Day 4 - Looking back on an inspiring WASH Futures Conference 2016

Day 4 - Looking back on an inspiring WASH Futures Conference 2016

From 16 to 20 May, SNV attended the international WASH Futures Conference 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. The conference focused on pathways to universal and sustained water, sanitation & hygiene. Read our advisors blogs below to get an idea of all that was discussed and concluded during the Futures conference.

Blog day 4

The training "Gender and disability in WASH - Exploring Practice, Gaps and Overlaps" started with a disability and gender related ice-breaker: the squatting exercise whereby volunteers were asked to imagine themselves in the shoes of a pregnant woman, a visually impaired person and an elderly person. This opening exercise was well received by all the participants in setting the stage for the upcoming sessions on disability, gender and the intersectionality (of gender and disability) in WASH.

The introductory presentation on disability was presented by Clare Hanley from CBM Australia which touched upon why disability in WASH matters, the different types of impairments, different barriers faced by people with disabilities (physical, institutional, attitudinal). This was followed by case study presentations from World Vision on their work from Zimbabwe (on involving people with disabilities in their data collection) by Andrew Jalanski and I presented a case from SNV on our qualitative disability research and the institutional barriers that were uncovered in the rural sanitation and hygiene programme in Bhutan.

Participants engaged in a world café format discussion to explore further on how to identify the different barriers that people with disabilities faced in their local contexts/areas of work/countries and ways to overcomes those barriers. All the participants agreed that physical barriers were the easiest to identify while the institutional and attitudinal barriers were the most tricky to identify but nevertheless understood the importance of identifying them and discussed ways of overcoming them. Some of the solutions proposed include: presenting the issues to the policy makers; having disability advocates/champions; having attitude change programmes, etc

The second session was on promoting gender equality in WASH programming and monitoring effectives. The session introduction presentation was led by Tom Rankin from Plan International Australia. The presentation stressed on the following: What gender equality means; Why gender equality is important; Gender equality in WASH; Gender based violence in WASH; Transformative v practical change. This was followed by two case study presentations. I shared SNV’s experience on the different strategies adopted to increase women in decision making from Vietnam (forming a strategic partnership with the Dien Bien Women’s union to increase women’s role in the programme) and Bhutan (Evidence based lobbying through data collection by conducting formative research for increased role of women in WASH decision making at different levels) as part of our sustainable sanitation and hygiene for all programme. Tom shared the gender WASH monitoring tool developed by Plan.

During the group discussions for this session, participants were broken down into 4 sub-groups to discuss the following topics with guided questions:

  • gender sensitive WASH programming (supporting transformative change & involving women in decision making

  • gender based violence and WASH

  • monitoring effectiveness

  • creative gender & WASH programming

Factors determining decision making at different levels (household, community, policy, institutional) in WASH were discussed (traditional systems, culture norms, beliefs, government’s commitment to gender equality, donor agenda, resources, evidence data on existing inequalities, income at the household levels, household division of labour, etc were seen as determining factors for decision making) and strategies based on current practice on increasing women in WASH decision making were explored. These include working with men and using men as advocates for change; working with women’s groups; identifying and engaging women role models; peer support; gender sensitization of local leaders/men on gender equality in decision making, etc were the strategies discussed and identified for increasing women in decision making in WASH.

Under gender monitoring techniques: participatory processes with the participation of women was stressed. Under gender based violence and WASH, heightened risks for women during humanitarian situations was raised; the groups also discussed on the risks women and girls faced due to distance to WASH facilities and talked about how WASH could be a contributing factor to domestic violence. Strategies to overcome included peace building, continued advocacy work, raising safety and security concerns during planning, building capacity of WASH staff on dealing with domestic violence cases that they come across.

Under creative gender and WASH programming, the groups discussed the following amongst other things:

  • getting men to become gender champions

  • working with women role models in the communities

  • getting girls and boys discussing about menstrual hygiene management

  • increasing men’s involvement in hygiene promotion

The third session on intersection of gender equality and disability inclusion in WASH was led by Chelsea Hugget from WaterAid Australia. The session started off with an Interactive game which enabled participants to imagine being in the shoes of a person living with disability and being the opposite gender and thinking and discussing about the different WASH challenges that they would face. This session highlighted the different WASH issues faced by women/men; young/elderly; people with various impairments.

The presentation on approaches to understanding and addressing intersectionality focused on understanding who is marginalised and how this impacts their access to WASH, iterated by a PNG Case study: Situation analysis by CBM and WaterAid to understand how physical impairment, gender and age impact access to WASH. This was followed by another presentation on How can WASH address different aspects of inequalities with a series of resources and examples being shared:

  • WaterAid’s Gender and Disability Learning Paper

  • Example: Links between disability and aging: inclusive WASH Guidelines in Cambodia

  • Example: Gender facilitators manual in Timor incorporates disability inclusion

  • Accessibility and Safety Audits

The session ended with a Practical Activity whereby the participants were grouped to review tools used in WASH to see how this tool itself could be adapted to reach other people (e.g. people with disabilities, more gender sensitive), and what steps you could take to make the process of using the tool have a wider reach or reach people with multiple inequalities. The tools reviewed were the CLTS Guidelines and the Plan Gender WASH Monitoring Tool. The fourth session was on identifying gaps in knowledge on gender, disability and their intersectionality:

  • taking approaches to scale (ensure sustainability; incontinence; mental health and WASH; Inclusive handwashing BCC)

  • learning more about using the Washington Group Questions

  • MHM for women with disabilities

  • Peer reviewed articles on disability and WASH (partnership between NGOs and researchers)

  • Links between violence and WASH

Recordings of all the presentations and the key notes from the conference will be made available online at http://watercentre.org/services/events/wash2016.