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GENDER-DISAGGREGATED DATA ON WATER AND

The smaller scale may often be the most appropriate and fruitful. Data on local and small-scale interventions (and their outcome and impact) with respect to gender provide a concrete knowledge base on the

effectiveness of WATSAN interventions. Local data not only provide the basis of most of the knowledge that we have on gender in water and sanitation, but small-scale efforts can inform and validate survey methods and techniques that then may be applied at a larger scale. In order to inform policy and increase capacity at the local or regional level, it is not necessarily desirable to

Ranked-qualitative scales can be developed to assess the quality of women’s participation in decision-making bodies

emphasize the collection of globally-uniform data. However, “translating” between scales or integrating data collected on varying scales is very complex and needs further attention and methodological work. NGOs and small community-based groups are essential partners in identifying and developing indicators that will most productively draw out the gendered realities of water and sanitation, and NGOs and grassroots groups are also the most likely to succeed at assembling information about gender and water and sanitation. This knowledge is seldom tapped by large data-collecting agencies.

Sharing information amongst networks is critically important; however it is a challenge to do so when so many actors, many operating on a very local scale, are involved in collecting and analyzing data.

In establishing priorities for data collection, it is possible and important to distinguish between what is ‘nice to know’ and what is ‘necessary to know.’ Simply increasing the quantity of data available, without rooting this in a gendered understanding of priorities, would not be a sound use of resources. Additionally, the method of collecting any data needs to be carefully scrutinized for gender bias, including, importantly the sex profile of who are the interviewers and respondents.

The emphasis on demonstrating national progress in WATSAN sectors against global “targets” (such as MDG goals) often works against real progress in this sector. For example, governments may be encouraged to inflate reports of progress, or may reduce “progress” to simple quantitative measures.

The search for data and indicators should be guided by a concern for representing the realities of women’s and men’s lives – as they are experienced. Information about these kinds of socio-economic processes is often best elicited through qualitative approaches, even if the data so gathered is then rendered into some quantitative form. The criteria used in technical surveys are not adequate to represent socioeconomic processes.

There is a need to challenge the perception that qualitative data are anecdotal or ad hoc. Small-scale qualitative information is essential; it often provides the best information about problems (or solutions) which then might be followed up with larger-scale inquiry. Further, qualitative information can be systematized, collected on a ranked scale, and

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SA N I T A TI O N

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