The impact of a lack of water and sanitation on women in Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal.
Mtshali, Sizakele Sydness.
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Water is a primary source of all life and is important to all human beings. It is an intricate and necessary resource in the continuation and well-being of all humans. According to Van Houweling (2012) water is an integral part of sustainable rural livelihoods and households because of its important function in the maintenance and uses in the household. Water is a highly important resource in almost every sector and especially in pastoral communities like in KwaZulu-Natal. Agricultural activities and rural households have a heavy reliance on water but water is fast becoming a scarce resource (Bakre and Dorasamy, 2015). IFAD (2012) recognises the linkages between poverty, water and gender issues, and places great importance on women’s empowerment to reduce poverty and food insecurity. Women’s secured access to water and land is central to achieving the Millennium Development goals and other important bars to economic, poverty and development freedoms. Women in Nongoma face difficulties in water and sanitation access and backlogs creates burdens that prohibit them achieving their goals. When basic needs such as water are not met, people become exposed to illness, infection and disease. The most controversial of these symptoms is that it creates a vortex where people are drawn further into poverty and powerlessness. The main aims of this study were to assess the effects of a lack of water and sanitation on livelihoods and how this impacts poverty. The study was concerned with participation levels by women with regards to water issues. The study location was Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal, and the study examined how women in rural areas (who are typically responsible for household water collection, usage and storage) cope with a lack of access to water and sanitation and how this impacts on poverty. The study applied the capabilities approach and the gender and development approach and utilised a purposive sampling strategy to interview women between the ages of 18-44, through face to face interviews. The study also aimed to unpack the perspectives of women with regards to water and the impact a lack of water has on their livelihoods. The study also focused on whether women participated in the processes of accelerating water services to their area.