations. A more climate-resilient future calls for transformation of norms to leave no one behind and ensure that everyone is part of the solution. Australia – water partners for development have developed and deepened GEDSI practice over the past six years, bringing a wealth of knowledge and practical tools to be shared.  Let’s explore how application of these approaches facilitates more equitable and sustainable outcomes in water resource management (WRM), water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and climate programs. 

This was the message that Australia – water partners for development, including Water for Women, Australian Water Partnership, the University of Technology, Sydney's Institute for Sustainable Futures (UTS-ISF). Monash University, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), World Vision Papua New Guinea and The University of Canberra shared at COP28.

Australia – water partners for development have developed and deepened GEDSI practice over the past five years and beyond, bringing a wealth of knowledge and practical tools that can progress towards transformative change for climate-nexus programming. Addressing GEDSI in ways that are meaningful and contextually appropriate, requires understanding and investing in processes, resources, capacities, knowledge and structures that support transformation at all levels. 

At the session we launched some new additions to our Seeds for Sustainable Solutions toolkit! Explore the tools showcased and many more below.


Key Messages

  • Supporting transformative change in our systems, structures and processes is critical to building climate-resilient water and WASH infrastructure and service

  • This requires delving deep in our practice to enable norms change for positive and sustainable behaviour change

  • We need to do this because inequality goes to the heart of everything - access, participation, resilience, sustainability

  • New ways of working for climate-resilient solutions requires building meaningful partnerships and actively supporting the leadership of women and marginalised people and groups

  • Integrating a GEDSI-transformative lens in programs and organisations leads to better outcomes in water and WASH,  and is critical to achieving SDG targets and reducing social inequalities.

  •  Authentic engagement of people whose lives and livelihoods rely on access to water resources can enhance decision-making and build resilient communities

  • Transforming norms is critical to leaving no one behind and ensuring that everyone is part of the solution for a more climate resilient future. 

  • GEDSI needs to be integrated in meaningful and contextually appropriate ways – it requires intentional investment in processes, resources, capacities, knowledge and structures that support transformation at the individual, program, organisation and systems levels. These tools and resources help us to do exactly this.



GEDSI tools showcased

A papaya fruit on a blue background
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The GEDSI Towards Transformation in WASH Self-Assessment Tool (SAT), co-developed by Water for Women and the Sanitation Learning Hub (SLH), is a practical tool that provides an opportunity for water and WASH teams to reflect on their current strengths, track progress and identify strategies to drive GEDSI transformative change for more inclusive water and WASH systems and processes to support equity and resilience at household, community and institutional levels.

A starfruit on a blue background
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The WASH Gender Equality Measure (WASH-GEM) was developed by UTS-ISF with iDE in Cambodia and SNV in Nepal, within the Water for Women Fund.

The WASH-GEM supports Water and WASH practitioners to explore the connections between WASH and gender equality, and monitor changes over time. 

A watermelon slice on blue background
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Designed to be used in conjunction with the WASH-GEM, the qualKit was developed by UTS-ISF within the Water for Women Fund.

It is a curated set of web-based qualitative monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) tools designed for GEDSI development programs,  including a range of the latest digital tools which can be used for qualitative data collection and analysis.

A blue graphic featuring a bunch of bananas to promote this resource
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The Partnerships for Transformation: Guidance for WASH and Rights Holder Organisations from Water for Women and UTS-ISF offers insights into effective partnerships between WASH sector organisations and rights holder organisations (RHOs). It provides practical recommendations for effective collaboration in all types of partnerships and is designed to support organisations looking to begin, build or strengthen partnerships to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

Australian Finger Lime

The stories of Community Voices in Australia bring to the fore a people and community dimension that is rarely shared but is an incredibly important component of developing and implementing major changes to water policy. There have been successes and failures in Australia’s journey that may be of value to those considering undertaking water reform. These lessons are captured in Community Voices: An Australian perspective on Community and Stakeholder Engagement.

A blue graphic featuring a Jackfruit which is used to promote a WASH toolkit from Monash University
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This Toolkit for WASH practitioners on gender and socially inclusive participatory design approaches in urban informal settlements aims to stimulate an increase in quality, inclusiveness, and sustainability in water and sanitation infrastructure projects in urban informal contexts. Such projects need to be more participatory, co-designed with participants with diverse knowledge and lived experience. They also need to be more inclusive, following the principles of ‘leave no one behind’ and ‘do no harm’.

These things are hard to do, hence a toolkit to help.

The accompanying policy brief supports donors, funders, governments and policymakers to facilitate the participatory design of water and sanitation infrastructure in an inclusive way.

This toolkit was developed by Monash University, Universitas Husanuddin, Emory University and the University of the South Pacific with the support of Water for Women.


Other tools for GEDSI transformation

Wild Cambodian Grapes

WaterAid has collaborated with national and local Organisations of Persons with disabilities to understand and address inclusive approaches at all levels of the system. This has resulted in a series of learning briefs and tools: Translating disability inclusive WASH policies into practice: lessons from Cambodia.

WaterAid in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine led research on translating disability from policy to services in WASH, and there is forthcoming work to examine GEDSI in Water Safety Planning and disability in climate and WRM  

A blue graphic featuring kiwi fruit and details to promote a 'Shifting social norms' guidance and literature review
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The Shifting Social Norms for Transformative WASH: Guidance for WASH Actors (and accompanying literature review) developed by Water for Women refers to social norm change in, and through, WASH programs. It is not a comprehensive “how to” guide for designing successful social norm initiatives, but there are checklists which provide guiding questions and practical examples that can be used to increase understanding of how to implement a social norms initiative as a component of WASH programs. This guidance primarily draws from the literature on shifting social norms that sustain gender-related harmful and exclusionary practices. 


Valuing Water: The Australian Perspective. Lesson from the Murray-Darling Basin

Cultural values of water in the Murray-Darling Basin. This is one in a series of four reports that examine how the diverse values placed on water have shaped the development and management of water resources in the Murray Darling River Basin. The report looks at the inclusion of First Nations values and perspectives in water management across the Basin through various statutory mechanisms, tailored engagement processes and mainstream community engagement activities. The case study concludes with some general lessons about efforts in the Murray-Darling River Basin to recognise, assess and realise Indigenous cultural values associated with water that may be useful for others.  


Managing Aquifer Recharge and Sustaining Groundwater Use through Village-level Intervention (MARVI) project enables villagers to better manage and share groundwater at the village level, predominantly through Managed Aquifer Recharge—the deliberate storage of water in aquifers for future human or environmental use. MARVI has focused on developing a village-level participatory approach, with models and tools to assist in improving groundwater supplies and reducing its demand through the direct involvement of farmers and other affected stakeholders. A unique feature of MARVI is the use of scientific measurements by citizens through the engagement of Bhujal Jankaars, a Hindi word meaning groundwater informed’ volunteers. 


Community Engagement Manual for improved climate resilient WaSH and WRM in the communities.  WaterAid supported the East Sepik Provincial Health Authority (ESPHA) to facilitate a Training of Trainers with local rights group East Sepik Provincial Council of Women (ESCOW) and East Sepik Disable Person’s Agency (ESDPA). The training focused on building capacity and the confidence of ESCoW women leaders to effectively facilitate water resource management (WRM) and sanitation and hygiene promotion at the community level using the new manual. 



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