Healthy living: FG, UNESCO deliberate on climate change, issues affecting women

The Regional Centre for Integrated River Basin Management (RC-IRBM), in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Ministry of Water Resources, the National Water Resources Institute (NWRI) and other stakeholders has held a two-day capacity development workshop on “Water and climate change: women’s coping strategies in West Africa”.
Speaking during the workshop held Wednesday in Abuja, Director, Dakar Regional Office and OIC Abuja Regional Office, Dr. Dimitri Sanga, represented by Senior Programme Specialist, UNESCO Regional Office, Abuja, Dr Mamadou Lamine Sow, said addressing gender issues requires responsive data that would help decision makers to adopt actions essential to meeting the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, especially with regards to gender equality.

He said: “The journey of this capacity development started in 2020, with the online high-level advocacy event, after which we had another online training to kick off the case studies. Thankfully, we can meet today face to face for the final training. 
“You will recall that during the April online event, we mentioned our passion about this capacity building programme; not only arising from a study we did on gender sensitive information and data, but the need to address gender issues in most aspects of development, including water management, especially in the context of climate change adaptation. 
“Addressing gender issues require gender responsive data that would help decision makers to adopt actions that are in line with best practice that will advance gender equality; which is essential to meeting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To this end, strengthening gender equality in water management can further strengthen social inclusion, improve environmental sustainability and ensure food security on a global scale. 
“As you know, access to clean and safe water is critical and is indispensable to healthy living, environmental sustainability and needed to avoid the spread of diseases like cholera and the present COVID-19. UNESCO works through the Intergovernmental Hydrological Progranmme (IHP) to support member states in water research, water resource management, water education, and capacity building. The present capacity building is one of such endeavours and given our rich experience, UNESCO stands ready to continue giving technical support to its members states in these areas.”

Speaking earlier, the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, represented by the Water Resources Planning and Technical Support Services, Mrs Alice Ojowu, said the presence or absence of safe and sufficient water supply and improved sanitation facilities has disproportionate effect on the lives of women and girls.

He said: “It is obvious that, without safe drinking water, adequate sanitation and hygiene facilities at home and in places of work and education, it is disproportionately harder for women and girls to lead safe, productive and healthy lives. Women and girls are responsible for water collection in 8 out of every 10 households with water off premises, which means reducing the population with limited drinking water services, which has a strong gender impact.

“In many countries, the presence or absence of safe and sufficient water supply and improved sanitation facilities has a disproportionate effect on the lives of women and girls for three main reasons. First, women and girls usually bear the responsibility for collecting water, which is often very time-consuming and arduous. Secondly, women and girls are more vulnerable to abuse and attack due to open defecation site. Thirdly, women have specific hygiene needs during menstruation, pregnancy and child rearing. 

“Furthermore, the impacts of climate change and health-related issues can further aggravate the already pitiable situation. Therefore, sustainable water solutions, whether at the local, national, regional and global levels, involving creativity, new scientific knowledge discoveries and innovations that adopt gender-sensitive approaches are crucial to attaining water and sanitation for all.”