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Vo l u m e 3 : N u m b e r 1 F e b r ua r y 2 0 1 4 ISSN 2167-2822 (print) ISSN 2167-2830 (online)

wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

Management Team

Board of Advisors


Kusum Athukorala NetWWater, United Nations

Caroline D’Angelo Dakota Dobyns

Eugenie Birch University of Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief Aishwarya Nair Managing Director Danielle Gambogi Outreach and Communications Iliana Sepulveda Editorial Intern Alexandra Nawrot

Marcia Brewster Nautilus International Development Ruth Horowitz Trustees’ Council of Penn Women Yvette Bordeaux University of Pennsylvania Gemma Bulos Global Women’s Water Initiative Stanley Laskowski University of Pennsylvania

Editorial Board Arjun Bhargava

Nathan Sell

Cornelia Colijn

Lela Shimaka-Mbasu

Dr. Diana Day

Anusa Sivalingam

Sara Drexler

Andreas Slotte

Katherine Pflaumer

Chibuzo Uche

Martin Pospisil

Abby Waldorf

Julia Ryan

Keesler Welch

Iliana Sepulveda

Sharon Muli

Stephanie Leach

Afaf Meleis University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing Jane Mosbacher Morris To The Market Barbara Paxton Joanne Spigonardo University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School Susan Wachter University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School Margreet Zwarteveen Water Resources Management Group, Wageningen University Pamela J. Lazos U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 3

Biographies of Board Members and Editors are available on our website:


wH2O thanks the following organizations for their support:

The Trustees’ Council of Penn Women

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Master of Environmental Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania

Society of Women Environmental Professionals

Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL)

Penn Institute for Urban Research

Penn Women’s Center

Philadelphia Global Water Initiative

wH2O is published by the University of Pennsylvania. Tax deductible donations can be sent to wH2O; please visit our website and click Donate for more information. The Journal is freely available online and limited print copies are available by mail or pickup at Hayden Hall at Penn for a suggested donation of $40 per copy. You can sign up for our email list on our website to receive emails with each new volume.

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wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

Table of Contents


The Role of Communication in Building Repetitive Discourse and Iconic Representation of Women in Water Management

Céline Hervé-Bazin 11


19-25 26-33



Mum’s the Word? Speaking out for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Strategies

Jennifer Platt and Dr. John Akudago Evaluation of a WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Community Education Program in Rural Guatemala

Andi Maddox Women and Access to Water in Rural Uganda: A Review

Richard B. Asaba, G. Honor Fagan, Consolata Kabonesa, Firminus Mugumya A Half Empty Bucket: Women’s Role in the Governance of Water Resources in Zambia

Claudia Casarotto and Rolf Kappel Hotspots of Household Water Insecurity in India’s Current and Future Climates: Association with Gender Inequalities

Savita Aggarwal, Geeta Punhani, Jagriti Kher Mainstreaming Gender in Land and Water Governance: Perspectives from Rural Uganda

Samuel B. Mabikke

Photos The front and back cover image is by Arne Hoel, The World Bank, accessed from Flickr under the Creative Commons License. Photos from Arne Hoel, Céline Hervé-Bazin, Pablo Tosca, Kelly Shearon, Samuel B. Mabikke, Michael Foley, Ben Beiske, Stephen Morrison, Alan Morgan, UN Water, Oxfam International. Featured photos have been used with either express permission from the author or accessed under the Creative Commons license ( licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en)

Disclaimer The views presented in this journal are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of the University of Pennsylvania, wH2O, or any supporters or contributors. University of Pennsylvania and the editors cannot be held liable for the use of Journal information and they do not make any warranties or claims on the accuracy of the information in this Journal.

Editorial Policy As an open access journal, papers may be distributed and linked to but must be properly attributed to the author and the Journal. To read our editorial policy and process, please go to our website ( and click Submissions.


Note from the Editor-in-Chief:

Dear readers, It is with great pleasure that I announce the third issue of wH2O. When we began this journey, we hoped to help establish a platform that brought together various stakeholders and experts to help define—and find solutions—the issues surrounding the empowerment of women in water management. Over the past two years, we have seen a natural evolution of our mandate, finding linkages to how WASH and women are connected to a far bigger picture and we are very excited to see where this takes us. What does the rapidly changing climate and its subsequent effect on water access mean for the rate and pace of women’s empowerment? How can women be better enabled for both a water– and food-secure future? What does gender equality in integrated water resource management really look like? In this edition, we begin to explore some of these questions. Our authors take you across a varied landscape—from India to Zambia, from Guatemala to Uganda. The necessity of WASH interventions for maternal and newborn health is pressed upon us. A research program in Guatemala examines how educating women on water filtration and purification impacts the overall health of the community. In rural Uganda, we review the implications of poor water access and also analyze the symbiotic relationship between land and water rights, and how both must be considered to truly empower women. Current and future water scarcity in India today and how it could affect gender inequality, is examined. In Zambia, a study helps quantify the fundamental role that women hold when it comes to water for their households, the influence that they can potentially exert over water use, and how far progressive policies to involve them in water institutions have succeeded. Finally, this issue takes a philosophical bend to scrutinize the role that repetitive imagery plays in reinforcing the “women and water” stereotype, creating more of a hindrance than help when it comes to finding solutions. Bearing that in mind, we have chosen a cover image empty of any typical depictions of women en route to water collection. The young girl on our cover embodies the empowerment that all of us are striving to achieve for the millions of women around the world. Perhaps she is on her way to school, or to meet some friends — she is free of the barriers and burdens that have denied her the chance to follow her dreams. As with all our editions, none of this would have been possible without our dedicated management team, advisors, and editors. It is said that it’s easier doing things that you love. The enthusiasm and commitment that everyone involved with the journal bring to the table truly demonstrates the depth of this statement. They have worked across multiple cities and time-zones, schedules, and demanding timelines to once again deliver a wonderful issue of the journal. We hope you will enjoy reading it as much as we did making it. With regards, Aishwarya Nair

Photo credit: Arne Hoel/World Bank

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wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

The Role of Communication in Building Repetitive Discourse and the Iconic Representation of Women in Water Management Céline Hervé-Bazin1 Introduction The crucial role played by women in water management was not mentioned in the international arena until 1992. That year the International Conference on Water and the Environment declared the Dublin Principles—four fundamental guidelines for better water management at the international scale1. The third Principle identifies the crucial role played by women in water management, making Dublin the first major international conference to recognize the role of women in water management. Women and children are the primary gatherers of water, with women often tasked with household management, subsistence farming and caretaking of family health. The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UNIFEM) reports that women can spend up to 5 hours daily

The study of topoï calls for the examination of recurring topics, figures, and words constructing the identification of argumentation and standards. The Edwin Hoffman TOPOI model of intercultural communication suggests five characteristics, or axioms, to identify the communication process: (1) universality, (2) interaction, (3) circularity, (4) reflectivity and (5) framing (Hoffman 1999). These five steps of the model highlight the process of building a standardized communication process throughout cultures. According to Hoffman, the TOPOI model helps us to understand how rhetoric, the use of similar universal images and meanings, will establish one way to frame an issue (Hoffman 1999 and 2002). The model will be discussed in more

and walk from 5 to 15 km per day collecting water.

Methodology This paper examines the elements that contribute to the shaping of the global representations of water and women. A total of 91 communication items were reviewed in conjunction with a literature study and quantitative analysis of the words and topics from the text of 30 official declarations, spanning from the First Earth Summit in 1972 to Rio+20 in 2012. Also included were an analysis of brochures, flyers, and websites produced from 2002 to 2012 by major international organizations working on water and women issues, such as the UN, UN-Water, UN -Women, UN-Habitat, UNEP, UNDP, UNESCO, and the FAO2. Materials cover a range of 48 documents and 13 websites specific to gender and water. The materials were chosen to represent various UN organizations throughout different periods of time, and selected based on their consistency in providing guidance or theory approach on the role played by women in water management. This study uses case studies conducted between 2008 and 2012 in several African countries including Morocco, Congo, and Kenya, as well as interviews with professionals from francophone Africa. Through a comparison of text and images, the construction of a similar iconic representation of women in the context of water management emerged: wom-

Since the Dublin principles were declared, organizations have been using a number of communication tools to promote women’s roles in water management issues, including gender mainstreaming, integrated water resources management, governance, and right to water. Communication tools include awareness campaigns, education tools and lobby actions. Despite efforts put forth by the United Nations organizations and others, however, empowering women is a slow process. Understanding the impacts of communication tools highlights the need for discourse analysis. The aim of this publication is to provide an analysis of communication brochures through the examination of rhetoric and images employed globally when promoting the role of women in water management. From this analysis, we identify a standard of communication on “water and women” when referring to the traditional role of women in water management. This standard of communication is defined as a “topoï”. The word topoï comes from its singular form, topos, the Greek word for “place”. From a literary perspective, the term topos has been interchangeably interpreted as “topic” or “line of argument”. Topoi, in classic rhetoric, are thus “places” from where various sources of information are obtained to construct a set of arguments, or relationships, to convince the spectator on a subject. This rhetoric construction builds standards, and through time, they come to be considered as common knowledge. The archetypal hero would be one such example (Campbell 1949). He is known by his fearlessness, strength, and nobility – attributes that are associated with heroes repeatedly throughout modern and historical imagery – and thus, it is by these topoï that a hero would be identified. 1

Céline Hervé -Bazin, Research Assistant, University of Paris Sorbonne


detail at a later stage of the paper.

en are seen at the well. Women and water, a role for equality While women were identified as important players in water management in 1992, links between women and the environment had previously been discussed at major global events, as 1

The Dublin Statement on water and sustainable development (1992) icwedece.html 2 UN-Water: United Nations coordination mechanism for all waterrelated issues; UN-Women: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women; UNDP: United Nations Development Program; UNEP: United Nations Environment Program; UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; FAO: Food and Agriculture Organization.

Photo credit: Michael Foley

far back as the third United Nations Women’s Conference in Nairobi in 1985. The conference highlighted associations between sustainable development, women’s empowerment and gender equity. In 1992, Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration included a gender approach to sustainable development for the first time as seen in Chapter 18 of Agenda 21, “Global action for women towards sustainable development”. Chapter 18 tackled integrated water resources management and included the full participation of the public, including “women, young people, indigenous populations and local utilities” (Agenda 21, Chapter

Photo credit: UN Water

18, Objective 18.9.c). Between 1992 and 2012, international conferences slowly altered the language used to discuss gender and water issues from “traditional role played by women”, “competence”, and “participation”, to “right”, “decision-making”, “empowerment”, “representativeness”, and finally, “equality”. The slow evolution of statements is “strikingly strong” and offers “some of the strongest, most robust language on gender issues of all the Declarations under study” (Mount and Bielak 2011, 22). The authors found similar trends when analysing four decades of UN Declarations from 1972 to 2010 and observed both “the deepening and shallowing of certain keywords”. Additionally they showed the inconsistency in defining women’s role in water management; a role limited to a rather unclear concept of “participation” where women are included as a minority group. The consistency of literature addressing women’s role in water management is aligned with its depiction in visual communication. Women are water managers for a wide range of cultural and religious practices including maternity, marriage, social life, health, gardening, social values, purity and rituals. Over the last 20 years, the woman at a water pump has been a predominant image in communication campaigns from the UN. Due to the symbolic heritage of a woman retrieving water from a well, the visual repetition has linked water and women irrevocably. Since representations tend to be ubiquitous and static, this image has become the iconic face of the women and water rights movement. In Morocco, for example, the water services provider launched a program to bring tap water to shantytowns of Casablanca. It started in 2005 after a key discourse from King Mohammed VI targeted goals such as eradicating poverty, and urging all cities to develop access to essential services, i.e. water, sanitation, electricity, health, housing and transportation. Lydec, the electricity, water and sanitation services provider in Casablanca, decided to create a specific entity to cope with this challenge and created the program “INMAE” which means development in Arabic. In this program, several key components were put together: engineering, construction, accounting and social work. The social workers consisted of a team of 20 people whose goal was to connect with illegal communities living in the shantytowns of Casablanca. Throughout their daily work with dwellers, representatives of this program determined a natural link between “water and women”.

INMAE workers observed how women saw themselves as “water carriers” and how men admitted that women’s relationship to water was about “carrying life”. For the program managers, it became obvious that women were their first mediators in order to establish a dialogue and trust with the community. Women became their first targets for communication campaigns and focus groups. Social workers did not specify their work as gender-centered and never referred to gender specific tools developed by international funding agencies primarily because they did not wish to disrupt women’s social role and influence in decision-making which played an important part throughout the entirety of the water access development process (Herve-Bazin 2012). Images: local reality, global perception When reconciling the results from local actions with communication at a global scale, similar inconsistencies are found between reality and depicted images. The imagery used seeks to encourage changing the reality at the ground level by showing the existing gender inequality to the viewer to elicit emotion and increase action and funding. But this image does not embody the strides that have been made to advance gender equality in water management. Thus, the gap between framing the situation and illustrating the reality exacerbates the difficult process of addressing the gender gap. For instance, in Togo, Suzanne Aho-Assouman, Deputy Mayor of the city of Lome, launched programs to educate the public on gender issues. When she visited schools in rural areas, she discovered that only girls were in charge of water chores, and therefore not attending classes. She discussed this with the teachers who failed to apply the lessons in gender equality they were teaching the class. “When I asked to boys why they were not going

to get the water, they replied “because girls should do it”. When I asked to girls why they were going to fetch the water “because they had to do it”. When I told them that boys should help them, they replied that boys shouldn’t go and get the water! You can come and teach what gender means, you need to change mentality and practices! So what did we do? We settled couples of boy and girl who had to go fetch the water together so boys can understand what it is and girls, that they should be helped!”

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wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

This example is part of a series of interviews with professionals dealing with water issues published in 2012 (Herve-Bazin 2012). Several women from West Africa cited similar examples during these interviews which highlighted the gap between the concept of gender equality and the reality. This gap underlines the paradox and challenge of utilizing the image of women at the pump in depictions. The paradox emphasizes the problem of how to illustrate such a change. While the woman at the well imagery raises awareness at the global level, it also serves to reinforce the stereotype of the traditional ways of managing water resources. The challenge for communication and program managers is to be able to raise awareness while simultaneously encouraging change without confusing the message. But when women have been seen as traditional and passive for decades, it is difficult to frame the situation another way both

ing women an income to purchase vital goods for their family. Pictures convey a vision of active women continuing tasks based on their traditional gender roles.

Universality: the diversity of faces and cultures The legitimacy of the discourse is based on its globalism and universality, the presence of a common bond and applicability of the situation across cultures. The discourse seeks to address two essential challenges: “water”, a resource for life, and “women” specifically through the goal of protecting women in their daily lives regarding water chores and water access. The rhetoric for this goal is established on this unifying cause and the visual communication aims to free women from the burden of fetching water and dealing with issues of insufficient and

in image and discourse.

unsafe water access.

Water and Women: A Standardized Discourse for Develop-

Pictures emphasize diversity among concerned persons, an area where women play a major role. The choice made by the editors of these publications is to picture the daily life of women through these images. Conversely, the language of the communication materials usually employs rhetoric that seeks to effect change and bring a radical change to gender roles. There is thus a distinction between the imagery and the discourse, yet the universality of the image and message conveyed remains

ment Programs The rhetoric about water and women reveals how people tend to perceive water management by women: women are water carriers. Some characteristics accompanying this universal image of women fetching water are identified below.

Poverty: dwelling or unhealthy livelihoods In depictions of the conditions of the community, women are usually poorly dressed, pictured in a simple and spare environment with modest housing, natural trails, and a dirty environment. These images tend to symbolize the vulnerability of the women. It shows that women are a minority and do not have access to economic revenue.

Tradition: low-revenue economic activities Women are pictured working in the field, tending to crops, aquaculture, or fisheries, or selling crafts and other hand-made products. Their activities usually bring in small revenues, allow-

constant. Women and Water: Topoi for Communication Purposes Organizations have produced topoï—promoting a fixed image based on tradition, symbolism, and a reality that is difficult to change. Many NGOs, public entities, and private companies have a pre-conceived notion of how to communicate issues relating to “water and women” that are built on a perception of a viewer’s expectations to see women in traditional roles. Thierry Guilbert (2008), a specialist in analyzing discourse, explains that humans tend to distill cultural diversity into images depicting “one” human being achieving “one” task; in this case, the woman, fetching water at the well. This image corresponds to topoï on the subject, the common and shared discourse that people will share in consensus.

Photo credit: UN Water 8

Photo credit: UN Water

Regarding communication sciences, various tools and discourses from the UN organizations built one simplified way of talking about women in water management. They reduced “water and women” to one communicative chore and made the woman at the pump the symbol. This process has eased its potential for dissemination across the world by creating cultural and political adaptation through one similar visual demonstration and the acceptance of the construction of rhetoric on the subject. In intercultural communication, Edwin Hoffman (1999 and 2002) defined topoï as a process characterized by five characteristics. Hoffman named this process a TOPOI model, basing his work on the theories of Paul Watzlawick about conflict resolution (Watzlawick 1974). Hoffman applied this model to the construction of rhetoric and discourse. When applied to the discourse about women in water management, we find an interesting model to explain the communication process:

Universality: the image of water and women is universal, conveying the value of life. The language of communication materials usually employs rhetoric that seeks to effect change and brings a radical change to gender roles. There is this distinction between the imagery and the discourse. Nonetheless, there is universality in the image and the message conveyed by that image.

Interaction: the process focuses on interaction rather than culture. The various water management tools promote training, education, and participation, and avoid cultural disputes.

Circularity: the communication is based on a link between funding agencies and the UN (international scale) with funded programs and women (local scale). The process is based on a top/down communication that suggests dialogues and interaction between international organizations, regional entities and local communities. The exchanges build a circulation of communication and feedback between each group.

Reflectivity: the process is built on feedback and shared opinions adapting to the political will, societal change or economic context inflecting discourses and images to adapt to the public sphere.

Framing: The framing of the discourse on women and water issues is frustratingly stagnant and portrays stereotypical imagery based on the vulnerability of women. However, this framing does promote faith in humanity and a modest optimism in its overall discourse.

The process of communicating on the role of women in water management thus constitutes the unique challenge of involving women in water management. The discourse aims to simplify, grow and mainstream advocacy efforts suggesting profound social changes. Additionally, the discourse categorizes women in one role type and classifies their participation to a passive role. As such, it fails to integrate concrete needs to better women’s access to water resources.

Photo Credit: UN Water Conclusion This article provides an overview and analysis of the historic growth of key discourses and communications on water and women. It brings an examination of the construction of the role of women in water management over time. The role of women has been reduced both in depictions and in many ways, reality, to her traditional task of fetching water by foot in order to expose the public sphere, international experts, and national governments to this issue. The topoï of the woman at the well shows a traditional vision rather than modern standards of female capacity, skill and the need for empowerment. While these topoï facilitated the process of communicating the role of women on a global scale, it has limited its concrete application at the local scale by providing a distorted global understanding of the role of women rather than a concrete approach to local context. The role of women in water management is a unique illustration of communication processes at a universal scale targeting a key global challenge: equity. Works Cited Benería L. and S. Bisnath, S. (2001) Gender and development: theoretical, empirical and practical approaches. Northampton, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Inc. Boserup E. (1970) Woman's Role in Economic Development . London, UK: G. Allen & Unwin Ltd. Campbell, Joseph. (1949).The Hero with a Thousand Faces. 1st edition, Bollingen Foundation, 1949. 2nd edition, Princeton University Press. 3rd edition, New World Library, 2008 Green C. and S. Baden (1995) "Integrated water resources management: a gender perspective" in IDS Bulletin, 26 (1). Guilbert T. (2008) Le discours idéologique. Ou la force de l'évidence. Paris, France : Editions L’Harmattan. Herve-Bazin C. (2012) Eau, Femme et Développement Durable. Paris, France : Editions Universitaires Européennes. Hoffman E. (1999). “Cultures don’t meet, people do: A system theoretical approach of intercultural communication”. In K. Knapp, B. Kappel, K. Eurbel -Kasper, & L. Salo-Lee (Eds.), Meeting the intercultural challenge: Effective approaches in research, education, training & business . Berlin, Germany: Verlag Wissenschaft & Praxis, pp. 464–475. Hoffman E. (2002) Interculturele gespreksvoering. Theorie en Praktijk van het TOPOI-model. Houten, the Netherlands: Bohn Stafleu Van Loghum. In

English: The TOPOI-model: a pluralistic systems-theoretical approach of intercultural communication. Khosla P., and C. Van Wijk, J. Verhagen, V. James (2004) “Gender and Water : Thematic Overview Paper”. Delft, the Netherlands: IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre.

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Mount D.C. and A. T. Bielak (2011) Deep Words, Shallow Words: An Initial Analysis of Water Discourse in Four Decades of UN Declarations. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada: UNU-INWEH. Watzlawick P. and J. Weakland, R. Fisch (1974) Change: Principals of Problem

Formation and Problem Resolution. New York, USA: W. W. Norton.

Photo credit: Michael Foley


Mum’s the Word? Speaking out for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Strategies Jennifer Platt, former Sustainability Director, WASH Advocates, and Dr. John Akudago, Senior Research Associate, Pacific Institute Over the past several decades, efforts to reduce water-related diseases through the provision of safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene promotion (WASH) have decreased global morbidity and mortality. Yet each year 2.4 million people ─ mainly women and children ─ die from diseases easily prevented by access to safe WASH1 . Inadequate access to WASH causes at least 20% ─ 1.5 million ─ of all child deaths each year2. Under-five child mortality is nearly seven times higher in countries with low sanitation coverage

health facilities. The World Health Organization’s model Partnership for Newborn & Maternal Health recognizes the 2.

than in countries with the best access to sanitation3. The constant failure to satisfy basic WASH needs leads to continual outbreaks of infectious diseases – particularly diarrhea. Diarrhea causes under-nutrition, which can reduce resistance to subsequent infections4. Emerging research suggests that the combination of diarrhea, under-nutrition, and enteropathies form a toxic combination of illness. The interacting effects of infection and enteropathy can propagate severe acute malnutrition 5. Early childhood diarrhea may have lifelong ramifications due to negative impacts on cognitive development, hindering school readiness and performance6. Incidence of diseases such as pneumonia, the second largest killer of children under the age of five7, and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) such as helminthes, schistosomiasis, and trachoma can also be reduced or eliminated through effective WASH interventions. Safe drinking water, clean sanitation facilities, and appropriate hygiene have an overwhelmingly beneficial impact on child and maternal health. Research shows that the presence of water and sanitation infrastructure lowers the odds of childhood diarrhea by 7-17%, and reduces the mortality risk for children under the age of five by 5-20%8. Experts estimate that up to one-third of the world’s diarrheal disease burden can be prevented through WASH9. Hygiene alone plays an essential role in disease and mortality reduction. A recent study found that hand-washing practices by mothers and birth attendants helped reduce neonatal mortality by 41%10. A randomized controlled trial of hand-washing in Pakistan reduced pneumonia-related infections and diarrheal incidence in children by 50% and 53%, respectively11. The linkages between WASH and maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) are clear. The following recommendations provide tangible ways to strengthen WASH and MNCH programmatic integration.


Integrate WASH policies into regional and national MNCH strategies. At the national level, health ministries can advocate across agencies to implement policies to require and monitor for functional water and sanitation access in

Photo credit: Michael Foley

ers are actively involved in receiving hygiene messages. Include WASH-related indicators in monitoring and evaluation. Tracking changes in indicators increases the opportunity to target appropriate, effective, and integrated programs in the design phase. Implementation of policy initiatives, program linkages, and monitoring and evaluation across all levels of MNCH programs requires leadership and commitment from the top, and engagement from both MNCH and WASH parties.

In conclusion, WASH interventions must be leveraged to reduce MNCH-related mortality and morbidity. As shown here, straightforward policy and education options are available to integrate WASH into MNCH programs and initiatives. The WASH and MNCH communities can no longer stay mum and must take advantage of the 2.4 million opportunities to improve global health. 1,2

Prüss-Üstün A, Bos R, Gore F, Bartram J (2008) Safer water, better health: costs, benefits and sustainability of interventions to protect and promote health. Geneva: World Health Organization. 3

Cheng, J.J. et al., 2012. An ecological quantification of the relationships between water,

sanitation and infant, child, and maternal mortality. Environmental Health, 11 (4). 4

Dewey, K & Brown, H. (2003). Update on technical issues concerning complementary feeding of young children in developing countries and implications for intervention programs. Food Nutrition Bulletin. 24(1):5-28. 5

Prendergast, A. & Kelly, P. (2012), Enteropathies in the Developing World: Neglected Effects

on Global Health, American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 86 (5):756-763. 6

Guerrant, RL, et al. Early Childhood Diarrhea Predicts Impaired School Performance. The

Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. 2006; 25(6): 513-20. 7

Liu L, Johnson H L, Cousens S, Perin J, Scott S, Lawn J E, Rudan I, Prof Campbell H, Cibulskis R, Li M, Mathers C and Prof Black R E for the Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group of the World Health Organisation and UNICEF (2012) Global, regional, and national causes of child mortality: An updated systematic analysis for 2010 with time trends since 2000. The Lancet [online], 11 May 2012, 8

Günther, I. & Fink, G. (2010). Water, Sanitation and Children’s Health Evidence from 172

DHS Surveys. The World Bank Group 9


essential role of WASH in all related programs. Combine primary health care initiatives such as vaccine delivery programs with WASH promotion. MNCH health workers can integrate hygiene education into patient outreach efforts, including patient visits for WASH-related diseases, and place education materials in strategic locations such as the outpatient department (OPD) of hospitals and clinics. Health administrators can facilitate innovative public-private partnerships whereby health workers write prescriptions for water filters to prevent reoccurrence of WASH-related diseases. The successes in disease reductions can be boosted if new moth-

Bartram J, Cairncross S (2010) Hygiene, Sanitation, and Water: Forgotten Foundations of

Health. PLoS Med 7(11): e1000367. 10

Rhee, V. et al. (2009). Impact of Maternal and Birth Attendant Hand-washing on Neonatal

Mortality in Southern Nepal. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 162(7): 603–608. 11

Luby, S. et al. (2004) The effect of handwashing on child health: A randomised controlled

trial The Lancet, 366(9481): 225-33.

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wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

Evaluation of a WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) Community Education Program in Rural Guatemala A. Maddox1 Introduction While there are many peer-reviewed studies examining the relationship between education and health status, only a few studies examine the specific effect of public health education on community health. Many studies veer away from declaring a direct link between education and health, looking instead towards more defined causal pathways – often citing socioeconomic status as the critical intermediary. It is possible that education is often only a proxy for stronger contributing factors towards health, such as family income, access to healthcare, or general behaviors towards health (Chandola et al. 2006; Frost, Forste and Haas 2005). This is likely the reason why so many subsequent studies have questioned and refuted this link. But even according to these studies which denied a direct causal link, many closely-associated indirect measures were found to lead to increased health status. For example, Frost et al. (2005) found that “[b]eginning with the work of Caldwell (1979), a considerable body of research suggests that maternal education is the single most important factor in explaining differentials in child health outcomes, more important than paternal education, health service availability, and socioeconomic status.” A study undertaken in Nicaragua provided a unique opportunity to study education while controlling for socioeconomic status due to a government education initiative that offered free classes to women (Sandiford et al. 1995). Unsurprisingly, it was found that the literate women were both better-off and had lower child malnourishment and mortality rates than illiterate women. Even when controlling for factors such as household income, access to health services, and water supply and sanitation, the relationship between maternal literacy and child health proved significant. In contrast to studies which declare education as merely a proxy for greater contributing factors, Sandiford et al. (1995) claimed that “results from this investigation strongly support the contention that education plays a critical role in child health and survival, independently of other social and economic advantages.” The Nicaragua study is noteworthy due to its ability, to some degree, to effectively separate socioeconomic status from health outcomes – two variables which are usually inseparable. While the causal pathways are disputed, there is a consensus that education is, in some way, connected to better health outcomes. Project Background Under the guidance of the University of Virginia-Guatemala Initiative (UVa-GI) and funded by a Jefferson Public Citizens

grant, students in the graduate public health program spent three years (2010-2013) working on a health education and clean water program in one of San Lucas Tolimán’s rural communities. The program consisted of an 18-week education course culminating in the distribution of a HydrAid bio-sand filter to each participant. In the summer of 2011, a quantitative and qualitative review of water access, resources, and perceptions in the San Lucas Tolimán urban center, as well as three of its rural communities, was performed. Working in close collaboration with community partners, in-depth interviews were performed with community leaders, door-to-door surveys, water testing, and visual surveying. The results were then used to devise effective and sustainable ways to address the community-identified issues in an appropriate manner. San Martin was the only community to specifically request health education as well as in-home purification systems. Additionally, it was the largest of the three rural communities, the only one to receive its water directly from the lake (via miles of old tubing), and had the most reliable infrastructure, with a central paved road. The program in San Martin was based on a similar pilot program started by UVa-GI about four years earlier in Tzunana, another rural community along the shores of Lake Atitlán. The curriculum was divided into three courses: hygiene and sanitation, nutrition, and filter use and maintenance. It was taught by a local woman, hired and trained by UVa-GI. Based on a review of the pilot in Tzunana, a priority was to revise the new program to make it as interactive as possible, adding at least one game or activity to every class. Examples of such activities include interactive demonstrations by the teacher of how contamination occurs, matching games, creating personal nutrition ollas (pots) (the Guatemalan version of the “food pyramid”), and assembling paper filters from cut-outs of their individual parts. A local woman with both nursing and community outreach experience, who spoke the local indigenous language, was hired and trained as the instructor. This allowed for the class to be taught bilingually in Spanish and Kaqchickel. The study then recruited twenty women to participate in the class. In exchange for regular attendance and participation, they received an inhome biosand filter which would be installed during the final unit of classes. Each class was approximately one hour per week. Additionally, between classes during the week the teacher returned to San Martin to perform personal in-home visits during which she would check-in with each woman about what was learned in the previous lesson.


A. Maddox, University of Virginia, Master of Public Health Program, April 2013


Photo credit: Alan Morgan

Family Profiles All women from the first round of classes were of Mayan descent. None had more than a primary education and literacy rates were low. Only five of the twenty women confidently told us they could read and write. All women were bilingual in Spanish and Kaqchickel to some degree, but, from later reports, it was learned that some women had difficulty understanding lesson sections explained in Spanish. Almost all families derived their income from the husband’s labor on the neighboring plantation. Monthly incomes varied and, while women had a difficult time giving an exact number, most reported that their husbands brought in about 35 quetzales a day for a normal day of agricultural labor. Oftentimes this was supplemented with artisan income; many women in San Martin create textiles. The average monthly income of 715 quetzales translates to about $92 per month or about $3 per day to provide for a family with an average size of 7 people. None of the women interviewed had access to potable water. All receive their water from in-home faucets. The community tank was chlorinated sporadically and infrequently. Although only 45% of the families reported collecting rainwater, from our observations it seemed all homes had a rainwater collection unit, usually a large plastic container. Our question did not make this response option obvious so we believe rainwater collection was underreported. While most of the families use chlorine for washing and cleaning, none of them used it to purify their drinking water. From personal experience and published literature, there is a noticeable aversion to drinking chlorine in rural Guatemala (Nagata et al. 2011). All but one woman said she boiled her drinking water. Boiling times varied widely, from stopping as soon as the water came to a boil to stopping after 50 minutes (data not shown). The community had a strong awareness of the poor quality of their water and the subsequent adverse health effects. They were very vocal about the need for a clean water project. This awareness was again reiterated in responses to the survey question about common household illnesses. The most commonly cited illnesses were diarrhea, vomiting, and stomachache, and many women specifically attributed these conditions to drinking contaminated water. One woman even claimed her young child had dysentery due to the community’s water supply. Most families first turn to natural medicines or home cures and if these measures fail, they travel to the local health post or the larger in-town clinic or health center. The results of the family profiles for the first round of participants are summarized in Table 1. Methodology The twenty original participants were chosen with the help of community leaders on a need basis. A full list of COCODE members (community leaders), as well as their initial list of the twenty neediest families, was acquired in order to ensure no suspicious relations, i.e. if COCODE members were unfairly signing up their own relatives to be first in line to receive filters.

Table 1: Demographic and water use characteristics of first round participants for WASH Community Education Program, San Martin, Guatemala, Summer 2012

Average (range) or N (%) (n=20) 34.4 (23-57)

Age Literate Yes

5 (25)


7 (35)

Preferred language Kaqchickel

15 (75)


4 (20)

Either Kaqchickel or Spanish

1 (5) 4.7 (1-9)

Number of children Husband's occupation Agriculture

18 (90)


1 (5)

Disabled Monthly income in US dollars

1 (5) 92 (26-153)

Access to potable water No Water source (combination answers possible)

20 (100)


20 (100*, 67⁺)


9 (45, 30)

Buys bottled

1 (5, 3)

Boils water Yes


Uses chlorine Yes but not in drinking water No Most common household illnesses (combination answers possible)

14 (70) 6 (30)


15 (75, 42)


6 (30, 17)


3 (15, 8)


3 (15, 8)


2 (10, 5.5)


2 (10, 5.5)


1 (5, 4)


1 (5, 4)

Family rarely sick First action in event of illness (combination answers possible)

3 (15, 8)

Natural medicines

12 (60, 39)

Health center or clinic

10 (50, 32)

Small community health post

6 (30, 20)


2 (10, 6)

Community health promoter

1 (5, 3)

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wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

The aim of the project was as an education and technology intervention, with the evaluation focusing on the success of the program’s class component. Although there was no control group, multiple evaluation measures were employed to provide ongoing feedback about the progress of the course and the functioning of the filters, comparing results to the community or individuals at baseline. Prior to beginning the program, door to door visits were made with a translator to perform a basic family survey for each participant and her family. This survey inquired about family composition, education, income, language preferences, and basic water, sanitation, and health practices. Additionally, before and after each unit (hygiene and sanitation, nutrition, and the biosand filter), the participants were given a pre- and post-test by the teacher on key learning goals. Individual answers were recorded without identifiers. Each exam was graded and scored directly compared from the pre-tests to the corresponding post-tests. However, the openended questions proved difficult to compare with numerical scores. Thus, results from a few select questions were exam-

were analyzed. IRB approval was granted for this study under IRB-SBS #2012018100. Results

Pre- and Post-Tests The original intention of the pre- and post-tests was to directly compare pre-test scores to post-test scores. The reason that the below-mentioned percentages are not direct fractions of a group of 20 students is because of missing data due to participant absence or occasional additional responses given by the local health promoter, who sat in on the classes. The denominator ranges from 19 to 21 participants. Many pre-test responses were not necessarily incorrect, but when compared to their corresponding post-test responses, the change in answers made it evident that the women had retained new information from the curriculum. Four specific questions that give strong insight into the educational retention throughout the course were examined.

ined. After the first and second units, a UVA-GI employee based in the country mediated structured interviews to participants without the presence of the teacher. The goal was to learn about participants’ feelings about the class: what they liked and did not like, what was going well and what could be improved upon. For each question, answers were coded and frequencies tallied. Multiple responses by each participant were possible and common for all questions. This data was charted to better evaluate common themes. Additionally, the teacher provided a detailed monthly report about the progress of the classes, focusing on both goals achieved and problems encountered. Finally, after filter installation, a third in-country UVA-GI employee was hired and trained to perform weekly filter checksfor each participant. These reports investigated filter cleanliness and flow rate and inquired about chlorine use (which is recommended after filtration) and whether or not the participants had any problems or questions. The evaluation scores received for the cleanliness of the filers was reflective of short notes describing the upkeep of the filter exit tube and the inner diffuser plate. However, often, a filter check could not be performed because the family was not home. In such cases, 2 points were subtracted from the date’s percentage denominator for each unvisited filter. Cleanliness over time was graphed for both individual filters and for the group as a whole. Preliminary water tests were taken during the last visit to the community, testing for the presence of total bacteria, total coliform, E. coli, and nitrate. In the process of this testing, each participant’s home was visited and the tests were supplemented with detailed notes on the state of their filter, the room it was kept in, and its reported use. This information was used to supplement the data in the filter check reports. Table 2 provides a summary of all our evaluation measures and how they


Structured Interviews and Teacher’s Class Reports Responses from structured interviews and supplemental notes from our teacher’s monthly progress report showed recurring themes regarding participant perceptions of the program.

Class content Overall, the participants were very satisfied with the themes of the course. A quote from the teacher, translated from her monthly report, gives strong insight into participant excitement about class content:

“Each participant is very happy to learn many things that she never imagined. They say that no other project has brought them such good themes, especially how to prevent illness. They imagined that we would only be talking about water so they are very happy because now they can better take care of their families.” In the first structured interview on favorite lessons learned, the women named “bacteria/viruses/parasites” and “water usage” most frequently (ten mentions each). In the second structured interview, women cited a range of learning points about nutrition, including vitamins and minerals, produce, and childhood nutrition.

Teaching Methods Participants commonly said they were happy with how the class was taught. There was very little negative feedback in thisarea. Many women described the class as “dynamic.” In response to the question “How does your teacher teach the classes?” the number one response was that she gives clear responses (nine mentions). That she “teaches with a dynamic teaching style”, “is patient”, and “is punctual” were tied for second (six mentions). The class is taught bilingually, which was strongly appreciated by most women.

wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

Desire for Additional Themes/Classes The classes seemed to encourage many of the participants to want to learn about additional health topics. While only one participant clearly stated that she would have liked to learn less about a topic (hygiene), there were many suggestions offered up to either expand upon an existing class theme or to add additional themes. Proposed themes that did not already exist in our curriculum included: information on medicines, preparation of specific healthy foods, women’s health, cancer, family planning, and sexually transmitted diseases. Women who participated in the classes also continued to meet on a regular basis to discuss the latest health topics.

Knowledge retention.

ples, it was noted that the three problem filters had grown bacteria and total coliform in quantities too numerous to count. In addition, one of these filters grew an alarming amount of e. coli colonies (88 colonies in a 10mL water sample) in the output water. Samples were also taken of some well -kept filters with no associated complaints as well as samples of direct faucet water. Although one participant complained of gusanitos (“little worms”) in the water level about the diffusor plate, her water showed very low levels of contamination. This participant generally took very good care of her filter and was the only participant who regularly chlorinated her water in adequate amounts. Input from in-country partners helped conclude that the commonly-reported gusanitos are a part of the untreated communal water supply, present in faucet water and/or stored rain water, and are unable to pass through the

Interestingly, when asked “Is it easy for you to understand and pay attention in class?” after the first unit, 16 women responded “yes”, two responded “yes but the children are distracting”, and two responded “no due to difficulty understanding Spanish.” When the same question was asked after the second unit of classes, only eight women responded yes for various reasons. Seven women responded “yes but they forget the material afterwards”. Four women said no, either blaming their low level of education, their age, or their difficulty understanding Spanish. Notably, they did not fault the class for these prob-

As a result of this sampling, the teacher and filter maintenance worker reinforced the importance of regular filter care and cleaning to the participants. As seen in Figure 1 the rates climbed steadily up and reached 100% after week 11. It is believed that this is largely due to efforts to increase filter clean-

lems but their own personal circumstances and background.


sand in the filter.

ing and regular maintenance steps.

Class Absence From the teacher reports, the biggest point of contention throughout the first round of classes was participant absence. There was controversy when one woman missed more than the allotted amount of three classes. A compromise was reached in which the woman had to complete an additional homework assignment. The teacher reported that the woman even exceeded the requirement by adding pictures and diagrams. However, overall class absence levels were low. Filter Check Reports and Water Examination Results The first week post-installation, each of the 22 filters installed in San Martin was reported to be clean, giving the group as a whole a 100% filter cleanliness rate. However, there was a significant drop just one week later. The community rate fell to 64%. This is possibly because the women were instructed not to use their HydrAid filter until 14 days post-installation. The manual explains that it takes about 14 days for the biolayer to form, a critical component in its water filtration process. It is possible that the women were little invested for these first two weeks in maintaining their filters since they knew they could not drink the water, or that they were still unfamiliar with their filters and did not yet understand the importance of keeping its contents clean.

Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank Based on results from evaluation documents, the first round of classes have been considered as a success. The first round of participants gave very positive feedback on the program as a whole. They found the class themes to provide valuable knowledge and were pleasantly surprised to find the curriculum included much more than simply how to use their filter. In teacher reports and structured interviews the women commonly expressed that many of these concepts were new to them. It was often reported that participants appreciated how the knowledge on hygiene, sanitation, and nutrition could help them better take care of their families.

During weeks four through ten, the community rate again rose and hovered between 90-95%. A critical event occurred during week nine when, during a community visit to take water sam-

Praise was also received for how the classes were taught. Efforts to make the classes dynamic by adding activities and visuals

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proved beneficial. Although San Martin previously has had community health education (organized by the San Lucas Tolimán clinic), both the teacher and participants expressed that they had never been a part of a course like this one. The most recurrent complaints or concerns with the classes were difficulties with knowledge retention and difficulties understanding sections of the class which were taught in Spanish. However, results from pre- and post-tests still show strong understanding and short-term knowledge retention in key areas. Overall, the women felt the program was very beneficial to the community, primarily citing the necessity of the filters. Many women from the first round of classes have expressed a desire to continue their education with supplementary classes on new health themes. The biggest concern, expressed by only a few women, was with filter malfunctions. UVa students and faculty are working closely with in-country partners and filtration experts to understand the cause of these problems and to improve the filtration system to ensure all filtered water is up to drinking standards. Based on the analysis of the documented results, it has been found that the multi-marker evaluatory system would benefit from some changes and additions. The pre- and post-tests have been made less open-ended and therefore easier to analyze. This should improve the assessment of knowledge retention among participants. It also would be worthwhile to administer a comprehensive post-test several weeks after completion of the course to test long-term knowledge retention for the first round of participants. To increase the informative power of the project assessment, the study authors are currently working with the teacher and in -country director to come up with a few simple questions to measure health behavior change, an area of evaluation that is lacking. While it is possible to measure behavior change with regard to filter use and maintenance through regular filter check reports, there is inadequate measurement of behavior change in the realm of the first two units: (i) hygiene and sanitation, and (ii) nutrition. Furthermore, it is hoped to bolster the quantitative assessment by performing more biological water testing. While this report has focused on the process and outcome of the classes (and has primarily focused on filters through the spectrum of participant filter maintenance, which is more reflective of the classes than the filters themselves), it is equally important to ensure the filters are functioning up to standards and producing potable water for all households. Geographic and language barriers have been one of the biggest limitations to this research. UVa students are unable to easily implement changes to the evaluation process and must rely on in-country partners to collect the majority of this infor-


mation and report back in a clear and timely manner. It is thus necessary to keep personnel constant for each evaluation form to reduce inconsistency in subjective measures (i.e. the filter check reports are always performed by the same man). Fortunately, the in-country partners have proven to be very reliable and competent. They have the added advantage of ability to speak the local indigenous language, Kaqchickel. It is undeniable that the success of this project would be impossible without the study’s Guatemalan partners. The second major limitation to this research has been the lack of power both in sample size and time. As this is only an evaluation of the first round of classes, assumptions cannot be drawn about the long-term effects of this program on the community in its entirety. Since less than a year has passed since the initiation of the course to the writing of this evaluation, and participants have only been using their filters for a few months, it would be premature to make inferences about the program’s effect on the health of the community. Benefits in education, empowerment, and cross-cultural partnerships can be claimed; however, direct health effects such as a decrease in diarrheal incidence and improvement in child health are goals that will be better measured in the coming months and years. The program is among few of its kind in the published literature which takes such a comprehensive approach to the water needs of a community. It combined both an extensive literature and geographic review, as well as gauging the interest of the community to participate. Community leaders were extensively involved in project planning to secure approval and come to an understanding of what the mutual commitment would entail. The curriculum was tailored to the population and local Guatemalans were hired to teach the course and monitor the filters. Believing strongly in the importance of the educational component, filters were not distributed until the women had proven strong participatory investment in the program. Finally, once the filters were installed, regular checks on their maintenance and use were performed. Many projects which attempt to deal with the water crisis only accomplish a segment of the scope of this project. Moving forward, another grant from UVa’s Jefferson Public Citizen program has been acquired which will provide with enough funds to run the project to completion. The study will continue to be developed and refined as well as expanded to allow more community members to participate in the course. This will add power to the findings and increase ability to measure changes over time on a larger scale. It is hoped that the results will ultimately provide insight into the program’s direct effect on community well-being. The ultimate goal of all of these qualitative and quantitative assessments is to tailor the program to maximize its benefits to the community of San

Table 2 – Summary of Program Evaluation Measures for WASH Community Education Program, San Martin, Guatemala, 2012 Document




1 for each participant's family

To provide a basic family background

Summarized (reference for community demographics and for individual participants)

Teacher's Class Reports

1 each month

To give feedback on problems encountered, solutions undertaken, goals accomplished, and general commentary

Summarized (reflect progress of the course)

Attendance Record

1 each month

To record class attendance for each participant


Teacher's Work Log

1 each month

To log the durations of specific activities, costs of materials and transport

Tallied, summarized (review distribution of time and money spent)

Filter Check Reports

Once a week for first months 1 -3, biweekly for months 3-6, once a month for months 612, once at month 18

To check family upkeep of the filters and inquire about any problems

Summarized and coded (review trends in upkeep, special focus on problem filters)

Pre- and Post-Tests

Before and after each of the three units

To measure knowledge retention

Graded, comparing pre- to post-tests with an emphasis on specific questions

Structured Interviews

After the first two units

To receive participant feedback on the classes

Summarized and coded (reflect participants' overall feelings about the program)

Water Examination Results

Once for the first group (follow up to come)

To assess the bacterial and nitrate content of the filtered water

Summarized (not enough test were performed for a statistical analysis)

Family Profiles




If water is clear, do we still need to purify it?

68% correct

100% correct

What can cause diarrhea?

100% correct

100% correct

Name three vitamins that the body needs to be healthy

10% correct

85% correct

What are three important things you should remember about maintaining your filter after it has been installed?

19% correct

100% correct

Commentary In the pre-test, four women directly responded “no” – that they believed clear water did not need to be purified. Two of the women specified that all faucet water needed to be purified but clear rainwater did not. In the post-test, all women responded that clear water did not necessarily equate to clean water and that all water should be purified. This is one of the first learning points in our curriculum. This example proves the difficulty of scoring an open-ended question. In the pretest, the answers were not incorrect but they were notably different from the post-test answers. A typical answer from the pre-test is “dirty water, trash, and mud.” In fact, diarrhea-causing contamination could be found just about anywhere. So this was a fault of question wording. However, in the post-test, 86% of the responses included some mention of bacteria, parasites, amoebas, or worms, as opposed to 0% in the pre-test. ‘Microbes’ is a major learning point in the hygiene and sanitation unit of the course. The two correct responses in the pre-test (10%) were participants who listed vitamins A, B, and C. The majority of the other participants listed specific food or food groups. For example: “herbs”, “carrots”, “beans”, and “incaparina”, a popular high-protein powdered drink mix. In the post-test, 17 out of the 20 respondents (85%) correctly named three vitamins. The three that were marked incorrect only named two vitamins (two respondents) or one vitamin (one respondent). This increase in knowledge about vitamins and minerals is paralleled in the next question, “Name two minerals that the body needs to be healthy,” and in supplemental evaluation material in which participants expressed that they were not aware of the concepts of vitamins and minerals in their food. It is unrealistic to expect the participants had much knowledge about HydrAid filters prior to participating in our program. The intent of this question was to assess whether they could understand and remember necessary filter care after the unit. The post-test responses to this question were very reassuring. Each participant listed at least three critical steps of care. Examples include: “do not move your filter”, “do not allow children to play near or with the filter”, “clean the filter diffuser plate”, and “do not chlorinate the water going into the filter”.

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wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

Martin and, furthermore, to create a project model which can be extended and specially tailored to other communities in need of potable water.

student team that will be continuing our project after our graduation: Caroline Vines, Lydia Prokosch, Cameron Elward, and Gabriel Planas. Finally, thank you to my graduate thesis advisors: Dr. Paige Hornsby and Dr. Wendy Novicoff.

Addendum In the summer of 2013, a team of four UVa students traveled to San Lucas Tolimán to continue research and evaluations. Their interactions translated to over 150 hours of community time. Evaluations included: environmental surveys of each filter set up, biological testing for total coliform and E. coli, pre- and post-tests, focus groups with some of the participating women, interviews with families, community leaders, local health professionals, and in-country project leadership. This new group of students incorporated the suggestions derived from this study, including revision of focus group and pre- and post-test questions and addition of questions designed to discover more information about relevant changes in health-related behavior within families. As of October 2013, the third and final group of San Lucas Tolimán residents had begun classes. The program was expedited after the first class, per community request, increasing the number of participants in each round of classes by staggering two groups within a normal class period. Overall, a complete analysis of their evaluations asserted continued com-

Works Cited Caldwell, J. C.“Education as a Factor In Mortality Decline: An Examination of Nigerian Data.” Population Studies 33,3 (1979): 395-413. Chandola, T., Clarke, P., Morris, J. N., and Blane, D. “Pathways between Education and Health: A Causal Modeling Approach.” Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society) 169,2 (2006): 337-59. Frost, M. B., Forste, R., and Haas, D. W. “Maternal Education and Child Nutritional Status in Bolivia: Finding the Links.” Social Science & Medicine 60,2 (2005): 395-407. Gupta, N,, Mutukkanu, T., Nadimuthu, A., Thiyagaran, I., and Sullivan-Marx, E. “Preventing Waterborne Diseases: Analysis of a Community Health Worker Program in Rural Tamil Nadu, India.” J Community Health 37 (2012): 513519. Nagata, J. M., Valeggia, C. R., Smith, N. W., Barg, F. K., Guidera, M. and Bream, K. D. “Criticisms of chlorination: social determinants of drinking water beliefs and practices among the Tz'utujil Maya.” Rev Panam Salud Publica 29,1 (2011): 9-16. Nutbeam, D. “Health literacy as a public health goal: a challenge for contemporary health education and communication strategies into the 21st century.” Health Promotion International 15,3 (2006): 259-267. Sandiford, P., Cassel, J.,Montenegro, M. and Sanchez, G. “The Impact of Women’s Literacy on Child Health and its Interaction with Access to Health Services.” Population Studies 49,1 (1995): 5-17. UN Water. “The United Nations World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World.” (n.d.) Accessed February 5, 2013. new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/SC/pdf/WWDR3_Facts_and_Figures.pdf. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation. “Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-Water, 2012.” (2012). World Health Organization (WHO). “Safer Water, Better Health: Costs, benefits, and sustainability of interventions to protect and promote health; Updated Table 1: WSH deaths by region, 2004.” (2008). World Health Organization (WHO). Facts and Figures: Water, sanitation, and hygiene links to health. (2004). Accessed February 5, 2013. http://

Photo credit: Ben Beiske munity consensus that the project was a useful, desired, and successful collaboration. Acknowledgements I would like to give acknowledgment to Dr. David Burt, the UVa director of the Guatemala Initiative, and Dr. Kent Wayland, advisor to the Initiative. I also would like to give special thanks to our in-country team, without which this project would be impossible, especially Jessica Ohana Gonzalez, our Guatemalan director. Thanks also to the rest of our team: Dr. Tun, Felipa, Santiago, Marcos, Leticia, Odelia, and Miriam, and to all the other UVa students who have helped with this project, especially Amanda Below, my main partner through it all, but also: Brock Walker, Cat Herrington, Jon Abelson, Ashley Samay, Denny Staples, and the 18

Women and Access to Water in Rural Uganda: A Review Richard B. Asaba 1,2, G. Honor Fagan1, Consolata Kabonesa2 , Firminus Mugumya3 Introduction In Uganda, water (or the water sector) is recognized as key in achieving economic growth and development, and maintaining a healthy and economically productive population. Access to water is a prerequisite to improved health, livelihoods and overall well-being of men, women and children, particularly among the poor and agrarian1 rural populations. Rural communities, comprising an estimated 26 million people or about 85 percent of the entire population of Uganda (UBOS 2010), are faced with higher levels of poverty, dependency, illiteracy and poor health, among other issues. According to the recent National Household Survey, rural communities account for 94.4 percent of the nation’s poor households (about 7.1 million persons) and close to a half (48%) of households in the two lowest income classes (UBOS 2010). The quality of life of rural women is generally worse than that of men. For example, the average income of female-headed households is less than that of male-headed households, while 38 percent of females are either illiterate or have never received any formal education (UBOS 2010, 2012). These problems are compounded by the various forms of gender-based discrimination that women face. As acknowledged in the National Development Plan, “there is discrimination against women in Uganda through traditional rules and practices that explicitly exclude them or give preference to men, and this is a key constraint to women’s empowerment and economic progress” (GOU 2010a:31). In fact, despite their crucial roles in agriculture, the major employment sector where they compose 80 percent of the labor force (Mukadasi and Nabalegwa 2007), patriarchal norms and practices limit women’s access to resources and services, including land and water, therefore hampering their empowerment (Adoko 1993; Tripp 2004; Ellis, Manuel and Blackden 2006; GOU 2010b). Although Uganda is considered one of the countries with the best water resources in the world, water is not evenly distributed2 (Otiso 2006; Danert and Motts 2009; UBOS 2012). Rural communities have inadequate access to water compared to their urban counterparts, and are characterized by poor water infrastructure that constrains agricultural development GOU 1999, 2010). Inadequate access to safe water further exacerbates poverty and increases the occurrence of water-borne diseases, with women being the most affected, again due to limited sources of income, low education levels3, and the demands put upon them as care-givers. (Ellis et al. 2006; Otiso 2006; GOU 2010). 1

Department of Sociology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland; School of Women and Gender Studies, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda; 3 School of Social Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda; 2

Photo credit: Dawnet Beverley/Waterdotorg

Access to water in Uganda is measured as the amount of water used per person per day, distance from a household to a water source, and technology, particularly “improved4” water technologies such as bore holes and shallow wells fitted with hand pumps. In rural areas, water access is defined as “the ability of households5 to use 20 liters of water per person per day from an improved source that is not more than 1.5 kilometers away from their dwelling” (GOU 1999, 2007). Following this definition, access to water in rural Uganda is said to have improved in the past 10 years, but many people remain underserved. The percentage of the population with water access stood at 61.3 percent in 2006, increased to 65 percent in 2009, and currently stands at 64 percent (GOU 2010, 2012), with 7 in 10 households using “improved” water sources (UBOS 2010). According to the Ministry of Water and Environment, the national target of 77 percent access by 2015 will not be met, and Uganda will be a water-stressed country by 2017 (GOU 2007, 2010), all of which will spell more misery for women in rural areas. As in most households across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), gender roles in rural households in Uganda dictate that women perform tasks such as fetching water (many times with female children), cooking food, washing clothes and utensils, cleaning, and child-rearing (e.g., Adoko 1993; Ellis et al. 2006; Otiso 2006; Sugita 2006; GOU 2009, 2010; Water Governance Institute 2009), all of which limit their income opportunities and the ability to pursue other productive activities in their lifetime. As examined in the later sections, women work for several hours during the day, moving long distances to collect water from both “improved” and “unimproved6” water sources, an activity that further consumes their valuable time. Whereas several factors are thought to be responsible for inadequate access to safe water in rural Uganda, most of the evidence is anecdotal, and is either gender-blind or has not sufficiently singled out the impacts on women. This review examines the determinants of access to water in rural Uganda, with specific reference to the difficulties that women face. Viewing access more broadly as the ability to benefit from (water) resources, whether material or immaterial, including institutions (Ribot and Peluso 2003; Franks and Cleaver 2007), we begin by identifying the major interconnected ways or arrangements under which water is accessed that emerge 1.

The majority being farmers of varying ethnicities/tribes who cultivate mixed crops and rear animals mainly for subsistence; there are also a few nomadic populations in western, eastern and northeastern parts of the country (e.g., UBOS 2010) 2. 17.2 percent of Uganda’s total land area of 241,550 square kilometers consists of freshwater sources, including large lakes such as Albert, Edward, George and Victoria, and the nation receives an average rainfall of between 700 mm and 2000 mm per year (Otiso 2006). 3. For instance, diarrhea is more prevalent among children whose mothers have low levels of education (UBOS 2011). © wH2O — University of Pennsylvania 19

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from the literature (Section 2). In Section 3, we describe how water technologies, distance, time and the problems women face in collecting water shape access to this resource, while Section 4 identifies other crucial social mechanisms of access. Section 5 then summarizes the literature on women’s access to water in rural locales, and the conclusions of our review. Major Mechanisms of Access to Water A starting point in understanding the problems that women in rural Uganda face in accessing water is outlining the determinants, “modes” (Crow 2001, 2007), “mechanisms” (Franks and Cleaver 2007), or arrangements under which water is accessed. We group the mechanisms of access into two categories. In the first group are those factors that are most dominant in water development and policy, and are given priority by key actors7; these include water technologies, distance and time. In this section, we also discuss other troubles associated with collecting water (household water use or amounts of water used per capita, as well as bottled water, are beyond the scope of this review). The second group comprises the other social determinants of access to water that emerged, which include formal institutions, payment arrangements (or operation and maintenance fees), and access rights. We explain these mechanisms below, detailing the problems that women face. Main Development/Policy Determinants of Access As we indicated in Section 2, most of the development literature on water in rural Uganda centers on three determinants of access: water technologies, distance and time. We discuss how each of these affects women’s access to water, as well as other difficulties women face in collecting water. Water Technologies Like many countries in SSA, rural domestic water provision in Uganda is based on groundwater sources, mainly through the construction of “improved” water sources such as hand pumps8 and protected springs (GOU 1999, 2007; Asingwire 2011). The major “improved” water technologies reported in most studies include: i. hand pumps (fitted on deep bore holes or shallow wells), ii.

spring wells (or protected springs),


gravitation flow schemes (GFSs) and

iv. rainwater harvesting technologies9. Household water connections, whether public or private, are very rare, and most communal taps are for GFSs in hilly or mountainous areas, especially in the mid-western and southwestern regions (Danert and Motts 2009; Water Governance Institute 2009; GOU 2012). Rural communities also use “unimproved” water sources such as ponds, unprotected wells, streams, wetlands and rivers. According to the 2009/2010 Na-

tional Household Survey, 30.5 percent of rural households rely on “unimproved” sources (UBOS 2010). Whereas fetching water from both “improved” and “unimproved” water sources allows women to socialize (Water Governance Institute 2009), various factors affect their ability to actually obtain water from those sources. For example, poor siting and construction, “geogenic10” factors (such as the presence of low groundwater tables, high levels of mineralisation and subsequent poor water quality), inadequate operation and maintenance, and “technical breakdowns” (Koestler et al. 2010; Asingwire 2011; GOU 2012), inter-alia, limit women’s use of “improved” water sources. These factors are also linked to the reduced functionality11 of water sources in rural areas (Socio-Economic Data Centre 2001; GOU 2007, 2009; Ademun 2009; Mommen and Nekesa 2010; RWSN 2010, 2012; Asaba et al. 2013). When hand pumps produce poor quality water, women opt for other alternative sources, such as rain-harvested water. This was the case in rural Amolatar District in mid-northern12 Uganda, where bore holes were abandoned due to saline water (Asingwire 2011). Another unsafe alternative for women, observed this time in the face of malfunctioning hand pumps, is “unimproved” water sources such as ponds and unprotected wells, which put their lives and those of their children and household members at risk. In her investigation of the challenges women face in domestic water supply in Amuria District in north-eastern Uganda, Ademun (2009) showed how women’s use of dirty water from “unimproved” water sources caused waterborne diseases such as dysentery, diarrhea and typhoid, which further increased their burden as caregivers. Ill-health of women or members of their households as a result of using “unimproved” water sources has also been reported in many areas in rural Uganda (Asingwire 2011; Nimanya et al. 2011; GOU 2010b, 2011a). Several studies have also reported that communities (or women) use “unimproved” water sources because of long distances to “improved” sources and the fact that the former are free, while the latter have “high costs” in the form of repair or maintenance fees13 (GOU 2002; Kanyesigye et al. 2004; UBOS 2010; 5.

A household is defined as a group of persons who normally cook, eat and live

together irrespective of whether they are related (GOU 2010b). 6.

Defined by JMP as those that, by nature of their construction or through active intervention, are not protected from outside contamination, especially fecal matter. Examples include unprotected springs, unprotected dug wells and surface water. 7.

E.g., GOU 2007, 2011a, 2012; UBOS 2010.


The principal technology for supplying water to about 1 billion people in rural

areas in developing countries (RWSN 2010). 9.

Included here as per the Ugandan definition, unlike in the JMP definition; mainly roof-water harvesting tanks for self-supply, some provided with help of nongovernmental organisations (e.g., Carter et al. 2005; Baguma et al. 2010). 10.

Or geological factors that define potentially available water in an area (Coles

and Wallace 2005:75)). 11.


Defined by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water and Sanitation as those sources that, by nature of their construction or through active intervention, are protected from outside contamination, especially from fecal matter (WHO and UNICEF 2000)


Defined as the “percentage of improved water facilities found functional at the time of spot check”, currently estimated at 83 percent (GOU 2012:54), although the true figure may be even lower due to inappropriate rating methods or monitoring tools and systems (Koestler et al. 2010).

Photo credit: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam International

Asingwire 2011). Repair and maintenance fees are explored further in Section 4. Distance Due to the nature of the water sources or technologies, and perhaps the difficulties related to governance arrangements as discussed in the next Section, labor is required to collect water in most rural communities in Uganda. This labor is provided by women (and sometimes children), who are the traditional water fetchers (Adoko 1993; GOU 1999; Kanyesigye et al. 2004; Otiso 2006; Danert and Motts 2009; DTMC 2009; GOU 2009a; UBOS 2010). In fact, the 2006 Demographic and Health Survey revealed that women collected water in 68 percent of households (UBOS 2006). As seen in most studies in SSA, men seldom collect water in rural Uganda: they only collect it for money, when their wives are sick, or when the “improved” water sources have broken down and the other water sources are too distant for the women (Ademun 2009:16; UBOS 2006; GOU 2009c; UWASNET 2009; Asaba et al. 2013). In their case study on the burden of water collection in a rural parish in Central Uganda, Asaba et al. (2013:33) describe how “the few men who collected water did not have children or partners; had sick wives or children; were domestic or construction workers; water vendors; only did it during long droughts when water access be-

Time Research shows that rural communities spend a lot of valuable time collecting water, and that this is related to the water source they use — its reliability, distance, and the necessity of queuing to obtain water from it. Rural communities spend an average of 29 minutes waiting for water (or queuing) at their main water sources (UBOS 2010); however, in some areas, the wait time can be several hours. Queuing is usually due to poor water flow from the sources (mainly due to seasonal changes that precipitate changes in groundwater levels), and over-use of the water points (e.g., Danert and Motts 2009; Asaba et al. 2013). Again, in such cases, it is women (and children), the water fetchers, who spend more time during the day waiting for water, in addition to performing other household tasks. A study in Amuria District showed that women waited for up to 2 hours at “improved” water sources before they could draw water (Ademun 2009). Asaba et al. (2013) also describe how women and children spent between two and six hours queuing for water at protected springs during the long dry season. Similar delays and long waiting periods have been reported in other studies (Rudaheranwa et al. 2003; GOU 2011a; UN-Water and WWAP 2006). Apart from distance and time, there are other burdens that women face while collecting water, which are explored in the next section.

came more difficult; or simply did it to earn quick income.” One of the major hurdles that women face while collecting water is distance. Following their assessment of the Water and Sanitation Sector Gender Strategy that covered seven districts, DTMC (2009:18) acknowledged that “most women and children in Uganda are still burdened with long distances to water sources.” While recent statistics indicate that members of rural households travel an average of 0.8 km to their main sources of drinking water (UBOS 2010), many women travel even greater distances, which significantly impacts their domestic workload. Studying the water-collection behavior of households in a rural sub-county in Mbale District in mid-eastern Uganda, Sugita (2006) reported that women travelled an average distance of 1.2 km to water sources. Other studies have demonstrated that women travel even further (Rudaheranwa et al. 2003; UBOS 2005; GOU 2008; Ademun 2009; Danert and Motts 2009; DMTC 2009; Kanyesigye et al. 2004; GOU 2011a). Danert and Motts(2009), for example, observed that in parts of Sembabule and Isingiro Districts in Central and South-Western Uganda respectively, women and children walked 5 km (oneway) to their nearest water source. In some households, the burden of collecting water is transferred from women to children, especially girls, who also miss school or arrive late because they must fetch water first (Rudaheranwa et al. 2003; UBOS 2006; Asaba et al. 2013). The same studies confirm that when “improved” water sources are not functioning well or are poorly maintained, women are most affected, as they have to move to yet-more-distant alternative sources, which consumes a lot of their time. We now examine the time expended by women in collecting water.

Other Constraints of Water Collection Apart from the poor technologies, long distances and extensive time taken while fetching water, women in rural Uganda also have to contend with other associated difficulties, many of which seem to be less understood in the literature regarding access to water in developing communities. These include poor environmental conditions, health problems and violence.

Environmental Conditions Few studies have reported on the environmental conditions (other than the “geogenic” or geological factors already discussed) that affect women’s access to water in rural Uganda. However, some studies have identified bad terrain, or poor roads and paths (Danert and Motts 2009; Water Governance Institute 2009; Asaba et al. 2013). Asaba et al. (2013), for example, reported how women (and children) in rural Makondo Parish used “hilly bushy and slippery” roads and paths which made water carrying (mainly of 20-liter jerry cans) even more burdensome for women.

Health Problems Women have been reported to suffer from health complications as a result of carrying heavy water loads. For instance, researching the potential for promoting domestic rainwaterharvesting production and distribution chains on a commercial basis in seven districts. Danert and Morris (2009) noted that 12.

This and other regions/sub-regions indicated in the paper are based on latest divisions (UBOS 2012:xvi). 13. Such costs are associated with the Community-based Management System (CBMS), which emphasises community responsibility in operation and maintenance of “improved” water sources at the village level — see GOU 2007.

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“the physical burden of carrying water over long distances can also lead to curved spines, pelvic deformations, and numerous other injuries in women and children.” Asaba et al. (2013) also described how women’s carrying of water by hand led to complications such as chest pain, headache, muscle aches, and sometimes nosebleeds. Women’s use of technologies such as bicycles is restricted, yet it can reduce the burden of carrying heavy water loads by hand and also increase the amount of water used in rural households. A study in Mbale District reported that although women’s use of bicycles was not a taboo, they (and girls) used bicycles on “just 3.1 percent of their trips” (Sugita 2006).

Gender-based Violence A few incidences of gender-based violence have been reported in studies on access to water in rural communities, particularly water collection. For example, Asaba et al. (2013) described how women in rural Makondo Parish felt threatened by the possibility of rape, and some girl children were in fact reportedly raped while fetching water from “unimproved” water sources. Similarly, Ademun (2009) showed that, in Amuria District, spending a lot of time at water points led to gender-based violence, as women were abused and battered by their husbands because of “staying out of their homes for too long queuing at the water sources.” Additional Social Mechanisms of Access Whereas water sources and technologies, distance, and time are key determinants of access to water, there are other related factors that have been reported in rural Uganda. As in most developing countries, rural water technologies have particular arrangements and social and institutional resources that govern their use, all of which impact women in various ways. These could be formal or informal; we focus on the former type due to its importance in safe water delivery, as elucidated below. Formal institutions Water technologies, especially “improved” water sources, are associated with institutions such as Water User Committees (WUCs)14, as provided under the CBMS and in water policies. WUCs are designated for each “improved” water source, and are supposed to be made up of democratically elected members from within the local community or village, 50 percent of whom should be women15. Various studies in developing communities (e.g., Ebato and van Koppen 2005; CAP-NET and GWA 2006) have shown that the participation of women in such local decision-making institutions improves the sustainability of water governance and functionality of water technologies, thereby improving women’s access to water. However, the participation of women in rural WUCs is minimal. The statistics show that the number of WUCs with women 14.

Responsible for organizing the community for orderly water-resource use, cleaning surroundings, undertaking minor service (and repairs), protecting the water catchment area, and collecting the O&M funds.


holding key positions has been declining since 2009. In 2009, 85 percent of WUCs in rural areas had women holding key positions, a number which decreased to 81 percent in 2010 before dropping to 75 percent in 2011 (GOU 2009b, 2010, 2011b). Most studies also report that key positions such as Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and Secretary are dominated by men (e.g., Ademun 2009; Asingwire 2011; MWE 2011a). Women’s decreased representation in WUCs negatively impacts the functionality of “improved” water sources in rural communities. For example, in his assessment of the effectiveness of the community-based maintenance system for rural water supply facilities in 16 districts representing different regions of Uganda, Asingwire (2011) concluded that “all WUCs chaired by women were found presiding over functional sources at the time of the visit; all the non-functional water sources were under the stewardship of men as chairs.” This indicates that a higher level of female membership on WUCs translates into greater functionality of the “improved” water sources, leading to increased access to water for women (and children), as it spares them the inconvenience of either traveling longer distances to fetch safe water or using unsafe water sources, as discussed in Section 3. Another point to note here is that despite their limited participation in WUCs, women actively engage in various forms of “indirect labor” — such as mobilizing funds for operation and maintenance (Coles and Wallace 2005) — and “direct labor” — such as cleaning of water sources (e.g., Ademun 2009) — that are important for proper hygiene and sanitation. Women’s underrepresentation in WUCs is largely due to gender norms, stereotypes, disrespect, and individual factors. For example, women’s “triple roles,” and the fact that they do not have adequate time to participate effectively in WUC meetings and trainings due to heavy domestic workloads, have been documented in many studies in rural Uganda (e.g., Rudaheranwa et al. 2003; Ademun 2009; Asiimwe 2009; CREAM 2009; DTMC 2009; UBOS 2010). Nimanya et al. (2011:16) also expand on these gender norms, , citing patriarchal cultures that result in men in rural communities “not taking women very seriously.” An example of disrespect for women in the same communities that elected them to WUCs was provided by Asingwire (2011:32), who who noted that “women tend to be disrespected, and their efforts to enforce the agreed-on by -laws such as not washing from the water source or not using dirty jerry cans to draw water are often ignored, not only by men who collect water, but in some instances by children as well.” Individual factors that limit women’s participation in WUCs include illiteracy (positions on water institutions require some degree of literacy, yet most women are illiterate); limited skills; and low self-confidence due, for example, to “limited exposure”, resulting in an un-willingness to take up leadership The main positions on these committees include: Chairperson, Vice chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer, Caretaker, Publicity/Information Secretary, and Advisor (GOU 1999, 2007). 16. Usually between $1.2 and 2 per household (at the current exchange rate of US $1=UGX 2,500), sometimes subsidised by government or NGOs. 15.

CREAM 2009; GOU 2009; Nimanya et al. 2011). Household use of “unimproved” water sources as alternatives when “improved” sources break down, particularly because the former former do not require payment of repair fees, has also contributed to communities’ reluctance to pay operation and maintenance fees (Asingwire 2011), while others only pay when they know that the water source has broken down. For instance, a study by SNV and NETWAS in the north-eastern District of Kumi and the mid-eastern Districts of Mbale and Kapchorwa noted that water users “only paid operation and maintenance fees whenever their water points broke down” (GOU 2009a). While most of these studies do not highlight the gender issues in payment of the fees, it is apparent that the failure to pay leads to delayed repairs of “improved” water sources, their temporary closure, continued malfunctioning, or use of “unimproved” water sources, all of which culminate in women not only being less able to acquire safe water but also increasing the difficulties they face in performing their household watermanagement roles.

Photo credit: Kelly Shearon positions (DMTC 2009; GOU 2011a; Nimanya et al. 2011). Women also have to contend with difficulties related to the maintenance and operation of water sources, as examined in the next section. Payment Arrangements In most rural settings, and as part of CBMS, rural households in Uganda are required to pay monthly operation and maintenance or repair fees. These are meant to ensure that if for example, pumps break down, communities have the funds to repair them and continue to access the water sources. Women’s access to water is certainly affected by the ability of communities to pay these fees. Studies show that communities demonstrate ability and willingness to contribute, either in-kind (through labor, construction materials or food items for the workers) or in cash or funds, for construction16 and minor repairs of the “improved” water sources (ranging from 200 to 500 Uganda Shillings17). These contributions are collected in monthly to half-yearly periods (CREAM 2009; Asingwire 2011; GOU 2012). Unfortunately, many rural communities do not pay the maintenance and repair fees. Studies have observed that this occurs because of poor accountability by WUC members, mistrust of WUCs, low incomes or “costly repairs” that rural communities cannot afford, “stubbornness” or unwillingness to pay, and in some cases the argument that local taxation should suffice for all the repairs (Kanyesigye et al. 2004; Asiimwe 2009;

Access Rights and Entitlements Women (and men and children) in most communities are expected to draw water from both “improved” and “unimproved” water sources, as they are considered communal. However, formal and informal entitlements limit women’s access to water, through denial of access to “improved” water sources for households that default on operation and maintenance fees. Although the few studies on access rights in rural Uganda have not explicitly highlighted the issues that affect women, they outline the causes. For example, when researching how improvements in planning, monitoring and evaluation in rural local governments could potentially improve the efficiency and effectiveness of rural water service delivery in Tororo and Wakiso Districts in mid-eastern and Central Uganda, Kanyesigye et al. (2004) described how community members (in essence, women and children who collect water) were denied physical access to pumps in order to “put pressure” on households that were deemed able to pay but refused to do so. The same authors observed that vulnerable community members, such as the elderly and the disabled, were exempted from paying repair fees, as stipulated in water policies 18. However, evidence of such exemptions for very poor and widowed women, for example, is limited, meaning such women might continue to be denied access to water due to non-payment. As observed in some studies, some WUC by-laws provided women and vulnerable groups with rights of access, but these were not implemented in most cases due to the WUCs being inactive and to poor cooperation from local councilors (Kanyesigye et al. 2004; GOU 2009a; Asingwire 2011).

17. 18.

$0.08 to $0.20. E.g., GOU 1999, 2007

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Water collection is also affected by illegal or forceful acts, such as thefts — especially of hand pump spare parts, which may be easily stolen as the long distances between the pumps and households in rural communities make it difficult for the WUC members to monitor them — and vandalisms (e.g., Kanyesigye et al. 2004; Asingwire 2011). Kanyesigye et al. (2004) in particular noted that thefts of spare parts in Masulita in Wakiso District occurred because of “shallow wells being located far away from households.” Whenever thefts and vandalisms occur, the water sources do not function well and/or take even longer to be repaired; this limits women’s ability to collect water, and they often have to travel long distances to alternative sources,

(2009) showed how a women’s group in Rakai District in Central Uganda was the first to be trained in the construction of domestic rainwater tanks in the late 1990s, while Payne et al. (2008) reported that 22 women were trained as masons, and another 24 received similar training by Kigezi Diocese in Kabale District in South-Western Uganda (GOU 2009b). A few women have also benefited from training on less technical subjects such as water use, hygiene and sanitation, including 102 women’s groups that were trained by various NGOs in the water sector

as discussed in Section 3.

A major reason why there are few female water technicians in rural Uganda is the patriarchal culture, such as the societal view that husbands maintain control of their wives and the stereotypical perception that water technicians should be males. As noted in the National Framework for the Operation and Management of Rural Water Supplies, husbands of women who are trained as HPMs or GFS attendants, for example, “are reluctant to let them do this work as it involves them spending a lot of time out of home in the company of men in isolated areas” and that “the tool kits are heavy and many of the tasks require enormous energy that women may

Other Mechanisms of Access A number of other factors affect women’s access to water in rural Uganda, many of which are ordered around or interconnected with the formal (and informal) institutions, payment arrangements, and rights and entitlements discussed in the previous sub-sections. For example, some studies have demonstrated that the failure of communities to raise fees for the operation and management of hand pumps is due to inadequate supply chains or a lack of private-sector involvement, which could otherwise increase the availability of pump spare parts and hasten repairs by mechanics (YODEO 2007; Koestler et al. 2010; Mommen and Nekesa 2010), hence increasing women’s access to water. Another related issue reported in most of the literature is the failure of district actors or communities themselves to access trained technicians, such as Hand Pump Mechanics (HPMs) (Asingwire 2011; CREAM 2009; Kanyesigye et al. 2004; Nimanya et al. 2011; Socio-Economic Data Centre 2001), who are responsible for undertaking repairs of improved water sources in rural communities. These studies also show that the presence and efficiency of HPMs increases functionality of “improved” water sources, thereby creating better access for women. Regrettably, while the “development decade” and the more current “water decade” have emphasized training of female technicians (such as HPMs) and health educators, among others, most of the technicians and local trainees or beneficiaries in rural Uganda are males. To illustrate this, Asingwire (2011) noted that the majority of the available “improved” water-source technicians19 in 16 Districts were males (96.8 percent), compared with only three (3.2 percent) females, two of whom were from Nebbi District and one from Isingiro, in West Nile and south-western Uganda respectively. Another study reported that of the 70 HPMs who were trained and equipped with personal toolkits and repair boxes in Kiboga District in central Uganda20, only 11 were women (GOU 2011a). Some of the little training that women have received has been on rainwater harvesting technologies, such as ferro-cement tank design for the purpose of improving access to harvested rainwater. For example, Danert and Motts


(UWASNET 2009).

lack” (GOU 2011a:18). Poor access to water by rural communities (especially women) has also been blamed on the work of some key water actors such as District Water Officers and Sub County Officials, many of whom are men (DTMC 2009; GOU 2009a). Although we do not discuss these actors in much detail in this review, Kanyesigye et al. (2004) and Asingwire (2011) discuss how problems such as inadequate funding affect the implementation of routine capacity-building, training, and other “soft ware21” activities, yet these actions are essential for the increased functionality of water sources. Conclusion While it is clear that women are most affected by inadequate access to safe water in rural Uganda, most of the literature addresses only “improved” water technologies, distance and time. The determinants of access to water are interconnected, and social structures such as formal and informal institutions, payment arrangements, supply chains and rights are watergovernance issues, yet most studies do not explain how they disadvantage women. However, some of the literature describes how women’s access to water is affected by their low social status, patriarchal cultures, poor living conditions, insufficient access to money, and reliance on men for payment of fees for “improved” water sources.


Including HPMs, plumbers, Gravity Flow Scheme Attendants (GFSAs) and

masons. 20.

By Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).


E.g., supporting, sensitizing and monitoring WUCs in villages

We conclude that whereas considerable work has been done on access to water in rural Uganda, not much is known about gender relations and the obstacles that women face. More contextual research is needed to elucidate the less understood aspects of access to water and how they impact women, particularly the conditions and processes other than distance and time that influence water collection; the use of water technologies such as “unimproved” and “improved” water sources; local institutional arrangements, particularly of WUCs and HPMs; gender dynamics of payment arrangements (especially repair fees); and both formal and informal water rights. Works Cited Ademun, Stella Rose "Domestic Water Supply: An Evaluation of the Impacts; Challenges and Prospects on Women in Rural Households in Uganda." MSc. Thesis, University of Lund, 2009. Adoko, Judy "Environment and Women in Uganda: The Way I See It." Focus on Gender 1, no. 1 (1993): 19–21. Asaba, Richard B., G. Honor Fagan, Consolata Kabonesa et al."Beyond Distance and Time: Gender and the Burden of Water Collection in Rural Uganda." wH2O: The Journal of Gender and Water 2, no. 1 (2013): 31–38. Asiimwe, Brenda. "Community Level Water Governance and Pro-Poor Outcomes in the Water and Sanitation Sector: The Case of Mbarara District, Uganda." MA Thesis, International Institute of Social Studies, 2009. Asingwire, Narathius "Assessment of the Effectiveness of the Community-Based Maintenance System for Rural Water Supply Facilities." Kampala: Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) and Directorate of Water Development (DWD), 2011. Baguma, David, Willibald Loiskandl, Ika Darnhofer, et al. "Knowledge of Measures to Safeguard Harvested Rainwater Quality in Rural Domestic Households." Journal of Water & Health 8, no. 2 (2010): 334–45. CAP-NET, and GWA. "Why Gender Matters: A Tutorial for Water Managers." Delft: CAP-NET International network for Capacity Building in Integrated Water Resources Management, 2006. Carter, Richard, Joyce Magala Mpalanyi, and Jamil Ssebalu. "Self-Help Initiatives to Improve Water Supplies in Eastern and Central Uganda, with an Emphasis on Shallow Groundwater: A Case Study of the RWSN Self-Supply Flagship." Kampala: Water Aid and Rural Water Supply Network, 2005. Coles, Anne, and Tina Wallace. Gender, Water and Development. Oxford: Berg, 2005. CREAM. "Assessment of Factors Affecting Functionality of Water Sources: A Case Study in Koboko District." Kampala: SNV, 2009. Crow, Ben. "Bare Knuckle and Better Technics: Trajectories of Access to Safe Water in History and in the Global South." Journal of International Development 19, no. 1 (2007): 83–98. Crow, Ben. "Water: Gender and Material Inequalities in the Global South." Milton Keynes, UK: Open University, 2001. Danert, Kerstin, and Nigel Motts. "Uganda Water Sector and Domestic Rainwater Harvesting Subsector Analysis." Washington, DC, 2009. DMTC, Ltd. "Gender Analysis of the Water and Sanitation Sector." Kampala: Ministry of Water and Environment, 2009. Ebato, Michiko, and Barbara van Koppen. "Gender Relations and Management of Multiple Water Use System in Adidaero Watershed, Tigray Region in Northern Ethiopia." In International Research Workshop on ‘Gender and Collective Action’, 17-21 October 2005. Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2005. Ellis, Amanda, Claire Manuel, and C. Mark Blackden. "Gender and Economic Growth in Uganda: Unleashing the Power of Women." Washington, DC: World Bank, 2006. Franks, Tom, and Frances Cleaver. "Water Governance and Poverty: A Framework for Analysis." Progress in Development Studies 7, no. 4 (2007): 291–306. GOU. "Deepening the Understanding of Poverty: Second Participatory Poverty Assessment ". Kampala: Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, 2002. GOU. "National Development Plan (2010/11-2014/15)." Kampala: National Planning Authority, 2010a. GOU. "National Framework for Operation and Maintenance of Rural Water Supplies in Uganda." Kampala: Ministry of Water and Environment, 2011a GOU. "The National Water Policy." Kampala: Ministry of Water, Lands and Environment, 1999.

Photo Credit: Grace Cahill/Oxfam International

GOU. "The Second National health policy." Kampala: Ministry of Health, 2010b. GOU. "Water and Environment Sector Performance Report, 2009." Kampala: Ministry of Water and Environment, 2009b. GOU. "Water and Environment Sector Performance Report, 2010." Kampala: Ministry of Water and Environment, 2010c. GOU. "Water and Environment Sector Performance Report, 2011." Kampala: Ministry of Water and Environment, 2011b. GOU. "Water and Environment Sector Performance Report, 2012." Kampala: Ministry of Water and Environment, 2012. GOU. "Water and Sanitation Sector District Implementation Manual." Kampala: Ministry of Water and Environment 2007. GOU. "Water and Sanitation Sector Performance Report, 2008." Kampala: Ministry of Water and Environment, 2008. GOU. "Water and Sanitation Sub-Sector Gender Strategy (2010/11- 2014/15) ". Kampala: Ministry of Water and Environment, 2009a. Kanyesigye, Juliet, Joseph Anguria, Edison Niwagaba et al. "Are National Water and Sanitation Objectives Achieved on the Ground? A Review of Service Delivery, Planning Monitoring and Evaluation in Tororo and Wakiso Districts." Kampala: WaterAid, Uganda, 2004. Koestler, Lucrezia, Andreas G. Koestler, Marius A. Koestler et al. "Improving Sustainability Using Incentives for Operation and Maintenance: The Concept of Water-Person Years." Waterlines 29, no. 2 (2010): 147–62. Mommen, Brecht, and Jacinta Nekesa. "Connected Hand Pump Mechanics for Improved Service Delivery: A Case Study of District-Based Associations of Hand Pump Mechanics in Uganda as a Supporting Mechanism " In 2010

IRC Symposium: Pumps, Pipes and Promises: Costs Finances and Accountability for Sustainable WASH Services. Concordia Theatre, Hague Netherlands, 2010. Mukadasi, Buyinza, and Muhammod Nabalegwa. "Gender Mainstreaming and Community Participation in Plant Resource Conservation in Buzaya County, Kamuli District, Uganda." African Journal of Ecology 45 (2007): 7–12. Nimanya, Cate, Jane H. Nabunnya, S. Kyeyune, et al. "Uganda: Lessons for Rural Water Supply; Assessing Progress Towards Sustainable Service Delivery." The Hague and Kampala: IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, 2011. Otiso, Kefa M. Culture and Customs of Uganda. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2006. Payne, Deborah, Margaret Nakato, and Caroline Nabalango. "Building Rain Water Tanks and Building Skills: A Case Study of a Women's Organization in Uganda." Rural Society 18, no. 3 (2008): 174–84. Rudaheranwa, Nichodemus, Lawrence Bategeka, and Margret Banga. "Beneficiaries of Water Service Delivery in Uganda." Kampala: Economic Policy and Research Centre (EPRC), 2003. RWSN. "Myths of the Rural Water Supply Sector ". St. Gillen: RWSN, 2010. RWSN. "Sustainable Groundwater Development: Use, Protect and Enhance." St. Gallen: The Rural Water supply Network (RWSN), 2012.Socio-Economic Data Centre, Ltd. "Study of the Operation and Maintenance of Rural Water Facilities in Uganda: Final Consultancy Report ". Kampala: Ministry of Water Lands and Environment, MWLE and Directorate of Water Development, DWD, 2001. Sugita, Elli W. "Increasing Quantity of Water: Perspectives from Rural Households in Uganda " Water Policy 8 no. 1 (2006): 529–37. Tripp, Aili Mart. "Women's Movements, Customary Law, and Land Rights in Africa: The Case of Uganda." African Studies Quarterly 7, no. 4 (2004): 1–19. UBOS. "Statistical Abstract for Uganda, 2012." Kampala: Uganda National Bureau of Statistics, 2012. UBOS. "Uganda Demographic and Health Survey." Entebbe: Uganda National Bureau of Statistics, 2006. UBOS. "Uganda Demographic and Health Survey, 2011." Kampala: Uganda National Bureau of Statistics, 2011. UBOS. "Uganda National Household Survey, 2009/10: Socio-Economic Module." Kampala: Uganda National Bureau of Statistics, 2010. UBOS. "Uganda National Population and Housing Census: Final Report ". Entebbe: Uganda National Bureau of Statistics, 2005. UN-Water, and WWAP. "Uganda National Water Development Report." New York: United Nations, 2006. UWASNET. "Ngo Group Performance in the Ugandan Water and Sanitation Sector: Report for the Financial Year 2008/9." Kampala, 2009. Water Governance Institute. "Uganda Country Report: G-77/Pgtf Project on Sustainable Rainwater Harvesting and Ground Water Recharge in Developing Countries – HRD and Technology Transfer." Kampala, 2009. WHO, and UNICEF. "Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment Report." Geneva: World Health Organisation and United Nations Childrens' Emergency Fund — Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, 2000.

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wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

A half empty bucket: women’s role in the governance of water resources in Zambia Claudia Casarotto1 and Rolf Kappel1 Introduction Water use in Zambia’s rural households is strongly determined by the work of women. Women are primarily responsible for water collection, domestic water use decisions, irrigation of orchards and fields, and other related practices. Seventy nine percent of Zambian women live in rural settings and are employed in the agricultural sector; in comparison to the 64 percent of men that live in a similar setting (GoZ, 2006). Agriculture, still considered an important engine of development and growth in the Zambian economy (GoZ, 2011a), contributes 21.6 percent of the national gross domestic product (World Bank, 2011). In 2009, 74 percent of the urban population and only 53 percent of the rural population in Zambia had access to a safe water supply (GoZ, 2011a). Rural areas have not benefited so far from the commercial utilities’ development of a piped water network. Instead, most of the rural areas in Zambia are served by wells and boreholes. Between 2005 and 2010, the Government of Zambia (GoZ) constructed 3,800 new boreholes in rural areas and it plans on constructing 6,000 more boreholes by 2015. The Zambian water governance system has recently undergone major transformations with both a new Water Policy and a Water Resources Management Act, ratified by Parliament in 2010 and 2011 respectively. These measures stipulate the decentralization of the water sector and the devolution of power to the lowest level of authorities. One consequence is the creation of new institutions3, namely the Catchment Councils (CC) and Sub -catchment Councils (SCC), as well as the strengthening of the Water Users Associations (WUAs) under the overall coordination of the Water Resources Management Authority. Table 1 summarizes the main functions of the Zambian institutions in the water sector. In addition, the law fosters stronger participation of all water users, in particular smallholders, and among them, women (GoZ, 2010; GoZ, 2011(b2)). The National Water Policy adopts gender equity in accessing water resources as a guiding principle for water management4. This principle is reflected in several articles of the Water Resources Management Act that explicitly promote the role of local communities and the participation of women at all levels of the decision making process with regards to water use5. The central role of women in water management has been recognized by the international community (Wahaj and Hartl, 2007).Several studies describe rural water consumption patternsand the role of women in the collection and use of wter (Nyong and Kanaroglou, 2001; Arouna and Dabbert, 2010; Potter and Darmane, 2010). However, few of these studies quanti 1

Centre for Development and Cooperation (NADEL), ETH Zurich, Switzerland (E-mail:; Telephone: +41 76 3214775)


tatively assess the role of women in the collection and use of water. Moreover, no available study attempts to explore how women perceive the water governance system, how knowledgeable they are of the institutional setting, and how they actively participate in these institutions. Other studies that try to assess some of these questions concentrate more generally on the role of rural women in connection to the strategic water use decisions at the household and farm level (Hawkins and Seager, 2010; Bennett, 2004; Makoni et al., 2004; Farmar-Bowers, 2001). Upadhyay (2003) attempts to investigate the gender aspects of participating in the management and governance of water resources; however, the study makes exclusive reference to irrigated agriculture. A handful of studies describe the legal and policy environment related to gender and natural resources management in developing countries (e.g. Manase et al., 2003; van Wijk et al., 1996). Studies related specifically to gender and water governance in rural areas are rare (Harris, 2009) and they are neither based on specific survey data nor do they target developing countries. Methods This study was conducted in Zambia in the lower Kafue River Basin, the area lying between the Itezhi-Tezhi Dam and the Kafue Gorge Dam. With the choice of this geographical location, we aimed at capturing the views of water stakeholders (smallholders) in one of the economically most active areas of the country. Large and small-scale agriculture, fishing, tourism, and hydropower generation are major economic activities carried out in the lower Kafue region. A team of local enumerators conducted 428 interviews within the course of three weeks. Fifteen villages were sampled along the Kafue River 3.

The definition of a water institution adopted in the present work is the broad definition proposed by Saleth and Dinar (2000, p. 176): a “water institution sets the rules and defines, thereby, the action sets for both individual and collective decision-making in the realm of water resource development, allocation, and utilization. Since these rules are often formalized in terms of three inter-related aspects, i.e., legal framework, policy environment, and administrative arrangement, water institution can be conceptualized as an entity defined interactively by its three main analytical components, i.e., water law, water policy, and water administration.” 4. The National Water Policy (2010, p. 19) stresses that “women shall be empowered and fully participate in issues and decisions related to sustainable development of water resources and, specifically, in the use of water.” 5. Art. 20.1.q and Art. 25.e mention that the Catchment Council and the WUA shall ”promote the participation of the community in water resources management and ensure gender mainstreaming in the decision-making process relating to the management, development and use of water.” Art. 27.2.b mandates the Minister of Water with the “mainstreaming of gender into the policies, programmes and activities relating to water resource management, development and use.” Art. 31.3.d mandates the Water Resources Management Authority to “provide mechanisms [...] for enabling the public and communities, in particular women, to participate in managing the water resources within each catchment.”

Table 1. Functions of the Zambian institutions in the water sector (source: author’s elaboration of Uhlendahl et al. 2011) Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA)

Water Allocation

Water Charging Water Quality Monitoring

Policy Function

Information Management


Planning and Reporting

Catchment Council (CC)

- Approve allocation plans and - Regulate and supervise the determine water allocation use of water at the catchment - Identify freshwater sources level - Plan water development - Include sub-catchment alloca- Secure the provision of adetion plans in the catchment quate safe water management plan - Issue water permits - Carry out the tasks of the sub- Carry out tasks of the CC, SCC catchment Council if no SCC or WUAs if none exist exists

Sub-Catchment Council

Water User Association



- Regulate the use of water at - Facilitate and support inspecthe sub-catchment level tions - Investigations and recommendations on water permit or license applications in the sub -catchment - Prepare the allocation plan in a sub-catchment - Monitor permits, water works, water quantity in subcatchment

- Develop and revise water - Collect revenues charges - Revenue collection where no CC exists. - Protect freshwater sources - Resource quality monitoring - Monitor water quality and - Monitor water quality and en- Resource quality monitoring and evaluation implement regulations and sure water conservation and evaluation - Undertake catchment protecguidelines on catchment pro- - Undertake projects that would - Conserve, preserve and protion tection ensure catchment protection tect the environment - Advise and recommend policies for the management of water resources to the Minister - Establish and maintain a water -Hydrological and geological - Collect hydrological, meteoro- - Collect hydrological, meteororesources information system surveys logical, water quality and logical, water quality and - Consolidate data quantity, socio-economic and quantity, socio-economic and environmental data for subenvironmental data for submission to the CC mission to the SCC - Advocacy programs - Public awareness campaigns - Public awareness campaigns - Promote community participa- Promote community particition pation - National water resources - Develop catchment managestrategy ment plans - Recommend constitution of - Harmonize sub-catchment the CC management plans - Technical support - Technical support - Approve catchment and subcatchment plans

- Develop sub-catchment man- - Local water management agement plans plans - Harmonize local plans - Technical support to WUAs

Fig. 1. Sampled villages.

Source: Map constructed by authors with ArcMap, using data layers provided by the Zambian Ministry of Land

© wH2O — University of Pennsylvania 27

wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

(Fig. 1), excluding the permanently flooded area (and protected national park) of the Kafue Flats where the population density is extremely low and economic activity is limited. The survey instrument was a formal questionnaire that comprised seven modules (identification, household information, domestic water use, agriculture, fisheries, income, and governance) for a total of 210 questions6. The survey was administered in the local languages. Zambia counts 72 languages (although many of them can be considered as dialects), but only four languages are currently spoken in the study area (namely Nyanja, Bemba, Tonga, and Ila) and these were used to administer the questionnaire.

members (or, as an alternative, the ratio between female and male members), the gender and the main occupation of the household head, and whether the household members participate in a cooperative. Water source-specific explanatory variables include the water quality, the ownership of water sources, the level of water abstraction (surface or underground), the distance from the sources of water used, and the frequency of lacking water (due to mechanical problems, depletion of water resources by competing users, or drought). Expenditures for the use, operation, and maintenance of the water sources are also included, which cover both regular monetary contributions and irregular contributions in terms of labor or una tantum disbursements.

The total number of 428 observations was reduced to 400 due to the elimination of two incomplete questionnaires and 26 outliers in the dependent variable. SPSS’s procedure to identify outliers functions by identifying households that have an anomaly index value larger than or equal to 2. The anomaly index is the ratio of the group deviation index to its average over the cluster that the case belongs to (IBM, 2013, p.547-554). Before dropping observations, we controlled the original questionnaires and concluded that in each case either reporting errors by interviewees or data entry errors by interviewers had occurred. The two most extreme outliers reported either a zero in total water used or more than 100,000 liters per day. Results The fundamental role of women in water use for household consumption is assessed through the use of regression analyses. The dependent variable is the logarithm of the total household water use measured in liters per day. The regression models control for the size of the villages, the position of the villages with respect to a main watercourse, the location (district) of the villages, and the level of education and age of the household heads. These control variables are never statistically significant and are not reported in the subsequent tables. We use hierarchical Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regressions, i.e. in the first stage the control variables were entered, then the regressors. Appendix 1 reports summary statistics for all variables included in the analysis. First and foremost we hypothesize that water consumption is dependent upon the prosperity of households. We construct a wealth index based on assets owned by households. Observable assets are usually a more reliable indicator of prosperity than income or consumption data collected through household interviews. The wealth index is computed from weights obtained from a Principal Component Analysis, as suggested by Filmer and Pritchett (2001). Appendix 2 describes the method and data to construct the index. Other explanatory variables comprise demographic and some occupational characteristics of households: the number of persons living in a household, the share of female household


The two regression models presented in Table 2 differ in the way the gender composition of the household is represented. Model 1 uses the percentage of female persons as the indicator of gender composition, Model 2 the ratio of women to men. In addition, three specifications of each model are being tested in order to assess the functional relation between household water uses on the one hand and the wealth and household size on the other hand. The first specification assumes a log-linear relationship between household water use and wealth and a nonlinear relationship between water use and household size (using a linear and a quadratic term). The second specification assumes a log-linear relationship between water use and wealth and a non-linear (log-log) relationship between water use and household size. Finally, the third specification, assumes a non-linear (log-log) relationship between water use and wealth as well as water use and household size. The results suggest a positive and highly significant effect of wealth on domestic water use. The slightly higher R2 of specification 3 compared to specifications 2 and 1 (of both models 1 and 2) indicates that the log-log relationships between water consumption and wealth and household size should be preferred. The total amount of water consumed at household level increases, as expected, with the number of people in the household. Also, the level of users’ payments allocated to the operation and maintenance of the water sources significantly contributes to an increase in water consumption. This result, if confirmed by more detailed studies, could suggest that user payments for the maintenance and operation of water sources contribute to improving the reliability of water supplies and consequently to an increase in the use of water. A positive and significant relationship between gender and water consumption is found in all specifications of the two 6.

The complete questionnaire is available from the authors upon request. The dependent variable is the logarithm of the total household daily water use; therefore, some of the regression coefficients cannot be directly interpreted as the expected change in the value of the dependent variable subject to one unit change in the independent variable, ceteris paribus. 7.

Photo credit: Michael Foley

Table 2: Coefficients of the regression analysis7. Model 1 Constant Wealth Index

Model 2

Specific. 1

Specific. 2

Specific. 3

Specific. 1

Specific. 2

Specific. 3





















Wealth Index (Log)


.037 0.002**




Total contribution to water source









Gender of household head (male=0, female=1)













Occupation of the household head (other=0, agri=1)













Member of a cooperative (no=0, yes=1)













Frequency of lack of water













Water quality (bad=0, good=1)













Distance from main water source













Type of source (Ground=0, Surface=1)













Ownership of source (Public=0 Private=1)













Number of people in the household




Square number of people in the household



.001 0.388***













.138 0.066**






Ratio women to men R square Observations *** Significant at the 0.01 level




Number of people in the household (Log) Percentage of women in the household














** Significant at the 0.05 level

* Significant at the 0.1 level

models. Thus, it is possible to conclude that an increase in the number of women in the household leads to higher water use. This result corroborates findings of descriptive analyses by Nyong and Kanaroglou (2001) and Makoni at al. (2004), where the authors find that women have a predominant role in household water management and hygiene. In fact, the presence of more women in the household implies that a larger amount of water is collected, since it is mainly the women’s role to collect water. Additionally, water consumption increases with the number of women in the household due to a series of women-dominated activities, such as household cleaning, child and personal hygiene, and watering of small gardens.Results for the three versions of model 1 indicate that, in an average

household with a daily consumption of 124 litres of water, a swap from a male member to a female member increases the total water consumption by amounts between 5.7 and 6.8 litres. For the three versions of model 2 the respective values


We calculate these changes by first multiplying the regression coefficients given in Table 2 with the mean values of the sample variables reported in Appendix 1. This gives us our "baseline" water consumption for the "average" household, described with the mean values of the sample observations. We then substitute one male household member by an additional female person, which changes the gender composition variable (from 0.47 to 0.61 for the share of female persons, from 1.1 to 2.05 for the ratio women to men). In the next step we calculate the water consumption after the swap and the relative difference to the baseline. Finally we multiply this relative change with the average water consumption of 124 liters.

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wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

vary between 6.6 and 8 liters8. Finally, water consumption appears not to be related to the gender of the household head. Contrary to what could be expected, the distance from the water as well as the frequency of lacking water have no significant effect on water consumption. This might be due to the fact that the lower Kafue region, which, endowed with a sub-tropical climate, does not suffer from physical water scarcity. In fact, 50.3 percent of the households withdraw water from sources located not farther than 15 minutes away on foot, and 85 percent use sources located within 30 minutes. This result is in line with the findings of a survey conducted in 25 sub-Saharan countries that reports a mean time to collect water of approximately 30 minutes (UNICEF and WHO, 2012).Moreover, levels of water use for domestic purposes are still extremely low: in 8out of the 15 villages sampled, the average per capita daily use of water does not exceed the threshold of 20 liters9. With such low levels of consumption, mechanical breakdowns, competition for water, or temporary water scarcity at one source might not affect the total water used at the household level. In fact, in order to maintain a minimum level of per capita water consumption, the collectors could travel longer distances and use secondary, often not clean, sources of water or queue longer at the primary source. As expected, the quality of the water withdrawn has a positive and significant effect on water use, clearly underlining the importance of improved water sources to maintain sufficient levels of water use. While the main occupation of the household head is generally not significant to explain household water use, the participation of one or more of the household members in a cooperative is positively and significantly related to higher household water use. Usually the cooperatives (fishing or agricultural) are coordinated by government officials and include the participation of several households located in the same neighborhood. Therefore, this result could possibly indicate the importance of coordination at the household level to

ance principles listed under paragraph 6 of the Water Act reads that "there shall be equity between both gender in accessing water resources and, in particular, women shall be empowered and fully participate in issues and decisions relating to the sustainable development of water resources and, specifically, the use of water" (GoZ 2011b). In this context, we analyzed the current level of awareness and participation of smallholders and women in water institutions, the understanding of the roles and functions of these institutions, and the perception of their performance. Respondents were asked questions concerning nine institutions, which also include the Sub-Catchment Councils, the Catchment Councils and the WUAs that were newly introduced with the Water Act. Out of the 428 respondents, 279 were male, 148 female, and only one of the respondents refused to complete the interview. A first striking result concerns the low level of declared awareness of each of the institutions. Not only was the share of respondents that declared to be aware of the 2011 Water Act institutions very low (only 5.9 percent of the whole sample knew about the Sub-Catchment Council and 5.4 percent were familiar with the Catchment Council), but female respondents in general showed a more limited awareness of all water institutions (Table 3). This finding is unexpected considering that since 2008, the Government of Zambia set up decentralized water resources management structures in the Kafue and Lunsemfwa Catchments as pilot projects to test the application of the National Water Policy and Water Act. At the same time, the drafting process of the Water Policy and Water Act involved an extensive series of consultations, also in the Kafue Basin. In partTable 3. Percentage of total women and men respondents aware of each institution. The significance levels relate to the whole sample and provide an indication of the statistical significance of the difference between the two groups (men and women) of respondents.

improve water use. Water Users Association

The results of our regression analyses corroborate the hypothesis that women have a key role in water management and consumption and that they markedly influence the total amount of water used at the household level. This finding supports the emphasis given by Zambia’s Water Policy and Water Act to women’s empowerment and participation in issues and decisions related to water resource use. In fact, one of the govern 9.

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies the requirement for water

Ministry of Energy and Water Development **

Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Sub-Catchment Council Catchment Council

service level to promote health into: - No access: quantity collected often below 5 litres per capita per day (l/c/d) and more than 30 minutes total collection time; - Basic access: average quantity unlikely to exceed 20 l/c/d and between 5 to 30 minutes collection time; - Intermediate access: quantity about 50 l/c/d and water delivered through tap or within 5 minutes collection time; - Optimal access: average quantity 100 l/c/d and Water supplied through multiple taps continuously.


Zambia Wildlife Authority


Environmental Council of Zambia Water Utilities ** Significant at the 0.05 level * Significant at the 0.1 level









































cular, women are significantly less aware of the work that is conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture (MACO), Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries (MLF), Environmental Council (ECZ), and Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA). The respondents’ knowledge of the exact functions of the various institutions tends to corroborate this gender bias, indicating that women, even if they are aware of an institution, are less capable to precisely recognize its functions. In fact, only 25 percent of the women (compared to 89 percent of the men) who declared to be aware of the Ministry of Energy and Water Development (MEWD) exactly know the functions of the institution. Also, among the respondents aware of MACO and MLF, about 80 percent of women and over 90 percent of men are knowledgeable of the duties of the two institutions. Moreover, both men and women who declare to be aware of the New Water Act institutions fail to identify the functions of the Catchment Council, and only 25 percent of men can describe the functions of the Sub-Catchment Council. Table 4. Participation by gender (percentage of respondents aware of the institution). Men Water Users Association*




Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives



Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries **



Zambia Wildlife Authority


Environmental Council of Zambia Water Utilities







** Significant at the 0.05 level * Significant at the 0.1 level

To some extent, this result is also reflected in the lower degree of participation10 of women in the water sector institutions compared to men. Although the majority of both men and women explain that they do not have any direct contact with the institutions, it is – at least for three of these institutions – evident that women’s participation is significantly lower (Table 4). A similar result is obtained when inquiring if the participation of smallholders could influence the decisions taken by the institutions. Respondents exhibit a generally pessimistic perception of the efficacy of participation in influencing decisions. In 10.

optimistic with 56 and 69 percent answering in the affirmative. This is all in contrast to there being no significant difference between men and women in the perception of the usefulness of the institutions to solve water related problems. Stakeholders are pessimistic regarding the problem-solving capacity of the Environmental Council and the Water Act (2011) institutions; more than 70 percent of the respondents aware of such institutions consider them to be unhelpful to the end users. This result is linked to the low awareness of these institutions, the uncertainty about their roles and mandates, and their scarce presence in the field. Surprisingly, though, MLF, MACO and ZAWA also did not pass the smallholder’s test and received a rather negative judgment. 52 percent of the respondents consider MLF and MACO as not useful in solving water related problems at the grass-root level, and 50 percent of the interviewees reported the same opinion with regards to ZAWA.

Wom en


Ministry of Energy and Water Development

fact, only 45 percent of the respondents who are aware of the institutions believe in the effectiveness of smallholders’ participation in the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, and about 50 percent in MACO, ECZ and ZAWA. Moreover, women express a markedly negative judgment regarding MLF and ZAWA: only 33 and 44 percent of women believe in the possibility to influence the decisions of MLF and ZAWA, while men are more

A set of questions were asked to understand the type and frequency of participation within each of the analyzed institutions. The respondents were first asked a generic question about their participation in the decision taken by each institution. Then they were asked to explain how and how often participation within each institution takes place. Finally the respondents were asked to express an opinion concerning how often their participation could influence the decisions taken by each institution (and in case this was “rarely” or “never” a follow-up questions addressed the possible reasons).

Interestingly, 44 percent of the men and 31 percent of the women explain that they have been helped by one or more institution in solving water related problems. For this purpose, the respondents were asked an open question that allowed them to also mention institutions other than the water sector institutions. However, the national water institutions are rarely named (Table 5), while 43.9 percent of the men and 45.7 per Table 5. Intervention for water related problems by institution (percentage of total respondents). Men


Water Users Association



Ministry Energy and Water Development



Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives









Zambia Wildlife Authority



Environmental Council of Zambia





Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Sub-Catchment Council Catchment Council

Water Utility Donors and NGOs



District Council



Other Ministries



Zambia Sugar






Other Do not know





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wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

cent of the women reported that donor agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are the main actors that intervene in the case of water-related problems at the village

tives and the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries whose officers assisted and facilitated the data collection.


Arouna, Aminou, and Stephan Dabbert. “Determinants of domestic water use by rural households without access to private improved water sources in Benin: a seemingly unrelated tobit approach.”Water Resources Management 24

Moreover, in 77 percent of the cases, respondents are satisfied with the interventions of donors and NGOs. Taken together, these findings suggest that the awareness and the impact of the national water institutions at the grass-root level is still very limited, and that international donor agencies and NGOs are the main source of direct support in the water sector.

Works Cited

(2010): 1381-1398. Bennett, Elizabeth.“Gender, fisheries and development.” Marine Policy 29 (2005): 451-459. Farmar-Bowers, Quentin. “Understanding the strategic decisions women make in farming families.”Journal of Rural Studies26 (2010):141-151. Filmer, Deon, and Lant H. Pritchett. “Estimating Wealth Effect Without Expenditure Data or Tears: An Application to Educational Enrollments in States of India.”Demography 38 (2001): 115-132.

Conclusions The study at hand presents one of the few examples of water governance analysis linked to water use and gender considerations. The statistical analysis of the data from a formal household survey confirms the important role of women concerning household water use, and supports the conclusion that rural smallholders in general, and women in particular, are not sufficiently aware of the water institutions and their functioning. The water sector reform process in Zambia is unknown to rural women, and their participation is correspondingly scarce. With the caveat that the survey covers only one region of the country, these results ring alarm bells. If the objectives stated in the current Water Act and Water Policy are to be achieved, the ministries and water institutions should invest in deeper and broader awareness campaigns and strive to involve women at all levels of the decision making process. In the rural areas of Zambia, women are key actors in water collection and domestic water use, and specific education and sensitization campaigns targeted towards women might increase their participation in the water sector. This would improve the capacity of women to act politically in the management of water resources at the grass-root level, and would strengthen the declared aim of more decentralization and participation. The women’s involvement would improve their relation with the water sector institutions as well as their knowledge and perception of the institutions’ functions. It would also foster participatory decisions that would benefit rural communities overall. Rural women are key to Zambian development, and without their strong involvement, the implementation of the water sector reform process can only be a half empty bucket. Acknowledgments The authors wish to acknowledge the financial support of the "African Dams Project" (ADAPT) of ETH Zurich and ETH Lausanne. The authors also express special gratitude to the excellent team of enumerators who, with their commitment and hard work, made the data collection possible: Mutinta Chaampita, Clera Moyo, Steven Moyo Munkombwe, Alice Mulenda, Jabes Ng'wane, Thomas Simfukwe, and Tafara Zengeni. The authors also wish to thank Prof. Imasiku Nyambe, Dr. Thomson Kalinda, and Dr. Gelson Tembo, University of Zambia, for their support. This research would not have been possible without the cooperation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Coopera32

GoZ, 2011(a). Sixth National Development Plan 2011-2015. Sustained economic growth and poverty reduction. GoZ, 2011(b). Water Resources Management Act. No. 21 of 2011. GoZ, 2006. Living Conditions Monitoring Survey Report, 2006. Harris,Leila M. “Gender and emergent water governance: comparative overview of neoliberalized natures and gender dimensions of privatization, devolution and marketization.”Gender, Place & Culture 16 no. 4 (2009): 387-408. Hawkins,Roberta, and Joni Seager.“Gender and Water in Mongolia.” The Profes-

sional Geographer 62 no.1 (2010): 16-31. IBM. IBM SPSS Statistics 22 CommandSyntax Reference (2013). Accessed October 6, 2013 statistics/22.0/en/client/Manuals/ IBM_SPSS_Statistics_Command_Syntax_Reference.pdf Makoni, Fungai S., Gift Manase, and Jerry Ndamba. “Patterns of domestic water use in rural areas of Zimbabwe, gender roles and realities.” Physics and Chem-

istry of the Earth29 (2004): 1291–1294. Manase, Gift, Jerry Ndamba, and Fungai Makoni. “Mainstreaming gender in integrated water resources management: the case of Zimbabwe.” Physics and

Chemistry of the Earth 28 (2003): 967-971. McKenzie, David J. "Measuring Inequality with Asset Indicators." Journal of Popu-

lation Economics 18 no. 2 (2005): 229-60. Nyong, Anthony O., and Pavlos S. Kanaroglou. “A survey of household domestic water-use patterns in rural semi-arid Nigeria”. Journal of Arid Environments 49 (2001): 387-400. Oates, Wallace,Fiscal Federalism. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972. Potter, Robert B., and Khadija Darmane.“Contemporary social variations in household water use, management strategies and awareness under conditions of “water stress”: The case of Greater Amman, Jordan.” Habitat International34 (2010): 115-124. Saleth, Rathinasamy M., and Ariel Dinar.“Institutional changes in global water sector: trends, patterns, and implications.”Water Policy 2 (2000): 175-199. Shah, Anwar, and Sana Shah. “The New Vision of Local Governance and the Evolving Roles of Local Governments,” in Local Governance in Developing Coun-

tries ed. Anwar Shah(Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2006). Uhlendahl, Thomas, Salian, Preetham, Casarotto, Claudia, and Jakob Doetsch. “Good Water Governance and IWRM in Zambia - Challenges and Chances.”Water Policy 13 (2011): 845–862. UNICEF and World Health Organization. Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2012 Update (WHO Press, 2012), accessed February 11, 2013, http:// Upadhyay, Bhawana. “Water, poverty and gender: review of evidences from Nepal, India and South Africa.”Water Policyno. 5 (2003): 503-511. van Wijk,Christine,Esther de Lang, and David Saunders.“Gender aspects in the management of water.”Natural Resources Forum 20 no. 2 (1996): 91-103. Wahaj, Robina,and Maria Hartl, Gender and water: Securing water for improved rural livelihoods: The multiple-uses system approach. Rome: International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), 2007. World dataBank, 2011. World Development Indicators and Global Development Finance. Accessed July 24, 2012.

Photo credit: Michael Foley

Appendix 1: Descriptive statistics Minimum




Std. Deviation

Dummy variable for Kafue (district 1)






Dummy variable for Mazabuka (district 2)






Size of village (small=0, large=1)






Location (close to river=0, far from river=1)






Age of the HH head Level of education of the HH head

18.00 1.00

98.00 4.00

45.49 2.27

41.00 2.00

18.19 0.63

Wealth Index






Total contribution to water source






Gender of household head (male=0, female=1)






Occupation of the HH head (other=0, agri=1)






Member of a cooperative (no=0, yes=1)






Distance from water source






Type of source (Ground=0, Surface=1)






Ownership of source (Public=0 Private=1)






Frequency of lack of water






Water quality (bad=0, good=1)






Number of people in the HH






Square number of people in the HH






Percentage of women in the HH






Ratio women to men






Appendix 2: Wealth Index The estimation of the wealth index using Principal Component Analysis is based on the first principal component. By definition the first principal component variable across households or individuals has a mean of zero and a variance of λ, which corresponds to the largest eigenvalue of the correlation matrix of the jthasset variable x. The first principal component yields a wealth index that assigns a larger weight to assets that vary the most across households so that an asset found in all households is given a weight of zero (McKenzie 2005). Formally, the wealth index y for household i is

where and component

are the mean and standard deviation of asset

, and

represents the weight for each variable

for the first principal

The variables xj included in the analysis and the respective ɑj weights are:

Heads of cattle Heads of goats Heads of sheep Heads of poultry Heads of pigs Number of beds Number of tables Radio/stereo/tape/CD-player Television Mobile phone Land phone Watch/clock Charcoal stove Gas/electric stove Refrigerator Generator Bicycle Motorbike Car/pick-up Private toilet (yes=1, no=0)



Standard Deviation


400 55 17 99 12 11 5 4 4 7 2 4 10 2 2 2 10 2 2 2

6.83 1.68 0.04 9.04 0.22 1.63 1.08 0.76 0.26 1.02 0.02 0.25 0.73 0.03 0.03 0.04 0.81 0.05 0.02 0.66

26.102 5.111 0.850 12.613 1.177 1.427 1.018 0.762 0.533 1.116 0.172 0.497 0.874 0.216 0.204 0.215 1.025 0.283 0.186 0.485

0.234 0.48 0.16 0.357 0.134 0.558 0.573 0.562 0.657 0.654 0.568 0.599 0.382 0.53 0.509 0.467 0.463 0.408 0.525 0.370

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Hot Spots of Household Water Insecurity in India’s Current and Future Climates: Association with Gender Inequalities Savita Aggarwal1, Geeta Punhani2, Jagriti Kher3 Introduction Access to clean water in an equitable manner is imperative for quality of life, sustainable development, and poverty alleviation. Almost 800 million people—most of whom are poor and live in developing countries—have inadequate access to water, especially for drinking and sanitation purposes (WHO/UNICEF 2012). The demand for water, moreover, is continuously increasing with rapid demographic, technological, and socioeconomic changes. As per the widely accepted Falkenmark water stress indicator, the number of people living under the critical water stress threshold of 1,700 cubic meters per person per year is projected to range between 0.4-1.7 billion by 2020s; between 1.0 and 2.0 billion by the 2050s; and exceed the three billion mark by the 2080s (Arnell 2004). Climate change associated with growing population, and increasing urbanization and industrialization will significantly reduce the per capita water availability in many parts of the world (Parish et al. 2012). In India, for instance, the per capita availability of water in 1951 stood at 5,177m3/year. By 2010, this value had reduced drastically to 1,588m3/year; it is likely to decrease further to below 1,140 m3/year by 2050 (MoWR 2011). The declining availability of overall water supply currently causes negative effects on the quality of people’s lives; and without drastic change, the situation is likely to worsen in the future.

as loss of data in aggregation—they continue to be useful guides for assessing and comparing vulnerabilities of regions, as well as for environmental monitoring and management (Komnenic et al. 2009, Sullivan et. al. 2005). An especially important index in this regard is the Water Poverty Index (WPI) introduced by Sullivan et al in 2002 and later extended to the Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI) in 2005. The CVI aims to make a holistic and consistent assessment of vulnerability to water related issues at different spatial and temporal scales (Sullivan et al., 2005, 2009). CVI is able to link physical estimates of water availability to socio-economic and environmental factors, which have an impact on the availability of water at the household level. The index is calculated using a methodology similar to the Human Development Index (HDI), using six key components that characterize: i.

the overall availability of water resources,

ii. iii.

access to safe drinking water and sanitation, the capacity of people to avail safe water supply and manage water sources (interpreted in terms of levels of education and income, and investment in the


health sector), use or consumption of water for domestic, industrial and agricultural purposes,

Several hydrological assessments of water resources are available (Bates et al. 2008, Parish et al. 2012) and play a significant role in understanding and addressing problems related to spatial and temporal availability of water, its storage and runoff at local and global scales (Mazumdar 2011). Most of these assessments, however, do not depict the vulnerability of populations to water stresses resulting from a combination of social, economic and environmental factors. It is thus important to link the physical availability of water with human resources, as well as with the socio-economic drivers determining people’s capacity to access and manage their water resources. The role of composite indices, therefore, becomes an important element in capturing the diverse dimensions that make a population vulnerable to water access issues (Sullivan et al. 2005). Several indices—such as the watershed sustainability index, the water supply stress index, the water poverty index, and the water footprint index—have been developed to address measurement of water-related issues (Brown 2011). Despite criticism of these indices—such as the choice of components and subcomponents, data availability at different scales, arbitrary and contextual modes of assigning weights to components, as well 1&2

Associate Professors, Department of Communication and Extension, Institute of Home Economics, F-4, Hauz Khas Enclave, New Delhi110016.* 3 Ph. D. Scholar, University of Delhi



the state of the environment, and

vi. climatic stresses in the region The CVI has been used to characterize hotspots of water insecurity at a country level (Sullivan et al. 2005), which is useful as a general guide to conditions within the country. However, a more decentralized, site-specific approach is required for guiding policy and action. This is especially true in large countries such as India (comprised of thirty five states and union territories) where regional differences are large. The present study was, therefore, undertaken to determine the hotspots of water insecurity at the household level for various states of India. For this purpose we took the reciprocal of CVI components to better reflect water insecurity at the household level in terms of the above key components, viz. lack of resources, limited capacity and access to water, inadequate use of water, poor environment and climatic stresses. An average of these six values provided an index, which will henceforth be called the Water Insecurity Index (WII) in this paper. The index and its components ranged from zero (most secure) to one (least secure). Another objective of our study was to examine how water insecurity at the household level is related to commonly measured indices of gender development and inequities. The role of women as water managers for the family is undisputed in most parts of the developing world. Several studies have shown that

in developing nations women shoulder the bulk of the burden of water collection (MOSPI 1998-99, UNICEF/WHO 2008 and 2012, Desai 2010, Koolwal 2011, Sorenson 2011, Asaba 2013). It is estimated that in Sub-Saharan Africa, women and children spend almost 20 million hours/day and up to 40 billion hours/ year collecting water (UNDP 2009, UNICEF/WHO 2012). It is expected that in the coming years, climate change will have a profound effect on the quantity and quality of available water resources which in turn will have a negative impact on quality of life, especially for women who are responsible for the procurement and management of water. The work burden on women is anticipated to magnify several times due to climate change-mediated environmental stresses, making them much more vulnerable to climate change (UNDP 2009). There has been an increased sensitization among national and global planning bodies towards focusing development efforts on the welfare and equitable development of women. Several indicators are now being used for measuring the status of gender development. The Gender-related Development Index (GDI), for example, has been used since 1995 by UNDP as a composite index for capturing the gender dimension of human development. It accounts for gender inequalities adjusted for the same variables that are used for estimating HDI based on indicators of health, knowledge, education, and standard of living. The greater the gender disparity in basic capabilities, the lower a nation’s GDI is compared with its HDI (UNDP 2007-08). The GDI/HDI ratio is therefore a measure of gender inequality in a region. The Gender Inequality Index (GII), created by UNDP, has recently replaced the GDI, but its state-level values for India are not yet available. Climate change is likely to further influence all of these indicators in the future due to its impact on the hydrological cycle and consequent decreased water resource availability. Since future water insecurity at the household level will be affected not only by these climatic changes alone but also by the rapidly changing state of other socio-economic indicators, an additional objective of this study was to examine how the various


area irrigated by canals and tanks, and

v. length of rivers With these five indicators, we were able to capture the major regional differences in surface and ground water. The ‘Access’ component measures the access families have to safe water for human consumption and other domestic chores. This was quantified in terms of availability of a safe source of water for use by families (tap, hand pump and tube well in this study), as well as the location of this water source. A water source within 100m in urban areas and within 500m in rural areas was considered to be a safe location for a water source as defined by the Census of India, 2011. The ‘Capacity’ component reflects the ability of people to access, lobby for, and manage water. It was captured by the literacy and education level of the population, the per capita consumption expenditure, and the state of their health as reflected by their life expectancy at birth. This component reflected the ability of people to avail themselves to adequate housing and accompanying services of safe water supplies and sanitation. The ‘Use’ component focuses on the actual consumption of water and was defined by the per capita consumption of water for domestic, industrial and agricultural purposes, in addition to the percentage of irrigated agricultural area. The ‘Environment’ component is meant to reflect on the environmental integrity of a region as well as the quality of water available to people. It is comprised of the percent population with access to safe sanitation facilities (toilets and bathrooms within the house), percent sewerage treated, and the percentage of slum population to total urban population living in that state since all of these have a profound impact on the quality of available water. Finally the ‘Climate’ component consisted of areas prone to floods and droughts and future changes in mean annual temperature.

indicators of WII at the household level will change in future.

Values of the WII and its components were then derived by the normalization method in the same manner as is used for calculating the HDI by UNDP. The WII values ranged from zero (least


insecure) to one (most insecure) and were calculated as follows:

WII and its components Table 1 describes the 21 variables used in this study for characterizing the six components of the WII, which were selected based on their relevance and suitability for the present study, as well as on data availability. The ‘Resource’ component reflects physical availability of surface and ground water. It has five components: i.

average annual rainfall in the region

ii. iii.

number of rainy days per capita availability of ground water resources

WII = Wr* (1-R) + Wa*(1-A) + Wc* (1-C) + Wu* (1-U) + We* (1-E) + Wcl* (1-Cl) Where R is resources, A is access, C is capacity, U is use, E is environment, and Cl is climate; variables used for calculating these indicators are listed in Table 1. Wr, Wa, Wc, Wu, We, and Wcl are weights for resources, access, capacity, use, environment, and climate component, respectively. These weights were taken uniformly as 16.67%. The states with WII values lower than 0.25 were considered least water insecure, while those with values greater than 0.75 were considered extremely insecure. The states with values between 0.25 and 0.5 were considered

that can be replenished

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© wH2O — University of Pennsylvania


wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

Table 1: The six components of the Water Insecurity Index and the variables used to calculate them in the present study. Signs after the variable indicate if this was used as a positive (+) or negative (-) indicator. Component

Water resources

Variables used *a Average annual rainfall (+) Number of rainy days (+) *b Total replenishable ground water per capita (+) Percentage area irrigated by canals and tanks (+) *b Per capita length of rivers (+) *c Percent population with access to safe water supply (+)

Access to water

Percent population with access to safe location of safe source of drinking water from home *c Literacy rate (+)

Capacity to lobby for water

Water use

Environmental component of water

Climate component

Secondary school but below graduate (+) *d Life expectancy at birth (+) *c Per capita consumption expenditure (+) *b,e Per capita ground water used for domestic and industrial use (+) *b Per capita ground water draft (+) Percent of net irrigated area to net sown area (+) *c Percentage of population having access to safe toilet facilities in the house (+) Percentage of population having access to bathrooms in the house (+) *c Percent slum population to total urban population (-) Percentage wastes treated (+) *f Percent area affected by floods (-) *f Percent area affected by droughts (-) *a Annual mean temperature rise (-)

* indicates the variables used to compute Water Insecurity Index values for the years 2000 and 2025.* a: Values from IITM Pune 2010, * b: Computed using population figures from General of India 2006, *c: Computed using change rate from 1991-2001, *d: Registrar General of India 2006, *e: Central Ground Water Board, *f: Values are assumed to be same for 2000 and 2025

moderately insecure; and those with values between 0.5 and 0.75 were considered highly insecure.

Water insecurity and gender development For the purpose of studying the relationship of WII with indicators of gender development and inequities, the most recent available values of GDI and GDI/HDI ratios for different states of India were obtained from the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, 2009.

energy efficiency (IPCC 2007). In general, projected changes in temperature were close to 1-1.5oC and absolute rainfall was within 10% of the current values. Changes in rainfall were directly added to the resource component of the WII, whereas the changes in mean temperature were added to the climate component and considered to be a negative indicator. The percent area likely to be affected by droughts and floods was taken to be the same as the current values—assuming that there will be no consequential changes in the magnitude of floods and droughts within the relatively shorter time period used for the purposes of this study.

Impact of climate change on household water insecurity To understand future changes in water insecurity at the household level due to changes in climate and other water related parameters, WII was recalculated for the year 2000 (by considering it as the base year) and 2025. Climate change data for the A1B scenario for the period 2020-2030 (henceforth referred to as 2025) were obtained from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, using PRECIS, (Providing Regional Climates for Impact Studies), a regional climate modeling system based on Hadley Center’s Regional Climate Model and were obtained from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology. The A1B socio-economics scenario developed by IPCC is characterized by rapid economic growth and significant improvement in


For the analysis of climate change impacts, calculations for current and future climates were arrived at by using only those variables for which projected values for 2025 were also available or could be computed using the rate of change of the previous decade (variables indicated in Table 1). While data for most variables was available for 2025, certain variables (access to safe water, sanitation, literacy, percent slum population, and consumption expenditure of families) were computed assuming past growth rates would continue at this rate.

Results and Discussion

Regional variation in water insecurity The results of the study showed that India as a whole was water insecure at the household level (WII=0.54) although there were large regional differences (Figure 1). The WII values ranged from as low as 0.36 in Goa to as high as 0.69 in Jharkhand—indicating a wide variation in the level of water insecurity across states (Figures 1 & 2). It was interesting to note that none of the states fell in the category of either least water insecure (WII values between zero and 0.25), or most insecure (WII between 0.76 and 1.0). Results showed that 17 states, covering almost three fourths of the geographical area and housing 78% of the population of the country, were highly water insecure (WII values between 0.51 and 0.75, Figure 1). These states had a relatively higher exposure to climatic and other environmental stresses but relatively limited human capacity, leading to highly inadequate access to and use of water resources (Figure 2). Most states of the north-eastern region (including Meghalaya and Assam) were also highly water insecure even though their water availability was moderate to very high. The remaining 18 states, which occupy only one-fourth of the geographical area and were home to 22% of the population of the country, were moderately water insecure (WII values between 0.26 and 0.50), because they generally enjoyed higher levels of human development and hence better ‘Capacity’ and ‘Access’ to water resources. Within this group, Delhi and Punjab had relatively lower insecurity to water at the household level (WII<0.4) despite having extremely limited water resources. This was largely because of their higher human capacity resulting in better access to and use of water resources, as well as better environmental

noted that the state of Punjab has benefitted the most from the Green Revolution in agriculture, leading to an increase in per capita income and overall development even in rural areas. Similarly, the capital, Delhi, experiences relatively higher investments in infrastructure and enjoys higher per capita income as compared to other states. The results also showed that the key reasons for relative water insecurity among states were their limited ‘Capacity’ and their current state of poor ‘Environment’; not necessarily their state of water ‘Resources’ (Figure 3). It is made clear from this observation that when water insecurity is analyzed from a purely hydrological perspective it may not reflect the holistic picture of water availability at the household level. As a case in point, states such as Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Mizoram, despite having abundant water resources, continue to be either moderately or highly water insecure. Conversely, the Union Territories of Delhi, Chandigarh, and Pondicherry have limited water resources, but face much lower water insecurity because of their higher human capacity and consequent ability of people to benefit from better housing, safe water, and sanitation facilities. In light of the above observations, it may therefore be concluded that to increase water security in the Figure 2: Variation in Water Insecurity Index and its components across different states of India.

integrity as compared to many other states. It is to be

Figure 1: Spatial variation in Water Insecurity Index at the household level in states of India.

most vulnerable states, there is a greater need to improve both the availability of water resources and the overall capacity of people to benefit from and manage water supply from improved sources. Additionally, enhancing the state of water supply sources’ environmental integrity plays a crucial role in decreasing water insecurity. These issues are, in turn, governed by the level of education, income, health, sanitation, the overall infrastructure and other conventional development indicators of the region. In other words, one may argue that as the overall development of the states increases, their vulnerability to environmental stresses may be expected to decrease; and their overall water insecurity would also possibly decrease despite their physical water resources not necessarily being satisfactory.

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wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

Recent research in Ethiopia has shown that investments in irrigation can contribute to poverty reduction, but that such poverty reducing impacts are greater when accompanied with proper conservation practices, literacy of the household head and education level of adults are all achieved (Hanzra et al. 2009). Several governments across the developing world including India are making considerable investments in water resource development to reduce the overall poverty of their nations. It is therefore important that along with investments in water resource development, simultaneous efforts are required to address literacy, environment and related policy that support issues for reducing poverty levels. Figure 3: Relationship between index of ‘Capacity’ and ‘Environment’ with Water Insecurity Index at the household level.

decision-making control over assets and resources, employment and income are grossly neglected. Ergas and York (2012) and Buckingham (2010) have suggested that to increase gender equity and efficiency in such regions, there is a need for greater involvement of women in environmental decision-making by way of increased political participation of women. Arora-Jonsson (2011) however, argued recently that the inclusion of women in in existing institutional decision making bodies does not necessarily address the removal of gender inequities and indirectly leads to maintaining the status quo of women. This is because women are expected to abide by existing rules and laws and are discouraged from questioning the prevailing power structures, which most often favor men. It is therefore necessary to bring about a change in the structure of institutions for democratizing the policy making process by enabling participation of different social groups including women. At the same time, while making policies, it is important to understand the existing gender inequalities that prevent women from seeking institutional support. Considering all of these factors, however, would enable women to build long-term capacity to adapt to changing climate while ensuring their livelihood (Lambrou and Nelson 2010).

In general, more limited a state had Capacity or Environment component, more water insecure it was. The relationship of WII with Resources, Climate, Access and Use components was not significant.

Water insecurity and gender development An analysis of the GDI scores of the different states further supports the relationship between water insecurity at the household level with overall human development, especially gender development. Figure 4 indicates a significant inverse relationship between GDI and WII. To better illustrate this point, it was found that states with high GDI values (above 0.7) such as Kerala, Goa, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh were moderately water insecure; while states with low values of GDI (below 0.6) such as Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and Rajasthan were faced high water insecurity. One of the reasons for this may be that the states experiencing extreme climatic stresses also face shortages of natural resources, which in turn exerts undue pressure on the local population, especially on

It must, however, be noted that the GDI by itself is not a measure of gender inequality, it is rather the HDI adjusted for gender disparities in its basic components and hence cannot be interpreted independent of the HDI. The difference between the HDI and the GDI may appear to be small (because of relatively small differences in the three dimensions used for its calculation), giving the misleading impression that gender gaps are irrelevant. The ratio of the two indicators (GDI/HDI), however, is a more appropriate measure of gender inequality—the lower the ratio, the higher the gender inequality. As per analysis conducted by the World Bank, a ratio of 0.98 and above is considered to be most desirable. In fact, a comparison across nations have shown Figure 4: Relationship between Gender-related Development Index and Water Insecurity Index at the household level

women. Under such circumstances, women are forced to put in long hours of work in fulfilling their Practical Gender Needs – defined in gender analysis as women’s traditional roles and responsibilities – related to the procurement of freshwater, fuel wood, livestock fodder and food for their families. In the process, the Strategic Gender Needs of education, participation in


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Afghanistan, Niger, Pakistan and Yemen to have the worst record of gender inequality with GDI/HDI values less than 0.94; whereas most European and northern American nations exhibit the least inequality, with a GDI/HDI ratio of 0.975 or more. Interestingly, despite its regional variations, India demonstrates an overall moderate record with a value of 0.971. Our results indicate considerable variations in GDI/HDI ratio across Indian states, signifying regional differences in gender inequality (Figure 5). Although most states present a satisfactory record of gender equality by attaining a ratio of 0.975 or more, the states of Andhra Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir reflect poorly in terms of gender inequality (GDI/HDI< 0.94). While highly populous states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan were intermediate performers, the north-eastern region and the prosperous state of Punjab had a GDI/HDI ratio of 0.99 (similar to the HDI) indicating considerable gender equality in these states. Figure 5: Variation in the ratio of GDI:HDI and Water Insecurity Index among states of India

Most states that were relatively less water insecure such as Goa, Punjab, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh also exhibited the least gender inequality (GDI/HDI>0.975) and conversely several highly water insecure states such as Jharkhand, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh exhibited greater gender inequalities (GDI/ HDI<0.975). There were, however, some exceptions to the rule. Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi, for instance, enjoyed low water insecurity, but had a very high level of gender inequality. The north-eastern states of Meghalaya and Manipur had excellent performance in terms of gender equality (GDI/HDI> 0.99), due to a very large majority of the population being part of tribes that are matrilineal in nature, but yet were in the category of highly water insecure states (Figure 5). Despite these exceptions, it may still be concluded that highly water insecure states are also likely to be the ones experiencing greater gender inequalities. In most instances where the measurement of the WII is not feasible, GDI/HDI ratio values may also point towards the hotspots of water insecurity at the household level. Thus,

addressing gender inequalities will most often reduce hot spots of water insecurity at the household level too.

Climate change and water insecurity at the household level Water resources in India will continue to decrease due to climate change and large population growth. Despite this, our results indicate that the Water Insecurity Index at the household level is expected to decrease from 0.54 in 2000 to 0.42 by 2025 (Figure 6) for India. The key reason for this is the projected growth in human development anticipated by 2025. The results show that inadequate water access is likely to completely disappear by 2025, together with a tremendous improvement expected in the ‘Capacity’ of the population (Figure 6). As far as the ‘Use’ and ‘Environment’ components are concerned, only a marginal change is anticipated. India will, however, continue to remain moderately water insecure at the household level despite development in different sectors. Figure 6: Change in the Water Insecurity Index and its components at the country scale in current and future scenarios of climate change

Our findings at the national level—which show reduction in future water insecurity—are also reflected across most states (Figure 7). The only exceptions are Lakshadweep and Pondicherry, because of the improvement in their ‘Capacity’, Access’, and ‘Environment’ components that is offset by an increase in the ‘Use’ component because of high levels of population growth, a marginal decrease in the ‘Resource’ component, and a substantial addition to the ‘Climatic stress’ component. Interestingly, some of the least water insecure states in 2000—such as Goa, Kerala and Chandigarh—indicate only a marginal improvement. By comparison, however, the moderately and highly water insecure states of the year 2000—such as Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Orissa—are projected to become comparatively more secure by 2025 because of their greater scope for improvement in the ‘Capacity’, ‘Access’ and ‘Use’ components. Nevertheless, despite the growth in human capacity and infrastructure development expected by 2025, almost all states will remain highly or moderately water insecure due to increasing climatic stress. India’s island states may also become more

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wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

insecure due to the projected increase in sea-level affecting lives and livelihoods. This aspect, however, falls beyond the scope of this present study. Such climatic stresses cause greater distress to women because of their higher workloads, putting a negative impact on their health, food security, income, and overall quality of life (Lambrou and Nelson 2010, Vincent et al. 2013). This situation is not likely to change very soon, especially as long as women remain at a socio-economically disadvantageous position. Figure 7: Water Insecurity Index for different states of India in current and future scenarios of climate change.

Works Cited Asaba, Richard B., Fagan, Honor, Kobonesa Consolata et al. “Beyond distance and time: Gender and the burden of water collection in rural Uganda.” Journal of

Gender and wH20, University of Pennsylvania (2013): 31-37. Arnell, Nigel.W. Climate change and global water resources: SRES emissions and socio-economic scenarios, Global Environment Change, Vol. 14 (2004): 3152. Bates, B. C., Kundzewicz, Z.W. Wu, S. and Palutikof, J. P. Climate change and

water, Technical paper of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate change, Geneva, 2008. Brown, Amber and Matlock Marty D. A review of water scarcity indices and methodologies. University of Arkansas, The Sustainability Consortium, White paper # 106, 2011. Buckingham, Susan. Call in the Women. Nature (2010): 468 -502. Desai, S., Dubey, A., Joshi, B. L. et al.. Human development in India. Challenges

for a society in Transition. Oxford University (2010). Ergas, Christina and Richard York. Women’s status and carbon dioxide emissions: A quantitative cross national analysis. Social Science Research (2012): 2-10. Hanjra, Munir A., Ferede Tadele and Gutta Debel. Pathways to breaking the poverty trap in Ethiopia: Investments in agricultural water, education, and markets. Agricultural Water Management 96 (2009): 1596–1604. Jonsson, Seema Arora. Virtue and vulnerability. Discourses on women, gender and climate change. Global Environment Change 21 (2011): 744-751. Koolwal, Gayatri and van de Walle, Dominique. 2011. “Better access to water raises welfare, but not women’s off-farm work”. Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network, The World Bank (October): 1-4. Komnenic, V., Ahlers, R., Vander Zaag, P. 2009. Assessing the usefulness of the water poverty index by applying it to a special case: Can one be water poor with high levels of access. Physics and Chemistry of The Earth - PHYS CHEM

EARTH ,34(4) :219-224. doi: 10.1016/j.pce.2008.03.005.

Conclusion India as a whole is water insecure at the household level, with large regional variations. The states with overall higher per capita income and consequently better access to and use of water resources—such as Goa, Delhi and Punjab—are relatively less water insecure; while states—such as Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa, and Madhya Pradesh—which are comparatively poor performers in terms of income and other socio-economic indicators, are the most water insecure. The key reasons for such differences in water insecurity patterns, therefore, have more to do with the overall capacity to avail of and manage water and environmental components, rather than other factors including availability of water resources. As a consequence, hotspots of water insecurity at the household level are different from hotspots of water availability. This is also evident from the negligible relationship between water resource availability and water insecurity. Even individual components, such as groundwater resource, do not seem to have any significant relation with WII at the household level (results not shown). Addressing water availability issues from a purely hydrological perspective, therefore, may not be enough to ensure water availability at the household level. The need to thus address gender development and improve equality is imperative for India.


Lambrou, Yianna and Nelson Sibyl. 2010. Farmers in a changing climate: Does gender matter? Food security in Andhra Pradesh, India. Food and Agricultural Organization, Rome, 2010. Mazumdar, Pradeep. 2011. Implications of climate change for water resources management in Water: Policy and performance in water sector. India infrastructure report, IDFC, Oxford. Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. 1998-99. Time use survey: Summary of findings. (Accessed from mospi_time_use_survey.htm. on June 22, 2011). Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), Government of India. 2011. Restructuring the Central Water Commission. Volume I. (Accessed from www. on December 20, 2012). Parish, Esther, Kodra Evan, Steinhaeuser Karsten. et al.. 2012. “Estimating future global per capita water availability based on changes in climate and population”. Computers & Geosciences (42): 79–86. Parry, M. L., Canziani, O. F., Palutikof, J. P. et al. (IPCC 2007). Climate Change

2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2007. Sorenson, Susan, Morssink Christiaan and Campos Abril Paola. “Safe access to safe water in low income countries: Water fetching in current times”. Social Science & Medicine 72 (2011): 1522-1526. Sullivan, Caroline and Huntingford, C. 2009. “Water resources, climate change and human vulnerability”. Paper presented at “18th World IMACS/MODSIM Congress”, Carnis Australia, July 13-17. (Accessed from http:// on March 3, 2010). Sullivan, Caroline and Meigh Jeremy. Targeting attention on local vulnerabilities using an integrated index approach: the example of climate vulnerability index. Water Science and Technology 51 (2005): 69-78.

UNDP. Resource guide to gender and climate change. United Nations Development Programme, 2009. UN. World's women 2010: Trends and statistics . Economic and Social affairs, 2010. Vincent K. Cull, Kapoor, Aditi, Aggarwal, Pramod et al. Gender, Climate Change,

Agriculture, and Food Security: a CCAFS training-of-trainers (TOT) manual to prepare South Asian rural women to adapt to climate change . Copenhagen, Denmark: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), 2013. WHO/UNICEF Joint monitoring programme for water supply and sanitation.

Progress on drinking water and sanitation: Special focus on sanitation, 2008. UNICEF, New York and WHO, Geneva, 2008. WHO/UNICEF Joint monitoring programme for water supply and sanitation. Progress on drinking water and sanitation 2012 update, Progress Report, WHO Press: UNICEF & WHO, 2012.

Photo credit: Michael Foley

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Mainstreaming Gender in Land and Water Governance: Perspectives from Rural Uganda Samuel B. Mabikke1 Introduction Land and water are arguably the most important natural resources in most developing countries. These two inextricably linked resources are vital for sustaining life, promoting development, and maintaining the environment. The relationship between water and land is of equal significance and usually it is almost impossible to separate one from the other. Water is necessary for most productive uses of land. At the same time, the use of land has major impacts on both the quality and quantity of water resources. In other words, decisions regarding the use and allocation of one resource directly or indirectly impact the use and allocation of the other (Hodgson 2004). Over 80 percent of Uganda’s people depend on land and water resources for their livelihoods, either directly in the form of agriculture, fishing, and forestry, or indirectly through services like trade, tourism, transport and communication. Although the country is experiencing rapid growth in the industrial sector through agro-processing, water electricity supply, and manufacturing, all these sectors equally depend on land and water resources. About 50 percent of households’ wealth in Uganda is held in the form of land, and land provides the majority of

vital resources like water. However, land without water access is unproductive for agriculture and most other land-based economic activities (e.g. forestry). Traditionally, women (and children) in Uganda are responsible for all household domestic activities that have a strong dependence on land and water. Over 90 percent of domestic water is collected by women and children, especially in rural areas of Uganda. Besides domestic labor, women significantly contribute to agriculture: they do 85 percent of the planting, 85 percent of the weeding, 55 percent of land preparation and 98 percent of all food processing (IFAD 2000). Decisions to market are usually made by men (70 percent), or are made jointly (15 percent). Traditional ownership rights to land are vested in men, while women can only exercise user rights through permission obtained from male land owners. As women often have unique and valuable contributions to make toward the efficient use and governance of land and water resources due to the intimate nature of their involvement with these resources, gender issues must be mainstreamed in all land and water governance reforms to enable equal representation and participatory decision-making, especially among rural women, from the local to the national level.

employment opportunities. Gender Mainstreaming in Land and Water Governance Agriculture alone contributes 22.9 percent of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while industry and services contribute 18 percent and 39 percent of the GDP respectively. The agricultural sector employs over 66 percent of the working population of which the majority are women (UBOS 2012) and is the major source of household income for most rural households in the country. It also contributes over 90 percent of the nation’s total export earnings (UBOS 2010). The livelihoods of most of Uganda’s rural poor depend on the ability to access productive land-based resources; therefore secure access to land and water rights, agricultural inputs, technology, training and markets is extremely important in improving rural household incomes, improving food and nutrition security, and ensuring sustainable land use in Uganda.

of secure access to land hinders women’s access to other Author can



In order to understand the significance of mainstreaming gender in the development process, it is imperative to first understand the meaning of the key concepts, which are often interchangeably used and/or misrepresented in many governance debates. ‘Gender’ refers to a range of socially constructed roles, behaviours, attributes, aptitudes and relative power associated with being female or male in a given society at a particular point of time (Esplen 2009). In many male-dominant societies, gender debates have been misunderstood as only referring to women’s rights — yet the real debate should be about both male and female rights and responsibilities in a given society.

Gender mainstreaming is not a new concept; it has been used in

While it has been relatively easier for women to make some gains in education, access formal employment, and participate in politics, achievements in land rights have been rather difficult because of the male-centered nature of land tenure systems in Uganda. Despite several ambitious land-reform processes and gender-sensitive policies created by the Government of Uganda, indigenous and customary land inheritance practices driven by patriarchal norms persist, and women’s rights to land are primarily through husbands or male kin. Lack


Definition of Concepts




diverse contexts (especially in development literature) but until now has been poorly defined and interpreted in several different ways. Due to the significant degree of confusion that exists in understanding this concept, this study adopts a working definition of the term ‘gender mainstreaming’ traced from the Fourth World Conference on Women (held in Beijing in 1995), where development agencies agreed to adopt gender mainstreaming as “a new strategy for ensuring the incorporation of gender perspectives in all areas and sectors, and at all levels, to promote gender equality.” The strategy would go beyond focusing on women in isolation to look at both women and men as actors in, and as beneficiaries of, development, and how their rights are defined relative to each other (UNDP 2006).

The term ‘governance’ has gained great usage in contemporary public administration. Toward the end of the twentieth century, the term gained the prominent attention of donor agencies, social scientists, philanthropists and civil society (UNESC 2006). The concept of governance was first traced in the 1989 World Bank report titled, “Sub-Saharan Africa, From Crisis to Sustainable Growth”. In this report, the World Bank defined governance simply as “the exercise of political power to manage a nation’s affairs” (World Bank 1989) and criticized governments and state officials in Africa for only serving their own interests without fear of accountability. This narrow definition, however, focused on “governments” without clearly recognizing the role of other key actors like the private sector and civil society in governance. Realizing that governance is not only about governments, the World Bank redefined the concept to encompass “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s political, economic and social resources for development” (World Bank 1992). Exercising power to manage a country’s resources involves both state and non-state actors such as civil society, the media and private sector, and religious and cultural institutions, among others. In this study, the definition of ‘governance’ is that exercise of political, economic and administrative authority in the management of a country’s affairs at all levels” (UNDP 1997). This term “governance,” and specifically the notion of “good governance,” has become a common catchphrase used in management of natural resources. In the context of natural resources governance, however, understanding gender issues requires examining the participation and decision-making of both men and women in different institutions. Although the role of women is increasingly being recognized in most international development discourses, there is still a lack of empirical studies highlighting the significant contribution of women in land and water governance. The role of women can only be understood if, similarly, the incoherent concepts of governance, and particularly what constitutes good governance, in land and water management, are fully understood and localized in languages that best suit the socio-cultural contexts of the society.

good governance in society. Nor can governance in land tenure and administration be separated from governance of other sectors. As such, we define “land” in a comprehensive way to mean “any portion of the earth over which rights of ownership, stewardship, or use may be exercised, including the earth’s surface, water-covered lands, water and mineral resources, and any other features and resources attached to the earth whether they be natural or artificial” (Barlowe 1986). While there is a growing volume of literature defining “land governance” and “water governance,” there is very little information on “land and water governance.” Despite the growing interest in the two, it has become extremely difficult for most land and water managers to govern these two resources jointly in an effective manner. In most developing countries, water management agencies are in conflicting roles with land management institutions. In Uganda, the legal and regulatory framework treats water as a separate resource from land, and therefore vests the ownership and control of water totally in the hands of government. On the other hand, the 1995 Constitution vests land ownership in the citizens of Uganda. As a consequence, governance challenges often arise in cases of lands with water bodies, to which both the state and citizens claim the rights. Institutional mandates often contradict one another and result in the duplication of land- and water-management interventions. Working Definition for Land and Water Governance Although land governance features strongly on the international development agenda, in many countries water governance is in a state of confusion. The quest for improved land and water governance is receiving increasing attention among development practitioners, donors and policymakers. However, no agreed-upon definition of the term “land and water governance” currently exists. This study attempts to help fill this gap by defining land and water governance as: a range of rules, processes, and structures about access, development and management of land and water resources; the manner in which these decisions are implemented and enforced; and the way in which competing interests in land and water resources are

Why Good Land and Water Governance Matters Land and water are among the sectors most prone to corruption. In many developing countries, corruption in the land and water sector is often a factor in, or a symptom of, the breakdown of a country’s overall governance. Weak governance in land tenure and administration is a common and severe problem that is increasingly being recognized. It is commonly a substantial issue in developing economies and it is not alien to the developed world either. Weak governance, whether in formal land administration or customary tenure arrangements, means that land rights are not protected. This is especially true for the poor, often leaving them marginalized and outside the law. Weak governance may also mean that land is not used appropriately to create wealth for the benefit of society (FAO 2007). It’s important to note that good governance in land ad-

managed at the different levels of a society.

ministration is one of the central requirements for achieving

the people in Nakasongola ethnically belong to the Baruuli

Photo credit: Stephen Morrison/Africa Practice for AusAid

Study Objectives The overall objective of the study was to investigate gender dimensions in land and water governance in Uganda. Specifically, the study analysed the barriers faced by rural women in accessing secure land and water rights in Nakasongola district in central Uganda. Administrative and Historical Background of the Case Study Area Nakasongola attained district status in 1997. It was formerly part of Luweero district, and currently it is made up of three counties, namely Kyabujingo, Budyebo and Buruuli. Although

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wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

tribe, they paid allegiance to the Buganda Kingdom until early 2000. Most of the land in Nakasongola district belonged to the Kabaka (King of Buganda) and a number of absentee landlords from Buganda Kingdom, who had acquired their land as a result of the 1900 Buganda Agreement between the British and Buganda Kingdom. The Buganda Agreement allocated 958 square miles of land to the Kabaka (King) and members of the royal family and 8000 square miles to the Kabaka’s subjects (Buganda chiefs) who were loyal to the British colonial masters (Batungi 2008). Most Buganda chiefs who were allocated these “mailo2” land titles have died and/or their descendants no longer be traced. This resulted into a lot of unutilized land in Central Uganda which attracted “illegal” settlers. After many years of occupancy, the settlers legally became bona fide occupants (Kibanja holders), protected by the law from eviction but liable to pay an annual ground rent of 1,000 Uganda Shillings (less than 1 U.S. dollar), regardless of the land size, to the lawful owners. Most purported landlords have resisted this unfair treatment,which is one of the major causes of conflicts with the

The rules, processes and structures


through which decisions are made

social processes and institutions,

Land tenure insecurity is partly responsible for the rampant deforestation in the district as it curtails the chances of tenants getting involved in long-term conservation projects. Approaches by government through the District Land Board to improve land tenure security through registration and transfer of land not owned by any person or authority have not solved the problem. District Land Boards (DLBs) are mandated under the 1998 Land Act to hold and allocate land in the district which is not owned by any person or authority, and facilitate the registration and transfer of interests in land. Currently, the District Land Board, as provided by the 1998 Land Act, is not functional in Nakasongola district. With the absence of a functional DLB, registration and transfer of interests in land are likely done in an inefficient and opaque nontransparent manner. The land office that acts as the DLB lacks the financial resources to efficiently carry out land registration in the district. Land transfer documents, titles and other important public documents are poorly stored, and the safety of land titles/ documents is highly compromised; this explains why over 100 forged land titles were reported by the office of the Resident District Commission (RDC). Additionally, the land registration process is full of delays and inefficiencies, and is exposed to corruption. According to 72 percent (101) of the respondents to our survey, the District Land Office is perceived as one of the most corrupt government departments, after the Uganda

about access to land and its use,



the manner in which the decisions

society, and the private sector

are implemented and enforced,

make decisions about how best

[and] the way that competing

to use, develop and manage

interests in land are managed.

water resources.

tenants. Water Governance

Land Governance

political, which



and civil

Overview of Land Tenure Security in Nakasongola District Land tenure security refers to the degree of confidence of land users that they will not be arbitrarily deprived of the rights they enjoy over land and the economic benefits that flow from it (UN-Habitat/GLTN 2008). The dominant land tenure systems are mainly mailo and customary tenure3 in Nakasongola district, although many customary lands are currently being transformed into freehold through the Nakasongola District Land Board. About 40 percent of land is held under the mailo land tenure system with absentee landlords. Most tenants, usually referred to as “squatters,” on mailo land, are subject to evictions by landlords and therefore they are limited to some extent in the kind of investments they can make in the land. 2.

The mailo system was introduced by the colonial authorities in mutual agreement with the Buganda Kingdom in 1900. It gave the King and the feudal landlords freehold rights over large tracts of land, often inhabited by poorer subjects, who then became tenants of kibanja. The 1995 constitution guarantees the security of occupancy of tenants and other ‘bona fide’ occupants, who have occupied, used or developed land un-challenged un-challenged by the owner for at least 12 years. Recent legislation (the Land Amendment Acts of 2004 and 2010) has further strengthened the security of tenure of tenants vis-à-vis that of the landlords by controlling the land rents and protecting tenants from eviction (Ravnborg et al., 2013)


The presence of absentee landlords equally retards willing land buyers and has grossly affected the land market in the district. Most land transactions are informally done through negotiations with the sitting tenants and sometimes with family representatives or agents of absentee landlords. At times, the close relatives of the absentee landlords sell land to investors and sometimes to wealthy politicians willing to set up ranches and other large-scale land developments, which often results in illegal evictions of poor occupants. Such evictions mainly affect women and children, whose only livelihood survival asset is land. Despite the recent anti-eviction decree passed by the President of Uganda, tenants are tied in continuous landrelated disputes with investors and landlords. Land Use and Environmental Degradation in Nakasongola District As matters stand now, the district does not have any land use plan. Land use activities are carried out in a haphazard manner, the result of which is land degradation through the forms of soil erosion, deforestation, bush burning, overgrazing and decreasing soil fertility (NDC and NEMA 2008). The woodlands in the district are heavily degraded through charcoal production, settlement and agricultural extension, termite infestation, and bush burning. The high demand for charcoal from Nakasongola, due to its high quality (i.e. high energy content from Combretum and Terminalia spp.), has created pressure on the woodlands, reducing them to about 30 percent of their former size (NDC and NEMA 2008). Rapid population growth coupled

Map 1: Location of Nakasongola District in Uganda

Source: Author, modified from DEO 2009

with land and water scarcity has accelerated environmental degradation, especially through drainage of wetlands and degradation of forest reserves. The land and water shortages are worsened by long droughts and seasonal flooding in the district. The seasonal burning of grass and bushes occurs widely in Nakasongola district, but is more evident in the cattle grazing areas, (e.g., Nabiswera, Nakitoma, Kalungi and Lwampanga sub -counties). It is carried out as part of land preparation for cultivation, for rejuvenation of pastures, or to facilitate hunting of game. Also, traditionally the burning of bushes is believed to drive away evil spirits. After the fires, the exposed land is subjected to erosion by water in the rainy seasons and wind during dry periods. Overgrazing is common in many cattle-corridor districts and often accelerates soil erosion, land and water conflicts, as well as various land-cover changes. Wetlands in the district are generally degraded, especially those along the shores of the Sezibwa River and Lake Kyoga, where extensive crop cultivation is common even during droughts, and along the Lugogo River, where overgrazing is prominent due to livestock migrating there over the course of the dry season for water and pasture. The district experiences serious water shortages, especially for livestock, during long dry spells, and very little potable water- 49 percent of portable water, pro3.

Land is governed by the rules, norms and traditions that reflect the interests and needs of local communities and are generally accepted as binding and authoritative to the class of persons to which they apply. These and differ from one society to another. A customary tenure system provides for communal ownership, use, and acquisition of land guided by local customary regulation and management. The system has no written rules, and customs are passed on through oral literature. Administration of customary land rights is usually vested in the hands of male clan leaders, and women are generally excluded from the decision-making process. In some instances, women can only pass their opinions on managing such lands through their male children. Customary tenure accounts for 68.6 percent of all land ownership in Uganda (MLHUD 2010).

vided through protected wells, boreholes, shallow wells and rainwater harvesting tanks - is available for human consumption (NDC and NEMA 2008). Piped water is only available in the town of Nakasongola, the Army barracks, and for about 20 percent of the population in the town of Wabigalo (NDC and NEMA 2008). Most open water sources are heavily polluted due to contamination by animals, siltation and erosion. The “protected” sources like boreholes and wells, especially those surrounding the town, face contamination due to contact with human feces. Some boreholes are no longer functional due to the ever-dropping water table, especially during the dry season. This has resulted in an increase in water-borne diseases such as typhoid, dysentery, and diarrhea, among others. Methodology The study was based on both primary and secondary data sources. Secondary data were obtained through an in-depth review of published literature on gender mainstreaming and on land and water governance. Secondary data were supplemented by primary data collected using semi-structured questionnaires, interviews, and focus-group discussions with key informants in the case study area. A case study approach was adopted in order to explore in greater depth the challenges of rural women in land and water governance. Nakasongola district was identified as a case study area rich in information due to its location in Central Uganda and within the dry cattle corridor districts. Central Uganda is famous for its unique historical land tenure system (mailo tenure). The inheritance of property, especially land, in Nakasongola district is through patrilineal access, and is a critical factor in why women’s rights to land

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wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

Table 2: Respondents according to sex in selected sub-counties (n=140)

Source: Data from questionnaires

Men (n=82) County

Sub-County Kakooge


Kalongo Kalungi Nakitoma



Frequency (f) 6

Frequency (f) 4

Percentage (%) 6.9





9 8

11.0 9.8

5 7

8.6 12.1






Rwabiyata Lwampanga

13 9

15.9 11.0

9 10

15.5 17.2






Nakasongola Town Council










and water are still a major challenge in this purely maledominated society. Presentation and Discussion of Findings

Household Survey Statistics in Selected Counties A household survey was carried out in all three counties of Nakasongola district, namely Kyabujingo, Budyebo and Buruuli. A random sampling method was used to select 140 respondents from the three counties. The target was to have an equal number of households in each county; however, due to the inaccessibility of some counties, 35 respondents (25 percent of entire sample) were selected in Kyabujingo, 55 (39 percent) selected in Budyebo and 50 (36 percent) in Buruuli county. Out of the entire sample (n=140), 82 respondents (59 percent) were male, while 58 (41 percent) were female. The high proportion of male respondents is due to the central role of men as household heads and major land owners responsible for decision-making in the family. It was observed that, with the exception of a few female-headed households, most rural women were not at liberty to independently discuss the politics of land and water governance without the consent from their husbands. Although the Government of Uganda put in place several laws banning discrimination against women in any form, most such laws lack enforcement and are sometimes overpowered by the strong cultural practices that favor male domination. Sometimes, women are faced with land violence. At times, when violence escalates and requires police intervention, law enforcement officers act with cultural bias against women. There is a common assumption by men that most “women have grown wings” and are being disrespectful of their husbands due to adoption of western cultures (Ellis et al. 2006). Such perceptions tend to influence even legal judgments and result in injustices to women since most qualified judicial officers are men (Ellis et al. 2006).

Demographic Characteristics of Sampled Households The total number of households sampled for the study was 140 (n=140), as shown in Table 3. The average age of respondents was 33 and they fell within the age group of 20–51. Most 46

Female (n=58)

Percentage (%) 7.3

households are headed by males (77 percent, 108) while 23 percent of household heads (32) are female. With the recent increase in HIV/AIDS infection rates, especially among married couples, there is an increase in the number of households headed by widows/widowers (38, 27 percent). HIV/AIDS and other illnesses has resulted in an increase in the number of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Nakasongola district. The mean household size is 6.7 persons. Poverty remains firmly entrenched in Uganda’s rural areas, with the majority of the rural population living on less than U.S. $1 per day. An average household size of approximately 7 members is too big for most families to afford basic needs like adequate shelter, food, health and education. Although illiteracy levels remain quite high, the introduction of non-formal Functional Adult Table 3: Descriptive Demographic Statistics of Selected Households. Source: Data from questionnaires

Total in Sampled Households (n=140)

Variable Mean Age of Respondents (years)

33 (20–51)

Mean Size of Household (# of people)


Mean Size of Land (ha) Sex of Household Head

4.8 Male




Marital Status of Respondents Single








Widowed Education Level of Respondents






Post Secondary




Functional Adult Literacy (FAL)


Photo 1: Typical Rural Household in Nakasongola District. Photo credit: Author

Literacy (FAL) programs by NGOs in most districts in Uganda has seen some moderate success. IFAD’s gender study in 2000 for Uganda shows that women acknowledge that FAL classes play an important role in empowerment and poverty reduction. They identified the following benefits: participants learn how to read and write, generate income through modern farming methods, control crop pests, improve household sanitation and hygiene, and improve food planning and preparation; moreover, they get to know each other, creating networks and forming groups, and learn to work together to establish povertyreduction strategies (IFAD, 2000). About 17 respondents (12 percent) had participated in FAL programs in the study district. Only 4, male, respondents (3 percent) reported having attained post-secondary education. According to the findings, 72 respondents (51 percent) reported to be married. In most rural areas, marriage makes a strong contribution to wealth and property accumulation. According to Human Rights Watch (2003), most traditional practices cherish marriage due to the bride price. Bride price was once a gesture of appreciation to the bride’s family-- now men literally purchase their wives. As in a commercial transaction, the husband’s payment entitles him to full ownership rights over his acquisition. Bride wealth payments lead to the perception among both men and women that men own women, and that it is therefore a women’s job to both provide for and serve men (Ellis et al. 2006). As a result, most women are treated as domestic servants whose rights are totally vested in their purchasers (men). Although the legally accepted age of marriage in Uganda is 18 years, in Nakasongola district, many girls get married as young as 13. On the other hand, once a boy gets married, the society tends to accord him much respect, and he often climbs to a higher rung on the social ladder in terms of decision-making in the community. Usually his parents or grandparents apportion some land for him to start a new life as a married man. This entices many boys to get married as young as 15 years old. The practice of looking at women as domestic servants and a source of farm labor also encourages men to become polygamous, sometimes marrying 3 or 4 wives. The more wives and more children a man has, the more secure he

becomes in terms of acreage and labor. Although domestic violence was cited to be the major cause of divorce, only 3 female respondents (13 percent of total women respondents) reported to have been divorced. Most women rear divorce, as they cannot afford to pay back the price of cows, clothes and/or other gifts to the families of their husbands. Upon divorce it is difficult for a woman to assert her rights over matrimonial land, as under customary law she has no rights to it. Even under formal law, when a wife seeks to claim a stake in marital property not directly acquired during the marriage, she is deemed to lack legal and equitable rights, and her contribution to the home during the marriage is usually not taken into account when the assets are divided between the divorcing spouses (Banenya 2002). Gender Distribution in Economic Activities The findings from Nakasongola district show that women in particular play a significant role in domestic work such as cooking (96 percent, 134) and fetching water (91 percent, 128) in addition to other household activities like taking care of

Figure 1: Gender Distribution in Family Labor (n=140). Source: Data from questionnaires © wH2O — University of Pennsylvania 47

wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

children, and collecting firewood. Unfortunately, most of their work is not quantified in monetary terms, and as a result, their contribution to household income tends to be undervalued, especially by men. In agriculture, women in the Nakasongola survey contributed 84 percent (118) of the labor force required in planting and 66 percent (92) of the labor force required in weeding crops. Men are mostly involved in preparation of the land (58 percent, 81) which normally involves slashing and burning of trees to create space for planting. During land preparation, men are also involved in preparation of charcoal for commercial purposes. Women, and often children, are the main collectors of water for their families. The long dry seasons mean that they walk long distances in search of water for their homes4. But with women making up the majority of the labor force in agriculture, these long absences mean that productivity on farms is affected, and additionally, girls sometimes end up missing school as they are waiting in long queues to collect water. The few boreholes constructed by the District Local Government often dry out due to rapid drops in groundwater levels caused by overuse and prolonged droughts, leaving only unprotected shallow wells for use. Close to 20 percent (28) of the respondents — most of them women — in agriculture are involved in crop farming as their main economic activity. Though limited venues for training exist, some of the women have had the opportunity to receive training from various NGOs like Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns (VEDCO) in improved farming practices, postharvest technologies and agribusiness marketing skills. When it is time for harvesting, the gender distribution in labor is almost equally shared – 51 percent of men (72) and 49 percent of women (68) are actively involved in supervising crop production. After harvesting, men will then assume the major role of marketing the farm produce (81 percent, 113). Most Most rural women are excluded from the financial side of agribusiness systems. Even where women do market the farm pro-

who decides how it should be used. As discussed earlier, land rights are also denied to women, despite their significant effort. This leaves all decision-making capabilities around land use and economic activities solely in the domain of men. Combined with low levels of agricultural training for women farmers (Ellis et al. 2006), opportunities for women to gain financial independence appear very low. According to the findings, 68 percent of male respondents rear livestock. Livestock rearing is maledominated because it involves moving long distances from place to place looking for water and pasture for livestock while women remain home to do domestic work. Aside from looking after the animals, it is mostly men who are involved in other related activities like milking cows, as well as transporting milk and poultry products to nearby markets. Although rearing livestock has improved most household incomes, it was observed that many young boys have dropped out of school to herd cattle. This has a negative impact on education enrollment rates. Additionally, the demand for livestock has created problems of overgrazing and soil erosion, and competition for allocation of the scarce water resources between animals and humans. Many families have to depend on less than 25 liters of water per day; moreover, this water is typically polluted. Other occupations reported by respondents include fishing (9, 6 percent), small business/ trade (12, 9 percent), private sector/NGO (4, 3 percent) and civil service (6, 4 percent). Gender Dimensions in Access to and Control of Land in Nakasongola During the Third World Conference on Women, held in 1984, the late President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania said, “Women of

Africa toil all their lives on land that they do not own, to produce what they do not control, and at the end of their marriage, through divorce or death, they can be sent away empty handed.” This statement is particularly true for most women in Uganda. The findings show that out of the survey respondents only 7 percent of women (10) own land in Nakasongola. Generally, all land is owned and controlled by men (93 percent,

duce (19 percent, 27), the money is brought to the husband,

Figure 2: Land Allocation and Control in Nakasongola District (n=140) Source: Data from questionnaires 4.

Photo 2: New Drought- and Disease-Resistant Cassava Variety.

Photo credit: Author


During the field survey, some men who were found fetching water (9 percent, 12) reported that it was actually not for domestic use. They were collecting water mainly for brick making - which is one of the economic activities done mainly by men. Also some boys collect water from boreholes and wells purposely to sell to urban households.

130) yet women bear the brunt of most productive land tasks like planting (84 percent), weeding (66 percent), collecting water (91 percent), and cooking (96 percent). In Central Uganda, particularly in Buganda, a wife is traditionally called “Omukyaala” which literally means “a visitor,” from the Luganda word okukyaala, “to visit.” This is evidence of a cultural perception of women as visitors in their own family, in which they are not allowed to own land. As a result, land allocation practices continue to ignore women, who are rarely registered on the title. Land allocation practices are a fundamental constraint to women entrepreneurs, especially as they affect access to credit, as banks often require land as collateral. Most government utility service agencies in Uganda (e.g., water and electricity) also require a land title or a certificate of occupancy before connection. This implies that all water rights are granted on the basis of land rights, and ultimately exclude most women. Although Uganda has made several legislative efforts to enhance the rights of women, e.g., the Land Act, Succession Act, Divorce Act and the Constitution, very few women are able to enforce their rights due to lack of awareness about gender legislations, low representation of women in the judiciary and police force, illiteracy, social intimidation, and cultural barriers, among other reasons. Land Acquisition and Form of Occupancy According to the findings, most respondents acquired land through inheritance (53, 74 percent). Traditionally, inheritance is the most common method of passing on land from parents or grandparents to children. Inheritance results in fragmentation of the land, and often the rules discriminate against women and weaker minorities. Even where land is redistributed following religious laws, the laws do not favor women and often exclude them from any form of land acquisition. The inheritance system creates numerous problems, especially if succession issues are not clear at the family level. It results in land disputes and conflicts over access to some common lands, such as spiritual and burial grounds where all family members (men and women) have rights. The legislative framework is equally weak and often compro-

Land Act provides for protection of the land rights of women, children and persons with disabilities, but the Act does not specifically provide for joint ownership of land between husband and wife through registering both the husband’s and wife’s names on the certificate of title, which would strengthen the rights of women. Even where both the husband and wife contributed toward the purchase of land using jointly accrued income from family agricultural production, the land transfer and agreement normally bear the husband’s name. Women often fall victim to land grabbing, especially when the husband dies and the relatives of the deceased take the family property. Despite provisions under which a wife inherits 15 percent of matrimonial property upon the death of her husband, women are often dispossessed of their rights to matrimonial land upon divorce from,or the death of, their husbands, and are not consulted about the disposition of family land (Ellis et al. 2006). Dispossession threats are even more likely where the woman did not give birth to a male child who would become the heir to protect the family property. However, it is not only Uganda’s legislative framework, inheritance and ownership practices that limit women’s access to economic resources. A perhaps more important issue is the fact that Uganda’s population remains largely unaware of its legal rights or how to enforce them. This is especially true for women, who have even less access than men to legal advice and representation (Ellis et al. 2006). Most justice delivery agencies are dominated by men, and at times male judges and court staff may have traditional attitudes and biases against women (Ellis et al. 2006). According to the survey, 18 percent (25) of the respondents acquired land through rent and sharecropping. Under the sharecropping system, the landlord agrees that the tenant may use the land on condition that a certain proportion of the harvest is shared. The landowner reserves the right to revoke the agreement if the tenant fails to furnish the agreed-upon portion of the harvest. This system is not regulated by law, and is often subject to abuse. However, even when women are able to afford to purchase land, some social norms exclude them in favor of male purchasers. About 9 percent (13) of the total respondents (5 women and 8 men) had acquired leaseholds, especially on public land held under the District Land Board.

mised by weak governance systems. For instance, the 1998

Figure 3: Mode of Land Acquisition (n=140). Source: Data from

Gender Dimensions in Public Administration In order to examine the extent of women’s involvement in decision- and policy-making on land and water governance in Nakasongola district, an investigation into the number of women employed in top decision- and policy-making positions at the District Local Government (DLG) was carried out. The findings show that women are discriminated against and often lack a voice in decision--making both at the household level and in the public sphere. Out of the twelve most influential positions related to land and water governance, only two positions - the District Agricultural Officer and District Education Officer - were occupied by women. The remaining nine


senior positions in the district are occupied by men. Even at

© wH2O — University of Pennsylvania 49

wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water

the grassroots level, most Area Land Committee and Water Users Associations are headed by men at the village level. Traditionally, women are often discriminated against with respect to recruitment for public positions, political representation, and

and water governance should be prioritized, from the level of the village land and water user up to the national level. This can be done through allocating the necessary financial and technical resources to ensure equal representation of women

training opportunities related to land and water governance. The absence of women in top decision-making positions means that women’s voices are not adequately represented. Weak governance flourishes where there is lack of participation by all stakeholders and consensus-building. Transparency and accountability in the land and water sector becomes highly compromised without full participation of women. It is not clear where in Nakasongola district the accountability for implementing gender mainstreaming lies. At the village level, only a few representatives for women’s affairs have been appointed, but they do not receive any facilitation or training since the district has not allocated any budget for their activities at the grassroots level. Since gender mainstreaming cuts across almost all sectors, like land, water, agriculture, health and education, every sectoral department should prioritize gender mainstreaming programs and activities in their departmental budget and workplan in order to address the needs of vulnerable

at all levels of governance.

groups, especially women and children in rural areas. Recommendations Based on the lessons learned from the case study, the following recommendations are provided to improve women’s land

Reform in Legislative and Policy Framework Reforms to the existing legal and policy framework are urgently needed in Uganda. The existing laws to protect women from discrimination are weak and lack clarity on implementation. It’s simply not enough for the existing laws to that women’s rights should be protected without providing a clear framework for protection of these rights.

Need for Cultural Change There is an urgent need for a change in all cultural practices that discriminate against women in any form. Inheritance rights should consider women as equal stakeholders in the family property. All acts of discrimination and “commodification of women” through bridal pricing should be changed in order to protect the rights and dignity of women. The traditional marriage practices should instead revert to gift exchanges by the families of both the bride and the groom rather than a system that converts women into a commodity of purchase.

and water governance in Uganda.

Promote Equal Education for Both Men and Women Strengthen Gender Mainstreaming Capacities at All Levels The findings show that there is a general lack of gender mainstreaming programs and activities at all levels of governance. Capacity building on gender mainstreaming strategies in land Table 4: Typology of Top District Administration Positions Related to Land and Water. Source: Data from questionnaires Top District Local Government Positions District Chairperson ( Local Council V) Department of Natural Resources Mgt Senior Lands Officer Commissioner Registration of Titles Acting Secretary District Land Board Registrar of Titles

Male X X X X X X

District Agricultural Officer District Environment Officer District Health Officer

Resident District Commissioner (RDC)



water resources.


Conclusion Mainstreaming gender, particularly regarding rural women in land and water governance, is critical for achieving a variety of development goals in Uganda. Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) — in particular eradicating extreme


District Education Officer District Water Officer


Several studies have shown that equal access to education opportunities for both men and women improves their ability to make meaningful social, economic and political decisions. Promoting girl-child education reduces the risks associated with early pregnancies and maternal mortality. Education improves women’s contribution to household health and sanitation since they are at the forefront of most domestic duties such as cooking, caring for children, and cleaning the home. In terms of agriculture, women’s access to training and services improves their productive capacity and enhances their ability to engage in agribusiness marketing. The Ugandan government should expand FAL programs to reach all villages, and increase adult enrollment and training. Both men and women who have participated in FAL programs attain extra skills in natural resource management, income-generating activities, sanitation and civic education, among other areas, which improves their livelihoods and enhances their decision-making abilities. Therefore, there is a need for equal education of both men and women so that all can be in a better position to make meaningful decisions that promote sustainable use of land and


hunger and poverty (Goal 1), halving by 2015 the proportion of

of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation (Goal 7), and improving maternal health (Goal 5) among others — cannot be achieved without promoting gender equality and empowerment of women (Goal 3). The findings from this study show the significant contribution of women to Uganda’s economic development despite facing numerous barriers, ranging from unequal access to land and water resources to unequal education and employment opportunities. Barring women from rights to land translates to exclusion from water rights, since from a farmer’s perspective, it is almost impossible to separate land from water. Secure access to land ultimately results in secure access to water resources. Failure to protect women’s rights to land negatively impacts Uganda’s economic development in the form of increased food and nutrition insecurity, diseases emanating from lack of access to water and sanitation facilities, and increased

United Nations Human Settlements Programme / Global Land Tool Network,

Secure Land Rights for All, UN-Habitat/ GLTN, Nairobi, Kenya, 2008. World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa, From Crisis to Sustainable Growth: A Long-Term

Perspective Study, World Bank 8209, Stock # 11349, 1989. World Bank Governance and Development, The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/ THE WORLD BANK. Washington D.C. 1992.

maternal mortality, among others. Works Cited Banenya Sarah. Gender and the Administration of Justice,. Report on Workshop on Commercial Justice for Investment Promotion in Uganda, 29–31 July 2002. Barlowe Raleigh. Land Resource Economics: The Economics of Real Estate (4th Edition), Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1985. Batungi, Nathan. Land Reform in Uganda: Towards a Harmonized Tenure System. Fountain Publishers, Kampala, 2008. Ellis Amanda., Manuel Claire., and Blackden C. Mark. Gender and Economic Growth in Uganda: Unleashing the Power of Women, The World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2006. Esplen, E. Gender and Care: Supporting Resources Collection, BRIDGE DevelopmentGender Institute of Development Studies (IDS) Sussex, Brighton, 2009. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Good Governance in Land

Tenure and Land Administration, Land Tenure Studies 9, FAO, Rome, 2007. Human Rights Watch. Double Standards: Women’s Property Rights Violations in

Kenya, March, New York, 2003. Hodgson, Stephen. Land and water – the rights interface,. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO Legislative Study # 84), 2004. International Fund for Agricultural Development. IFAD’s Gender Strengthening Pro-

gramme in Eastern and Southern Africa. IFAD, Rome, 2000. Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development. Statistical Abstract, Volume.:1., MLHUD, Kampala 2010. Nakasongola District Council and the National Environment Management Authority.

Nakasongola District Environment Policy. NDC & NEMA, 2008. Ravnborg, Munk. Helle., Bashaasha, Bernard., Pedersen, Hundsbæk Rasmus.,Spichiger, Rachel., & Turinawe, Alice. Land Tenure under Transition: Tenure Security, Land Institutions and Economic Activity in Uganda. DIIS Working Paper 2013:03, Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen. Uganda Bureau of Statistics, 2010 Statistical Abstract for Uganda. UBOS, Kampala 2010. Uganda Bureau of Statistics, 2012 Statistical Abstract for Uganda. UBOS, Kampala 2012. United Nations Development Programme, Governance for Sustainable Human Devel-

opment. UNDP policy document, New York, 1997. United Nations Development Programme, Gender Equality: Evaluation of Gender

Mainstreaming in UNDP. 2006. United Nations Economic and Social Commission, Definition of Basic Concepts and Terminologies in Governance and Public Administration,. Committee of Experts on Public Administration, E/C.16/2006/4, UNESC, New York, 2006.

Photo credit: Arne Hoel/World Bank

© wH2O — University of Pennsylvania 51

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wH2O Journal: Vol.3, No.1  

wH2O is an online, open-access academic journal housed at the University of Pennsylvania for women and water issues around the world. Our vi...

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