Gender and water

Water management: Women must be central to inclusive strategies

by Janna Frischen, MSc Candidate, United Nations University and Resilient Cities 2017 communications volunteer

Urban growth is becoming a major global challenge, as more than half of the total population is living in cities, with more than 60 percent by 2030. How cities are built today will shape the future of tomorrow, which means sustainable urban development is more important than ever. Small and medium sized cities are rapidly growing, but are threatened by limited water supply a lack of resources and capacity to appropriate build adaptation strategies.

Access to clean water remains a challenge for many cities in low and middle income countries. Climate change puts additional pressure on existing water resources due to severe changes in precipitation patterns and intensity. This is causing a significant gap between water demand and supply in many urban areas. Additionally, there are structural problems, such as complex networks and diverse stakeholders needs and interest in the field of water management.

Integrative and participatory approaches give local communities the chance to address their needs and provide a platform for multiple stakeholders to develop new water management strategies. In low and middle income countries in particular, gender plays a key role in determining how water affects daily life. In traditional societies, it is women who are impacted by the water supply, as the ones staying at home and carrying out household tasks. Inclusive water management strategies need to be sensitive for gender issues, which have been underemphasized for long.

This blog post is based on discussions from the Resilient Cities 2017 session:Innovative strategies for water management in fast-growing cities.

The contents of this article reflect the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.