Strengthening community resilience and inclusion through Improved WASH services in Fiji.

Water for Women partners with Habitat for Humanity in strengthening community resilience and inclusion through Improved WASH services in Fiji, reaching thousands of people in 50 communities across Ra and Ba Provinces.

Context

Despite suffering recent major natural disasters that hinder development in the country, Fiji enjoys relatively high levels of water and sanitation access.

There has been significant investment in rural WASH infrastructure and village water committees, but these are often under-skilled and under-resourced.  Communities need support to better manage and maintain water sources, considering competing demands on its use as well as the increased threat to supply from climatic shocks and stresses.

Strong and persistent cultural barriers restrict the uptake and behavioural change around specific hygiene issues, made even more challenging during and post-disasters:

Girls report a lack of knowledge in proper hygiene throughout menstruation.

 

Women are more vulnerable to physical and sexual violence when it comes to WASH services.

Discrimination, violence and exclusion from disaster relief and WASH services are a common experience for the vulnerable LGBTIQ+ community.

Women and girls with disabilities continue to face discrimination, and while there has been some success in promoting people with disability into decision-making committees, such engagement has proved more effective in urban rather than rural areas.

These issues surrounding disaster relief and WASH access for marginalised members and groups within communities are particularly acute in rural areas. Water for women uses gender equality and social inclusion approaches ensuring all community members, including marginalised people and groups can access safe water, sanitation and hygiene.

Aim

Water for Women will be partnering with Habitat for Humanity in strengthening community resilience and inclusion through Improved WASH services in Fiji.

The aim of this project is to use participatory and socially inclusive community development to strengthen the resilience of 50 communities through increased access to equitable and inclusive WASH.  

Over 4.5 years, this project will address the WASH needs of 8,682 people across Ba and Ra Provinces.  These locations were chosen due to remoteness, high numbers of informal settlements and have been identified as highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as droughts, sea level rise, coastal inundation, severe storm surges and tropical cyclones.  

Regional map of Fiji

The focus will be on the most marginalised within these communities, specifically women and girls, people with disabilities, and people from the LGBTIQ+ community. By empowering these groups to be actively engaged in WASH technical roles, WASH governance structures and management, and behaviour change throughout their own communities, we hope to achieve change in attitudes and greater equality and social inclusions for these people. 

Outcomes 

This project aims to:

1. Strengthen resilience of 50 rural communities to WASH related shocks and stresses by increasing the number of women in WASH technical roles and women’s agency in community and government WASH management structures. 

Short term:

  • Inclusive and resilient WASH action plans for each community and women represented in 50 community Water Committees.
  • 100 women with Plumbing and Water Management qualifications.
  • Increased knowledge of WASH technical and management roles in community WASH structures for all stakeholders. 

Long Term:

  • Increased access to improved and resilient water and sanitation facilities.
  • Improved women's agency in community and wash management structures.
  • Improved accessibility of technical training courses for women in Fiji.
  • At least 30% of graduates of the accredited course take up (unpaid) WASH roels within the community.
  • At least 30% of graduates of the accredited course take up paid employment in WASH roles. 

2. To improve community behaviours around hand washing, menstrual hygiene management, water safety and faecal sludge management. 

Short term:

  • Youth leaders and health workers actively promoting Water and Environmental Health, Waste Management and Hygiene in their communities.
  • Improved youth agency in sharing WASH knowledge through 50 Youth Action Plans developed through participatory activities. 

3. Increase demand for low water-use sanitation options, which mitigate climate change risks.

Short term:

  • Increased knowledge of school children, school staff and communities on low water-use sanitation options.
  • Increased access of school students in 50 schools to appropriate, inclusive sanitation, including MHM. 

Long term:

  • Adoption of low water-use sanitation in schools approach by ‘WASH advocates’ for replication in other Pacific locations.
  • Increased demand for low water-use sanitation options, which mitigate climate change risks in the communities. 

4. Ensure Knowledge and Learning is part of the process to increase engagement and sustainability of these initiatives.

Short term:

  • Increased dialogue between international, regional and local stakeholders. 

Long term:

  • Increased collaboration, knowledge shared and sector learning between international, regional and local stakeholders. 

“ The Water for Women Project will bridge the gap between the Fijian Government, CSOs and the community, providing a solid platform for women, children and the most marginalised in local communities to transform how they access and use WASH services.”

-         Sokimi Alfred, WASH Program Manager

The Australian aid program is investing in Fiji over a five-year period to achieve these aims. Water for Women is proud to be partnering with Habitat for Humanity Fiji and other local partners including: Vinaka Fiji, Ra Naari Parishad (RNP) and Fiji National University’s (FNU) National Training and Productivity Centre (NTPC).

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