Women / Irrigation / Drinking Water / Sanitation and Their Interrelationships - Revised Draft April 13, 1985 (55 pages)


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Women / Irrigation / Drinking Water / Sanitation and Their Interrelationships - Revised Draft April 13, 1985 (55 pages)
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Series 3: Appropriate Technology
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Mixed Material
Elmendorf, Mary L. (Mary Lindsay)
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Revised Draft
April 13, 1985

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A Background Paper
Prepared by
Mary Elmendorf


FAO/Food and Agriculture Organization



One of the few general papers that refers to multiple use is the one

presented by FAO in 1977 at the United Nations Water Conference in Argentina

which noted that irrigation projects in developing countries nearly always

combine the provision of domestic supplies with water for agriculture.

...the large supplies needed for irrigated crops ensure that the
much smaller human needs are satisfied without difficulty, almost
as a byproduct. This is particularly so in the very large irriga-
tion schems in Egypt, Syria and India. In those areas, the farming
communities are always certain of adequate supplies from the irri-
gation channel networks or from shallow wells and the big problem
becomes not the difficulty of provision but the need for unpolluted
water for human consumption, which is rarely obtainable from the
canals and ditches. (UN/FAO 1977:10)

The World Conference on Agriarian Reform and Rural Development
(WCARRD) emphasized the importance of women's economic roles as
well as their domestic ones, and pointed out the need to reduce
household drudgery so that women could use their time to partici-
pate more in economic, educational, and political activities.
(Women in Agricultural Production, FAO 1984, Vol. 1)

It is estimated that 80% of all illnesses in the Third World are
linked to scarcity and/or pollution of water. (UNICEF/WHO 1979)

Despite the fact that in many countries women take an active part
in basic agricultural production, too often land and water devel-
opment projects do not take women into account as participants in
the development process. ( Women in Land and Water Development
FAO 1982:3)















As I summarize the findings from my review of the literature on Women,

Irrigation, Drinking Water and Sanitation, I would like to start with a quote

from Chambers and one from Coward: "the maddening nature of water itself, with

its tendency to flow, seep, evaporate, condense, and transpire, and the problems

it presents in measurement -- problems which tie down natural and physical sci-

entists to research-intensive tasks, denying them time, even if they had inclina-

tion, to branch out and examine wider aspects such as the people who manage the

water and how they behave." (Chambers as quoted in Coward, 1982)

"The cramped vision from within narrow disciplinary boundaries, including

mutual ignorance between social scientists and technologists and a reluctance

to explore a no-man's land between disciplines" (Coward 1982:29) is cited as the

reason more of the needed interdisciplinary work has not been done.

But even with "branching out" and loosened visions the difficulties of try-

ing to generalize from the few case studies which have examined what really

happens to water at the community and household level, and what women and men

have done, are doing,and might do,only adds to the dilemma.

And the failure by most technologists, engineers, and social scientists

to recognize women as primary users of both domestic and irrigation water has

contributed to the failure of many water supply and sanitation facilities and

irrigation schemes from.making their maximum contributions to productivity and


Although it is now increasingly recognized that rural women are active
participants in agricultural production, the extent and variety of their contri-
bution and its impact on rural development does not usually receive due apprecia-
tion and support. Statistics on crop and animal production tend to overlook the
variety and importance of tasks borne by women in their role as food producers.
Around the world, farmers are often still assumed to be exclusively male. Women
farmers tend to be denied direct access to the technological improvements, train-
ing and information they need. (Rafael Moreno, Director of Human Resources,
Institutions and Agrarian Reform Division) (FAO:1984)

Even though the focus of this draft paper as assigned was irrigation and

drinking water, the importance of improving domestic water supplies to meet basic

needs of consumption and cleanliness involves more than just a supply of "drink-

ing water." As important as water is for life itself, we must not limit our

attention to drinking water but must consider all the multiple uses of water

resources and the integrated management of this scarce and important element in

the environment and human ecosystem. Here I am going to raise some questions

whose answers might help us clarify women's real and potential water roles so that

field staff and planners of irrigation projects can, by involving women, increase

the overall productivity, management and benefits of the water systems.

We are looking at the complex interrelationships between women and irriga-

tion and water and sanitation systems. Instead of only analyzing the differential

effects of water management irrigation and domestic systems on women and men,

we want to summarize the effects that promotion and support of women's involve-

ment in irrigation, domestic water supply and sanitation can have on increasing

efficiency and productivity, as well as improved health and quality of life,

"Development" ,for the farm family. We have a triad (triangle) or circular

motion with water and women at the center.
Systems have many impacts cm the environment and the people. Two important
impacts are: (1) Expansion of agricultural output greater productivity meaning:
increase in demand for labor
increase in household income
changes in land
shifts in household allocations of labor and income
shifts in community allocation of household resource
(2) Changes in availability of household water with both positive
and negative effects on family health depending on:
quantity quality
appropriate treatment
Benefits and costs of the impact of irrigation systems will depend in great
part on the linkages with domestic water and sanitation and the roles of women
in both.


One of the first items we should be aware of is that it is estimated that

95% of irrigation'systems are also used for non-agricultural purposes, pri-

marily for domestic water needs and for animals, as well as other things.


The consistent (interpenetration) (interrelationship) of the two water

systems needs to be recognized and taken into consideration in project planning.

A great deal of small scale food production (kitchen gardens, small animals,

poultry, rice crops) depends on available water and, as noted above, large

numbers of households depend on irrigation systems for their domestic needs.

(Cloud,1982) Families, living in households on irrigation systems, are always there.

Even though not enough experience has been documented on the interrelation-

ships of women to irrigation and domestic water to prepare a "how-to-do-it"

manual, there is enough data from field projects and a few case studies to

highlight the importance of women's roles in achieving the goals of both increased

agricultural productivity(development)and health (improved quality of life).

When water is the resource being considered in project design either for

domestic or irrigation uses, women as the primary collectors and users of water

in their households are key actors in a cycle of activities which relate spe-

cifically to project success. If women are to continue contributing 40-45% of

the labor in irrigated agriculture, the project must consider ways to decrease

time and effort lost in non-agricultural tasks such as fetching water for

household use. This non-productive household drudgery often consumes up to 40%

of the time allocated to domestic work and often means women have to neglect their

agricultural tasks to complete their roles as mothers and wives. (Fortman:1980)


A parallel responsibility of women is maintaining the health of the family,

often an impossibility without adequate water for the home, decreasing

both her own and her family's productivity and that of the project.

With little formal concern for appropriateness or safety, irrigation water often

is currently used for a series of alternative purposes: for defecation, bathing,

washing clothes, drinking and cooking, watering animals, and religious ablutions.

In general, these alternative uses are not in competition with irrigation though

competition may exist where water is scarce.

Washing Clothes and Bathing The most frequently observed non-agricultural
use is for washing and bathing. A 3500 ha irrigation project in El Salvador has
been called the longest bathtub in the world. The one canal through the centre
of the valley is a natural place for people to congregate, wash their laundry,
and bathe. In central Java where masonry flow-measurement structures were con-
structed for research purposes in an unlined canal, they immediately became the
most popular washing and bathing places. Clothes could be beaten against the
wallsand the higher water velocity through the structure kept the floor clear of
silt, a great improvement over a mud floor bathtub. Canals in India and
Pakistan are often lined near a village and steps are constructed for easy access
to the canal for washing and bathing. Although this increases the convenience to
the users, the irrigation department's primary motivation is to protect the banks
of the canal from damage.

Faroog, et al, (1966) examined the personal, social and religious aspects of
people's use of irrigation water in a province of Egypt where schistosomiasis
was prevalent. For young males, virtually all contact was through bathing and
playing. For older males, principal contact activities were washing of cattle,
ablution, and ritual washing before prayers. Young females bathed but their most
frequent contact was while washing utensils. Utensils and clothes were washed
by women and children while standing in the water. (Yoder,1983)

Since increased quantities of water are generally recognized to be more

significant for improving health in developing countries than is improved

quality of water, dual purpose systems for domestic and irrigation water could

contribute substantially to improved health by making a greater quantity of

water available closer to the homes. In addition, providing adequate quantities

of water closer to the home would yield time and energy savings that could be

used for alternate, productive activities. For example, time saved carrying

water could be used in the fields; energy saved hauling water could mean a

lower daily caloric requirement and hence improved nutritional status. For

women fewer diarrheal attacks could increase both their time and energy and

that lost caring for sick family members especially children, many of whom die.

More convenient, larger quantities of water could facilitate household gardens

and raising of livestock to improve nutritional status and/or increase house-

hold income. (A. Bloom,1981 and Elmendorf;Isely, 1982) In fact, studies indicate

that improved water supply is related to measurable improvements in nutritional

status. The heavy burden of gastro-intestinal infections especially among

children retards growth, physical and mental development. (Scrimshaw,'70,

Chen,'80, McJunkin,'82, Elmendorf & Isely,'82)

Improvements in water supply and sanitation therefore can be conceived of as a

major precondition for agricultural development if the full productivity of the

labor force is to be realized.

Improved water supply has potential:

as a basic nutrient.

as an inhibitor of infections that may increase caloric expenditures.

as a contributor to improved nutrition through avoiding anorexia mal-

absorption and catabolic losses in infection.

as a means of conserving the energy levels of women and children by

eliminating the hours of heavy drudgery spent in water collection.

as an essential component of village level projects, such as home gardens

and raising small livestock to increase food consumption and/or household


as a method to reduce exposure to water-related infections.

as a way to break, the faecal-oral route of infections through handwash-

ing, dishwashing and personal hygiene.

as a way to increase the productivity of the overall human resource


as a strategy to enhance women's potential contribution to overall economic

development of their communities and quality of life for themselves and

their families. (Elmendorf and Isely, 1982)

Greater energy, more time, fewer sick days, and less disability should

mean more productivity and a more successful irrigation project.

However, other activities, most of which depend on women's involvement, may

be essential to reap the health benefits of domestic water provided through

irrigation systems. These include health education (including adequate facili-

ties in clinics and schools) in proper personal and household hygiene; latrines,

pour-flush water-seal toilets, or other safe means of excreta disposal, com-

munity participation and attention in the design of systems to the cultural

preferences of the community, and training in their useoperation and maintenance.

Technology, both for water uses and excreta disposal, should include women.

*Women should be actively involved in the planning and selection of improved

technologies for water and excreta disposal. (See Annex I)

A central question confronting each new water and sanitation project at the

threshold of its execution is, or should be, whether or not those for whom they are

intended will use the new facilities and how. Facilities, regardless of the excel-

lence of construction and function, will not achieve their objectives if they are

not used.

Although women are the primary users of water the world over, are frequently
the first to use sanitary installations, and are those who train children, they
are rarely singled out for this intensive user education so necessary for proper
success. (Elmendorf & Isely, 1982) And women as managers of water and waste
can be active participants in decreasing hazards and maximizing benefits from
irrigation water. Also women as productive partners in an irrigated agriculture
have much to gain, as do their families, from increased time, energy and health.


Here I will review women's roles in two aspects on-farm and off-farm, and

show some of the interrelationships of irrigation and domestic water and sanitation.4P_

On-farm will be used here to define the production activities related to the

major crops in the irrigation system.
Off-farm will be used to define water-related domestic and household activities

not directly related to the major productive activities.

This division of activities provides a format in which we can examine some

of the recent findings from 1) FAO reports and publications

2) Water Management Synthesis Reports

3) WHO reports and publications

4) a number of selected documents (see bibliography)

Obviously it is impossible to sharply delineate women's roles within the

domestic and economic productive spheres since so many activities overlap. We

should also never forget that women's domestic activities are the basic support

system for the overall labor force and productivity of the irrigation system.

On-farm and off-farm were used in quite different meanings in Cloud's

paper of 1982 in which she lumped domestic and productive activities together under

on-farm and discussed under off-farm women's roles in relation to user associations,

management of conflict, etc. Even though there is overlap these issues will be

discussed in the section on decision making and management in this paper.

Understanding women's roles in an irrigation project can contribute to im-

proved, more efficient and equitable development planning and increase overall

productivity as was pointed out forcefully by Jennie Dey. (1981 aind 1984)

It is important to study both women's on-farm (production) and off-farm

(domestic) spheres of activities in relationship to the irrigated agricultural

system and the overall welfare of the project population.

While the physical resources such as land and water are provided by any

irrigation scheme, in the Mahaweli Scheme, the farm family is considered the

catalyst needed to transform these resources into marketable products. The

contribution of labor, knowledge, capital, and management skills of the farm


family largely determine the success or failure of the development project.

Farm interviews revealed seasonal labor shortages, especially in the cultiva-

tion of upland crops such as chilies, which require much greater labor investment

than paddy. The use of broadcast seeding for paddy during the dry Yala season,

over the transplanting method, was further evidence of a response to labor

shortages. Surveys of farm women indicated that the majority assisted in major

activities associated with all stages of crop production, with increased field

work resulting from resettlement. (pp62-63 Jayewardne, et al 1983)

As Cloud summarized from earlier studies:

Depending on the availability of water, increases in agricultural
output may result from increased homestead production of vegetables,
dairy products, tree crops and poultry as well as from increased
cereal production. Depending on the system, women will be involved
as laborers and decision makers in many of these productive activities.
Almost universally they will be involved in processing the increased
production. Both the increase of labor at traditional tasks, and the
additional labor demands of a second cropping cycle, will serve to
increase demand for labor time differentially. This may benefit
women directly as day laborers, or indirectly if other family members
increase their income from paid labor. In the "too much of a good
thing" department, studies in Greece and Africa document the develop-
ment of labor bottlenecks when increased demand for labor place a dis-
proportionate workload on women. If the allocation of labor and other
resources doesn't shift sufficiently with the introduction of irrigation,
women simply can't keep up with the new work in addition to the old
The resulting labor bottlenecks reduce potential increases in agri-
cultural productivity as well as affecting the time women have available
for important household production tasks such as food preparation and
processing and child care. In resettlement programs, the burden of
women's work, combined with the loosening of traditional norms and
values, tends to reduce community activities and results in the
isolation of women in the nuclear household, with fewer social resources
in times of illness and trouble. (Dey 1981, Palmer 1979, Scudder 1981,
Hanger and Morris 1973, Cloud 1982)


When a new crop is being considered for irrigated agricultureare women informed,

consulted, expected to do the additional work, paid for their additional labor?

For instance, in the Mahaweli Irrigation Section H project in Sri Lanka the

estimated average net income (returns to family labor, land and management per

hectace for dry chili was expected to be Rs 22,272 as compared to an average per

hectare paddy net income of Rs 3,700. (53) Even though chili production is 10-15

times as profitable as paddy only 19% of the suitable cultivable area was planted

with chili. The labor and capital investments, which are 4 to 5 times greater

may be limiting factors. Lack of informing and/or paying women for their extra

work may be real constraints. (Jayawardne et al, 1983) Why do women not accept

new tasks even though they are financially rewarding? The women may not have any

time left to add new tasks unless some of their time/energy spent in water fetching

and water related activities are reduced. More accessible, safe water could help

solve these problems.

Are instruction programs, extension services actually performing as problem-

solving mechanisms for the farm family and planned in such a way that women can be


For most women participation in traditional programs in health and family
planning, education, nutrition and child care, etc., is a luxury they cannot
afford. Unless the time women spend away from household and agricultural chores
can bring in some visible contribution to family income, neither they nor their
households will feel that the time is justified. (Acharya and Bennett, 1983)

-How can time and travel constraints which often prevent women's participation

be solved?

This is the crucial point at which more accessible water, as a time and labor

saving technology, can make a difference to women's productive activities as well

as to the overall health and wealth of the family.

Time is in fact a crucial issue for women. With an average female work burden
of 10.81 hours per day (compared to 7.51 for men) rural women have no "spare"time.


Hence, workload of women, as well as the seasonal variation in their work loads and
their daily activity schedule should be kept in mind and efforts to develop labor-
saving village technologies should be intensifield... (Acharya and Bennett, 1983)

-Would increasing the number of women field assistants to specifically provided

extension services to women be a solution?

Much of the literature shows that women can learn from and with other women more

easily than in mixed groups. In water related activities both irrigation and

domestic women's specific roles and activities provide a natural setting for pro-

blem solving learning education. (Prims, 1983, Elmendorf & Isely, 1982, 1984)

Discussions of management of human waste, personal hygiene are especially

sensitive nearly taboo subjects in many cultures.

FACILITIES. Hygiene education, personal and household, therefore,
should be first of all focused on women, bearing in mind five
primary strategies:

(1)a)Increasing knowledge of the water/infection and the
excreta/water/food/infection relationships by relating
information to existing beliefs apd new practices;
b)Increasing awareness of water (site specific) hazards.
(2) Promotingrpositive attitudes toward hygienic use of
transport vessels and storage receptacles, without
neglecting the necessity that appropriate vessels,
receptacles, and cleaning materials or supplies be
locally available and at prices within reach of the
(3) Promoting water handling, excreta disposal and food
preparation practices that contribute to better health;
use of clean, covered transport and storage vessels, hand
washing after defecation and before food preparation,
covering leftover food, toilet training of toddlers,
proper disposal of infants' stools, and proper use and
care of latrines;
(4) Promoting where possible and acceptable, the appropriate
re-use of waste water and excreta ard building linkages
between the two by careful planning based on existing
(5) Promoting the use of wastewater in kitchen gardens, and feeding
domestic animals in order to improve nutrition and/or
increase income./



Domestic Water is the bridge between health and sickness, between low and high
If we accept as a primary goal of irrigation projects increased agriculture
productivity, we must be sure that cost recovery of these schemes is not at the
expense of human welfare of the intended beneficiaries (target population). The
costs of preventing negative health impacts through including provision of ade-
quate even though minimal water supply and sanitation systems should not be con-
sidered luxuries or welfare, but as an investment in increased productivity. Such
facilities would not just relieve women from the heavy burdens of water carrying
but by providing accessible water to the household, their health and nutrition and
that of their families can be improved, and the overall productivity of each family

As noted by Mather in a recent FAO document:

One of the greatest research needs is the development of information to show
that, in addition to humanitarian values, there are monetary values to be obtained
by improving human health. Worker productivity in many areas of the world is re-
duced by disease and this is a real cost to the community and country involved, as
well as to the affected individuals. Situations exist where segments of the popu-
lation are unable to provide themselves with adequate food, shelter and clothing
because of debilitating vector-borne diseases. These individuals do not contribute
to, but detract from, the welfare of the community and country they live in. It is
generally agreed that interdisciplinary efforts are needed to demonstrate quantita-
tively all the consequences of ill health in the community. However, because of the
difficulty of relating vector-borne disease control to a quantitative measure of
human profit, it is difficult to justify investments in improved health on purely
monetary grounds. (Mather et al 1984)

Safe, convenient, reliable water supply and sanitary excreta disposal are
basic human needs for healthy, productive lives. (McJunkin 1982)C Yet the difficulty
of measuring impact of improvements of domestic water and sanitation against the
cost of illness from water related diseases has been a. continuing problem.

As Gunnerson of the World Bank noted at the 1983 Rutgers conference "It's not
necessary to measure health benefits. The important thing is to achieve them."
In fact, for irrigation schemes where the goal is increased productivity the
measure can be in economic terms in increasing agriculture productivity. The ulti-
mate goal however would be improved quality of life for all.


Millions of dollars are spent in efforts to keep employees well in the developed
countries through exercise classes, gyms, and various training activities (New York
Times, Oct.14, 1984). If the literature is to be believed very little money or
planning has gone into helping families improve their own health and productivity
through provision of a need. as basic as a safe accessible reliable supply of
water and sanitary excreta disposal on irrigation schemes.(Yoder,1981; Levine,1981)

For instance, a recent report on the Dahod Tank Irrigation Project in

Madhya Pradesh, India noted "that plans are being made to provide a supply of

water, assessed at three million gallons a day, to the new industrial complex

in Maudideep. No plans have been made for present or future drinking or house-

hold water to the village of Mundla even though the supply line runs through

the village." (my underlining) (Venkataramar, et al 1984)

As Jack Keller so aptly stated after a meeting on Multi-purpose Uses of

Irrigation sponsored by the Ford Foundation and the Agricultural Development

Council, June 1981 -

"I think it is interesting to note that the early British Colonialists
(who were not exactly famous for their humanitarian efforts on behalf of the
"aborigines") often provided such amenities, for they apparently had the good
sense to know that well watered men and cattle were better producers. We
modern Westerners, having parallel systems for domestic water and fuel, forgot
the art of providing these multi-purpose needs and can only envision fish
ladders (for sport fish, of course), canal exit ramps and fences to protect the
deer and commercial cattle and barriers to keep people from falling in, drowning
and creatine a liability damage problem."

The need for community participation for successful improvements in water

supply and sanitation is well known and increasingly accepted, but the importance

of women's involvement as a part of community participation in order to achieve

program objectives is less evident. In water projects participation of women is
especially important.
The tasks women carry out in relation to domestic water and household

sanitation draw on four key roles:

Women as acceptors of technologies traditional, old and new,

Women as users of improved facilities.


Women as managers of water supply and sanitation programs.

Women as agents of behavioral change in the use of improved facilities.

By recognizing women as primary managers of water and human waste, planners

and field workers will have valuable human resources for all phases of project

formulation: (Heimbloem,FAO 1982, Elmendorf & Isely 1981) Women, singly and in

groups, can be the bridge builders, the frontline health workers. (Hammer 1984)

Water is a critical resource affecting the fundamental welfare of primary

producers throughout the world. Especially in low-income nations, human produc-

tivity and well-being are directly affected by the nature, source and use of

water for agricultural production, household consumption, and disposal of wastes.

In areas served by irrigation facilities, the irrigation system and its manage-

ment affect agricultural productivity (and thus incomes) and personal well-being

--- health, social and political relationships, and potential for immediate and

future productivity. (Adapted from Small:1983)

One of the most important resources for the farm family and for the success

of the irrigation project is the knowledge and understanding of good crop pro-

duction marketing practices. The way in which a household manages all of the

resources available is largely a function of knowledge/information/understanding.

(Jayewardne, et al:1983). And women's roles as managers of domestic water and

sanitation influence the health, welfare and productivity of the entire family

and the project. How women manage their household water supply will depend on

the resources they have at their disposal knowledge, tradition, new information

and technologies. The decisions that are made by the men and women, alone and

together, determine the total income and expenses for the family and the suc-

cess or failure of many water projects both irrigation and domestic.(See section IX

on Decision Making & Managementi)

As I said earlier, the problem of equitable and reliable water supply not

only includes that for the irrigated crop production system but supply must be

considered for domestic water needs if the total well-being of the farm family is

being considered. Even though it is estimated that 95% of irrigation systems are

used for non-cropping purposes primarily for domestic purposes and animals, there
has been very little planning or designing to maximize the benefits and minimize the
costs economic-and health-related. (Yoder:1980) The families are usually left to
devise their new water use patterns without knowledge of dangers or alternative
technologies. And women, who in their roles as wives and mothers, are involved

more than men in the providing and management of domestic water. For some women

providing water uses 43% of their time for all domestic activities. Yet women

are rarely consulted about alternative technologies to reduce this drudgery.

As Barbara Rogers said so well in "Water Women's Work" "Yet if there
is one bold generalization that it is safe to make it is that women will respond
positively to any innovation which reduces their workload and/or increases their
cash income. It has been observed that women are in fact more sensitive to these
kinds of direct incentives to innovations than men are." (Rogers 1982)

Much of the literature shows that when improvements in water supply are dis-

cussed with men they often don't give this technology priority,even though women

usually put more accessible water among their top three felt needs.(ElmendorfABuckles,'80,

Van Wijk,'85XJustsuch a situation was reported in Upper Volta where a well-drilling

project to bring in drinking water had been stopped because consultation with the

villagers, through men, had proved hopelessly impractical even though women were

already highly motivated. (Rogers, 1982)

--It is also clear f-6ro- the literature that the distribution of costs and

benefits of irrigation in any particular system are conditioned by the socio-

economic status of the user households, their access to land, and the special

features of the particular water system. What has not been so explicit in the

literature is that the distribution of costs and benefits is also conditioned


by gender. Women participate in water systems and are affected differentially

by the systems in two ways -- first as members of particular households, and

secondly as women within these households.(Acharya, et al:'81, Stanbury:'81,'84,

Jones:'83, Cloud:'82, Elmendorf,'80) For historical, cultural and economic

reasons, there are gender-related patterns in the distribution of workloads,

consumption patterns and income distribution within households. These patterns

may differ dramatically between systems, but in every system questions of who

does what, and who decides what, are conditioned by the sex roles within that

system. The particular patterns of sex role division of labor and control over

resources within a given system will channel the interplay between women and water

management within that system. (Cloud 1982:3-4)

In the Mahaweli Development Scheme, which is an attempt to strengthen the

agriculturally-based society of Sri Lanka, the roles of women as active partners

with their husbands are being increasingly acknowledged. In this development

scheme, as in many others, the traditional roles of women are changing. In

addition to usual activities, the shift into two cultivation seasons has created

an additional burden, with an increase in agricultural participation. Women are

engaging, out of necessity, in many tasks previously performed by men.

'~Jayewardene, et al:1983) ., .'

New schemes, water or otherwise, must fit within the. human systems that
already exist. This does not mean that developmental activity cannot be truly
revolutionary as it influences human-environment and human-human relations, but
rather that what people are already doing and are capable of doing with locally
available resources places constraints upon what can be accomplished successfully
in a given increment of time. Water must be recognized as a multi-faceted re-
source with competing uses and users. (Roundy 1985:20)

Gender related activities will be changed and modified as new tasks are added,

many of which have not been sex-stereotyped before.

Similarly improvements in sanitation or domestic water should never be con-

sidered a technology ready to be introduced (dumped into a community) but

instead changes in patterns of water use (and related behavior) are potential

parts of a human system which have to be fitted into the total system. Women's

roles as primary users producers and consumers of water in the household and

managers of human waste must be understood within this human system. Environmental

and ecological conditions must also be considered. In the case of domestic uses

of irrigation water, one must be aware of the possibility of reducing communicable

disease while simultaneously increasing toxicological hazards. (Roundy 1984)
On the other side of the coin one must be cognizant of the dangers of

increasing specific water related diseases such as Schistosomiasis with any

water impoundments (WHO,'83;FAO,'84) and of the possibility of decreasing this

negative impact through provision of domestic water and sanitation. (See Annex)

The positive results of careful planning of a domestic water supply is dra-

ratically clear in the case of Saint Lucia. This carefully researched project shows

clearly the important roles of women in assuring acceptance, use, operation and

maintenance of these low cost facilities which provide household water and public

laundry/bathing facilities. These improvements have brought about a dramatic break

in the transmission and a positive reduction in schistosomiasis morbidity. The

systems have been maintained and operated effectively by the communities for more

than a decade. The technology has diffused to the nearby communities which, of

course, can now no longer serve as research controls! (WHO,1978,'83; Unrau,1975;
Jordan et a1,1975,'78,'82)

Among the frequently cited effects of irrigation systems which are production

related include the expansion of agricultural output, with concomitant increase in

demand for labor time, an increase in household income, and changes in land tenure


Irrigation systems also effect changes in availability of drinking water and

sanitation with related positive and negative changes in family health and time/

energy allocations which we will call domestic-related.


1) In what ways does project success depend on the roles of women?

2) What are the project strategies for understanding women's roles related

to water -

in domestic uses ?

in irrigation uses ?

3) What are the interrelationships in women's roles in water management

between -

irrigated agriculture?

domestic uses of water?

4) What are the benefits and costs of multiple uses?

5) What are the health impacts both negative and positive to the use

of irrigation water for domestic purposes?

6) How can women participate to increase positive benefits of multiple use

to increase positive benefits of multiple use to decrease negative benefits?

7) What technologies are appropriate? For domestic water supply? For sanitation?

8) What are women's roles relating to water management and irrigated agri-

culture in domestic water?
9) Does the environmental impact study take into consideration health aspects?

10) Are women's daily tasks in supporting their families considered in this

study, ie, providing water for consumption as well as for laundry, bathing, food

preparation, food processing, etc.?

11) Is adequate emphasis placed on social concerns, ie, quality of life as well

as productive outputs?

12) Are project plans for multi-uses of irrigation water limited to plants,

animals and fish, or does it include considerations for people?

13) Does the plan include formalizing a plan for meeting domestic needs?

14) Can a plan for incremental improvements in domestic water be planned with

women as the users and managers of the systems?


15) In evaluation of cost benefits, planners should:

Estimate the quantity of water used and the relevant health impacts.

Estimate the overall increased productivity of households (families)

with adequate water and sanitation -

time lost from illness or care of ill

increased acreage planted

extra hours devoted to income-producing activities/homework

less morbidity and mortality

more attendance at school, extension workshops, etc.

16) How can women be involved in project planning, technology selection, water
operation and maintenance and evaluation?

17) What are women's perceptions as to acceptable standards vis--vis quantity,

quality, accessibility of water? Why do women prefer soft water? running water? etc.

What are the best sources for various uses?

What are the project site-specific water-related health hazards?

biological? chemical?
18) What are different water and sanitation situations we need to identify:

a) is no water easily accessible except the irrigation water?

b ).is alternative water available from natural sources rivers, springs, lakes?
c ) is water efficiently used and equitably distributed for irrigation? -
d) is there direct competition for water for irrigation and domestic use?

e, is there sufficient quantity of water for domestic uses? Are there

seasonal variations?

f) what are the appropriate technologies for water supply ? for sanitary disposal?

of excreta?
g) what are appropriate culturally acceptable reuses of grey water? black

water? excreta?

19) Has the community especially the women been involved in answering these


The first question is -

Can irrigation projects when initially planned be designed so as to

provide water for domestic needs and for the appropriate technology for sanitation?

The second question is -

Can existing irrigation systems be evaluated to conceive ways of adding safe

accessible water for domestic uses, where feasible?

As mentioned earlier, irrigation and domestic water supply schemes are

considered as separate projects in most of the Third World, yet in terms of impact,

the two schemes are rarely independent.

We have cited examples of informal multiple use and a few cases of planned


When people in an estimated 95% of irrigation systems are using untreated

water not meant for drinking they are exposed to a variety of illnesses. Is this

necessary? Engineers can design such dual systems, in fact some are recorded -

and others probably exist without project records.

As noted by Agarwal (1981:72) "it is perhaps necessary to consider the

adoption of a set of water quality standards which are more flexible than those

provided by the WHO norms. These norms tend to place stringent economic and technical

constraints on the better-than-nothing type of improvements which could benefit

a large number, and favour all-or-nothing types of measures which benefit only a

few. The standards thus often provide an excuse for taking no steps at all."

Yoder (1983:19)also saw "The stated development policy of lending and aid agencies,

to provide benefits directly to people, is compatible with, and at least partially

fulfilled by, the non-agricultural uses of irrigation systems. The major implica-

tion of a policy of widening the benefits of irrigation systems is the need to

shift from the current no-risk approach to planning and design to one of incre-

mental improvements."

In 1980, Dr. Obeng of UNEP made a plea for far more attention to the fact
that the needs of the rural people for access to water are the same as for urban
populations. She urged the provision of piped water whenever possible instead
of "half-way, short-lived solutions." (Obeng:1980-1981)
Some engineers and planners laughed at the idea of piped water for rural
communities can people who can't keep handpumps working keep more complicated
systems going?
Field data have demonstrated that the reliability of a rural water system
is not a function of the level of technology used; this finding contradicts the
view that simple systems are reliable and complex systems less reliable. For
instance, in Thailand the communities had repaired and kept operating the piped
water systems that they considered of benefit to them while the provision of
handpumps was a failure. There is no evidence that handpumps on shallow wells
are perceived to represent an improvement over the commonly used rope and buc-
ket. (ppl-3) (Dworkin, Pillsbury, et al :1980)
In a number of cases women have initiated efforts to obtain piped water
systems and assumed important roles in maintaining them. In all 26 communities
studied in Panama women were members of the water committees and in several
emerged as leaders. They initiated fund raising efforts to pay for upkeep and
maintenance. (Meehan and Long:1982) In fact the extra water in Thailand helped
their families increase their cash incomes by raising vegetables, livestock
from 5 to 200%, part of which they used to pay their water fees. ibidd 1980)

In Guatemala a community,which had organized itself to obtain a gravity-fed
system for domestic water use raised more money and contributed more hours of
labor to install a second system for irrigation purposes. With the money earned
from their irrigated crops they hoped to be able to pay for both systems.
(Annis and Cox:1982) The incremental cost for providing a standpipe in every

house was considered a minor one.

In irrigation systems where the quantity of water makes it possible, I

would add another vote for Obeng's "One Vote for Water on Tap." The time and

energy saved, the health benefits added, and the quality of life gained can

probably be paid for through the increased family earnings in an irrigation

project. -20-

If one kitchen tap and shower per household can be provided at an annual

cost of $7 per capital (family) per year as suggested in the following chart by

Luria, would it not be worth it to the overall productivity of the irrigation

project? There is general agreement that irrigation increases agricultural

work for both men and women but much more for women. (Agarwal,'81, Dey, '81,'84,

Palmer, '79) (.What is the value of the expected work to the project? to

to the women?)

Tl 94,Costs of Alternative Water Supply and Sanitftion Service Leveles An Example

the family?

I. Annual Costs Per Cpit by Servic Level
Category Service Level

Water Supply $2 $4 $ 7 $ 7 $11
Excreta Disposal $2 $4 $ 7 $10 $12
Water Supply and Excreta Disposal $4 $8 $14 $17 $23
11. Characteristics of Alternative Service Levels

Average Total Water: Distribution
Per Capita Maximum Day Facilities (Source Sanitation: Excretal
Service Water Demand Water Demand and Treatment Wastewater Disposal
Level (liters/day) (meters /day) Included in Costs) Facilities

I 25 405 Public standposts One privy per household.
serving 200-400 people
within 100 m.
II 50 810 One yard hydrant per One pour-flush toilet with
household. soak pit per household.
Ill 100 1,620 One kitchen tap and One pour-flush toilet with
shower per household. septic tank per household.
IV 100 1,620 Same as III. Same pour-flush toilets,
but small-bore street
sewers to lagoons.
V 200 3,240 Full plumbing. Conventional waterborne
sewerage with lagoon
treatment of wastes.

NOTES: Estimates are for the town of Rio Pasca, State of Minas Gerais, Brazil; present population, 6,000, design population 12,800; service area of 83
hectares; average household size of six; town is divided by a river and has irregular topography. Water use on peak day is 150% of average daily
use. Construction costs converted to annual costs using 20 year design period and an interest rate of 10%. N.B.: uwter and sanitation costs are 4site
specific and vary widely with local climatic, hydrologic, geologic, topographic, demographic, economic, and other conditions.
SOURCE: Lauria (in press).
From McJunkin 1982


The World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (WCARRD)

emphasized the importance of women's economic roles as well as their domestic

ones, and pointed out the need to reduce household drudgery so that women could

use their time to participate more in economic, educational, and political

activities. (FAO:1984 Vol. 1) One of the most time consuming/energy depleting

tasks for women in many developing countries is providing water for domestic

use, often contaminated. On irrigation projects where water is available and

women's work is very demanding provision for safe, accessible water should be

available in quantities needed to meet the basic needs for consumption and

cleanliness. If possible, more water or grey water should be provided for house-

hold gardens and other projects, ie small stock, fish, etc., for nutrition, and/or

extra income. (See Annex 4 on Integrated Management, "Pests, Excreta & Fish.")

If piped water from a clean source could be made available to the individual

households and the waste water drained to lagoons or lakes before entering the

irrigation canals, would the cost be less than trying to treat irrigation water

for domestic use? Since an estimated 80% of the waste water from the cities

in the developing countries is used for permanent or seasonal irrigation

(Gunnerson,1984) why can't the waste water from the rural populations living in

the irrigation projects be recycled in appropriate ways? As Yoder (1981) noted

"sewage is never intentionally designed into an irrigation project"'but irrigation

canals become "sewers" in many areas. (See Annex)

If enough water is available in an irrigation system to provide Luria's

level III service of one kitchen tap and shower per household with a pour-flush

toilet and septic tank at a cost of $14 per year, would it be worth it? Or

would a yard hydrant and pour-flush with soak pit @$8 be more appropriate? The

local environmental, ecological and human factors, along with the economic costs

and benefits will determine what is most appropriate for each irrigation system,

but pumps and pit latrines need not be the only technologies considered for farm



One other reason along with time and energy savings, water on tap should

be given careful consideration as an appropriate technology is that safe

drinking water from public standpipes or wells can become contaminated by

many ways by the container in which it is transported or stored and the

vessels used for drinking. Accessible quantities of safe water for personal

hygiene for hand washing, bathing, dishwashing, and laundry are important

components for meeting domestic water needs. (See Women, Water & Waste, Elmendorf)


7 Dishes/Jars
Washing Vegetables
Water Children
Water Clothes
usan Floors
Bathing Humans

Watering Flowers
< Patios

Actual and preferred practices
Defecation Sex, Age, Class, Prohibitions
Anal cleansing

Infant Care & Diapers, nappies, or nothing
Training Laundry of soiled clothing

-// When
Excreta Handwashing How

Care of Toilet Monthly

Reuse Casual: pigs, dogs fish, others
Casual: pigs, dogs, fish, others


The Dole pineapple operation in Hawaii is frequently sited as an example

of providing free piped domestic water to all settlers along with water for

irrigation. Field staff are also given Peace Corps type training to make them

more aware of the basic needs of the producers. No details were available on

system design or productivity nor women's roles in the project. (Van Wijk 1985)

In YemeR Arab Republic May Yacoob noted that one recommendation of a 1984

UNDP field mission for "Promotion and Support of Development of Women in

International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade was "to make piped

water available from irrigation to those villages not now connected by PVC pipes

to a system in the Tihama Integrated Agriculture Program."

In areas where schitosomiasis is endemic there are even more compelling

reasons for a piped domestic water system which is carefully planned and

culturally acceptable in order to reduce water-contact. In the St. Lucia case

mentioned earlier,household taps were provided to 2000 persons in five rural

communities. Public showers and laundry facilities, which are operated and

maintained by women &paid for by the communities,were also installed and are

favorite meeting places. Three swimming pools were added as an extra incentive

to keep children out of infected water.

According to Unrau in 1975 "The average per capital cost for individual

water supplies to the 5 settlements was $8.90 U.S. When the costs of the 3

laundry/shower units and the three swimming pools were added, the per capital

cost increased to about $10.80 U.S."

He concluded that "Experience with these household water supply systems

indicates: (1) that if water wastage can be eliminated in a design that

furthermore is based on a consumption rate more realistic to actual needs for

rural areas, many sources normally considered of unacceptable capacity can

become adequate supplies; (2) that the use of PVC pipe and Fordilla taps, by


eliminating waste, permits the design of economical, simple distribution systems

easily maintained by limited numbers of skilled personnel; and (3) that instal-

lation labor costs can be significantly reduced when local populations are

willing to contribute to the project as a community effort." (p7)

This report has excellent descriptions and drawings of the engineering

designs and the household arrangements. For instance, the household shower

arrangement with a single Fordilla water tap and foot control.

Follow-up evaluations of this project in 1978 and 1982 by Jordan et al

showed that "Overall prevalence declined from 38% in 1975 to 13% in 1977, and

to 8% in 1981. While the intensity of infection of those infected did not

change, contamination was reduced by 78% between 1975 and 1981. Compared with

the figure at the start of control programme in 1979, there was a 92% reduction

in the level by 1981. (p585)"

They go on to note that "While the provision of'water supplies is unlikely

to be a primary method of schistosomiasis control, such supplies are being

provided for other medical and social reasons in many developing countries and

their role in the control of this disease should not be overlooked' (p588)

It is also suggested "that the cost should not be debited only to the

control of this disease since a clean water supply has other medical and social

benefits. The public/laundry, showers which were staffed by a locally selected

woman proved to be extremely popular. They seemed to replace the group activi-

ties which took place previously in the infested streams."(p965)

In a 1983 publication "A Strategy of Morbidity Reduction In Schistosomiasis"

WHO noted that "Sanitation, water supply and health education are all components

of the "integrated" approach to schistosomiasis control but usually are never

within the resources of the agency responsible for schistosomiasis control.

Each endemic country will develop coordination mechanisms which will permit these


other activities to be undertaken in priority endemic areas to achieve sustained

reduction of morbidity with minimal surveillance." (p7)

Another case where domestic water was piped, as noted by Roundy, 1985 was:

One of the examples in Malaysia in Kampong Parit 9 reported on the conver-
sion of a domestic water system from local water collection, primarily rain-
water catchment, to a piped supply. Water was drawn from the Sungei Bernam
River through a waterpipe laid along the drainage canal. Dispersed pipes ran
from the main pipe, often strung in the air across irrigated fields to the
individual homes. Villagers either draw water from their own taps and carried
it into the house in containers or rigged a garden hose to kitchen for easier
procurement. Piped water was much more reliable than rain water and apparently
safer since the water from the river is monitored for biological contaminants
and treated chemically regularly. The only problem is that Malaysian rivers
are gaining much notoriety for declining water quality with toxins from agri-
cultural processing effluents as well as fertilizer and pesticide runoffs.
As Roundy said, "One must be aware, then, of the possibility of reducing
communicable disease hazard through domestic water resource development while
simultaneously increasing toxicological hazards." (p17)


Piped water water in a tap may not be feasible in every dual purpose

irrigation domestic water project. A quick overview of other solutions was

reported by Agarwal in 1981 -

"There are the indirect effects of irrigation works on domestic water use

which need consideration. These have direct implications for women as they are

the primary carriers of water. While here again more quantitative evidence is

necessary and desirable, certain effects can be anticipated on the basis of

existing information and a priori reasoning: Seepage from canals raises the water

table and unless soil conditions are such as to increase salinity in the village

drinking water wells, usually we would expect the effect to be positive in that

it would replenish groundwater for drinking. However, the lowering of the water

table through deep tubewells and the consequent drying up of drinking water wells

is likely to increase the work burden of women who would now need to seek alterna-

tive sources. This would introduce a particular liability for women of agricul-

tural labourer households who are also untouchables by caste as a very large

proportion of agricultural labourer population in India is. In Uttar Pradesh for

example, it has been noted that the drying up of village drinking water wells

in 'untouchable' communities has meant that the 'untouchable' women now have to

depend on the goodwill of the higher castes to pour out for them the water they

need for their everyday use." (pp32-33)

"Instances where irrigation water and domestic water supply schemes are linked

in a planned way are rare but not entirely absent. It has been observed that in

Haryana, canals are often used to fill village tanks (Roberto Lenton, Ford Founda-

tion, personal communication). Again in the "Doon" canal schemes in the semi-hill

areas of Uttar Pradesh, under the traditional 'Agnoshi' system, drinking water is

customarily provided from canals (Dr. Verma, WHO Delhi, personal communication).

In Sri Lanka, the supply of treated drinking water from canals is a part of

the Gal Oya canal scheme." ibidd pp71-72)

As noted by Yoder (1981) in Nepal the USAID Bhairwwa Lumbini groundwater

project encouraged the use of irrigation tubewells for drinking purposes. In

Yucatan, Mexico, deepwells for spray irrigation were not made available for drinking to

local population who were using shallow, often polluted, wells, cenotes.

(Personal observation 1978)

In the Mwea Rice Irrigation in Kenya women were pleading for water for

domestic use when a World Bank team visited this "successful" irrigation project.

(1975 personal observation) The excellent analysis of "The Household Economy"

by Hanger and.iMorris (1973) revealed the fact that nutrition, health, and well-

being of families, especially women and children, could deteriorate even when

the household income had increased. This has been corroborated in many later

reports (Palmer 1979, Dey 1981, FAO 1985).

In a case study of a small-scale irrigation project in the Taita Hills, Kenya
Fleuret (1985) notes that "Agriculture ordinarily has the first claim on canal
water, but the water is put to other uses as well, particularly after the harvest
when pressure on the system declines. At this time many householders place into
operation small tertiary furrows (a few inches in width and depth) to bring water
to their homes. Since the homes are usually located at the bottom of the irriga-
ted fields such furrows are not very long or difficult to construct. This water
is used for drinking, cooking, and washing; for those who can do so, this greatly
eases the burden on women of the household, who must otherwise walk considerable
distances to obtain water for domestic use." (ppl09-110)

Livestock may be watered from the domestic furrows but usually men construct

special outlets to bring water into shallow holes for animals to drink thus re-

ducing their labor of herding. In many projects and reports water for livestock
has a much higher priority than for humans.


Fleuret noted that "In at least one location a branch furrow was constructed to

lead water to the local livestock immersion dip, which must be refilled on a weekly

or biweekly basis. Again, this reduces very considerably the burden on the com-

munity's women, who must otherwise fill the dip from buckets brought on their heads.'(P110)

The Taita project in Kenya, just as the Guatemalan systems referred to

earlier, is based on gravity-flow ,butconstruction materials are sand, stones, and

plant materials, with a little cement purchased to strengthen troublesome parts or

to provide a foundation for an intake. The irrigation is managed by "multi-purpose

organizations including indigeneous modes of organization" that merqe with modern

ones. In the Guatemalan project water was piped to each household through P.V.C.

As Fleuret notes: "One nearly universal fault with expert-designed irrigation
systems is that they are oriented around agricultural uses exclusively. Other uses
(for livestock, domestic consumption, and so forth) may be specifically prohibited,
or simply foreclosed through features of design. This reduces the attractiveness
of the scheme to supposed beneficiaries, the more so since the planned crop packages
that generally accompany officially sponsored irrigation development are often not
viable for agronomic, economic, or institutional reasons. Under these conditions,
it makes sense to allow and even promote use of the water for other than agricul-
tural purposes. As the Taita case shows,multiple uses build community involvement
in irrigation by adding to the value of the resource, and by increasing the likeli-
hood that individual households will contribute to upkeep whether they irrigate
crops or not. This only holds true, however, at the level of the canal; here,
multiple uses engender cooperation because relations among users are multiplex.
At the level of the system as a whole,multiple uses stimulate competition because
the relations among users are dominated by strictly political considerations." (p115)


What kind of toilets do farm families need and want?

As the primary managers of human waste, what do women feel they can operate

and maintain?

If women in a slum of Lima can organize themselves to raise money to obtain

and manage a communal public latrine while raising funds necessary for the desired

sewerage system (Bourque and Warren 1981) farm women on an irrigation project will

have ideas too on what they need and want.

Will they want a composting latrine like the rural women in Honduras? (PAHO '84)

Or would the farm women on an irrigation scheme want to operate, maintain

and manage a community plant which recycles sewage, grey water, and organic refuse

as a group of women in Mexico do? (Schmink 1985) An elected and trained women's

committee operates the plant on a rotational basis and have hired a widow and her

son for daily maintenance. Compost and treated water are used for growing vege-

tables for consumption and sale.

Will the farm women want pour-flush latrines the way the women in Thailand


Will the farm women want pour-flush latrines the way the women in Thailand did?
In communities with piped water systems over 80% of the families had installed
pour-flush latrines. Even though they had not been a part of the project design.
Water-seal latrines were available at low cost in the local markets. (Dworkin et al,
Will the women feel like the Mayan farm worm in Mexico who preferred no latrine
to a pit latrine?
Even though there were only public standpipes and some wells on private lots
women wanted a porcelain pour-flush latrine instead of a pit latrine. They said
they preferred carrying more water or reusing bath water to flush with to just wasting
the excreta in a hole. "The pour-flush is easier to clean, not smelly, and it's
modern' they said. (McGarry & Elmendorf in Elmendorf and Buckles, 1980) Another
myth is exploded. Some women will carry extra water for flushing, especially if daily
bathing is the custom.

Will women in Africa the Caribbean and the Americas be interested in know-

ing about pour-flush latrines even though they are not usually as much a part of

their culture as in Asia?

Women in several Latin American countries, Colombia, Dominican Republic and

Honduras have successfully managed the stool type pour-flush latrine which was

introduced into an integrated rural development project (CIMDER) in Colombia in

the mid seventies. (Rodrigrez, et al 1980) The squat-plate water seal latrine is

not as acceptable in most of the Americas as it is in Asia.1)In parts of India

and Pakistan a low cost pour-flush latrine has replaced the bucket latrine in

many areas and appropriate soak-away pits have been built sometimes by the

women and nearly always with their approval and cooperation in changing habits

and personal hygiene. (Bakhteari, Ain 1980)

If the adults in an irrigation project are not interested in a latrine,

would a child-sized latrine for training at home and in nursery schools be appro-


In Sri Lanka a pour-flush child-sized latrine has been developed and intro-

duced into nursery schools and private homes by Sarvodaya.(Jayasinghe 1980)

(Elmendorf 1982) In drier parts of Sri Lanka a waterless small bore pit latrine

was developed in 1984 for areas without adequate water. (Fernando 1984) This

latrine was introduced initially by the Ministry of Health in the 1950's to help

cut down on helminth infection from indiscriminate defecation to children around

housesites but was not continued by later administrations. Bathing of children

and washing of hands with soap on the cement slab cut down on faecal oral con-

tamination. In some cases such a child-size latrine without walls drains

into the same soak-away pit as the family latrine which some children are afraid

to use. (Elmendorf Sri Lanka Decade Report 1980)

Do the women on the irrigation project think that the feces of their children

are harmless. -31-

Footnote 1) This low-cost modified stool model has been improved and is being suc-
cessfully introduced with heavy involvement of women in many Latin American countries
as well as the Philippines.

In discussions with women at various conferences, including the Mid Decade

Conference of Women in Copenhagan, most women confirmed that they had thought

of infant feces,if not harmless, at least as being not harmful. This belief

which is widespread as confirmed by field reports in Latin America, Asa'i and

Africa makes women the unwilling, unknowing 'Thphoid Marys' of gastro-enteric

diseases. Women become the carriers of diarrheal infections to their families

and themselves by handling infants and their excreta which are usually more

pathogen loaded than adult feces, then preparing or serving food, etc.

How can plans for excreta disposal be related to the need for hand washing

dnd bathing to make behavioral changes easier less difficult to effect?

What about dishwashing?

What about laundry.

All of these are issues of design and technology which should be discussed

with women.


How can plans for waste water disposal from domestic uses be added to

overall planning on irrigation schemes?

Can some sewage be treated in lagoons and cycled back to the irrigation


Does sewage water need to be separated from grey water?

What are the dangers to human health? to workers? to consumers?

Gunnerson, et al 1984 noted that "an estimated 80% of the wastewater from

the cities in developing countries is used for permanent or seasonal irrigation."

In this excellent review of the subject, "Health Effects of Wastewater

Irrigation and Their Control in Devel6ping Countries", which includes a two page

bibliography and informative graphics,they concludedthat "Despite the fact that

the full spectrum of enteric pathogenic viruses, bacteria, protozoans, and helminths

endemic in the community can be found in wastewater and persist in soil and on

crops, only a few cause measurable infection and disease."

Gunnerson, C.G.; Shuval, H.I.; Arlosoroff, S. (summarized in leaflet with

same title, World Bank exec. agency, UNDP GLO/80/004). They go on to say that

the main routes of infection are "personal contact, food and water, only occasionally

by wastewater irrigation (cholera, shigella, typhoid)."

The main routes of infection outside the home are occupational and within

the home consumption of sewage-irrigated vegetables,eaten raw.

In their "Assessment of Remedial Measures", the conclusion reached is:

"Wastewater treatment which effectively removes priority pathogens prior to irriga-

tion provides simultaneous protection to sewage farm workers and to general public


without requiring programs to change personal behavior of masses of people.

Combinations of treatment technologies and/or other remedial options may be equally

effective in specific cases."

Among the options are: 1. Crop regulation and monitoring

2. Irrigation -echnology selection

3. Produce disinfection

4. Occupational hygiene improvement

5. Prophylaxis or chemotherapy

6. Wastewater treatment

7. Combinations of above

What would be the appropriate sanitation systems on irrigation schemes?

What factors need to be considered?

socio-cultural aspects?

cropping patterns/

environmental and ecological factors?



I would like to point out now that just because women are not formal members

of the user's association or the farmer's organization does not mean that they are

not playing important informal water management roles.

Although in most communities men exercise positions of authority in the public

domain, women often have a great deal of status and power in decision-making that

impinges on the domestic domain. In fact, even within their confined domestic roles,

women, individually or in groups, develop strategies to reach valued community goals.

In order to exercise their decision making power effectively and made considered

choices about changes in traditional activities, women must have knowledge about

alternatives. Information about these alternatives is often presented by male

outside agents in the public domain, often to men only, even though changes dis-

cussed may primarily affect domestic activities. For instance, agents may deal

with only the defined male "leaders" in considering improvements in water supply and

sanitation or changes in agricultural practices without being aware that many real

choices are made by women. "Trickle over" is as ineffective as "trickle down."!

It is not enough to work just with the officially recognized officials and

dominant groups as was clearly demonstrated in the Tonga project. (Fonomanu, J.,
et al, 1966)

This project, which involved (a) the provision of piped water; (b) the build-
ing of latrines; (c) the elimination of flies and mosquitoes, and (d) the improve-
ment of sanitation through education, in two rural villages, started out with a
dedication to the concept of "community involvement.' Men were observed to hold
all the official positions of power district officers, town officers, head of
each clan, head of each household, etc. Therefore, the organization and imple-
mentation of the programme was based on the men's support. Meetings were held in
each village to discuss how the project should be carried out, but, at the request
of the men, women were excluded from the discussions. The project failed. Later
when an analysis was made to determine the reasons for failure, an anthropologist
confirmed that women rank higher than men in Tongan society, based on their as-
cribed status. Even though men were the heads of household and held position of
authority women were the traditional decision-making power group. The authors
report that based on this new understnading of power and leadership within commun-
ities, the programme was attempted a second time, with both women and men involved.
With the participation of women in various discussions and planning activities,
support for the project was enthusiastically obtained and it proceeded with much

In many ways this is a unique example because there are fewer and fewer

traditional societies where modernization has not undermined women's economic

and political power. As Peggy Sanday (1981) has pointed out, there are still

dual-sex political systems in Africa and some matrilinal-matrifocal societies in

Southeast Asia, such as the Minangkabau in Sumatra. Cross-cultural data shows

that "women enjoy economic and political power or authority in 67% of foraging

societies as compared with 52% of the non-foraging societies." (Ibid)

There is much more latent female power both in the public and private domain

than is evident, particularly when issues of water and sanitation are being raised.

Very little data is available on women in irrigation schemes but one

Indonesian AID document notes:
In Village S, problems often arise between farmers on the upper and lower
slopes, whose irrigation water comes from the same source. The farmers of the
lower slope (who live near the main road) tend to be better educated, wealthier
and generally more powerful in the community. When the farmers of the upper slopes
have to approach them, women are usually delegated as the intermediaries, since
heated quarrels tend to arise when two men .face each other to discuss water-conflicts
(and the more backward upper-slope farmers would probably lose these arguments).
Only if agreement cannot be reached through these informal visits, do they go to
ask community irrigation officials (centeng) to ask for help. The centeng them-
selves are elected at the beginning of each rainy season by the (male) farmers,
who gather to repair the irrigation ditches together and then share a selamatan
meal produced by women in the sawak, after which the election is performed. The
centeng then have the job of caring for the channels and overseeing the distribu-
tion of water. Their services are paid with a tax of a fixed amount of paddy per
hectare of sawah, which they must collect themselves from the farmers after the
harvest. Their wives are often expected to share in this job of collection, which
is not always easy since farmers may try to find excuses not to pay.

It is therefore only in the single formal activity of the irrigation organi-

zation (the annual election of centeng) ... that women have no place. (Cloud,1982)

Similar comments were made of women as conflict mediators in Sri Lanka and

the Philippines (Uphoff:'81,'82 and Coward:'82). And their services as food

providers/producers are noted worldwide, and as fee collectors and fund raisers in

Panama (Meehan,Long:1982) and in Thailand (Dworkin, Pillsbury, et all:1980). In

Maharastra State, the Gram Gouran Pratesthan Trust has used women as well as men

within the community to organize water users' associations for lift irrigation

schemes (Cloud:1982). Water users should be extended to indicate all uses of water

including reuse and multiple uses.


As suggested in various reports; "the world is rich with a variety of local

organizational arrangements for managing irrigation water. Even though women's

roles in the various traditional systems are not carefully analyzed nor are the

interrelationships with domestic uses of water clearly defined, there is a strong

plea made for the need for irrigation development to recognize the potentials of

indigenous organizational arrangements for water management. (Coward, 1982:339)(Korten 1984)

For example, in the excellent 1961 case study of a village irrigation in

the dry zone of Sri Lanka Leach noted "That every adult individual, male or female,

is treated as a separate economic unit, separately entitled to own property and

.separately entitled to derive benefits therefrom." Every housesite in the village

proper has access to a particular length of irrigation ditch and with these water

rights could cultivate as much or as little land as the owner wished. Individuals

also have inescapable obligations to cooperate for upkeep. (quoted in Coward,1982:101)

Geertz noted in the Indonesian irrigation society (Subak) there is a "task-

oriented coalition of individuals whose membership is defined by field locality."

(ibd:209) In the Philippines the "repair crew is comprised of men and women of all

ages and sometimes includes young boys and girls, depending upon the available

labor in each family. While there is no discrimination regarding sex and age of the

participants in this undertaking, if the job requires hard labor the men, if

possible, should represent their families." (ibd:175-Bacdayan)

As Coward (1982:26) noted "There is increasing recognition that the style of

articulation (between authorities and users) needs to be modified from a highly

agency-directed pattern of interaction to one in which water users play active

information-providing and decision-making roles." Once agencies and planners accept

the user approach they will become aware of women's roles both in irrigation -

on-farm and domestic off-farm systems. However, as Levine (1971:29) noted

"Almost all new irrigation projects recommend some form of public institution

similar to that found in developed countries." Often this means that there is

very little recognition of women's historical position!

As noted by Korten: "Over a five year period the National Irrigation Admin-

istration (NIA) of the Philippines has been building its capacity to develop water
users' associations on small scale irrigation systems and to involve association

members fully in the planning and construction of the system. Implementing this

participatory approach has required a wide variety of changes in the agency's

policies, procedures, and personnel."

Even though women are not singled out in this study,there is "a concern evident in

some associations regarding women's participation. Experience shows thatwhile

women participate actively in the meetings, generally they are not formal members

because it is assumed that each household will have only one member, in which case

it is normally the man. This means that generally women cannot be officers of the

association--even though often they are well qualified. Mechanisms to allow joint

memberships from each household have been proposed." (Korten:1982
Certainly administrative changes to improve water management practices should

include explicit consultation with women users during the design or improvement

of water systems. It should extend to the inclusion of women's ideas and women's

concerns into the water user's associations in some culturally acceptable form.

In some societies this can be accomplished by integrating women representatives

into the water users' councils. In other situations it may be more functional to

have women from users' families meet by themselves, and have their representatives

communicate regularly with the male users' associations. (Cloud:1982)


In the meantime we have some very interesting data from several recent case

studies on decision making. As noted by Stanbury (1984) in Madhya Pradesh, India:
Women play an active role in Dahod's agricultural production and
management. However, the degree varies depending on caste, wealth, age and
household position. Among upper class and wealthier households women are
less. likely to perform agricultural work, especially outside the home, but
their lack of visibility did not mean they were not playing significant
roles in farm production. All women performed both domestic and agricultural
work, with caste and wealth variation in amount.

With age, women have greater decision making responsibility. About
half of the women said they decided when to irrigate.


Women are less involved in more recently introduced agricultural
practices such as fertilizer and pesticide.application, HYV seed selection
and irrigation practices than in their more traditional roles in farm produc-
tion .transplanting paddy, weeding, planting, harvesting, winnowing and
threshing. Data shows that women do not have access to information about
rapidly changing agricultural practices. They also lack agricultural exten-
sion and training. The increase in male temporary migration to jobs in towns
nearby may be increasing the demand for women's managerial roles and labor
participation on the farm.

Their on-farm roles in decision-making were greatest in planting,
transplanting and weeding but little is known about the expertize women have
to help make these decisions. Many of these decisions were made jointly by
men and women in the households. but timing of planting and weeding were
primarily areas for women,
In the Mahaweli Development Project in Sri Lanka Jayewardane et al

(1983) noted in passing that -
More than 80 percent of the decisions relating to crop production were made
jointly between husband and wife. In fact thejtudy revealed that discussions
and jointly shared decisions were common in decisions concerning the irrigation
production system....q ,.

Overall the most noticeable male-dominated decisions were related to pest
control and water management, two activities predominantly performed by men.
Extension information on these functions was oriented primarily toward men..- -

In fact, 97 percent of the women said they do not receive any information
or training with regard to the irrigated production system. In fact the field
assistants who provide the extension services, focus ; on the male members of
the family, often ignoring the women working in the fields next to the men.
Approximately 73% of the women expressed interest in receiving information or
training about irrigated crop production, including as topics of major interest,
water management, crop varieties, and agrochemical uses.(p189) -y

The only identifiable source of information with regard to farming, for the
farm woman, was her husband and 65% of them revealed that they do not receive
information through their husbands (pl89),.. .

Women work closely with the particular crops at many stages of production
and were keenly aware of problems. In fact 67 percent mentioned particular pro-
blems occurring in the irrigated system, especially water supply..

Within the household, research shows that women's decision making within

the home in the allocation of household budgets cannot be over-emphasized. As

managers of water and sanitation within the home they may decide to use their

limited funds for an improvement, knowing the savings in time, energy, or recurrent

costs of sweepers or water venders. (Ain Bakhteari,1981) In other studies, when

women have personal income they spend a larger portion of it than men for house-

hold improvements, including water supply and sanitation (Honduras, Sri Lanka) After


women have had the savings in time and energy from a closer cleaner source of

water they will agitate (Mexico), or organize to raise money (Panama) to get

the facilities fixed when they break down. (Elmendorf 1984)

And it is women who have much to gain by the time saved from unnecessary

household drudery through improved water and sanitation. Then they can be more

equal partners on irrigation projects and quality of life for all can be

The literature confirms the fact that "The choice of water for drinking,

cooking, laundry, bathing and other household functions is a result of women's

careful decisions, based on what they have learned from their mothers and

grandmothers and on their observations ?f the costs and benefits, both social

and economic, of any change of system. These decisions about drinking water

are often based on sensory or macroscopic perceptions colour, taste, or smell

rather than microscopic qualities of technical purity" (Elmendorf/Isely, 1981)

In most countries the ministries/agencies which plan and administer drinking

water and irrigation are distinct. And the needed sanitation component is

usually under a third ministry. And much of the planning is top down and doesn't

involve the people who must adapt their behavior to use, manage, and maintain the

new systems.
Where there are activities which involve the development of water resources

4or agricultural purposes, this offers a valuable opportunity for the simultaneous

introduction of domestic water supply. The development of water resources can

increase the hazards to human health through exposure to water borne diseases

while at the same time decreasing diseases caused by lack of an adequate acces-

sible supply of water. (FAO 1982) There are also dangers from pesticide poison-

ings and chemical pollution which call for safeguard measures throughout all

phases of water resources development projects.


(Water & Human Health)

In 1983 (?) McJun n reviewedthe literature on the impact of irrigation on

the human populations residing in the project area. As h notes (p.c. 1985) the

risks of using irri ation water.for domestic purposes c uld be greatly reduced if r

overuse of pestici es and chemicals could be prevent Proper training in both

time and quantity f applications of chemicals coul prevent severe pollution of

irrigation water. areful explanations that too uch is not better than enough are .4

needed along with pr cautions of dangers to wor ers and their families.

A parallel dange is the reuse of the p ticide containers for collecting

and storing water without adequate cleansing For example, in Iran several deaths I

were traced to use of merc y containers, Many other uncounted deaths or illnesses

probably have been related to women's lac of knowledge about the dangers and

information about necessary prer utions for them to take. Because of the extreme

shortage of portage and storage ves 1 for water in many communities these chemical

containers are used .-ve hre. In fc in (Women Water and Waste: Elmendorf
made a plea in 1980 for more contain ers.

O'Brien feels that none of these pesticide con iners can be safely reused.

Can they be recycled locally? an these plastic and met 1 containers become life-

saving instead of death bringing? v

In an excellent slide program, "Preventing Pesticide Poisoning' CO'Brien raises

some of the following questions; .

What kind of information/trjining h4s been given to the farmers and the

farm women and children about handling and use of pesticides? What should be given?
What are the training needs .

Who should be trained?

Who should do the training? What type of training?

Whkt ar e t specific problems .to foc4s on which are related to domestic -
dwater uses? i.e. 1 soul eners ever be reused? 2)ho
water uses? i.e. 1) should Mated containers ever be reused?, 2) how te-prevant
_~~~~~~~ __ ____ __ ______-r Cait Ctl


Jahn (1981) reviews some of the native techniques which people have devised

to manage water a most precious commody under harsh natural conditions. The

objective of the study is to -

disseminate findings and tech the techniques to women with neither the
money nor other means to benefit from a modern drinking water supply
based on advanced technology within their familiar natural environment. (p12)

Irrigation projects change this environment bringing both new benefits and

dangers. All planning for improvements in water supply or excreta disposal should

be based on information about women's present knowledge, attitudes, and practices.

Careful, intense observation and discussion, not just standard surveys, are

needed to elicit perceptions and beliefs about water preference and defecation

behavior. Standard surveys related to water supply and sanitation frequently in-

clude only rudimentary questions on water use (volume, distance, preferred sites)

or on knowledge of health aspects of water and sanitation, and fail to probe the

beliefs and attitudes underlying practices. They may not even be addressed to

women but rather to heads of household.

As Jahn noted -

Cultivators in the fields or plantations, fishermen or labourers working
on Nile steamers and ferry boats usually drink the muddy water or bathe
in the river and irrigation canals...

The general attitude of women is different. I have never heard a woman
in these parts of the Nile valley "praising muddy river water." If a
child is crying. from thirst.and the mother can not see any alternative
on the road or the river other than to give him the turbid water, she
will often pronounce a short prayer that Allah may protect them from evil.
Even women who do not consistently treat water due to occasional lack of
materials, avoidance of costs or laziness, despise muddy water in princi-
ple. Muddy water encourages lower water consumption, because "it is not
worth while" to wash vegetables, meat or even dishes properly as you would
make them even more dirty." Women hate to take a bath or to wash their
babies in such water. Even superficial washing of hands and face is not
done with pleasure and laundering performed with muddy water is not given
much care. (p32)

What are Appropriate Water Treatment Methods?

What are the Water Treatment Processes which are used in purifying water?

Which methods are effective in removing cercaria? (shistosomiasis larvae) and


other pathogenetic organisms? What about pesticides and chemical fertilizers?

What methods are effective at community level? At household level? What about

disposal of excreta and wash water?


Jahn (1981) reviews some of the native methods which improve the appearance,

taste and smell of raw water which are usually called "straightforward methods

of 'purification'." (p53) Other traditional methods of handling water involve

the dissolving or immersion of different materials. There are numerous domestic

purification methods which women carry out to remove visible impurities and/or

settle the mud. Some of these traditional treatments of water are established

practices existing in all parts of the tropics while others are localized.


Storage can provide simple and effective water treatment under favorable
conditions. Two days' storage capacity, for instance, is sufficient to
constitute a significant barrier to transmission of schistosomiasis pro-
vided infected snails do not enter the reservoirs. Any storage period
will reduce the number of organisms, but some short circuiting of the
water in a reservoir is difficult to prevent and, therefore, treatment
should not rely solely on storage. (McJunkin 1982:44)

Storage of community supply was sufficient in St. Lucia where the water
was from a clean source. (Jordan et al, WHO)

There are many ways of storing water in elevated tanks, ground level tanks

or cisterns. And other indigeneous methods of storage have been designed such

as use of the huge baobab trees in Africa (Jahn 1981:37). In Australia hollow

trees or log butts along a waterless track are plugged with a thick clay base

so that they hold water. Women carried water for many miles to fill them so they

could last up to nine months. This so-called "women's water" was purified by

means of "medicinal clay." (Duncan-Kemp 1961 as quoted by Jahn 1981:64)

For household supply storage of water can also improve the quality. What

are the best containers? Metal? Plastic? Clay? How long should water be

stored in them? Is 24 hour storage good or bad? How should the containers be

cleaned? What is the best way to remove the water from the container without

polluting it?

Purification by storage can be either:

long-term in water jars

in Eastern Nigeria up to 5 months in half buried clay jars of 50 liters.

or in Southern Sudan in clay pots sealed with clay standing on the

ground or in special huts. (Jahn:57)

or short-term

In Chicapas, Mexico water is stored in clay jars on a wooden shelf

for 12-24 hours or longer. (Elmendorf-personal observation)

in Kenya, Sudan, Egypt water is kept 12-24 hours as a pre-treatment

to allow for clarification and sedimentation before further purifica-

tion. (Jahn 1981:57)

In many parts of the world women fill large metal drums with water to use

for laundry and bathing. In the northern and central Nile valley the Sudan Arabs

fill a large vessel with muddy river water which after two or three days is con-

sidered good enough for washing clothes even though it may have a milky appearance.

(Jahn 1981:57) Other muddy waters take much longer to settle.

Rainwater Catchment with storage capacity for household or community use during

the dry season is practiced in many parts of the world. In Micronesia the island

of Ulithi had devised communal rainwater catchment facilities at public housing

and churches. (Stephenson 1984) Even though there is an average rainfall of 100

inches severe water shortages are experienced during the dry season. Women have

worked out various coping techniques for personal and group use of water.

In the Yemen Arab Republic women have the keys for the underground cisterns.

(Yacoob 1984) Bamboo reinforced tanks for rainwater catchment have been intro-

duced into various parts of Thailand. Women use alternative sources of water

for laundry, dishwashing and bathing saving the rainwater for cooking and drinking.

(Elmendorf personal observation,1981) These cement storage tanks are variations

of the large pottery jars which are traditional in the region.


At the 1984 IDRC conference in Manilla on Women and Water Issues, a number
of participants, especially those from the Philippines felt that rainwater catch-
ment might help solve the problems of brackish water or polluted irrigation water
in communities where they were working.
The importance of soft water for domestic use was highlighted by Devadas at
the Lingkoping Conference in Sweden -
One of the most interesting presentations were the findings on the
problems caused by hardness of water. Studies revealed that hard
water, consumed the greatest amount of time when compared with dis-
tilled or soft water. Consequently the fuel expenditure and the
drudgeries women experience owing to constant attention needed while
cooking, also increased.

Wastages of 42 percent of time and 44 percent of fuel occurred when
hard water was used as the medium of cooking compared to soft water.
The palatability of foods cooked in hard water was inferior when com-
pared to those cooked in soft water. There was a significant increase
in the calcium and magnesium content of foods cooked in hard water.
The durability of aluminum utensils which are commonly used in the
rural household was adversely affected by hard water.(irfalkenmark 1984:167)

Coagulation, Flocculation and Sedimentation

A commonly used process for community treatment of domestic water has been

clarification by means of a coagulant and sedimentation. Results of research sug-

gest that the use of aluminum sulfate alone or with lime is not effective against

cercariae. (McJunkin 1982) At the household level there are numerous indigeneous

methods of clarification which methods are effective? For what pathogens?

In Boliva people use ground peach seeds (Perica Vulgaria) and dried butter

beans (Vicia Faba) to clarify water. Especially in the rainy season women put

2 or 3 ground peach seeds and a few dried butter beans in 15 to 20 liter clay

pots to reduce turbidity. This same seed, vicia faba is used in northern Sudan

and by the Nubians of Upper Egypt. Other beans are used in Gezira Province where

the vicia faba is not available. The Moringa seeds, which are now considered

the most potent water clarifier, are from Moringa oleifera trees which were

planted during British rule in public gardens and avenues along the Nile.

(Jahn 1981:20)

Alcaine et al in their analysis of the use of vicia faba and peach seeds

said that stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon and allowing it to settle

for 2 to 3 hours before drinking is an acceptable method and is much improved
Footnote: Where rainwater or other soft water is not available, indigeneous softeners
such as dried bark of the Amla tree and raw Amla (Indian gooseberry) wer found to work.

if used in combination with floculation with the leaves of the tuna cactus, Opuntia

ficus indica. Using sap from the "tuna" cactus was referred to by Chilean

historians as a way to clarify water. Later research showed this sap had valuable

"alum-saving coagulant aids." (Jahn 1981:22)

Reports by Jahn (1981) and others show the history and effectiveness of other

traditional methods such as Strychnos potatorum seeds later called "Nirmali seeds"

to indicate their ability "to remove dirt." The bottom and/or walls of clay jars

are still rubbed for several minutes with this seed or nut before it is filled

with water, a custom described centuries ago by Europeans. ibidd 1981:60)

The use of "rauwaq," a type of clay "which Sudanese natives dig along the Nile

shore or in beds of intermittent streams was either discovered or made popular by

Koranic teaching. The oral transmission of information about "clarifying soil"

spread rapidly and led to the discovery of other soil substitutes." ibidd 1981:22)

Women were noted carrying their "rauwaq" in small aluminum tins to the river where

they added some to the turbid water in the 5 gallon tins they were transporting

back home on their heads! (Photo- Jahn 1981:23)

Coagulation with a "twirling stick" are also reported in the Tana River

District of Kenya with stripped branches of Maerua subcordata, the "water," with

branches and roots of other trees or plants in Sudan and the Blue Nile Province.

(Ibid 1981:59, Elmendorf, personal observation 1975)

The branches or roots are used to agitate the water like "twirling sticks"

until the mud starts to settle. Workers in the fields use these methods as do

the women at home.

Water for bathing and washing clothes is treated the same way with green

unripe paw-paw fruits which are pierced with thorns to let the latex out. They

are left on their branches to make stirring easier.


One of the most important and universally used forms of water treatment is

filtration to improve the physical, chemical, and bacteriological quality of

-.4 5-

domestic water. The two principal types of filters used in community water

supplies are the slow sand or biological filters and the rapid sand filters.

There remains some uncertainty as to whether cercariae are removed by filtra-

tion under field conditions. The proper choice of sand is very important in

achieving satisfactory results in bacteriological improvement.

Home filters using charcoal and sand have been made from local pots and

accepted by women, ie, Bourkina Faso (Upper Volta). (McSweeney et al)

This traditional technique for water treatment has been used since ancient

times in Egypt, Sri Lanka and the Americas, but has often been lost with moderni-

zation. In fact in Bourkina Faso (Upper Volta) it was noted that the clay pots

were becoming far too expensive and that charcoal was not available to all who

wanted them. (Rogers 1982)

In irrigation schemes, wells dug along the channels are using some filtration

as they are recharged. Are chemicals from fertilizers and pesticides filtered

out by this process? What other treatments are necessary?


Another method of water treatment is disinfection by heat.

At the household level the traditional method of disinfection may be boiling,

but with fuel wood shortages many women can no longer afford the time, energy,

or cost of fuel for boiling water. Other methods of heating water are by using

hot stones, hot sand, and heated glowing pieces of gold or silver. (Jahn 1981:63)


Small quantities of water for drinking can be exposed to direct sunlight in

one to three liter transparent glass or plastic bottles for two or more hours which

kills all harmful pathogenic organisms. (Aftin-Acra, et al 1984, Raffoul, et all


The need to have the water clarified through floculation, etc. is important

to leave the water clear enough for solar disinfection.


Solar distillation is also an appropriate technology in some areas. (Devadas

1984, Jahn 1981)

Chlorination is usually the method in developed countries for community systems,

but the chlorine supplies must be reliable for there is little value in spasmodically

treating a supply. The World Health Organization has stated that 1.0 milligram

per liter of residual chlorine, maintained for thirty minutes, will kill all

cercariae without reference to the related pH of the water.

At the household level chlorine is not always available because of cost or

market. Often people do not like the taste.
In Columbia women were taught to make chlorinators from plastic bottles for use
in their household wells. They refilled the bottles with a dry chlorine from the
health center on a 28 day basis related to the moon or their menstrual cycle. ('46) In
China a plastic tube with two holes is filled with solid bleach (sodium hypochonte) and
lowered in the well water. (19)
Determining the need for water treatment

The need for water treatment must be determined by site-specific characteristics.

Some methods of determining the need for water treatment have been designed which

can be carried out at the local even household level. Other tests need to have

laboratory facilities and trained personnel but indicators of pollution can be

observed by local women.

How-to instructions for taking a water sample, analyzing it, planning, designing

and construction of small community and household treatment systems are available

in the Water for World Series 1982. (See Rural Water Supply Section)-US/AID

Related to the need for treatment are several other issues such as (1) women's

preferences for water for various uses and (2) sources of water ground water,

surface water, rainwater, irrigation canal water.

Are pesticides a danger on irrigation projects?

The development of irrigation projects, the construction of dams and the

formation of man-made lakes introduce important changes in the environment and at

the same time they bring about evident benefits to the economy of a country or a

regionthey produce a number of risks to human health. One of these risks is

pesticides. -47

In 1983 McJunkin reviewed the literature on the impact of irrigation on

the human populations residing in the project area. The risks of using irrigation

water for domestic purposes could be greatly reduced if overuse of pesticides and

chemicals could be prevented. Proper training in both time and quantity of appli-

cations of chemicals could prevent severe pollution of irrigation water. Careful

explanations that too much is not better than enough are needed along with precau-

tions of dangers to workers and their families. (McJunkin personal communication 1985)

A parallel danger is the reuse of the pesticide containers for collecting and

storing water without adequate cleansing. For example, in Iran several deaths

were traced to use of mercury containers. Many other uncounted deaths or illnesses

probably have been related to both men and women's lack of knowledge about the

dangers and information about necessary precautions for them to take. Because of

the extreme shortage of portage and storage vessels for domestic water in many

communities these chemical containers are used extensively. In fact, in "Women

Water and Waste Beyond Acess," Elmendorf in 1980 made a plea for more containers

combined with training in how to use and reuse water. This issue was raised

in many forums and papers as a way to increase health benefits by improvements in

water supply. Access to water is not enough. Women need ancillary equipment and

knowledge about benefits and dangers. If women have only one pail they will have

to carry water in it, do laundry and dishwashing in it. The empty pesticide con-

tainers are a valuable resource, but care must be used. Some chemicals can be

removed by cleaning with solvents such as kerosene or gasoline. (Pineo,personal communi-
cation 1985)
O'Brien (1984) feels that none of these pesticide containers can be safely used.

Can they be recycled locally? Can these plastic and metal containers become

life-saving instead of death-bringing?

In an excellent slide program, "Preventive Pesticide Poisoning" being distributed

by the World Bank, O'Brien raises some of the following questions:

What kind of information/training has been given to the farmers and the farm

women and children about handling and use of pesticides? What should be given?


What are the training needs?

Who should be trained?

Who should do the training? What type of training?

What are the specific problems to focus on which are related to domestic

uses of irrigation water?

Should containers ever be reused?

What are the site-specific problems to focus on related to domestic uses of

irrigation water? i.e. 1) use and reuse of containers, 2) prevention of con-

taminating domestic water, and 3) appropriate treatment of contaminated or polluted



.AND SANITATION. Hygiene education, personal and household, should be first of all

focused on women, bearing in mind seven primary strategies:

(1) Increasing knowledge of the water/infection and the excreta/water/food/
infection relationships by relating information to existing beliefs and
new practices;
(2) Increased awareness of water-related site-specific hazards in irrigation
(3) Promoting positive attitudes toward hygienic use of transport vessels and
storage receptacles, without neglecting the necessity that appropriate
vessels, receptacles, and cleaning materials or supplies be locally
available and at prices within reach of the population;
(4) Advising of dangers of reuse of pesticide and fertilizer containers and
designing systems of collection, disposal and/or recycling.
(5) Promoting water handling, excreta disposal and food preparation practices
that contribute to better health; use of clean, covered transport and
storage vessels, hand washing after defecation and before food preparation,
covering leftover food, toilet training of toddlers, proper disposal of
infants' stools, and proper use and care of latrines;
(6) Promoting, where possible and acceptable, the appropriate re-use of
waste water and excreta and building linkages between the two by careful
planning based on existing practices and availability of irrigation water.
(7) Promoting the use of wastewater or canal water in home gardens, and for
feeding domestic animals in order to improve nutrition and/or increase income.
(8) Evaluation0f linkagebetween edible items, fish, insects, weeds in irrigation
project and their possibilities.

In the above material we have summarized only a few of the water and sanitation

management issues which have to be considered at the field level. We have also suggested
some strategies for involving women as the managers and primary users of domestic water
and sanitation. -49-

X SUMMARY Women's Off-Farm Activities and Domestic Water and Sanitation

Since there are so many excellent accounts available of women's varying activities
related to "on-farm" agricultural productivity, including the recent reports by FAO
(2,6,16,21,22,23,32,33,55,56,58,64,73,76,97,122,123,124,134,135,137)* I am not going
to repeat the data which document women's sizeable contributions to productive
activities. I do, however, want to review briefly several recent accounts which
corroborate the earlier findings of women's "off-farm" or household/domestic activi-
ties. In the Mahaweli 93% of the women assist in activities associated with crop
production, some taking major responsibility. (Jayewardene et al 1983)

In Stanbury's (1984) study of the Dahod Tank Irrigation Project slightly over half

the women said they did almost equal amounts of domestic and agriculture activity,

while 36% said they did mostly domestic work. Stanbury points out that this domestic

work including providing household waters an important component in the total irrigated

agricultural system comprising "the general welfare and support of the project."

Cooking, for instance, is not only for household members but for other farm workers.

The time and energy taken to prepare food and its safety, to clean up including dish-
washing and handwashing,
are closely related to water supply and sanitation. Other activities such as food

processing, livestock production, household gardens, etc. also depend on water availability.

Even though the importance of safe accessible supply of water for these "off-farm"

activities was recognized in all the cases reviewed very few details of what actually happens
were included except for/fgaWod Tank Irrigation Interdisciplinary report which noted -

Leakage from the main canal currently drains into a small tank at Dahod
village and also into a stream used by villagers at the tail of the
system. This unplanned consequence of irrigation system leakage has given
the villagers a source for their washing and bathing and watering their
livestock which should be considered when making canal improvements.(Venkataraman
et al, 1984:23)
Based on our recommendations to reduce main canal seepage, the supply of
well and pump water must be monitored. Village women mentioned seasonal
shortages, but we do not know presently the degree to which the village
wells and pumps depend on seepages losses.

We also recommend monitoring the amount of water in the stream near the
tail villages. Currently, villagers use this water to make bricks, water
livestock, and wash clothes. The exact relationship between the stream
and seepage water is not known. (ibid-p48)

*See Bibliography with this Background Paper
Above numbers refer to Draft Bibliography of 3/17/85.

Also, as has been mentioned earlier --

No plans have been made for present or future drinking or household
water to the village of Mundla even though the supply line runs
through Mundla...Farm families were fearful (p40) that providing so
much water to Mandideep might reduce the irrigation supply. ibidd p40)

Several facts surfaced again and again in the reports that women's time in the

"on farm" activities increased with irrigated agriculture

that women are continuing to carry out their traditional activities such as

weeding, transplanting, some of which have been increased with irrigation and fertilizers.

that women are participating with men in many on-farm decisions.

that women are doing jobs previously done by men.

that women's "off farm" domestic activities continue to be demanding, in fact for

many women have increased with irrigated agriculture.

that very few attempts to reduce the time and energy consuming drudgery of house-

hold activities by introducing labor saving technologies including water supply and

sanitation have been carried out even though they have been recommended.

that women do not have time to attend clinics, to attend community meetings,

to attend classes.

As a result, as Fortman said -

Women may not have enough time to do a good job of farming, When wood must
be collected, water fetched, and food cooked, sometimes it is necessary
(since it is less immediately urgent) to let some agricultural work go.
(Fortman 1980:8-9)

The point then, is not to make the women farmers in Botswana a replica
of her male counterpart. Rather it is to create a program which either
eliminates or accomodates the special constraints she faces and allows her
to be an independent productive member of rural society. ibidd, p27)

As Jennie Dey pointed out so well in her 1981 article "Gambian Women: Unequal

Partners in Rice Development" the failure to involve women in rice development

schemes has not only increased their economic dependence on men but is also a major

reason for deficiencies in these projects and low national rice production. Among

recommendations for correcting these imbalances as summarized in the 1984 FAO booklet.


Women in Rice Farming Systems are:

Consider women's role in rice farming within the context of their multiple
roles and obligations which include other cash and food crop production,
additional income-generating activities, domestic work (pounding grain,
fetching water and fuel, collecting wild leaves and fruits, washing, clean-
ing) and their reproductive and child-caring roles. (Dey 1984:31)

Develop ap ropriate labour-saving technologies for women for both agricultural
and domes ic wor and enre thatThese are made-available to women through
the extension services, on credit if necessary, possibly disbursed through
revolving funds or cooperative loans. ibidd, p34)

In the light of women's primary responsibilities for household water supply,

the following should be taken into consideration in order to minimize hazards ,and
maximize benefits.
the role of household members in collection and utilization of water.

women's needs regarding quality of water they require for various purposes

the present sources and uses of water

the preference of available technologies the choices of location of

taps, wells, storage facilities.

discussion with men and women of the interrelationships of irrigation

and domestic water.

the training of women in water both for irrigation and domestic uses.

Just as Barbara Rogers (1982) pointed out so clearly, women are very

sensitive to direct incentives for innovation and will respond positively to

any technology "which reduces their work load or increases their cash income."

Improvements in domestic water supply and sanitation should be able to do both

in an irrigation project.

Also, women and men will make sacrifices and changes in their behavior if

they think their children will have a healthier better life. (Dauber & Cain 1981)

Safe accessible water and sanitation can help bring about this goal while re-

ducing women's second drudgery needless hours of care for sick and dying

Women are still unequal partners in irrigation agriculture. Can they be

made more equal through integrating domestic water and sanitation with irriga-

tion water?