The University of Technology Sydney, Institute for Sustainable Futures  

(Type 2) Research: WRA140

Research Focus: Gender-transformative social accountability for inclusive WASH

Locations: Bangladesh

Partner CSOs: World Vision Bangladesh 

Key Research Questions: 

  1. What are the institutional provisions for women and girl's participation in the rural WASH sector system in Bangladesh, and the extent of their participation?
  2. To what extent does social accountability result in gender and social inclusion in WASH?
  3. To what extent do changes in gender and social inclusion in the WASH sector resulting from social accountability, have flow on effects to gender transformation?
  4. How can social accountability strengthen capacity of CSOs, government and communities in planning, investing and delivering sustainable inclusive WASH? 


Research Description:

Like many countries, the Government of Bangladesh has institutional arrangements in place for water service delivery such as policies, budgets, and decentralised governance, yet performance remains poor and women and marginalised communities are not guaranteed equal access to water services.

This research project explores the contribution of social accountability to inclusive WASH, with a particular focus on improving levels of water service in Bangladesh. The research is being implemented through an academic-NGO partnership between: the University of Technology Sydney - Institute for Sustainable Futures (UTS-ISF); World Vision Bangladesh (WVB); World Vision Australia (WVA); and the University of Rajshahi (UoR).

Social accountability is concerned with increasing citizen engagement, especially for marginalised or vulnerable groups.

However, there is little consideration of the gendered nature of voice, accountability and empowerment in current social accountability literature. This research addresses this gap in understanding gender in social accountability by focusing on effective social accountability for WASH system performance and service delivery that leads to gender-transformation, disability inclusion and pro-poor empowerment.

This research will contribute to World Vision Bangladesh’s implementation of Citizen Voice and Action, an approach which mobilises and equips citizens to monitor and advocate for the improvement of government services. 

Concepts of gender equality, social inclusion and gender transformation, together with institutional frameworks for WASH governance are explored in the context of Bangladesh rural water supply. 

Participatory action research, innovative use of systems thinking, political economy, together with mixed methods design, multi- actor perspectives and reflective CSO practice provide research findings for application in Bangladesh and more broadly.  Multiple pathways for research impact including production of a range of research publications respond to different end-user needs and promotion of local leadership for gender transformative social accountability through UTS-ISF regional and international WASH networks. 

“This research provides an important opportunity to contribute to theory and practice related to gender and social inclusion in social accountability and importantly contribute to strengthening sector systems in Bangladesh for improved levels of water service.”

Dr Keren Winterford, Research Director, University of Technology Sydney, Institute for Sustainable Futures. 


Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney
World Vision Bangladesh

Photo: World Vision Bangladesh / University of Technology Sydney, Institute for Sustainable Futures

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