What does gender have to do with issues of sanitation and water? Roselyenn Musa gives us a multi-faceted gender perspectives that consider the role of African governments, gender awareness and water privatization amongst others.
The upcoming mid-year African Union (AU) summit of heads of state and government has as its primary agenda as ‘Water and Sanitation.’ Development goals in the water and sanitation sector in Africa typically address issues of access to and the availability of adequate and safe supply and services, health and well being of all members of the society. At the Millennium Summit in 2000, Heads of State pledged to halve the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water by the year 2015 yet at the end of 2002 some 1.1 billion people or 18% of the world’s population lacked access to safe drinking water, while 2.6 billion or 40 % of the world’s population lacked access to improved sanitation services.
Gender issues are applicable when conditions are bone dry and also when they are dangerously wet. Women and children are the first to suffer from the disruption of water supply and the provision of sanitation services. They are disproportionately affected by natural and ‘man made’ disasters as a result of gender inequalities. They play a central part in the provision, management and safeguarding of water and sanitation, but the pivotal role they play as providers and users of water and has seldom been reflected in institutional arrangements for the development and management of these resources.