Involving women in water and sanitation initiatives; an action/research project in an Egyptian village

Assaad, M.; Katsha, S. el; Watts, S.

Water International 19(3): 113-120


ISSN/ISBN: 0250-8060
DOI: 10.1080/02508069408686214
Document Number: 366697
It is now widely recognized that community participation, especially by women, is essential to the success of water and sanitation interventions in poor communities in the non-industrialized world. Women are the major users of water systems in rural areas and have many ideas about how these could be improved. Because of cultural differences, especially in women's status and social power, there is no single prescription for women's participation in water and sanitation programmes. The article describes the experiences, in an Egyptian village in the Nile delta, of an action/research team that sought to facilitate improvements in water, sanitation, and environmental health by working with village women, and in association with a health education programme. The women identified two problems that they then worked to correct, under the guidance of the research team: a malfunctioning standpipe and a highly polluted canal. The standpipe was repaired but it proved more difficult to take action about the polluted canal. The article discusses the lessons learned from these activities. The model presented recognizes the importance of the participation of community members, women and men, but also that many interventions need the approval and support, not only of local community organizations, but of local and regional government authorities, if they are to be replicable and sustainable.

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