Achieving universal WASH coverage targets, set in the 2030 Agenda, requires better understanding of how appropriate and equitable water and sanitation services can reach all populations.

Recent water security debate emphases the need to use more inclusive perspectives to capture and overcome inequalities, piercing up to a household level. Targeting gender dimension is essential because women and men have different and changing roles associated with WASH and varying access to power and assets. For instance, tasks related to collecting and managing water are largely carried out by women, who may be less involved in decision-making processes associated with the use and quality of these resources.

Persistent differences and disparities between gender roles mean that women often bear higher costs associated with household water and sanitation insecurity, resulting in unrealised social and economic potential, threats to health and wellbeing as well as ecological degradation.

Meanwhile, review of empowerment and development outcomes shows there is little record and lack of evidence about the interactions between gender equality, women’s and girl’s empowerment and WASH interventions. Without directly collecting this information in a quantifiable way, achievements are likely to receive less attention than more measurable outcomes, such as availability of WASH facilities.

With the grant from REACH, EWI will bridge this gap. To achieve this aim the research team working with the Index will:

  • Investigate existing literature and survey tools relating to empowerment in the WASH sector
  • Co-develop and pilot a survey-based tool to assess empowerment with WASH sector stakeholders in West Africa
  • Train stakeholders and citizens organisations in the use of the tool to collect information that can be used to understand baseline conditions and monitor progress
  • Share learning with REACH partners and identify opportunities for future piloting