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Gender equality in climate-resilient water security

Margaret Chisanga, Lusaka
ACROSS Africa, planning, decision-making and institutional processes are not gender-transformative.
Research indicates that in most cases, this is a reflection of structurally embedded cultural norms, practices and gendered-power relations. To change this narrative will require consented efforts from all stakeholder, across different fields, institutions and communities. In the field of water development and security, Global Water Partnership (GWP) are tackling gender transformation through the AIP Water Climate Development and Gender Transformation (AIP WACDEP-G) sub-programme.The programme takes a gender-transformation approach to address specific gender gaps at systemic levels. The goal of AIP-WACDEP-G is to ensure that the preparation, development, design, governance and management of ongoing and new climate-resilient water infrastructure investments, institutions and job creation interventions strategically advance gender equality.
Recently, Global Water Partnership Southern African regional office, working in collaboration with Zambia Global Water partnership and the Department of Water Resources Development (DWRD), convened a policy dialogue on gender equality for climate resilient water security in Zambia. The workshop was meant to advance stakeholder engagement in transforming gender inequalities by promoting gender-transformative planning, decision-making and institutional development for climate-resilient water investments in Africa. Officially opening the workshop, acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water Development and Sanitation Tobias Musonda said it is widely recognised fact that women have the potential to contribute to the attainment of water security and the fight against climate change if the barriers that hinder them to do so are eliminated. “Women have and do possess the required knowledge of what it takes to attain water security in light of changing the environmental condition as a result of climate change. This knowledge can enable them to devise practical solutions on how to deal with inadequate water security,” he said. He said the advancing of gender equality and empowerment of women can result in more water secure and climate resilient families and communities.
“Gender inequality is a huge drawback on our quest to attain the sustainable development goals on water and climate by 2030,” he said. The potential in women goes unutilised as a result of barriers which disproportionately affect women more than men. He said these gender based barriers express themselves through restricted land rights, limited or lack of access to financial resources, in adequate training and technology and constrained opportunities for participating in political decision making. And Zambia Water Partnership chairperson Eng. Kelvin Chitumbo, said the significance and importance that the government attaches to dialogues and stakeholder coordination make the work of stakeholder organisation easier. “The Global Water Partnership (GWP) is an  ntergovernmental organisation established in 1996 to support countries in their efforts to implement a more equitable and sustainable management of their water resources. The network spans 13 regions with over 3,000 Partners organisations in 179 countries,” he said. He said ZWP was established in 2000 in order to respond to the need for the government for a multi stakeholder forum that would advise, advocate and support the implementation of intergrated water resource management in Zambia. Currently the ZWP is hosted by the national water supply and sanitation council (NWASCO). GWP Southern Africa (GWPSA) is the regional arm of GWP and was launched in June 2000. Over the years, GWPSA has grown rapidly into a regional network of over 350 partner organisations concerned with water resources management. GWPSA Partners have formed a number of Country Water Partnerships (CWP) – 13 out of the 16 SADC countries now have their own CWP. The GWP Africa Coordination Unit is based at GWP Southern Africa (GWPSA) in Pretoria, South Africa, and coordinates GWP Africa programmes across Africa. In addition, GWPSA hosts the GWP global theme on climate resilience and is charged with providing global strategic leadership and coordination of implementation of the GWP strategy on climate resilience. He emphasised that the key pillars for the successful implementation of the ZWP 2021 – 2026 operational strategy will be the formulation and initiation of the Zambia water investment programme as premised on the continental Africa Water Investment Programme. “The key result that is expected from the development and implementation of the ZWIP is the leveraging of at least USD1 billion for SDG investment and the creation of 200,000 formal sustainabale jobs in Zambia by 2030,” he said. The expected outcomes of the programme include gender-transformative structures, institutions, policies and/or plans for climate resilient water investments and jobs put in place and implemented. The other expected outcome is that there will be increased capability and motivation of planners to enable gender-transformative planning and design of climate-resilient investments developed. Introducing the Continental Africa Water Investment Programmes (AIP), Eng. Alex Simalabwi, Executive Secretary, GWPSA, said the sub-programme is expected to be a ‘game changer’ across the water sector and beyond, addressing gender inequalities across Africa by taking a gender-transformative approach to development at the water and climate interface.  He further explained that the programme envisions system-wide transformation will be achieved by influencing country-wide processes for water infrastructure investments in 18 countries and 5 river basins across Africa. “The sub-programme will support and benefit 3.6 million people over the course of 6 years, targeting to influence US$1 billion of gender equal and climate resilient investments from public and private sources,” he said when he made a virtual presentation. Giving a background to the programme, Mr Simalabwi said in February 2021, during the 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, African Heads of State and Government adopted the Continental Africa Water Investment Program (AIP), as part of the second phase of the Africa Union Development Agency’s Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa Priority Action Plan (PIDA PAP2, 2021-2030). PIDA was adopted by the African Heads of States in January 2012 as a blueprint for implementation of priority infrastructure projects in Energy, Transport, ICTs, and Water.  He said the AIP was endorsed in February 2019 by the Governing Council of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW). The water ministers endorsed a decision for transformation of Africa’s water investment outlook through increased partnerships and implementation of an African Water Investment Programme (AIP),” he said. He said the goal of the AIP is to transform and improve the investment outlook for water security and sustainable sanitation for a prosperous, peaceful, and equitable society. He said the objective is to enhance job creation through gender-sensitive investments in water security, industrialisation, and climate-resilient development. “Between 2020 and 2030, the AIP is expected to mobilise US$30 billion in climate-resilient Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 water investments and create at least five million jobs,” he said. The AIP will accelerate climate-resilient regional, transboundary, and national water investment in Africa, and is implemented through three support programmes. These are AIP Transboundary PIDA Water Investments, AIP Water, Climate, Development, and Gender Investments and the AIP SDG Water Investments. The stakeholder engagements were held with particular themes addressing specific matters such as gender equality in water security and climate-resilience building in Zambia, integrating gender into budget and financing systems. Others included access to and control of water related resources and strategy for enhancing water investments in Zambia. The other themes included developing the Zambia Water Investment Programme (AIP) and Women agency, decision-making power and access to information. The main goal of the engagement sessions is to mobilise and influence key actors towards gender equality with regards to climate-resilient water security investments or interventions. The chairman said the workshop was meant to raise awareness about the gender transformative approach and how a systems perspective can be used to deal with gender inequalities at the individual (agency), relational and structural (institutional) levels. Key to this approach will be the influencing of the key stakeholders or boundary actors to adopt the gender transformative approach so that they may begin to revise or develop policies that will advance this on climate resilient water security investments or interventions. Through various stakeholders, the participants sought to create awareness about the status of gender equality with respect to water security and climate-resilient water investments in Zambia and share information about the root causes of gender inequalities and courses of action to deal with them. Participants also sought to develop a common vision for gender transformation with respect to building awareness and stimulate dialogue about enhancing the capacity of women to make effective decisions for climate-resilient water investments. By the end of the workshop, the partners agreed to mobilise stakeholders around a common understanding of the root causes of gender inequalities aimed at influencing key CLICK TO READ MORE