Water scarcity and economic productivity of women: a case study of Kibauni division, Machakos county.
Mwinzi, Jackline M
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Water is vital for life and a key catalyst to socio-economic development as well as maintenance of environmental integrity in any region. It is an essential resource for sustaining life as well as central to agriculture and rural development and affects the livelihoods of millions of rural people across the world. Water scarcity is an issue that affects the economy negatively. It affects one in three people on every continent of the globe. The situation is getting worse as needs for water rise along with population growth, urbanization and increases in household and industrial uses. It is among the main problems being faced by many societies and the World in the 21st century. Water scarcity affects all people in the society but women bear the burden most as they are traditionally regarded as the water collectors and majority of them rely on water for their livelihoods. The purpose of this research study was to find out the impact of water scarcity on the economic productivity of women in Kibauni Division of Machakos County, with a view to answering three research questions namely: What is the water and livelihood situation in Kibauni? How does water scarcity affect economic productivity of women? And finally,What challenges are facing water management and how are they addressed? The study size constituted of 360 respondents selected using systematic random sampling. 2 focus group discussions and 10 key informants were selected though purposive sampling technique. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. The mechanism for the data collection involved both primary and secondary sources to ensure triangulation and collection of reliable data. Data was collected using questionnaires, observations, key informant guide, and Focus Group Discussion guide. Quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics through the use of SPSS. Qualitative data was edited, coded, analyzed and interpreted to evaluate the usefulness of the information in answering the research questions. From the study findings, it was found out that water is a commodity that is vital for development and almost all economic activities undertaken by women in the study area needed water as a catalyst for their products. The study concluded that water scarcity and economic productivity of women are intertwined and almost impossible to separate them. Water scarcity translates to poor access to education, health problems, and increased work load as well as time wastage in search of the rare, basic commodity. It was also concluded that water scarcity is accelerated by population pressure, land use changes, poor water harvesting methods, sand/gravel harvesting as well as poor agricultural methods. The study recommended that the ministry of agriculture, water irrigation board as well as the donor agencies need to invest in the community to exploit the underground water sources to supplement the available water as this can reduce the problems that women as well as the girls are facing while accessing water. Further, the study concluded that women should equally participate with men in the water management projects and their decisions should be prioritized since they are the major water collectors and managers at the household level and determine how, where and when to collect the water. To achieve this, the study recommended that family and societal support, access to education, access to resources and entrepreneurship training should be enhanced to foster gender equality and economic empowerment of women