Focus on Violence and Gender in the WASH and Household Energy Sectors

WASHplus Weekly | Issue 151 | June 27, 2014 | Focus on Violence and Gender in the WASH and Household Energy Sectors

There have been several new initiatives to deal with the problem of violence and gender. In the WASH sector, several key organizations have worked together to publish a recent toolkit that discusses how to make WASH safer and more effective. In the household energy sector, the SAFE strategy, or the Global Strategy for Safe Access to Fuel and Energy was recently launched by the UN High High Commissioner for Refugees. The SAFE strategy principally addresses technology and program management and provides guidance on a holistic approach to the safety challenge in humanitarian settings. USAID has also published a new toolkit to support the implementation of the U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally.



Violence, Gender and WASH: A Practitioner’s Toolkit, 2014. (Link)
The toolkit has been developed by Sarah House, Suzanne Ferron, Marni Sommer and Sue Cavill on behalf of WaterAid with contributions from a wide range of actors. It was funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) of the British Government through the Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research For Equity (SHARE) Consortium. By recognizing both the risks of violence associated with WASH and the potential benefits of WASH, this toolkit aims to shine a light on this problem and encourage practitioners to recognize their capacity to make WASH safer and more effective.

Toolkit for Monitoring and Evaluating Gender-Based Violence Interventions along the Relief to Development Continuum, 2014. USAID. (Link)
USAID developed this toolkit to support the implementation of the U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally. It provides guidance to USAID staff, implementing partners and the larger community of international relief and development practitioners on how to monitor and evaluate gender-based violence interventions along the Relief to Development Continuum (RDC). The RDC is divided broadly into three phases: (1) the pre-crisis phase, (2) the crisis phase, and (3) the post-crisis phase. The toolkit identifies opportunities for doing monitoring and evaluation along the RDC and gives advice on how to address constraints and challenges relating to each phase.


Two Girls Died Looking for a Toilet. This Should Make Us Angry, Not Embarrassed.The Guardian, June 2014. B Frost. (Link)
Attacks on girls and women as they look for somewhere private to defecate are frighteningly common. Improving basic sanitation, as a global goal, would do a lot to make them safer.

Inequity: A Shared Root Cause of Low Access to Sanitation Services and Violence Against WomenIRC Blog, June 2014. D Casella. (Link)
“IRC believes in a world where water, sanitation and hygiene services are fundamental utilities that everyone is able to take for granted, forever. But we are concerned about the pervasive issue of violence against women being subsumed under the urgent need to promote public attention to the global sanitation crisis.”

How a Lack of Toilets Puts India’s Women at Risk of AssaultNPR Radio, June 2014. J McCarthy. (Article/podcast)
India’s former rural development minister, Jairam Ramesh, says increased government assistance for building toilets has spurred construction, as has the issue of women’s privacy. But a social movement to revolutionize attitudes and behaviors toward sanitation in India may be in order. Many Indians look to their new Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make good on his recent election campaign promise: “toilets first, temples later.”

Sanitation Begins with Sanity. Let the Toilets WaitMansampark, June 2014. S Joshi.(Link)
“The argument that better access to toilets would help reduce violence against women is just another mode of denial, as bad as the sexists who want to deny the root of the problem – how families and communities raise men. And when it comes to sanitation, our problems and solutions lie much further away.”

Discussions on the SuSanA Forum about Violence against Women and the Lack of SanitationSuSanA Forum, June 2014. (Link)
There were several posts on the SuSanA Forum about violence against women and the lack of sanitation.

Water, Women and Marital Violence in a Bangladesh Village, 2013. K.M. Rabiul Karim.(Link)
This study explores the consequences of a groundwater project on women’s workload and their experience with marital violence in a Bangladesh village. The project facilitated irrigation water but it also resulted in seasonal domestic water shortages.

Gender Analysis of Water Health and Sanitation Emergency Response in Rakhine State, 2013. UNICEF. (Link)
Gender-based violence (GBV) is under-reported in all emergencies and Rakhine is no exception. Rapid protection assessments indicated that there have been cases of GBV, such as sexual harassment, sexual abuse and domestic violence. It is important to stress that even though there are no reports or evidence on GBV, humanitarian personnel should assume it is happening and take all necessary precautions to prevent and tackle it. On the basis of experience from other emergencies, there is a connection between poorly designed and located WASH facilities (far from shelters, poorly lit, not lockable etc.) and exposure to sexual violence.



Global Strategy for Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE):  A UNHCR Strategy 2014-2018. UNHCR. (Link)
As a core component of UNHCR’s protection mandate, this strategy aims to safeguard refugees from protection risks such as sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), which often occurs in the search for firewood and during dark hours. This will be done through the provision of lighting, energy technologies and fuel in camps. It will also help to realize other rights related to health, nutrition, education and livelihoods as well as decrease tensions that may arise between refugees and host communities due to competition over energy resources.

Scaling Adoption of Clean Cooking Solutions through Women’s Empowerment:  A Resource Guide, 2013. C Hart. (Link)
This resource guide builds off of existing resources while compiling and analyzing a wide-variety of case studies, tools, and stories that outline practical, actionable methods and best practices for scaling adoption of clean cooking solutions through women’s empowerment.

Addressing Sexual Violence in and Beyond the Warzone, 2014. Institute of Development Studies. (Link)
A recent meta-analysis of existing studies shows that one in five female refugees or internally displaced persons living in camps or urban areas worldwide has experienced sexual violence while displaced. In 2011, 530 cases of sexual and gender-based violence were reported in Kakuma, a refugee camp in Kenya hosting approximately 100,000 migrants from Somalia, South Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia. Women were most frequently exposed to sexual violence when using washing facilities at night and when collecting firewood outside the camp.

Women and Natural Resources: Unlocking the Peacebuilding Potential, 2013. UNEP.(Link)
As the primary providers of water, food and energy at the household and community levels, women in rural settings are often highly dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods, and are therefore particularly susceptible to changes in the availability and quality of these resources during and after conflict. In particular, lack of access to land – which underpins rights to all other natural resources and is a key asset for securing productive inputs – can force them into increasingly vulnerable situations and expose them to higher levels of physical and livelihood risk, with trickle-down impacts on community welfare.

Women as Decision Makers in Community Forest Management: Evidence from Nepal, 2013. M Leone. (Link)
This paper looks at whether and how increased participation of women in the Executive Committee (EC) of Community Forest User Groups (CFUG) in Nepal affects forest protection, specifically the quantity of firewood collected by the households.  The results show that higher female participation in the ECs of CFUGs leads to a significant decrease in firewood extraction. These results suggest that in countries with common property resources, the effectiveness of collective action institutions depends also on their gender composition. The recognition of the essential role that women play in forest management can make a difference in terms of forest conservation.

Collective Violence Caused by Climate Change and How It Threatens Health and Human RightsHealth and Human Rights Journal, June 2014. B Levy. (Link)
Collective violence due to climate change poses serious threats to health and human rights, including by causing morbidity and mortality directly and also indirectly by damage to the health-supporting infrastructure of society, forcing people to migrate from their homes and communities, damaging the environment, and diverting human and financial resources.

A Rights-Based Approach to Indoor Air PollutionHealth and Human Rights, Dec 2013. J Lim. (Link)
Household indoor air pollution from open-fire cookstoves remains a public health and an environmental hazard that impacts negatively on people’s right to health. In poor, rural isolated communities, there is unlikely to be a single behavioral or technological “fix” to this problem. The authors suggest that improved cookstoves are an important health intervention to which people have a right, as they do to family planning, vaccination, and essential primary care medicines. Like these other necessary elements in the fulfillment of the right to health, access to clean indoor air should be incorporated into state health strategies, policies, and plans. State infrastructure and health systems should support public and private sector delivery of improved cookstove services, and ensure that such services reach all communities, even those that are poor, located remotely, and likely not to be served by the market.

Fuel Efficient Stoves and the Reduction of Gender-Based Violence in Darfur IDP CampsPeace and Conflict Monitor, 2014. S Chikhi. (Link)
Gender-based violence against women is a wide-spread phenomenon in Darfur. Victims of the Janjaweed militia, refugee women who leave the camps to collect firewood are further victimized because of social stigma. In order to reduce this type of crimes against humanity the use of fuel efficient stoves is recommended. The success of such an approach to improve the situation for women cannot be achieved without the contribution of non-profit organizations and the international community. A theory of change in that setting will require women’s empowerment and their involvement as leaders within the specificities of the Darfuri traditional context. This paper provides a theoretical framework for the successful use of fuel efficient stoves within the community as well as the needed support for the success of such an endeavor.


The “SAFE” Initiative: Ensuring Safe Access to Appropriate Cooking Fuel in Humanitarian Settings, March 2013. Presentation by Erin Patrick, Women’s Refugee Commission. (Link)

Safe Access to Firewood and Alternative Energy (SAFE): Introduction to Programme Implementation, Clean Cooking Forum, March 2013. Presentation by Megan Gerrard, World Food Programme. (Link)

Innovations in Responding to Domestic Energy Needs of Refugees, IDPs and Vulnerable Populations, Clean Cooking Forum, March 2013. Presentation by Amare Egzhiaber, UNHCR. (Link)

Humanitarian Stove/Fuel Mapping: Key Initial Findings, Clean Cooking Forum, March 2013. Presentation by Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC). (Link)

Ensuring the Supply and Deployment of Cooking Solutions in Emergency Response, March 2013. Presentation by Corinne Hart, Program Manager, Gender and Markets, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. (Link)

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