Integrating Gender Perspectives and Social Inclusions into Water Supply Project Preparation

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ADB-CDIA is implementing a project preparation study (PPS) in Khulna, Bangladesh in readiness for Phase 2 of the Khulna Water Supply Project (KWSP-2). Part of its due diligence is integrating gender perspectives and social inclusions into the PPS.

It conducted a gender study to determine the situation and impacts of the water supply project on gender inequality, women’s poverty, and social inclusion.

A total of 206 households were targeted for the survey, comprising residents in the existing project areas of the Khulna Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (KWASA) and its expansion sites.

The study has shown that the majority of families interviewed are male-headed households (92%) while the rest are female-headed households (8%). Of those identified as female-headed, 35% are not involved in any occupation albeit they are homeowners. The rest are involved in diversified occupations such as small businesses, agriculture, and others.

As women are key water users, the survey also examined who has good water connections and found that 52% have individual connections, 38% have shared connections, and 10% have no direct connections.

On the availability of 24-hour KWASA water supply, more than half of respondents have access to it round-the-clock. The rest only get water as early as 3:00-4:00 am (88%) or in the afternoon (11%). Meanwhile, on the adequacy of supply, the survey showed a disparity between male and female respondents as women mostly found the quantity of water inadequate, contrary to men.

In terms of water collection, the majority of respondents identified the wife as the key person responsible for it (66%); others responded everyone, depending on who’s available (7%) or the mother (4%). On average, it takes 1-2 hours to get water from a distance, depending on the proximity to the water source. From a gender perspective, better interventions, where women will not require hours to collect water, will enable them to use the time for activities with economic and social benefits.

The survey has further made evident the financial burdens associated with building private tube wells; as well as other challenges women, the elderly, and differently-abled individuals face in terms of water access.

In line with these findings, ADB-CDIA recommended conducting intensive pre-project consultations with both genders to ensure their views are integrated into the KWSP-2 design; identifying women-friendly water supply points; and advocating equal employment opportunities and wages. It also proposed introducing no-tariff water for the elderly; strengthening water user groups through targeted training activities; and devising a comprehensive Gender Action Plan (GAP) in line with ADB’s gender policy, among others.

On 15 January 2024, ADB-CDIA conducted a workshop to engage with stakeholders and get their input in the formulation of the GAP that will guide KWSP-2 implementation.

KWASA recognized the importance of paying attention to gender and social inclusion activities, particularly since about 49% of the population in Bangladesh are women. Awareness-raising and capacity-building activities were deemed important components of advancing KWASA’s gender mainstreaming program.

Related Story: ADB-CDIA Proposes Concrete Measures to Meet Current and Future Water Demand in Khulna City




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