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TitleWomen in the operation and maintenance of water supply systems in Ghana
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsLiao, M, Rogers, L, Mahama, A, Issaka, MM
PaginationP. 57-64
Date Published1994-01-01
Keywordscommunity management, community participation, ghana northern ghana, maintenance, operation, projects, rural areas, undp pilot project (ghana), urban areas, water authorities, water committees, water utilization project - wup (ghana), women's work

The authors have worked on several water supply and sanitation projects being implemented in northern Ghana. The approaches taken to integrate women into these projects, and the kinds of problems experienced by women as a result are highlighted in this paper. The GWSC Assistance Project (GAP) initiatives to integrate women into the community management process include: monitoring gender involvement, guaranteeing that 50 percent of Community Liaison Workers are women, providing gender analysis training, using gender sensitive male Community Liaison Workers to disseminate a positive influence, making the categories of Water and Sanitation Development Board (WSDB) membership favourable to women, enabling women to be chairmen and members of the executive committees of WSDBs, and employing a Gender Equity Advisor. However, constraints such as resistance from men, illiteracy, lack of self-confidence, the failure to reduce women's work to allow time for greater community participation, and the control of women by men still exist.
Specific actions undertaken by the Integrated Village Water Project to integrate women into its activities include: appointing women project coordinators, holding gender analysis workshops in villages, including women on District Management Teams and Village Extension Teams, aiming for 50 percent female membership on Village Water and Health Committees (VWHC) and training some as mechanics to provide good role models for other women. But constraints to women's full participation include their failure to take leadership positions in VWHCs, low participation levels of women on committees, male resistance to sharing power, heavy work loads which prevent women's involvement in training programmes, women are responsible for contributions to the Hand Pump Fund but projects have no income generating components to help women pay, women mechanics are not paid, and health education messages aimed only at women must also target men for change to take place.
General conclusions have been drawn from the collective experiences of these four projects. First, projects often focus on women instead of recognizing the problem as one of unequal power relations between women and men which allows women to become overburdened with work, preventing them from participating in community development. Second, the community management approach allows women to take on the burden of routine work to keep O&M systems working without giving them status or power in the community. Third, there is a need in community management projects for an enabling environment which is specifically for gender. It should include a national gender policy for women, human resource development for women, consciousness raising programmes, representation of women in all agencies involved in community development work, and appropriate financial schemes to free women from the burden of water tariff payment. Lastly, there is an urgent requirement to focus on the effective participation of women in water supply and sanitation projects. Participation should not be defined simply by the number of women sitting on committees.

Notes8 ref.
Custom 1202.1, 824



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