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African Women and Water Conference

Event Date: 
March 10, 2008 - 01:00 - March 17, 2008 - 00:59

Organized by:

A Single Drop, Crabgrass, GreenBelt Movement, GROOTS-Kenya, Women’s Earth Alliance

We are seeking African women who are working for water security and environmental justice in their communities. We welcome environmental advocates, organizers and entrepreneurs to apply to participate in the African Women and Water Conference, to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, in late March, 2008.

The Purpose of the Women and Water Conference

Throughout history, women have played a central role as stewards of water. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “women are most often the collectors, users and managers of water in the household as well as farmers of crops. Women and children provide nearly all the water for the household in rural areas.” In urban areas, women are often in charge of accessing clean water and ensuring sanitation for their families. Women hold the knowledge around quality, location, reliability and storage of local water resources.

When water sources are contaminated or unavailable, women and children can be hit the hardest. They may be required to expend more labor collecting, storing, and protecting their water source, which can leave them with little or no time for other activities, like getting an education. The UN estimates that in some parts of Africa, women and children spend eight hours a day collecting water. Water-related diseases are also a common challenge to women, who are often responsible for caring for sick ones and have to step in for those who are ill and unable to work.

For some 30 years, international and UN global conferences have repeatedly recognized that effective sustainable water resources management depends on engaging women at all levels of decision-making and implementation. It is now recognized that the exclusion of women from the planning of water supply and sanitation schemes is a major cause of their high rate of failure.

However, women have often been denied their human right to water and are continually excluded from key decision-making roles, which has led to environmental destruction, deterioration of human health, and the feminization of poverty. More than half of the 1.2 billion people who do not have access to water are women and girls.

According to the FAO, often the technologies that are available to women do not meet their needs, such as pumps that have handles they cannot reach or public wells that are in an inappropriate place. The African Women and Water Conference creates the space for women to exchange technologies and best practices that are both practical and attainable.

The Women and Water Conference is a 5-day gathering that empowers women with the tools to carry out an income-generating water service project from start to finish. This conference is holistic, in that it will not only share effective and proven technologies, but valuable organizational skills to help women build business plans, develop programs, perform needs assessments, implement projects, and create strategic partnerships to ensure environmental, financial and social sustainability. The conference curriculum will include theory, practical (hands-on) technology transfer, project development, implementation, and organizational workshops. Local African women who have launched successful projects relating to water resources and community organizing, will be both the facilitators and trainers of the conference. All content will be designed based on local customs and gender needs. Each woman will leave the conference with the skills and support to successfully launch her own water service project from start to finish.

By joining voices, women grassroots environmental leaders can become even more effective and influential in promoting the ideas and practices of water security and environmental stewardship. In so doing, women attendees will pioneer a global movement from this emergent powerbase that extends far beyond regional borders.

Who Should Apply

The women chosen will meet specific criteria. The organization(s) with which the teams of women are affiliated must have an established working infrastructure and have already implemented a successful project in their community. The women must be proven leaders in their community and have experience in addressing local water issues.

Through an application process (see, two women will be selected to represent each organization. Each team will work in partnership to develop their project during the course of the conference. Several technologies will be available for the women groups to select and focus on during the conference. Ongoing collaboration and support among these groups will be facilitated after the conference is over.

Eleven organizations from East Africa (22 women), and two organizations from each of the regions of South Africa and West Africa (8 women) will be chosen to participate.

Conference Structure

During our 5-day conference, participants will choose workshops from the following theme areas:

Theme: Technology Transfer
The technologies and techniques that we choose will specifically address water quality and some can also be livelihood opportunities.

· Solar cooking and pasteurization

· Household water treatment options (ex. Biosand water filter)

· Rainwater harvesting

· Integrated water resource management

The participants will:

· Learn the theory behind the technology

· Participate in hands-on training

· Practice marketing scenarios for introducing the technologies into their community

Nominations for Participants

Please nominate two women who you view as meeting the following criteria:

· Active in grassroots advocacy, entrepreneurship, and/or community organizing around issues of environmental justice and/or sustainability (Grassroots refers to community-based activism, where positive change is created through citizen participation in the issues that affect them)

· Recognized by her peers as a leader in her community around local water issues

· Speaks English fluently

· Has initiative to start or expand a water program

· Excellent communication skills

· Has shown leadership in setting up and operating successful programs

· Good literacy skills for writing proposals, reports, keeping records, accounting

· Willing and able to travel to Nairobi, Kenya in March 2008 and has a passport that is valid through October, 2008.

We encourage participants to seek funding to cover the costs of participating in the conference. The conference will cost approximately $800 USD per participant, plus the cost of round trip transportation to Nairobi. We suggest participants look into possible funding sources like NGOs, government agencies, churches etc.). If funding is a problem for the participant, please let us know.


We ask that your nominee be fluent in English.

Selection Process

We are focused on ensuring that various regions with similar water-related issues are represented in the conference. To ensure that the conference enjoys a broad and balanced representation, we will select women who will contribute different perspectives in approaching these water issues. Decisions will be made by the organizing team.

Other ways to get involved

If you do not have someone to nominate for our Women and Water Conference but would like to get involved in other ways, please consider the following opportunities to contribute:

1. Send a financial contribution for the project by mail to:


691 Minna Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

or online at:

2. Host a houseparty to raise funds for our women participants. See for more details

3. Donate your time and skills by joining one of our planning committees

4. If you know of a woman who should be connected to Women and Water Conferences but is not able to attend, please email her contacts and your contacts to Please include a brief summary of her work. Thank you!

For more information about any of these options, please email



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