JIS News

The Water and Housing Ministry held its second in a series of three Gender, Water and Sanitation workshops yesterday (June 14) under its Rural Water Sanitation Programme (RWSP).
Some 50 stakeholders attended the forum, where they received feedback from pilot groups in the rural communities of Mile Gully/Warwick Castle in St. Mary and Gravel Hill in Clarendon, which have been experiencing limited access to potable and piped water.
The Gender, Water and Sanitation project is aimed at examining and highlighting the related issues of sanitation and hygiene and to pursue sustainable human development goals, including the dignity and health of women, young girls and children.
The undertaking, which is the result of collaboration between the government of Jamaica and the Canada Caribbean Gender Equality Programme (CCGEP), serves to investigate within a gender analytical framework, the state of water and sanitation in Jamaica. A key aim of the research project, is to promote gender equality and equality in policies regarding the access, use and management of water resources and to get more women involved in the decision-making process as it relates to water-related development.
The project places focus on rural Jamaica, where it is felt the majority of poor Jamaicans live and continue to experience difficulties from the lack of access to safe drinking water and have to endure the laborious effort of carrying water. In addition, the project will address the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are central to the aims of the research.
The MDG’s are aimed at eradicating social conditions, such as extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, stemming loss of environmental resources and developing global partnerships for development.
Lead Gender Consultant with the project, Sybil Douglas-Ricketts said a part of the project, was to mainstream gender within the sector and unveil the problems, which prevent capacity building between the sexes.
She said it would also speak to how policies and programmes could be best developed to the benefit of both groups when implemented. Mrs. Ricketts said the research also concentrated on examining water and sanitation issues both at the institutional policy level and the community level.
Participatory learning and action (PLA) component consultant with the project Bridgette Barrett, in giving an overview of the community intervention aspect, informed that through the efforts of some 18 trained facilitators from the pilot communities, over 70 PLA tools comprising data on issues affecting the groups, were developed and documented. This included data on the movement of persons to fetch water, water source locations, the distances travelled and the time taken to carry the water from point to point.
Community personnel, in outlining the difficulties faced in accessing water, cited distance, the effects of using untreated water, the problems faced by females in performing normal household chores, the effects on children and elderly persons, as some of the most daunting aspects of living without easy access to potable and piped water.
They also pointed out, that they were unable to farm extensively and engage in other professions, which required substantial amounts of water because of the distance to the source, while expressing the hope that quick action would be taken to improve the situation.
In the meantime, plans are advanced to restore potable piped water to the Gravel Hill community by 2006, under a $25 million project.
For its part, the government is hoping that the research project will provide ways to strengthen the relationship between the Ministry of Water and Housing and civil society this through the wide representation of civil associations including Benevolent Societies, developmental organizations and advocacy groups.

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