A new study from the Volta highlights challenges and opportunities for gender-inclusive water management initiatives
The Upper East Region of northern Ghana, located within the White Volta watershed, is primarily rural and agriculturally oriented, with a large female workforce. This region was one of the sites of CPWF’s Volta Basin Development Challenge activities, which aimed to strengthen integrated management of rainwater and small reservoirs so that they can be used equitably and for multiple purposes.
Appropriate integrated water resources management (IWRM) policy interventions in the Volta necessitate the inclusion and involvement of women, who play a large role in agricultural activities, and therefore water use. But how do you ‘involve women’ in water resources management policy, particularly when they generally have limited policy decision-making power?
One Volta project on ‘Governance of rainwater and small reservoirs’ (V4) conducted research to determine how the indigenous knowledge of environmental systems, which includes both male and female perspectives, can be more appropriately linked to expert/scientific knowledge and policymakers’ mandates on IWRM. The activities, issues and concerns of women in the Upper East Region needed to be appropriately accounted for, but it quickly became clear that the understanding of project partners was limited. Existing literature on women’s roles was also lacking.
This paper by Kalie Lasiter and Stephanie Stawicki presents the results of a study that analyzed the processes, opportunities and constraints of how and why women organize themselves in particular social groupings. The paper concludes with an evaluation of how, if at all, IWRM-related district, regional and national level policies from government departments address women and their social networks in Ghana. It is hoped that this study will provide insights for organizations carrying out future gender-inclusive IWRM initiatives, as well as engage government and nongovernmental organizations operating in Ghana in a discussion of how current IWRM policies and practices can better incorporate women.