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UNESCO calls for gender perspective in national planning in West Africa

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The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), has advised West African countries to take into consideration gender perspective in formulating their national water policies.

Mr Lamine Sow, Acting Director, UNESCO Regional Office, Abuja made the call at an Online Advocacy which focused on “Water and Climate Change: Women’s Coping Strategies in West Africa.’’

The event was jointly organised by UNESCO Multi-Sectoral Regional Office Abuja, World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), Perugia, Italy and Regional Centre for Integrated River Basin Management, (RC-IRBM) Kaduna.

Sow said that water and climate change affect all facets of life including, gender equality, food security, livelihood, preservation of the ecosystem as well as growth and development of societies.

He said that it was important that women were involved in policy making process pertaining water supply because they were those mainly affected by its unavailability.

Sow pointed out that the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) six which focused on achieving clean water and sanitation for all should not exclude women.

Water resources are important in achieving SDG six and reports have shown that acceptable quality water still remains a challenge, with the visible impact of climate change in Africa which manifests as deforestation, flooding, drought, erosion, etc.

“Unfortunately, women are disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change because of close connection to the environment and dependence on natural resources.

“We need to consider the gender perspective in national planning purposes especially for water and climate variability adaptation policies.

“For such policies, there is a requirement for collection and analysis of sex disaggregated water data to support develop a gender base line and for monitoring gender equality problems,’’ he said.

The minister said the programme would help stakeholders understand climate change, water and women nexus for better planning.

Mr Abou Amani, UNESCO Director, Water Division of Natural Science, said that climate change projection by International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly identified West Africa as a hot spot.

Amani said that COVID-19 challenges had reminded countries on the need to address the need for clean water, sanitation and to make massive investment on water combined with human capacity development.

According to him, these are needed to facilitate the implementation of SDG six and we need to empower women to be part of water resources management initiatives.

He added that the UNESCO regional office and WWAP collaborated to launch a capacity development programme for the West Africa to highlight specific roles women play, challenges and how coping strategies contribute to achieving SDG six.

He said that the programme would disclose how water gender data can culminate into transformative water policies for West Africa.

Mr Lansana Wonneh, Deputy Country Representative, UN Women, said women should be included in formulating water policies because they have local knowledge on how decisions could affect their livelihood.

Other stakeholders at the event included, ECOWAS Commission on Water Resources Coordinating Centre and African Ministers Council on Water for West Africa, with contributions on water, climate change and gender in the region.

UNESCO’s WWAP Toolkit on Sex-Disaggregated Water Data 2015 and 2019 was introduced as a tool to help member states make informed decisions on water resources. (NAN)



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