Gender Mainstreaming in the Management of the Bridge Water Supply Project in Kakamega County
Mwambu, Brian W.
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Water is an important natural resource in the lives of all human beings. Women and men have different roles and experiences affecting perceptions and use of natural resources including water. It is thus important that men and women be equally involved in its management so as to effectively and equitably address their needs, concerns and the distribution of accrued benefits. This study looked at the management of water resource in a community based project, the Bridge Water Supply Project, established in Kakamega County since 2009. The mandate of the project was to drill boreholes for domestic and institutional use, through funding from donors and the local community. The project had drilled 123 boreholes managed by Borehole Management Committees and the overall Management Board hence the problem that underpinned this study was the extent to which gender mainstreaming had informed the management of the Bridge Water Supply Project in Kakamega County. The objectives of the study were to establish the utilization of water provided by the project, investigate the participation of men and women in the management of the boreholes, establish the level of awareness and existing policies on gender mainstreaming in the management of the project, identify challenges encountered in mainstreaming gender in water resource management at the project and identify strategies to enhance gender mainstreaming in management of the project. The study was guided by the gender planning framework developed by Caroline Moser in 1980. A 10% sample of 13 out of the 123 committees that manage the boreholes were randomly selected for the study, comprising 5 household committees, 6 learning and 2 committees from religious institutions. Key informants were heads of selected institutions and the chief of the location where the study was undertaken. The instruments used to collect data were questionnaires, focused group discussion guide, interview schedule and an observation checklist. Data collected were analyzed according to emerging themes based on the research objectives. The study established that women were discriminated against in terms of participation in management committees despite the fact that they were the main water users. The project had only one gender mainstreaming policy which was an affirmative action. Moreover, the level of awareness on gender mainstreaming was found to be low. Among the challenges to mainstream gender in management of the project were associating women to the gender assigned roles and low turnout and inconsistency of participation by women during the project meetings. The financial requirement by the project also hindered participation of women into management of the project. On the basis of findings, the study recommended training and awareness creation on the need for gender equity, dissemination of the affirmative action policy, empowerment and mobilization of women to seek management positions and engagement of a gender expert to guide gender mainstreaming in the management of the project.