SheRises Foundation

Water and Hygiene In Lamu County

Bridging the Divide: Empowering Women and Girls through Comprehensive Water and Sanitation Solutions

Water and sanitation are essential human rights, yet millions of women and girls globally still experience many barriers to clean water sources and adequate sanitation facilities. This report discusses at length the convoluted web of issues surrounding access to water and sanitation for women and girls, dissects the overlapping factors that create the disparity in gender, and proffers holistic solutions for these complex problems.

Gender Inequality in Access to Water and Sanitation:

Despite the progress of human development globally, many cultural and gender norms still persist in many communities and leave women and girls with significant challenges concerning their health, education, and socio-economic welfare. The genders of women carry the burden of collecting water, sanitation management, and handling household chores, which have resulted in them having lowly subordinate roles and consequently not being able to exploit their potentials fully. Furthermore, women and girls facing such challenges are also typically from disadvantaged backgrounds, such as those living deep in rural areas, informal settlements, or zones of conflict. The other factors that compound the situation include poverty, ethnicity, disability, and lack of access to basic services. Understanding the complex interplay of these factors is essential to formulate effective strategies for bridging disparities in access to water and sanitation and ensuring gender equality and social inclusion.

Health Implication:

Increasingly, millions of women and girls face huge health risks because of low access to safe water sources and sanitation facilities. Such lack of access disproportionately exposes women and young children to waterborne diseases, like diarrhea, cholera, and typhoid fever, which cause both disease and malnutrition, and maternal mortality. Poor sanitation facilities and hygiene practices make things worse for health risks, particularly in the area of menstrual hygiene management, making women and girls vulnerable to reproductive tract infections and social stigma. Water and sanitation disparities do not only relate to health equity issues but also to problems in poverty reduction, gender equality, and sustainable development.

Educational Barriers:

Access to safe water and proper sanitation is integral to the educational achievement of women and girls. Water collection, lack of facilities for proper menstrual hygiene management, and absenteeism from school caused by waterborne diseases are some of the setbacks that prevail in girls’ education in most communities. When coupled with the prevailing cultural taboos around menstruation and lack of proper sanitation facilities in schools, it fosters shame and stigma that can lead to keeping girls away from schools and impacting their education completion. It is in this respect that the government and development partners should invest in infrastructure for water and sanitation, hygiene education programs, and gender-sensitive policies in order to create enabling environments that support the girl child’s aspirations for education and empower them to reach their full potential.

Economic Empowerment:

Access to clean water and sanitation also has critical gender-based consequences for women’s economic empowerment. Women are generally in charge of household water resources, from water collection and storage to water use, making the process exhausting and physically demanding. Time and energy devoted to water-related chores are taken away from their opportunity to participate in income-generation activities, entrepreneurial ventures, and community development. Furthermore, access to water and sanitation facilities is essential to ensure safe and dignified working conditions for women, especially in agriculture, manufacturing, and the informal trade sectors. By recognizing the linkages between water, sanitation, and women’s economic empowerment, policymakers and stakeholders may design interventions that ensure gender-inclusive economic growth and reduce gender disparities in access to resources and opportunities.

Policy and Advocacy:

Addressing water and sanitation disparities requires action on several levels—from communities to national governments and international organizations. Reforms in policy, investments in infrastructure, and capacity-building initiatives are the sine qua non for the improvement of access to clean water and sanitation services, particularly for marginalized populations. Further, systemic change toward gender equality in leadership and decision-making requires advocacy, which challenges gender norms and amplifies women’s voices. Only by focusing on gender-responsive approaches, including the perspectives of women in the processes of planning and implementation of water and sanitation, and making multi-stakeholder partnerships, can we be able to build resilient, inclusive, and sustainable societies where women and girls thrive.

State of Sanitisation in Lamu County

The Lamu County Climate Change Policy (LCCCP) Implementation Plan (2020-2025) was developed to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change on the socio-economic development of the County, its natural resources, and people’s livelihoods. The policy seeks to enhance resilience, reduce vulnerability, and promote sustainable development in the face of climate change.

The implementation plan begins with a broad overview of the policy vision, mission, objectives, and guiding principles. The policy vision is for a climate-resilient and sustainable Lamu County, while the mission is to mainstream climate change adaptation and mitigation into county planning and decision-making processes.

The priority areas of action under the plan include climate change adaptation, mitigation, capacity building, research and innovation, advocacy and awareness, and mainstreaming climate change into county planning and budgeting.

On adaptation, the strategies to be undertaken to enhance the resilience of communities, ecosystems, and infrastructure are outlined to climatic impacts. This entails ensuring climate-smart agriculture, sustainable water management, coastal protection measures, disaster risk reduction, and early warning systems.

Under mitigation, the plan focuses on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and promotion of low-carbon development pathways. This includes promotion of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency measures, sustainable transportation, waste management, and afforestation and reforestation initiatives.

Capacity building entails those activities that enhance the knowledge, skills, and institutional capacity of county government officials, civil society organizations, and community members to effectively respond to climate change challenges. These include training programs, workshops, knowledge-sharing platforms, and technical assistance initiatives.

The areas of research and innovation entail the generation of knowledge, data, and evidence that inform climate change decision-making and policy formulation. This comprises vulnerability assessments, climate modeling studies, impact evaluations, and pilots that test new technologies and approaches.

Advocacy and awareness-raising activities are aimed at mobilizing support, fostering collaboration, and raising awareness about climate change issues among key stakeholders and the general public. Media campaigns, community outreach programs, public forums, and engagement with policymakers and development partners are included in this plan.

Mainstreaming climate change into the county planning and budgeting process encompasses integrating climate considerations into development plans, policies, regulations, and investment decisions. This includes the establishment of climate change units, development of sectoral adaptation and mitigation plans, and resource allocation for climate change initiatives.

A monitoring and evaluation framework closes the plan to track progress in implementation, measure outcomes, and assess the effectiveness of interventions. In this regard, targets, indicators, and benchmarks will be set and regular assessments carried out in addition to reporting to stakeholders on the implementation progress.

In all, the Lamu County Climate Change Policy Implementation Plan, 2020–2025, provides a road map for building resilience, reducing emissions, and promoting sustainable development in the face of climate change challenges facing Lamu County.

The link that exists between water and sanitation on the one hand, and gender dynamics on the other hand, is an issue that has to be looked at with a holistic and comprehensive approach. Addressing the interplaying factors that contribute to gender inequities in accessing improved water and sanitation, such as socio-cultural norms, economic inequalities, and institutional barriers, is critical in creating societies that are fair and inclusive for women and girls to realize a healthy, dignified, and fulfilling life. Only through collective action, advocacy, and investment in gender-responsive water and sanitation initiatives will the gap be bridged so that women and girls can be empowered to realize their full potential as agents of change and drivers of sustainable development.

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