Water, Watts and Women’s Empowerment

Credit — Innovation:Africa

Working at the water-energy nexus to improve the lives of women and girls

Power Africa Celebrates World Water Day: Recognizing Power Africa’s strategic partnerships at the intersection of water and energy that are actively improving the lives of women and girls.

The water-energy nexus refers to both the use of water for energy generation, and the use of energy to deliver water. On both sides of this nexus, Power Africa is supporting efforts to ensure that women and girls benefit from new investments.

The African continent is rich in rivers and lakes which, if properly utilized, can have a positive impact on electricity generation through hydropower. The Nile — the world’s longest river — flows through eleven different countries. These countries have formed the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), with the vision to equitably utilize and benefit from the Nile’s water resources. In 2016, Power Africa and the NBI announced a strategic partnership focused on increasing regional power interconnections through hydropower.

Understanding how women and men experience the impacts of hydropower development differently can guide developers to design projects that minimize harm and result in equitable benefit sharing. For example, during resettlement, women are often at risk of not receiving compensation due to customary rights and legal processes, such as a lack of land rights. Additionally, the engineering and construction fields are male-dominated, and women may be left out of a project’s employment opportunities and decision making.

Credit — Innovation:Africa

Guided by its Gender Mainstreaming Policy and Strategy, the NBI project development process includes ensuring consultations between all stakeholders, developing community needs assessments and conducting gender analyses — to inform recommendations to support gender equality. The Policy includes a monitoring and evaluation framework that lists key gender indicators for projects and programs, such as the percentage of budget allocated to gender-specific activities or the number of produced reports that include sex-disaggregated data.

The non-profit Innovation: Africa supports the delivery of water and solar technologies to more than 170 different projects across eight African countries, recognizing that alleviating the task of water collection opens up new opportunities for women and girls. Their vision is to reach 1,000 villages by 2025, building solar powered water pumping systems so the villages can have clean water at centrally located taps. By alleviating the time spent on collecting water, more girls are enrolled in school and women are pursuing endeavors such as community gardens to improve nutrition and provide additional income. Innovation: Africa’s work is aligned with Power Africa and the Government of Israel’s strategic partnership to reduce energy poverty and increase energy access on the continent.

As we observe World Water Day 2018, we invite you to join the Women in African Power (WiAP) network here and help us further promote women’s and girls’ empowerment in Africa’s energy sector. For more information, please contact Denise Mortimer (dmortimer@usaid.gov).