Barriers to access to water and sanitation can be physical – such as the lack of a toilet, or long distance to collect clean water, for instance. These are clear targets of RWSSP-WN and RVWRMP. But behavioural barriers are more difficult to overcome, and some types of domestic water-use behaviours change more easily than others. For instance, the use of human urine as a fertilizer has quite quickly been accepted, as the benefits for food production and income generation are experienced by everyone. (Haapala & White, 2015).
Ensuring access to clean water is easily understood as an important right for all, as it impacts everyone in the community. However, there are many needs for new or improved water schemes. In practice there is a tendency for the most confident and powerful households in the community to get their scheme prioritised, and more remote or disadvantaged groups to miss, out irrespective of real needs, if there hasn’t been a thorough process of community consultations (via the V-WASH plan or WUMP) and careful facilitation by outside arbitrators. This is where the Finnish bilateral WASH projects have been very successful.
Photo: Women in Water Users and Sanitation Committee (WUSC)
Many challenging issues remain, and in our recent Behaviour Change Workshops we focused on some of the most important, including:
Ensuring active participation in Committees by women and disadvantaged groups Information-sharing and participation in decision-making is a critical element of the right to water and sanitation. Government rules state that there must be at least 30% women in Water Users and Sanitation Committees (WUSCs). Project rules set the requirement at proportional representation of Disadvantaged Groups (DAG), such as Dalit and Janajati, and 50% women. At least one of the key leadership positions should be held by a woman. Women are commonly agreed to have the best knowledge of water issues, as they have the main responsibility for water collection.
Photo: Muslim women-only meeting
It appears that RWSSP-WN and RVWRMP committees are doing better than committees in non-project schemes. For instance, monitoring in Dadeldhura in RVWRMP in 12.2015 found that:
30% RVWRMP Water Users Committees had women in key positions, compared with 25% of non-RVWRMP schemes
There were 38% women as members of RVWRMP user committees, compared with 31% women as members in non-RVWRMP schemes
Currently in RWSSP-WN, there are 46% women in WUSCs but only 39% of WUSCs have women in top 3 leadership posts (usually treasu