Women's Access To Water, Sanitation and Essential Services

  Project partner: Women In Cities International (WICI)
  Supported by International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

 

Water, sanitation and essential services are central to women's security, dignity and sense of self-worth. What are the links between water, on the one hand, and a safer environment, on the other? How does the lack of access to proper sanitation impact on the quality of the lives of people, especially that of women and girls? How can public spaces be made more gender equal? In this series, which arises from the Action Research Project on Women's Rights and Access to Water and Sanitation in Asian Cities, we will explore these concerns and bring you some innovative responses in addressing them.


India:
In Delhi's Backyard, 'Private' Issues Become Public Concerns
By Pamela Philipose

The link between women's security and access to water and sanitation may not, at first glance, be obvious. But in fact, as the 'Women's Access To Water, Sanitation and Essential Services' project that focused on two resettlement colonies in Delhi demonstrated, women in poor neighbourhoods try not to urinate or defecate because it is so inconvenient or because they fear they would be assaulted should they go out to relieve themselves in the open at night. The project has provided significant insights into the everyday experiences of women living in India's urban underbelly and ways to address their concerns. These insights need to be taken seriously given that some 590 million Indians will be living in cities by 2030, according to UN estimations, with a large number of them having no option but to live in decrepit, under-serviced shanty towns.

* "Governments tend to treat water and sanitation services as gender neutral and the poor are not seen as part of the city. There is a lot of stuff in newspapers about how Delhi is going to be 'slum-free'. But the notion of being 'slum-free' is not related to building better neighbourhoods so that people don't have to live in such conditions, but of evicting them and bulldozing their homes."


WFS REF NO: INDK727J           1,290 words           Photographs Available


India:
Skid Row Sums: Poor Water, Bad Toilets Cost Women Dearly
By Aditi Bishnoi

Thousands of women and girls living in shanty towns across urban India start their day in a queue for a toilet. Of course, they have to make repeated trips during the day and that's more time and energy wasted. And, if they are really lucky, they will not be harassed by male passersby. A recent gender budgeting exercise conducted in the resettlement colonies of Bawana and Bhalswa on the fringes of 'Global City' Delhi revealed some disturbing disparities when it comes to accessing basic services. It also showed how water and sanitation for poor women are not just being overlooked in budgets, they are also incurring an opportunity cost that affects their ability to better cope with this systemic neglect.

* "We started by asking two questions: How much time does it take to access water and sanitation facilities; and whose time is it? Water collection is primarily the responsibility of women and so time saving and its use for productive activity are important issues from a gender perspective."


WFS REF NO: INDK727J           1,290 words           Photographs Available


India:
The Ground Beneath Their Feet
By Kalyani Menon-Sen

As Delhi continues its drive towards becoming a "global city", it is pushing the working poor to the margins, both literally and metaphorically. Successive eviction drives have left thousands of families struggling to retain a foothold and survive in the city. The story of resettlement in the Capital is a combination of grandiose rhetoric in policy documents and diminishing entitlements on the ground.

* The nearest school and hospital are three kilometres away. The government primary school refuses to enrol children in the middle of the year. There are no jobs for women... Commuting is expensive so men who have jobs in the city come home only on weekends. Water is supplied for only 30 minutes a day.


WFS REF NO: INDK720J           1,470 words           Photographs Available


India:
'We Will Not Be Forgotten': How To Reclaim The Neighbourhood
By Aditi Bishnoi

Dispossession, migration, eviction, resettlement... these are experiences hardwired into the lives of hundreds of thousands of Indians. India's metropolitan centres have been the site of repeated waves of eviction and resettlement, with thousands of women, men and children being literally pushed off the map. They are left forgotten to pick up the pieces of their lives in remote, unfamiliar areas devoid of essential services and basic sanitation. Can these realities ever be changed? Yes, says one group of women in Bawana, a resettlement site in north-west Delhi, who decided to reclaim their locality and began by first mapping it. Today, Bateri Devi, Satyabhama, Anita, Vimla, Muni Bi and their friends, have learnt what it takes to make their voices heard and prod apathetic municipal authorities into stirring.

* "We called a meeting with the area sanitation workers. But before we went we took photographs of places where garbage was strewn, where drains are overflowing."


WFS REF NO: INDK615J           1,290 words           Photographs Available


India:
Not Just Taps and Pipes But Women's Lives
By Pamela Philipose

Water and sanitation are among the most decisive factors in achieving human health, well-being and progress. Yet, an estimated 1.1 billion people in the world today don't have access to clean water and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation. Poor women pay the highest price for this situation in terms of their time, health, safety and dignity, but crisis continues to remain a silent one, rarely figuring in public discourse. Ultimately, this issue is not just about poverty, but about the poverty of policy making. It is not merely about taps and pipes, but about people's lives. It's time we broke the silence over sanitation.

* "As privileged urbanites, we take water and sanitation for granted. But if you talk to women in slums or resettlement colonies, their main concern is their endless struggle to access these services. For our administrators, planners and engineers, they don't seem to exist."


WFS REF NO: INDK531J           1,200 words           Photographs Available


India:
Resettlement Kids Demand A Cleaner Living Environment
By Aditi Bishnoi

Talking about the environment is not something only privileged children educated in private schools can do. Meet Pooja, Soni, Farzana, Shabnam, Nizamuddin, Aakash and their friends, the eco-conscious members of a youth group in Bhalswa, a resettlement colony located on a landfill in Delhi's outskirts. These are kids who understand issues like water, sanitation, personal safety and environmental sustainability because they have been impacted directly by the abysmal conditions in which they live. They know what it is to scrounge for water, live beside overflowing drains in garbage strewn environs and experience fear while using a run down public toilet facility when its sole light bulb is fused. Today, they want to raise awareness in the neighbourhood and make their colony of 22,000 residents a more liveable space.

* "There were times when I wanted to raise my voice and intervene, but being a girl it was tough. Now, as part of this youth group, I have a voice."


WFS REF NO: INDK523J           1,280 words           Photographs Available


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