The DfID funded Aqua 4 East water and sanitation (WASH) project in Talkok aims to increase women’s participation in its project activities despite the status of women in the locality.
Women’s participation in WASH projects can have many benefits. It can contribute to the achievement of specific objectives regarding the functioning and use of facilities and also to the of wider development goals. Their participation can also be of both direct and indirect benefit to the women themselves.
The potential contribution of women to these objectives emerges logically from their traditional participation in water supply and sanitation as domestic managers. Women decide where to collect water and according to the season, how match water to collect and how to use it. In their choice of water source, they make reasoned decisions based on their own criteria of access, time, effort, water quantity, quality and reliability. In addition, much of the informal learning about water and sanitation takes place through interpersonal contact between women.
Therefore women’s opinions and needs have important consequences for the acceptance, use and readiness to maintain new water supplies and for the health impact of the supply and for the ultimately of the project.
Women’s participation in catchment committees is mainly administrative. For the first time women from Talkok from the Hadandwa tribe, attended training outside their villages. They have a tradition and culture that puts them under men’s control even within the village so meetings in the presence of men are not possible. The Elgandoul network for rural development which is responsible for the implementation of this part of the project, played a very important role is the discussions and negotiations with local authority leaders. As a result, they allowed six women from the areas participating in the three catchments to attend the three day integrated water resource management training workshop together with men in Kassala.
At the end of the training Talkok leaders were convinced of the value of women’s participation and decided to allow them to attend future training sessions.