For Kenya to achieve the 2030 goal of equal access to safe water and potable sanitation, everyone needs to be involved. However, youth and women are often underrepresented on matters of water, sanitation, and hygiene governance. It is against this backdrop that Kenya Water and Sanitation Civil Society Network (KEWASNET), the network membership, and other stakeholders in the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector convened at the Youth and women in WASH conference 2021 organized by Water Services Providers Association (WASPA) Kenya between 30th June to 2nd July 2021, in Naivasha. The Cabinet Secretary, Water, Sanitation, and Irrigation, Sicily Kariuki and the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr. Andrew Tuimur attended the conference.
Vision 2030, is a powerful tool of empowering women and youth both socially, economically, and politically. If delivered poorly, water and sanitation services will undermine women, families, and the entire community”, Cabinet Secretary, Sicily Kariuki during the opening ceremony of the conference
KEWASNET and the network members (KWAHO, CESPAD, Youth Parliament, Umande Trust, and Polycom Development Project were among the key actors who contributed to the topics related to the status, opportunities, challenges, and future of the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector in Kenya: gender balance in WASH, capacity development and research to optimize the untapped voices of young people in WASH, and fighting against water and sanitation-linked sexual exploitation and/or violence, and promoting safe spaces for girls and young women in Kibera: SFW study findings.
We need to have a fair balance and inclusion of youth and women in the WASH sector. As a Civil Society Network, we have tried to look at what can be done to improve inclusion and increase the level of the voice of youth and women. We have tried to make sure that this constituency is part of the conversation to the minimum and decision-making to the broader spectrum-Malesi Shivaji, KEWASNET CEO during Promoting Good Governance in Water and Sanitation through the inclusion of Youth and Women session.
“We are going to join hands to ensure that we grow together within the water, sanitation, and hygiene sectors”-said Vincent Ouma, Head of Programmes KEWASNET during Capacity Development and Research to Optimize the Untapped Youth and Women Potential.
“Youths need to engage in public participation forums to advocate for equality, availability, and accessibility of water, sanitation and hygiene services”, Christine Namaindi, member youth parliament during the session, during the Voice of the Young People in WASH.
Other Key highlights of the conference include KEWASNET member, Umande Trust, through Benazir Omotto who scooped the best innovation-Community award with submission: reinventing the Public Toilet.
Water, sanitation, and hygiene issues disproportionately affect youth and women. Yet, they are not fairly represented in institutions and forums key in the decision-making in the sector. KEWASNET is happy to have participated in this ground-breaking event and remains hopeful and committed to the resolutions reached.