Women Involvement in Water Management


Life and living normally revolve around water within Bangladesh There is fast increase in the population, the water surface is getting depleted fast as well as the groundwater resources, regular floods and famine and deterioration of the quality of water because of pollution contamination by arsenic compounds and other chemical have generated a lot of issues in the management of water more so within rural population and automatically this problem lies on women who normally participate in the role of managing water within the household. In many parts of the world, it is the women who practically participate in the gathering of water as well as water management within the houses. As a result, if women are involved in the management of water resources, they are bound to be entirely successful since they have dealt with the resource and have managed it from even in their households (Robinson, 2004).

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Significance of the study

This study is significant since a lot of women have been left to only take part in the management of water and other things within the house while men dominate policy-making organizations, deciding country’s water policies and country level water decisions while entirely ignoring the important contributions from women. Consequently, to create and develop gender balance that involves equal participation of both genders, it is necessary to design water management institutions that elicit improved participation of women. In order to accomplish a sustainable water resources management it is therefore necessary to establish suitable connections with gender. This is because both genders have varying needs and ideas regarding water management (Rich, 1991).

Water Management

Throughout Bangladesh, the management of water resources ought to be founded on a participatory approach. This means that both women and men must be involved and should have equal opportunity in the management of the sustainable usage of water resources and as a result hence share the benefits. It is therefore apparent that the role of women when it comes to water-related matters requires a lot of strengthening and broadening of women’s participation as well (Petrella, 2001).

Water in Bangladesh can be used for drinking, cooking and health. The main objective of the increase of groundwater was that it was to conspicuously decrease water-borne disease from consumption of polluted water on the surface. This is because filtration is known to do away with most bacteria and hence it is safer when compared to the surface water. Such project should have included more women since they are the indirect first beneficiaries who pass these benefits to the other family members. This is because within Bangladesh, women tend to be the key water managers more so for domestic purposes which include cooking, drinking in addition to some other subsistence production within the home gardening or raising of poultry and livestock. Therefore, women in Bangladesh make use of water from various sources which include tube wells, canals, rivers, ponds and ditches and this is dependent on availability, accessibility and the use of the water. The water supply in Bangladesh more so in rural areas is not fixed but it is a set of water sources whereby selections are made, negotiated and in most cases on a daily basis (OECD, 2006).

The societal class as well as someone’s location in Bangladesh distinguishes access to the domestic water. The families that are wealthy do own deep tube well and therefore they have access to clean water whereby women who are wealthy end up having a better access to water that is clean when compared to the poor women (Pronk, 2001).

Access to the water is distinguished by location in that those homes that are closer to a functioning tube well have a likelihood of making use of the groundwater more regularly. Nearness to the water source determines the source and the usage of the water, more so for the poorer and the household that is headed by women. Numerous trips to the water source ought to be made every day to the nearest water tube or surface water source to meet water requirements, whereby women dedicate many hours every day to make sure that there is household water security (Pronk, 2003).

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Women only use the water that is polluted when there are very many water limitations. In a nutshell, there are material and gender inequalities when it comes to the water access more so for drinking and cooking. Access to drinking water is chiefly by ownership and common property means. Currently, water can be accessed at the market where water is sold in bottled containers but this is more common in urban Bangladesh and not in rural areas. Sate-backed availability within rural areas and some urban parts have been limited to the availability of village hand pump that as observed, are regularly grave (Sachs, 1999).

This has been significant in my study since this demonstrates that women are the ones who are entirely involved in water activities. For instance, when women within Bangladesh are involved in water management activities, they will pinpoint the particular needs of each community and hence the projects will be developed in accordance with the people’s needs. Still, women are aware of the difficulties experienced during the collection of water and therefore they are likely to decide on the projects that are entirely beneficial to the community and entire Bangladesh as well. Moreover, the literature indicates that women avoid usage of the polluted water apart when in extreme cases and this means that they are able to identify the polluted water as well as the safe water. This shows that during project designation, management, implementations and evaluations, they are in a better place to tell when something goes wrong; for instance when project water gets contaminated they are in a better position to tell this than men. There is also a fact that in Bangladesh, women prefer to maintain their privacy more so when bathing and this at times results in conflict in regard to time and space at ponds whereby an increased presence of men when women need privacy does not go well with women. Perhaps if women were involved in implementation of such projects, they would have looked into privacy requirements of their fellow females (Faisal, & Kabir, 2005).

In Bangladesh, the extraction of water that is used for irrigation by use of tube wells has started to decrease water tables all over the country and this is a threat to clean water. About a half of the drinking water hand pumps could end up drying for some parts of the year. It is a fact that diesel-powered irrigation tube wells are in a position to pump water from deeper levels than the drinking water pumps. To operate a hand pump’s lever, a partial vacuum is created at the top of the pipe that the adjacent air pressure fills with water and hence developing a pump. This procedure is restricted to a depth of 25-30 ft owing to the weight of water that air pressure will maintain. On the other hand, most of the larger deep irrigation tube wells situate a mechanical pump at the foot of the well (Petrella, 2001).

These pumps are not restricted by air pressure and therefore have the ability to pump water from much greater depths. Deep tube well may lead to the decrease of groundwater below the level to which shallow wells can operate and the groundwater is the one that consists of the greater part of the homestead drinking water tube wells. As a result, most of the shallow, hand pump tube wells are in most cases not in a position to operate for many weeks or months over the dry seasons. This is because the presence of the groundwater depends on the characteristics of the groundwater storage tank and the yearly recharge from the rains, rivers and flooding (Ravetz, 1999). Occasional decrease of the groundwater level as a result of increasing groundwater development presents the danger of cyclic tube well failure because of the large yearly inconsistency of rainfall distribution. In general, the lowering of the groundwater table generates a vital water conflict that sadly goes unreported. Within this conflict, the dominant, and male-dominated, priority of the government, financial growth, clashes with fewer priorities of government and household water supply, illustrating women’s practical interests. This illustration shows a conflict generated by the impractical misconception during the development of water tube wells in a field that is majorly dominated by men. In such a case, the interests of women have been avoided and this could be attributed to the absence of women when implementing such projects and designing the appliance to be sued. In case women were involved, it is most obvious that they are likely to pinpoint such issues since they face direct effects and this is consequently a part of their interests. This could do away with a very big problem within Bangladesh which is; intermittent drying of the water table leading to the lack of drinking water during the dry spells (Ndulu, 2002).

Moreover, there are several setbacks in regard to safe drinking water. Bengal is feared to contain arsenic poisoning which as a result has affected many parts of Bangladesh. This could have been caused by the irrigation withdraws that contaminated the drinking water. When the Bangladesh population uses the groundwater for drinking, it leads to mass poisoning. There are several deaths that have occurred as a result of using the contaminated water that has taken about two fourteen years for the arsenic poisoning to occur. Arsenic contamination differs spatially, where tube wells in one area have been found to be having different extents of contamination. The agencies which are responsible for this contamination include UNICEF and the government of Bangladesh (department for Public Health engineering). The implications that come with this in regard to women are that the arsenic contamination has more grave effects on women when compared to men. There are cases where marriageability of the young women from the areas affected by the poisoning has decreased and women affected by the arsenic poisoning are left by their husbands. All these repercussions portray the grave social outcomes of groundwater poisoning especially for women, even if arsenic poisoning can affect the whole family. In connection to my project, this in way can demonstrate lack of women’s involvement within water-related activities. Since women are aware that the direct effects are likely to be on their fellow women, maybe they have a likelihood of addressing such issues with much seriousness. Women are known to have knowledge in matters related to natural diversity and hence when given a chance maybe they could be able to address problems like arsenic poisoning which has grave consequences on human beings after consuming contaminated water (Louis & Po, 2005).

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Institutionalizing Water Governance

In my project this refers to the procedures that increase the involvement of formal private organizations in water and sanitation provision as well as formal private organizations that are in operation for or with water utilities. Normally, neoliberal views exact a strong influence on international development and policy debated within the water sector. It is through the neoliberal ideas that development dicta in regard to water sector came from which suggests: water should be involved or should be a part when taking care of the environment, there should be increased taking part of the nongovernmental participants, during decision making that involves water issues sensitivity to gender matters should be tackled and water should have an increased role within the market. This hence means that water has an economic importance in all its competing functions and should therefore be acknowledged as an economic good (Rich, 1981).

Consequently, with this principle, it is important to acknowledge first the essential right of each and every human being to access clean water and sanitation and a cost that can be easily afforded. Failure to acknowledge the economic worth of water has many times resulted in improvident and environmentally destroying uses of water (Shiva, 2002).

Hence management of water as an economic good is a significant way of accomplishing resourceful and fair usage and of encouraging and maintaining management and safeguarding of water resources. In regard to my project, if women are involved in water management, this will lead to improved economic value of water and hence more water will be conserved. This is because women are the ones who make use of water at homes and at times they waste water a lot due to ignorance of its economic values. Consequently, if they are involved in its management, they know its economic values and hence they will focus on proper use of water hence conserving the water. More so, they will safeguard and conserve water resources whenever they come across them. Again, since each and every human being has the right to access clean water and sanitation, when women are involved in water management activities they are likely to ensure that water is equally distributed. Finally, women are likely to ensure distribution of clean water and sanitation since they are directly involved in domestic water activities and therefore are aware of the value of clean water to people (Najam, Rahman, Huq & Sokona, 2003).

Political economy of water

In regard to water as an economic good, which can be managed by market forces brings competence and highest value of water usage. In regard to privatization, when public sector offers the scarce commodities for free or at prices that are subsidized, people tend to develop an incentive to overuse or even misuse them. Conversely, the goods that are in most cases supplied by private sectors running in a competitive market are not simply scarce: their complete production costs are borne by the one producing them and their full gains mount up to the consumer. From the economic point of view, such goods ought to be basically produced at their marginal cost (Rahman & Varis, 2003).

Thus from this comes the suggestion that water is an economic good and hence it is right to shift from treating it as a public service to good whereby users ought to pay. This is what supports the complete cost recovery of water infrastructure and services from those who use it. Here, cost recovery is assumed preferable on a personal basis; which means, households are supposed to pay the complete costs of their water provision, which is setting up, utilization, operation and maintenance. The presence of subsidies from maybe the government or through the cross-subsidies between various types of consumers is combated since they are perceived to deform the true cost of the provision of the service, in this case water (Schouten & Schwartz, 2006).

Politically nonetheless, this can be controversial since a lot of people who have very low income are not likely to be in a position or maybe not willing to pay for the complete costs of water provision. Furthermore, urban water services are not perfect goods for private provision, other than the economies of water and sanitation are by no means clear-cut. Even for water, the right economy cost is difficult to define, estimate and charge and needs meters which are costly and hard to sustain in case water pressure changes. Moreover, cost-based charging of the water ignores the public gains of water (Sen, 1999).

All over Bangladesh, there is a claim that private water supply is in many cases connected to a wider claim that private organizations are more competent than public ventures. It has been observed that public water supply has failed to provide services of sufficient quality and coverage as well. This failure has been blamed on government ability which, when applied to utility results in a “downward twist” of weak performance and small payment levels for reduced services. There is also an argument that government-operated utilities are in most cases subject to political interference and corruption more so at the local level. Despite these findings, a very small percentage is the one that is served by private sector (Rajan & Subramanian, 2005). Actually, in numerous instances, private operators have pulled out from water provision projects or have their contracts ended. The task of privatization in meeting the millennium water goals and the country’s challenge in making sure that people have enough access to affordable water is obviously restricted more so in those areas where the provision of water is most deficient. The areas that require water most appear to be the least attractive to private enterprises. Private operators prefer urban areas while in many cases rural areas are always exempted from private contracts. This is depicted not only in Bangladesh, but also globally whereby private sectors are more often concentrated in richer, more populous and more urbanized parts, cities and neighboring parts whereas low-income regions are avoided (Rondinelli, Nethis & Chemma, 1984).

Importance of including women in water governance

Firstly, incorporation of women in the management of water resources leads to promotion of environmental and programmatic sustainability. This is because it has been verified that the participation of women promotes sustainability maybe through enhanced knowledge of the resource, devising other water systems to better account for different resource uses, improved regulatory enforcement or bigger community buy-in to governance regulations. Furthermore, since women are the ones who take care of the family health as well as the time-consuming role of water collection, they have wide knowledge regarding the quality of water, reliability of water in addition to availability of water. As a result, this water know-how can be a source of vital knowledge when for instance designing a water project. Again, women seem to have greater incentives to tackle water complications and to sustain infrastructure as well (Faisal & Kabir, 2005).

It is therefore apparent that given these connections to improved water management after the inclusion of women, failure to incorporate women will probably result in undermining the achievement and sustainability of water management efforts. It has been found that women have wealth of knowledge regarding so many matters with water including the water pollution whereby they are able to sense any water pollution owing to their long time dealing and involvement with water (Santiso, 2001).

For instance, in irrigation projects, inclusion of women while making key decisions is bound to promote sustainability by making sure that the concerns and needs as well as the capacities of each and every user is acknowledged within the project. Even in Bangladesh, both men and women have varying preferences for water access and even usage with women opting to use the water meant for irrigation for various purposes like bathing, laundry, opting to evade night irrigation turns, or even opting to situate irrigation canals near their homes. From previous researches, when such preferences are ignored for instance when planning and implementing an irrigation project, there are water efficiency goals that are likely to suffer. Some other element that is connected with sustainability when women are incorporated in water management is that the level to which participation of every member within the community will in the long run contribute to a more successful buy-in, monitoring and adherence of rules during establishment and usage of the completed project (Rondinelli, Nethis & Chemma, 1984).

Secondly, the involvement of women in the water management in Bangladesh will result in improving the status of the women and will also make better gender equity. This is because the management of water and planning as well normally determines the access to resources and hence having women play a key position with respect to familial and productive water requirements, the involvement and participation of women in the management is important. This is because participation is one way of empowering women and this normally results in improved confidence in addition to improved self-reliance amongst women. Moreover, the participation of women will eventually open doors of other opportunities for women to make use of water in revenue generation and this will in turn enhance the position of women’s bargaining power within the household and society at large. A study conducted in India suggested that the increased access to water by women gave them a chance to increase their participation in dairy cooperatives, increasing their income and consequently enhancing their household bargaining position. Still, in South Africa, increasing the water access to women for use in farming assisted them to take part in improving the food security for poor women who had been exempted from the recognized economy (Rich, 1991).

Thirdly, the increased participation of Bangladesh women in water management will open other likelihoods for women to take part in democratic governance. This is because increasing the women’s position during management of any resource; in this case water will open other chances for women to take part more wholly in other dimensions of community life and democratic procedure. For instance, a study done in Mexico illustrated that the taking part of women during the management of water opens other chances for women to take part in other political realms. However, mere inclusion of women during water management is not likely to be adequate; policies ought to take into account capacities to presume resource governance roles (North, 1990).

Water management

Water management refers to the action of planning, developing, distributing and most advantageous usage of water resources under defined water policies and rules. Water management may imply: the managing of drinking water treatment, management of industrial water, sewage or even wastewater. It can also mean management of water resources, management of flood safeguarding, management of irrigation and finally the management of water table (Santiso, 2001).

Water governance

The term water governance refers to the political, economic and social processes that aim at ensuring that there is availability of water. Global water governance can also be used to refer to all the procedures by which the policymakers and other social actors deal with their water resources at a universal level through local levels. The water governance is the key determinant for tradeoffs between individuals and natural water requirements and thus changes or shifts in the manner in which water is governed are the main way of decreasing the tradeoffs. Tradeoffs between people and environmental water requirements are raised in case certain ecosystem services are overly exploited while others are wholly ignored. These tradeoffs can be decreased through adoption of an integrated point of view that is accountable and at the same time values all the ecosystem services. The changes within climate are likely to stimulate the adoption of an integrated point of view, because it will develop awareness for systematic performance indicators flexibility and adaptive ability (Rondinelli, Nethis & Chemma, 1984).

In order to incorporate women in the management of water resources all over Bangladesh, it is necessary to engage every water user wholly into some projects, for instance through devolving the management of irrigation schemes to the farmers. Since women are involved in farming projects, they are definitely likely to get involved and hence take part in the management of these projects. In the long run, they get involved in the management part of the water resources. Still the increment of focus on women as water users as well as managers will ensure that they participate in water management. Moreover, set up of market reforms within water management more so in privatizing of the governing of water is also likely to include everyone in the management (Carlo, 2005).


The inclusion of women within Bangladesh in the management of water is obviously necessary. Apart from women having their rights taken care of they also get exposed to a lot of opportunities which include politics. Moreover, women in this country are often involved with water household activities and hence they are familiar with water handling and hence when given this pact they will be in a position to handle it effectively. Still, if they are involved in water management activities, it will lead to accomplishment of efficient water management as well as water governance since everyone will have know-how concerning the issues and lastly women will manage water effectively and competently in their homes and avoiding wastage and hence successful water governance.


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