Settlements Executive Committees and Sustainable Neighbourhoods Programmes established with the support of UN-HABITAT are instrumental in ensuring equal participation of both men and women at the grassroots in project design, implementation and monitoring.
In its water and sanitation initiatives in Kibera and Mavoko, the Water for African Cities Programme has mobilized local communities to establish sustainable mechanisms for gender mainstreaming through the formation of solidarity groups among women, youth and local businesses.
Last week, 41 beneficiaries representing the Kenya Women Land Trust, youth groups, and small businesses in Kibera and Mavoko participated in a workshop in Nairobi to exchange views, share experiences, and discuss the challenges faced by both men and women in an effort to improve access to water and sanitation for the poorest members of their communities.
The workshop also exposed the participants to the UN-HABITAT gender mainstreaming action plan and its role in helping to achieve the water and sanitation targets of the Millennium Development Goals. Participants agreed that women and girls suffer most from lack of access to water and sanitation. Empowering them by ensuring their participation at all levels is therefore critical for sustainable improvements to coverage for both water and sanitation.
In his overview, Mr. Daniel Adom, Chief Technical Adviser, Water for African Cities Programme, noted that the involvement of men and women in all programmes and projects across 17 African cities had been achieved through close collaboration with local communities and specific targeting of women, vulnerable groups and the poor. He commended the active roles of Settlements Executive Committees and Sustainable Neighbourhoods Programmes for Kibera and Mavoko, appealing to them to pay more attention to improving access to sanitation, which is lagging far behind water in both communities.
Participants shared their water and sanitation challenges and some related gender concerns, and the workshop highlighted the linkages between gender, climate change and its impact on availability of water for poor communities in urban areas.
Participants commended UH-HABITAT for involving grassroots communities in its projects as this ensures project sustainability through community ownership and their active participation. They called for regular exchange of information between the Kibera and Mavoko communities to enhance gender mainstreaming and women’s empowerment in the two projects.