The WASH SDG programme is making efforts towards being Gender Equality and Social Inclusive (GESI) sensitive, but is a long way from being GESI empowered.
Published on: 06/12/2022
Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) is one of the main components of the WASH SDG programme, a programme financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Netherlands (DGIS).
There is a clear understanding of the need to create better equity and inclusion mechanisms in the woredas where the programme operates (Negelle Arsi and Shashamane). The programme is making efforts by conducting GESI baseline assessments, gender balance trainings, consultation of women and asking people with a disability for input for the construction of new WASH facilities at different stages of the process. It is also providing GESI training to implementing partners and their staff and works on awareness creation and training to government offices and their staff. The programme tries to include women and people with a disability in water, sanitation and hygiene committees (WASHCOs). In addition, the programme constructs Menstrual Hygiene Management facilities in school WASH facilities, particularly in Negelle Arsi woreda.
According to regional regulations, at least 3 out of 7 WASHCO members and 40% of caretakers are expected to be women, though most of the women seem to hold the position of treasurer. Where possible, people with a disability are included in WASHCOs. In addition, in phase 2 of the programme, 50% of established Small and Micro Enterprises are expected to be led by women, though from our interviews, we have found the actual number is probably be lower.
Although there are noticeable activities and efforts in the programme, we still have a long way to go to becoming a GESI empowered programme. GESI in WASH is still an afterthought and is overlooked in most activities. It needs to be an integral part of all activities starting from inception and should be embedded in all the steps of the process from planning to implementation. Even when there is noticeable consideration, mostly there is a focus on “gender” and the inclusion of other vulnerable groups is simply forgotten. We still need additional and detailed awareness creation and training activities both for government and implementing partners.
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