Women role in water governance

I am observing since long in my home my wife and younger sister always trying hard to manage the water usage successfully. While living in Karachi, everybody knows, what the hell is doing under the Nose of politically influential ruling elite in water crisis.
So, we can understand the selfless services of Ladies in house hold. I always observed in my home, my wife used to put a large bottle to collect the air-conditioner water in Summer because she knows well the scarcity of water.
When I was thinking about the water governance, which refers to the political, social, economic and administrative systems in place that influence water’s use and management, then I believe there should be a powerful role of women to tackle the scarcity of water.
We all know, around the world, women and girls are more often responsible for collection and management of water in household.
This has come in to my knowledge that Sindh Assembly passed the Sindh Water Management (Amendment) Bill, 2018, on 12th January, 2021, this legislation in order to provide for the empowerment of women.
The credit goes to the Sindh Assembly members but especially Rana Ansar, on MPA, belonging to the MQM (Pakistan) took up this amendment to the bill.
The efforts of “SPO” Strengthening Participating Organization, should be appreciated loudly. The SPO and other civil society organizations head lobbied and carried out advocacy efforts to have this bill passed.
It is matter of rejoice that after the passage of the amendment, women will get representation in around 45000 Water Course Associations more than 350 farmer organization and 14, Area Water distribution boards. The main aim is to enter the Women in water resource management and irrigation structures in Sindh Province.
We are well aware about the issues in water distribution in Sindh Province , because of influential political elites. According to the reliable sources, there is a priority list to get irrigation water from canals in Sindh Irrigation Department. This could be the huge challenge to implement this amendment to empower the women farmers, those who have not political power in the province.
Women are the part of the farming community of Sindh. Besides owning their small land, they also work as farm workers at their neighbour’s land.
Women constitute 49% of Pakistan’s population but only 24% of Pakistan’s Labour force as per the Globle Gender Gap 2018 report. In the recently held provisional census, women (22.956m) are half of Sindh’s total population of 47.883 million which is 48% and they mostly live in Sindh with a dismal literacy rate when compared with the Urban literacy rate.
So, it could be the huge challenge for civil society organizations to train and educate the women farmers to give active participation in water distribution boards and water course associations as members. A short course should be introduced to certify the women farmers to become the active members,
According to the amended bill, two women of the (FO) Farmers organization command Area, of one may be local Union Council member, having strong farming background in irrigated agriculture and water, provided that one women member shall be Land less.
Two prominent women of the (AWB) Area Water Board Command area having strong farming background in irrigated agriculture and water if available, preferably member of Board of management of any farmer organization. .
It is a responsibility of (SIDA) Sindh Irrigation Development Authority to implement this law with letter and spirit. So, SPO (Strengthening Participating Organization) also facilitated SIDA for the development of rules of business regarding women’s inclusion in farmer organizations, water courses associations and area water board. Approval of developed ROBs by SIDA law department would be a progressive step for empowering farmers women in the water governance decision making bodies.
According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) women make 77% of farmers in Sindh, which is a huge number. A 2015 study, revealed that women’s role as the farmers has enhanced in last two decades and the major reason behind is that a major chunk of men has left for cities or developed areas for better earnings and escape the landlord system.
Specially in Sindh, the labour from rural areas are coming to the Urban Sindh, it shows the distrust of previous injustice system of Mazara’s and Harri’s
The recruitment in armed forces of Pakistan has been increased during the last two decades, now it’s about 14% from the Sindh province. So, the female participation as farmers has been increased in rural areas.
The people who are living on the tail end of canals, they told their stories, which are heart breaking, because they could not control their tears while telling the insides about their problems.
Despite owning acres of land, they could not cultivate because water does not reach their lands. They want to live like politically influential farmers. Water has always been wealth in all agricultural areas.
In 1816, at time when the British still ruled the subcontinent Sir, Charles Trevelyan said, “Water is more valuable than land.” His saying is still valid.
The province of Sindh in Pakistan is bestowed with an irrigation network with 14 canals and move than 45000, small channels, and three Barrages.
The participation of women in water distribution structure should be taken as healthy change. Women could be able to implement the drip and sprinkle irrigation system as revolutionary change to overcome the scarcity of water.

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