Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, and Empowerment? Perspective from Community Stakeholders in Asutifi North Ghana.

Authors: Florence Dery*, Queen's University, Elijah Bisung, Queen's University
Topics: Development, Human-Environment Geography, Africa
Keywords: Ghana, Gender, Empowerment, WASH, Qualitative study
Session Type: Guided Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Roosevelt 3.5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Gender plays an important role in shaping access to and governance of water and sanitation resources. Specifically, ensuring that women are empowered in the design, management and monitoring of water and sanitation resources is a strategic gender-mainstreaming practice that could improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) outcomes. The purpose of this study is to examine the meanings of empowerment in WASH from the perspective of local stakeholders in Asutifi North District, Ghana. The study employed a qualitative approach that involves 15 key informant interviews with community leaders, local government professionals, and WASH practitioners. Data were analyzed thematically. Preliminary analysis indicates that participants conceptualized empowerment in terms of seven dimensions “input into decision making”; “WASH information”; “leadership in community WASH committee”; “inclusive participation”; “access to WASH facilities”; “men’s engagement in household WASH activities”; and “work and leisure”. Findings also revealed that these dimensions continuously interact as empowerment in one dimension leads to (dis)empowerment in another. Participants also defined empowerment as a multifaceted process that is shaped by the physical, social, cultural, and political environments within their communities. Findings would provide researchers and practitioners with a greater understanding of dimensions of empowerment that are relevant for strengthening WASH interventions, as well as tracking progress towards gender inclusion outcomes. This is particularly important to ensure inclusive WASH service delivery that is needed to achieve gender-sensitive SDG targets for universal water and sanitation access.

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