Investing in Water Access is a Direct Investment in the Future of Women

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Investing in Water Access is a Direct Investment in the Future of Women

Investing in Water Access is a Direct Investment in the Future of Women

Article Source ~ written by Monica Ellis, Chief Executive Officer – Global Environment & Technology Foundation

Around the world one in three (over 2.2 billion) people do not have access to safely managed drinking water. In 80% of cases, women and girls are responsible for water collection. It’s no coincidence that globally, 132 million school-aged girls are out of school. The burden that women and girls bear in collecting water is a contributing factor that results in the inability to participate in schooling as well as reduced income-generating and/or leadership opportunities.

This is the case in many African communities. Across the African continent, women and girls spend over 40 billion hours per year collecting water. That is 40 billion hours that could be spent on other activities such as education and employment. The Ripple Effect Study supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and The Coca-Cola Foundation found that the connection between access to water and women’s empowerment goes far beyond the health benefits one would expect, including improved safety and security, increased income, enhanced leadership skills, increased participation in continuing education, and shifting roles and norms in communities.

For over a decade, The Coca-Cola Foundation has been investing in water access across Africa with a focus on women’s empowerment. Through The Coca-Cola Foundation’s Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), hundreds of thousands of women and youth have been empowered through water access.

In Nigeria, RAIN partnered with WaterAid to bring improved water access to communities in Enugu State. The program focused on opportunities to promote income generating businesses for women, girls, and youth by training them in water system maintenance and repair. Rita Chinagorom is one of the women trained by the project to become a water kiosk manager.

“The RAIN/WaterAid project presented an opportunity to learn new skills, become gainfully employed and affect my community positively. My life has changed! I have learnt how to read meters, document sales in the ledger, and manage the water kiosk. This job is very fulfilling and I am grateful for the opportunity I have.”
– Rita Chinagorom

Eugenie Mukasanga, a Rwandan entrepreneur supported by RAIN in partnership with Global Grassroots, knew that if her and her community of women in Jali Sector of Kigali could solve the problem of water collection that it would transform their lives. Eugenie had experienced a lifetime of difficulties related to collecting water.

I was among those who faced the results of water scarcity, such as carrying a 20-liter jerry can on my head while nine months pregnant, spending a long time at the well, getting easily sick from drinking water, and coming home late to find my husband already upset because he didn’t care how hard it was to get water from the well.”
-Eugenie Mukasanga

After attending a two-week training with Global Grassroots, Eugenie and her women-led venture, Bright Future, are providing water services to Jali Sector from their water kiosk, serving over 1,000 people in their first month of sales. Bright Future has gone on to train other women in the community. 

In Kawempe, Uganda, RAIN partnered with Amref Health Africa to improve community water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions. Their efforts included empowering women’s entrepreneurial efforts such as the Zivamuntuyo Women’s Group which created a business to produce liquid hand soap that they provide to local supermarkets and community members.

“There is a change in this group compared to before and we hope to meet our target very soon. We had no aim and objectives before but right now, we clearly understand our vision and mission. Within one or two years from now, we hope to buy machines to use in mass production of the soap. We also hope to get a wider market for our products.”
-Aisha Kanyonyi, Zivamuntuyo Women’s Group Chairperson

Efforts such as these undertaken by RAIN change the trajectory of women and their families’ lives. On this International Women’s Day, let us as a global community reaffirm our commitment to supporting women and girls by creating more opportunities for them to thrive. In an effort to continue our work to lift women and girls up, GETF and our affiliate organization, Global Water Challenge, have launched the women for water campaign. To learn more please visit www.womenforwater.com

About the Replenish Africa Initiative: Backed by a $65 million-dollar commitment, The Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF) introduced the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) in 2009 in response to the lack of water and sanitation faced by nearly 300 million Africans. Managed by the Global Environment & Technology Foundation (GETF), RAIN is TCCF’s flagship African program contributing to helping Africa achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals on clean water and sanitation access (SDG 6). Since inception, RAIN has improved the lives of more than six million people in 41 African countries through water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and other water-based initiatives.  More information on RAIN is available at replenishafrica.com.