Since 2012, the United Nations marks 11 October as the ‘International Day of the Girl Child’. The day promotes girls’ human rights, highlights gender inequalities that remain between girls and boys and addresses the various forms of discrimination and abuse suffered by girls around the world. This year, the theme is “Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence”.
Today is also the day the The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 is to be awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Children must go to school and not be financially exploited. In the poor countries of the world, 60% of the present population is under 25 years of age. It is a prerequisite for peaceful global development that the rights of children and young people be respected.
How do these iconic days relate to water and gender issues in general?
In terms of availability of clean water on a daily basis for the children in the developing countries and especially girl child it’s a constant struggle.
Throughout the course of my decade long career in India, I have seen women and girls fetch water from distances as far as 10 kms (6.21371 miles) or dedicating 8-10 hours of the day just collecting water for their families. I will admit that the country has come a long way since the early 2000s. In tier II cities, such as Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, it is still evident what life means for women and girls in terms of the potable water availability every day in urban slums. Non-availability of potable water close to home also results in violence against women and girl child since they are more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse while seeking water sources located remotely. There could be other dangers in the form of animal (dogs) attack and others as well.
Fortunately there is a ray of hopes in the form of grassroots organizations working tirelessly to alleviate the everyday drudgery of women and girls in terms of water availability.
How does all this relate to the UN Women’s and Noble Peace Prize’s theme? One can imagine that if the women and girls in a family are free of their daily chores of searching for water, they can easily attend school without having to spend their time otherwise. The old saying goes, “when you educate a boy you educate an individual, however when you educate a girl you educate a family or household.” This cannot resonate more than on a day like today.
Joint efforts from both sides of developing and developed world shall go a long way in educating the girl child and children overall in making them informed and progressive citizens of tomorrow.
For related posts, please click the below links:
Data about water availability and quality are fundamental to some of the most important decisions making process of the governments, businesses, farmers and last but not the least communities. Abundance and quality of water are critical factors in many aspects of our economy, environment, and social and physical well-being. Many experts argue that Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) for multiple water resources objectives must be simultaneously managed. The costs of sub-optimal water resources choices can be while determining substantial PES. These forces when come into play together give rise to water markets as we know them today.
What are water markets?
Water markets have been considered as a coping strategy to allocate water from surplus to scarcity regions.
The functional benefits of water markets have often been assessed from the perspective of economics, for example, the ability of markets to facilitate transfers of water-use rights from lower-value uses to higher-value uses, and the resulting increases in water productivity.
Water markets are not new and they have evolved over the years in shapes and appearances based on the regions and type of water traded (groundwater of surface water). Historically, water markets have existed in a number of agriculturally dominant countries ranging from secured and transferable form Chile in South America to informal and local ones in India in Asia.
One can be interested in exploring the significance of water markets by asking whether
- Water markets can help improve overall water security (e.g., by preventing or alleviating shortages),
- Encourage improvements in water conservation and water-use efficiency, and
- Whether markets can contribute to environmental protection.
There are a range of different types of water market that can be introduced based on the local geographic conditions, regulations, permits and other factors:
- Open water markets
- Spot market
- Informal water markets
Do water markets actually work?
My favorite economist recently posted information from a functioning water market. He recommends that we read Waterfind’s annual report [pdf], which is full of market and price data. You may also want to read this post and listen to the water chats Dr. Zetland did with Waterfind CEO, Tom Rooney, a few years ago.
A number of US based and international organizations are in the process of exploring the concept of water markets further. They often ask the question of whether water markets should emerge from one of their existing initiatives or should they be something brand new. There is a huge potential of studying these further via surface availability and through government permits and how much will water markets contribute towards environmental protection, payment of ecosystem services and environmental equity and justice so on. Water Users Associations (WUAs) can form a significant part for resolving conflicts over water rights. How will WUAs come into play, with increasing urbanization around us when water is being channelized for non-irrigation/agricultural purposes. How much will WUAs be effective in fulfilling this responsibility is left to be seen.
- Water markets in South Asia
I read someone exclaim that “Omigod if men had been carrying 50 litres of water on their heads everyday for a lifetime, they’d have had handles on these containers 800 years ago”. So true! I couldn’t agree anymore. So obvious that this is indeed the costliest water in the world http://theflipsideofdevelopment.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/worlds-costliest-water/
Alas someone had the brainstorm to come up with this ingenious contraption to alleviate womens’ daily drudgery of carrying water on their heads.
Girls and women carrying plastic jerry cans of water on their heads is a common sight in rural areas of poor countries. The WaterWheel eases that burden by storing water in a round 50-litre container that doubles as a wheel.
Designed after consultations with villagers in the dry northern Indian state of Rajasthan, the WaterWheel is made from high-quality plastic that can withstand rough terrain. It will sell for $25-$30, compared with $75-$100 for similar products. “Our goal is to distribute on a large scale, on small margins to 10,000-20,000 customers a year,” says Cynthia Koenig, founder and chief executive of Wello, a US social venture working on ways to deliver clean water in poor countries. Wello won a $100,000 Grand Challenges Canada prize to develop the WaterWheel.
The idea came from an exploratory trip to India in 2010 to ask what people thought of the idea of rolling water, instead of carrying it. “We were pleasantly surprised,” Koenig says. “We returned a year later, worked in close collaboration with villages in Rajasthan, and kept coming back to the idea of rolling water. We were surprised the idea had so much traction – we never thought it would work in India.” The designers played around with different sizes – 10-20 litres – before agreeing on 50 litres. While the WaterWheel was created with women in mind, as they tend to collect water, Koenig says Wello has been surprised by its popularity among men.
“One of most exciting things is that men love using it, they see it as a tool,” she adds. “Men take on the primary role so the women are freed up to do other things. Or the role is split so men use it four days a week and the women use it two days. It has reduced the burden on women. A nurse told me she is not late for work anymore because the husband collects the water.”
The device, to be constructed Ahmedabad city in Gujarat, also saves time, at least an hour in many cases. It is also being used for irrigation and to bring water to animals.
Wello plans to sell the WaterWheel in the Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat states, as well as explore opportunities for water purification.
This article originally appeared on the Guardian.com. To read more about waterwheel by Wello and the author please click here.
Lots of posts until July, 2013 and then the professional life took a full 360 degree turn for better.
First ever full time assignment at the NoVo Foundation in NYC proved to have opened vistas of professional opportunities. What a work experience!
Will be updating on my most recent/latest assignment soon. Please stay tuned.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank all my readers and well wishers :)
Hope that everyone is having a peaceful end to 2013.
Wishing all a very happy new year and looking forward to working together in 2014!
I read about five successful and creative initiatives to bring clean water to the urban poor this morning and jumped with joy, yet again.
The author of the article, Josephine d’Allant writes that “In India, women are forced to orient their entire day around collecting expensive and unsafe water”. I cannot emphasize this fact enough. I have written about this issues time and again on my blog. The readers know very well. Women and water is one of the closest issues to my heart. If any or every effort goes to alleviate the women and water related drudgeries, then I am the first person to cheer for it.
The author goes on to cite examples from world’s five fastest growing cities
I am slightly disappointed upon noticing that once again the northern Indian states and cities have lagged behind in implementing such strategies or techniques to benefit the urban poor. With nation’s capital’s poor struggling for potable water supply and fast emerging cities in the National Capital Region of Delhi, it’s imperative to implement such techniques sooner than later.
The author also cites an interesting item for potable water’s availability in the form of plastic pouches or sachets as shown below.
Anybody and everybody reading this blog can identify this water packet being sold unabated on buses en route Delhi to Meerut as well as other cities. Having witnessed the “hygienic” conditions under which these (and other bottled water) are being packed in my hometown, I have been always wary of seeing people buy them to quench their thirst. I saw this trend continuously throughout my career spanning around a decade in India while working on various water related issues.
As seen elsewhere, the author also goes to demonstrate, through examples, that these schemes are managed by the local communities benefitting from them. This shall help ensure the longevity of such schemes.
The author concludes the article by saying “Although not perfect, these solutions are important steps in expanding access to clean water in some of the cities in the Global South.”
I see this as a positive and sustainable step towards providing relief to women and young girls, whose lives otherwise revolve around collecting and providing potable water for their family and themselves.
Visit URB.im to read more about these innovative approaches and discuss other projects you may know about.
Last year I mentioned about the world’s costliest water in one of my previous blog posts. The issues of gender and water keep coming to fore every now and then in most online articles that I read.
Having observed the burnt being born by women and young girls in developing countries for a very long time, I understand how imperative it is to keep them at the center of all water crisis solutions.
Recently, I came across this very interesting info-graph from water. org. I would urge you all to go ahead and take a close look at this one. The article also goes on to state that
Glass ceilings aside, millions of women are prohibited from accomplishing little more than survival. Not because of a lack of ambition, or ability, but because of a lack of safe water and adequate sanitation. Millions of women and children in the developing world spend untold hours daily, collecting water from distant, often polluted sources, then return to their villages carrying their filled 40 pound jerry cans on their backs.
I won’t go in to the details and statistics as they are adequately elaborated in the info-graph.
One point this info-graph certainly proves is how this is world’s costliest water. Countless hours being spent in bringing water from point sources to their homes everyday by women. More than 2 billion people are without safe drinking water across the world. These are only a few of the startling facts facing us today in terms of water crisis.
I also watched a very interesting TEDX talk yesterday on how we can solve the global water crisis.
I have heard some people argue that if they take shorter showers in the US (or any developed country), it doesn’t help a woman in say Africa or Asia to get water easily to her home. For all of them, I would like to share another advert-graph that a luxury bath accessories company has recently made public.
Unless we do not realize and acknowledge the value that women and young girls add to an economy, it shall be a challenge to address the water crisis issue in the longer run.
To be continued.