Community Governance and Gender in Water and Sanitation in Angola


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This article is based on the Consolidated Reply to the query on information related to community governance and gender in water and sanitation of 29 September 2009, prepared by the Gender-Net, EE-Net and DGP-Net Facilitation Teams.



In most societies, women have primary responsibility for management of household water supply, sanitation and health. Water is necessary not only for drinking, but also for food production and preparation, care of domestic animals, personal hygiene, care of the sick, cleaning, washing and waste disposal. Because of their dependence on water resources, women have accumulated considerable knowledge about water resources, including location, quality and storage methods. However, efforts geared towards improving the management of the world’s finite water resources and extending access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, often overlook the central role of women in water management.[1]

The importance of involving both women and men in the management of water and sanitation has been recognized at the global level. To respond to this need, there is a wide array of relevant resources that have been developed and that are available through UNDP and other channels, such as the UNDP Water Governance Facility, MDG GoAL-WaSH Programme, Waterwiki, Governance Assessment Portal, etc. Several of these include training modules on water and sanitation planning at municipal level, covering community governance and gender issues. These training modules are available in multiple languages and they can serve as a guide or that can be adapted for the project in Angola.

Comparative Experiences


There is a 3-year MDG-F project in Mexico aiming to strengthen democratic water management and sanitation to support the achievement of the MDGs. Part of UNDP’s role in the project will be to incorporate gender and ethnicity considerations into the activities. The project will include participatory diagnostics based on the methodology of the Blue Agenda of Women, an activity to consensually develop policy proposals for adaptation and risk management in water and sanitation and the development of a public guide for advocacy and lobbying on water policy. This is a pilot project in Mexico because it is the first time that eight agencies of the United Nations System are working along in a joint program.


UNDP, in partnership with the Government of Chad, has implemented a project entitled "Water Governance and Local Development in Mayo-Kebbi" (South-west of the country). This project aimed to make water available to people, to organize people to manage water resources in order to generate revenue for small restorations and to organize around issues of income generating activities. The project has undertaken the rehabilitation of water taps and user training on sanitation around the taps, building latrines and training on management and operation of these latrines. The project also addressed management and monitoring of micro-irrigation systems and provided group training in crop irrigation techniques and a network to monitor surface water.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

UNDP and UNICEF are working on a similar MDGF funded project ‘Securing Access to Water through Institutional Development and Infrastructure’. The project is about to start in October this year focusing on three main outcomes:

1) Strengthened inclusion of citizens in the participative municipal governance of Water access;
2) Improved economic governance in water utility companies for better services to citizens in targeted municipalities;
3) Strengthened capacity of government for evidence-based policy making and resource planning for equitable water related service provision.

Under the umbrella of the BRC regional programme promoting “A Human Rights-Based Approach to Water Governance”, a joint sector assessment has recently been undertaken together with the global UNDP GoAL-WaSH programme for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Based on the WSS sector assessment, the mission has developed a couple of project options, from which the CO has decided to follow-up on an awareness raising and community empowerment component, to be integrated into the UNDP/UNICEF MDG-F programme.

The intended outcome is “Strengthened Inclusion of Citizens in the Participative Municipal Governance of Water Access”. The project will include the development of a similar handbook, and there is an interest in cooperation with other countries in implementation and sharing of best practices and lessons learned.


A Workshop on Governance Assessment Methods and Applications of Governance Data in Policy-Making was held in Cairo 1-4 June 2009, hosted by the Egyptian Cabinet think tank, Information and Decision Support Centre, and UNDP, discussed tools, frameworks and approaches for measuring governance in a number of sectors including water. More information about this workshop, powerpoint presentations, and a tool by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions entitled ‘Possible indicators for the right to water and sanitation’ are available on the GAP Portal.


In October 2007, the Water Community of Solution Exchange India had a discussion on capacity building initiatives in Water and Sanitation, as a prelude to designing training courses for people working on the sector. The discussion covered capacity building initiatives and the constraints in delivery training to different target groups. A more recent Solution Exchange discussion for UNICEF discussed how to scale up solid and liquid waste management in rural and semi-urban areas. It emphasized that states solid and liquid waste management (SLWM) is best done in a decentralized manner at the household, village or locality level using various technology options available. An information-education campaign for social mobilization can precede the implementation of any community SLWM activity to build awareness on the health aspects of sanitation, technology and methodology. Social mobilization can take precedence over technology in SLWM. The Government of India has recently issued guidelines on rural drinking water and on providing urban sanitation for all. ( IndiaRuralDrinkingWater.pdf,  IndiaUrbanSanForAll.pdf).

UNDP Regional Centre for Asia & Pacific

The UNDP Regional Centre Bangkok is currently undertaking a regional initiative in collaboration with UNICEF and UNESCO called Improving Service Delivery to Improve the MDGs with a focus on three sectors: Health; Education; and Water and Sanitation. One of the purposes of the initiative is to develop effective sectoral decentralization frameworks, and draft reports have been completed on the functional mapping of the water and sanitation sector in a few countries. The water and sanitation sector is a complicated and challenging one, with responsibilities usually spread across different line ministries making the coordination of activities, financing and accountability more difficult for policy and planning.

Recommended Contacts

  1. Alastair Morrison, MDG GoAL-WaSH Coordinator, Sweden, formerly Oxfam’s National Water Advisor in Angola from 2001-2003 at
  2. Regional expertise can be found through the Cap-Net network in each region on Waternet
  3. Dr. Thomas Petermann at ( or phone +49 34202 845-202), INWENT (a German non-profit organization)
  4. Igor Palandzic ( (for Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  5. Katy Norman ( (for Bosnia and Herzegovina)



See also

Water Governance


Women and Water - Gender Dimension in Water Governance

External Resources

Training Resources
  • Resource Guide on Gender and Water Management, UNDP and Gender and Water Alliance (English, French, Spanish and Arabic) - to assist practitioners in mainstreaming gender within water sub-sectors include: sanitation and hygiene, water supply, agriculture, coastal zone management, capacity building and gender responsive budgeting.

  • Rural Drinking Water guidelines, Government of India, Department of Drinking Water Supply, Ministry of Rural Development

Resource Guides and Portals
  • WaterWiki

Issue/policy briefs


 IndiaRuralDrinkingWater.pdf  IndiaUrbanSanForAll.pdf

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