Workshop Gender aspects in water resources management in Kyrgyz Republic, Bishkek, 3 August 2007
On 3rd August 2007, in the Bishkek city the national coordinator of Kyrgyz Republic Ye.P.Sakhvayeva together with the project manager G.V.Stulina organized first national workshop “Gender aspects of water management in the Kyrgyz Republic” within the framework of the project “GWANET – Gender and Water Network in Central Asia” supported by ADB. Representatives of national water sector, sanitation and hygiene, leaders of Water User Associations, and NGOs took part in the workshop.
The workshop was opened by the Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Processing Industry, Kyrgyz Republic, B.T.Koshmatov. He briefly dwelled on gender concept and highlighted the process of establishing WUA in the republic.
G.V.Stulina presented to the participants the purposes and objectives of the workshop, as well as of the GWANET project and stated outlines of gender mainstreaming in water management. Then she reported on experience in gender analysis, which was conducted under the projects implemented by SIC ICWC and GWP CACENA.
The primary purpose of the workshop was to encourage the participants to share their opinions about the workshop theme, state the actual state-of-affairs in the sector, in situ, in WUA, and discuss their practices in solving the problems. All the participants were given the possibility to share their wishes.
Prof. V.A.Dukhovny, Director of SIC ICWC made his report on Gender, Water and MDGs. This report generated great interest and got positive responses.
M.A. Tyubeyev, technical manager of Kyrgyzstan WUA Union presented results of gender research in Water User Associations as undertaken in 2006 under the ADB project “Studying the pricing system and the irrigation cost recovery mechanism”. This report provoked active discussions.
Ye.P.Sakhvayeva gave brief analysis of gender equality in the sector.
Reports of F.Mendikulova (Partnership initiative for development), N.S.Vashneva (State sanitary & epidemiological supervision), Ch.Isayeva (Issykkul district water authority), B.G. Shabdanbekova (NGO Ledy-Shirin), etc.
As a result of sharing opinions, the following issues were identified:
- Direct dependence of human health, especially of women and children, on drinking water quality, quantity and access. Until now people take water for drinking from the open sources in some areas such as Osh town and many small settlements.
- Direct dependence of human health, particularly of children, on following the sanitary hygiene rules.
- Direct dependence of population on their way of using and protecting water conduits and on maintaining of drinking water protective area.
- There are no projects of water source protective area.
- As population and in-migration grow, non-irrigated lands that cannot be supplied with water due to lack of appropriate water transportation system become developed. This leads to increased tension on water supply.
- Due to deforestation in some river basins, there is intensive soil erosion causing siltation of intake structures. This leads to unsustainable water delivery to members of WUAs.
- Lack of equipment (tractors, combines, auto-transport, computers, water meters) in WUA. This impedes efficient management in WUA.
- Lack of knowledge by women of their rights and responsibilities and their inability to protect them.
- Low salaries in water sector causes outflow of skilled staff and non-inflow of young specialists. As a result, female staff and managers bear double load.
- Low involvement of women in leadership of water sector.
- Poor awareness of women and men about gender issues.
- Lack of knowledge, skills and practices in environmentally sustainable nature and land use.
- Lack of knowledge and incentives for application of resource-conservation technologies, especially for water.
- Lack of research of gender aspects in water, agricultural and environmental sectors.
- Irrational use of drinking water (this water is used for irrigation of backyard gardens and not only for drinking and sanitary-hygiene purposes).
- Low paying capacity and ignorance of population as concerns, for example, selection of water-intake types: they select the cheapest one, which cannot guarantee supply of high-quality drinking water.
- Poor national economic conditions. This leads to migration outside the republican boundaries, and, as a result, children are left in the charge of grandmother and grandfather or of relatives.
- Women, besides paid work, are occupied with (non-paid) housekeeping, children care, which are not taken into account when accounting pension, i.e. social security protection is much lower than that of men. In accounting pension, number of children is not taken into account as well.
- Recently, payments to mothers for child birth and care were reduced. As a result, there is not social support of mother and child and the head of family bears triple load for family maintenance.
Based on discussion and written proposals of the participants, the following ways were suggested to solve the problems:
- Undertake awareness-raising campaign among the staff of water and agricultural sectors and the farmers about gender issues in form of training, seminars and courses.
- Promote environmental education, especially among rural population, and personal hygiene training among children.
- Decisions regarding supply of population with drinking water should be made on participatory basis.
- Implement government programs on drinking water supply and inform population about program progress.
- Carry out research in order to identify gender problems in water, agricultural, and environmental sectors.
- Recommend decision-makers to nominate women for managerial positions in the sector and WUA.
- Train women in methods of gender analysis and gender approach in all fields of activity.
- Organize permanent work with farmers and rural people to identify problems.
- Take part in development of gender-sensitive legislation.
The workshop indicated to awareness of the problems, great activity and interest of the participants. Therefore, it was decided:
- to establish NGO “Gender – green movement!” in the Kyrgyz Republic. SIC and ADB are requested to render assistance in its registration;
- to include additional seventeen people, who filled in the registration forms, in GWANET Network;
- place regularly information about project progress on the web-site of the Department for Water Resources.
Finally, the participants expressed their thanks to the Asian Development Bank, SIC ICWC and the organizers for such an important events and hoped on further joint activities in this direction.