http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/379/48636drink.jpgWater and Sanitation are critical elements in a sustainable livelihood strategy as it is directly related to issues of access to and control over natural resources as well as basic infrastructure and services. It has been noted that the problems of water and sanitation affect more than 800 million people- 15 percent of the world’s population and most of these are in the South of Sahara (ibid). For interested parties to come up with approaches to curb this problem, there is need to have a clear understanding of the interconnectedness of the two. Thus, the benefits of water will not be seen unless attention is also given to sanitation (Anderson 1996).
However, this article is not going to look at the approaches to overcome the water and Sanitation problem. It is going to focus at the role gender plays in Mozambique in the supply of water and Sanitation. Lastly, it will conclude with recommendations to the responsible authority so that they can be in a position to take an active part in ensuring that the Mozambican citizens have the right to better water supplies and sanitation conditions.
THE MOZAMBICAN SITUATION
Through the 2007-8 budget, the Government of Mozambique has clearly defined water, sanitation and urban development as one of its priorities. This is no other than sustainable development of the population life through the improvement of its life conditions. Thus, this brings to focus the importance of water supply and sanitation for the entire population. The National Campaign launched in February is coordinated by the Ministry of Health, together with its partners (governmental institutions, International Agencies and NGO national and international). The general objectives of this Campaign were;
- To contribute for the change of hygienic habit of the citizens. - To improve the individual hygienic conditions, conscientise and appeal people in order to change behaviour related to their habit of individual and collective habits of hygiene.
- To concretise its efforts and calls for the participation and involvement of all the citizens to promote better water supply and sanitation.
THE ROLE OF GENDER IN THE WATER SUPPLY AND SANITATION
As far as water supply and sanitation in Mozambique are concerned, gender plays a paramount role. In most African cultures, it has been noted that women are the most responsible for the use and management of water resources, sanitation and health at the household level. Mozambique is not exception.
Both in cities and rural areas, women have the responsibility of fetching water and educating children hygienic matters. Women and girls are often obliged to walk many hours every day queuing in water points in the cities or walking long distances to fetch water, mainly in the rural areas, while men are rarely expected to perform such tasks. As they are linked to the house chores, they are mainly the ones who bear the heavy burden of trying to provide it to the family. They make sure that the laundry is done, flowers and gardens are watered and animals are given water. Women do little as far as building water sources (Water fountains) are concerned. The same applies to sanitation. They are not the ones who build the toilets (pit latrines) but they take an active role in making sure that they are clean. They also participate in community activities while men were linked to the culture.
Men are generally concerned with the building role. They are the ones who make sure that the water structures are built. In the rural area, they are the ones who dig wells and build them. They are also responsible when it comes to digging and construction pit latrines. Unlike women, they do not take an active role in maintaining the structures.
Given the fact that the Mozambican society is male dominated, most of the decision-making regarding the issue of Water and Sanitation lies in the hands of men. On the other hand women are given less opportunities to air their views and ideas on those issues. This makes them not heard. Therefore, they have very little contribution as far as this issue is concerned.
SUCCESS AND CHALLENGES
The latest report assessing progress on water and sanitation in Mozambique noted that rural water supply coverage grew significantly out of 1.055 planed water sources the number of spread water sources was 1.529. The rate of coverage also has shown the increase of rural and urban water 48.5% and 40% respectively. This gave access to drinking water to more than 9.871.523 families.
On the other hand the coverage of sanitation also increased to 47% in urban areas. Within the scope of decentralization of funds, the sector defined a new role in each level and started the process of decentralization of funds of District and Provincial levels to help with the implementation of the strategic plan of rural water and sanitation.
However the audit of performance on water for 2006-2007 found problems in finance management, a weak performance in relation to revenues, a lack of data on fund use, and lack of desegregated datas on gender in terms of access.
Nevertheless, water supply within the rural and urban communities can greatly reduce time and efforts for women looking for water.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Given the role of gender in the supply of water and sanitation in Mozambique, here are some of the recommendations we can make;
- The management of water and sanitation becomes the most important strategy resource essential for the sustainable life and achieving of the sustainable development in our country and the government should stump its efforts to up lift the lives of its citizen. It should also see to it that priorities are given to the right people. There have been situations of a project failing because attention was targeted at the wrong people.
- There is need to offer equal opportunities for sharing ideas and views for both men and women regarding water and sanitation issues.
- There must be enough consultation to the targeted people or communities be it in the urban or rural areas.
- All the gender needs should be addressed from the planning stage up to the evaluation.
- All responsible NGO working for the improvement of water supply and sanitation should work collectively to combat this problem.
- As both men and women play very significant roles in the society, there must be avenues to enhance educative programs in which the roles of both parties are stressed. There is need also to overcome the presumption of female inferiority.
- It is also important to recognise the different roles played by man and women whenever we design the project or in the planning thus can increase chances for project sustainability and at the same time for the development of the country.
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*For further notes, please follow this link:
Andersson, I. 1996 Swedish support to water and sanitatrion in least developed countries. Lesson learned from 30 years fo development cooperation, Stockholm: Sida(Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency)
IRC (Interanational Water ans Sanitation Center), 1995, Water and Sanitation fro All: A World Priority, vol, 1, 2 and 3
Mozambique National Human Development Report 2006/07