Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre organized the 2023 We Women Are Water Summit to mark the World Water Day, on Thursday 23rd March at the Catholic Pastoral Centre of Rivers State. The World Water Day is an annual celebration which raises awareness and inspires civic action to tackle water and sanitation crisis. The theme of the 2023 World Water Day is ‘ACCELERATING CHANGE TO SOLVE THE WATER AND SANITATION CRISIS’. KebetKache joined the #WeWomenAreWater campaign which began on March 15th and ends 24th 2023, to celebrate the World Water Day 2023 with the aim to highlight the crucial role that women play in the protection and sustainable use of water-related ecosystems as the basis of resilient livelihoods and addressing Climate Change. This campaign is led by the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA) and it features stories from indigenous women, particularly women who are resisting extractive industries, monoculture tree plantations and other false climate solutions, and proposing and implementing successful Gender-just Climate and Water solutions but lack political and financial support.
The World Water Day brought together Women from Niger Delta communities, representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations, Community Based Organizations, Faith Based Organizations, Government Ministries, Department and Agencies.
(Cross section of participants at the summit)
Summary of Issues Deliberated Upon
Participants at the Summit reviewed, reflected upon, and deliberated on the following issues;
Water is an essential but growing scarce commodity that is invaluable to human survival worldwide.
Women are at the forefront of the global campaign for safe water, especially in threatened and endangered landscapes and ecosystems like the Niger Delta region of Nigeria being also, most negatively affected by the water issues.
The activities of extractive industries have and continue to impact negatively on the water sources in the region.
Women in African countries and those in the global South face harsh experiences due to lack of access to clean potable water and this poses risk to their survival
When water is not accessible, women and girls are forced to work more and face more danger.
The Assembly observed that though water is life, it is not sufficiently available for use.
Contaminated water through air, land and water pollution endangers the health of women, children and the elderly, causes infant mortality, damage to the nervous system, reproductive impediments in women; physiological abnormality in males and females
Challenges to access to clean water were identified as climate change, increased water scarcity and stress from increasing human population now rising towards 8 billion.
The forum therefore recommended the following actions:
The Women Assembly calls on governments at all levels in Nigeria to massively invest in water infrastructure to save lives and propel sustainable development.
Conduct regular checks on water projects especially in schools to ensure that scientific standards are respected
Make polluters of water corporate or individuals, pay for their actions
Application of individual efforts to improve water through, boiling, filtering and disinfection.
Local Governments should adopt climate change frameworks/ policies to address water issues and engage with State and Federal Governments to develop and implement sustainable water programmes
Women should strategize to end water crisis by ensuring involvement being involved in water policy design and also seeking inclusion in political leadership
Women should build economic investments and entrepreneurship through cooperatives and networks for stronger demands for action from policy makers, and adopt sustainable sanitary habits, and responsible household sanitation methods.
Niger Delta governments should unite and adopt a regional position on water and environment to the federal government and the United Nations and also align with the global delta bodies to avoid being left behind.
The women joined in calling on governments, international development banks and the Green Climate Fund to stop investing in environmentally destructive projects that violate human rights and negatively impact ecosystems, but instead, invest in community-led initiatives and local climate actions that address water issues and climate change.
The Women called for an end to open defecation and proper disposal of all waste for improved sanitation.
Participants expressed appreciation to Kebetkache funders, men who support the campaign for clean water and all who contributed to the success of the Assembly.