Resilient ASADAS: women's inclusion and participation in integrated water management

The EUROCLIMA+ Resilient ASADAS project reiterates its commitment to fostering spaces for women's participation and inclusion in the water management process. 

By: Gabriela Cob, consultant on women's rights and participation 

22 March 2022. San José, Costa Rica. The inclusion and participation of women in the organisation, administration and decision-making around water in communities is an indispensable step towards quality and equity in access to this vital resource. The gender approach has made it possible to study that differences between men and women become inequalities through treatment, differentiated socialisation between girls and boys, and unequal access to rights, opportunities and resources.

In rural communities that have a Communal Water Supply Association (ASADA), a significant inequality gap is evident at a general level due to the low participation of women, both in operational and technical positions, as well as in decision-making and executive positions. This affects the quality of life of people in the communities because it has been shown that there are negative consequences on the development of a society as a result of gender inequality and discrimination suffered especially by women and girls.

One of the main elements that directly influences women's low participation in the ASADAS is the lack of access to property and credit, women have less access to land and although women actively participate in the production and development of community life, in real terms they cannot participate in the assemblies or boards of directors of the ASADAS if they do not own the land to which the communal organisation provides water services.

As a result of the research and work process developed in the RESILIENT ASADAS, project, financed by EUROCLIMA+ of the European Union, in the Urban Water sector, which is implemented by the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), several strategic work axes have been outlined as necessary for building women's participation and inclusion.

The main thrusts of the strategy are the following:

  1. Policy for functioning, administration and operation with a gender perspective.

  • Gender equity in professional, technical and operational work in ASADAS (information gathering and data management, use of hydrometers, plumbing, development of strategies to reduce water consumption, development of non-revenue water strategies, installation of tanks, construction and installation of artisanal chlorinators, monitoring of production of sources in ASADAS for water stress, alternatives for use and storage of rainwater). 
  1. Inclusion, participation and gender equity in decision-making positions, presidencies and vice-presidencies of the ASADAS. 

  • Equity in participation at all levels of the ASADA's organisation 
  1. Enabling conditions for the inclusion and participation of women and youth in the ASADAS 

  • Specific facilities or conditions that take into account the reconciliation of schedules with care work and family responsibilities.  
  • Care alternatives, facilities or conditions for people with young children.   
  • Training and awareness-raising for boards of directors, administrative and operational staff on gender perspective, human rights, inclusion, fighting gender-based violence, among other related topics. 
  • Protocols and information for addressing sexual and workplace harassment 

Of course, the construction of real opportunities for women's participation and inclusion requires the generation of more profound processes at the social level that allow them to move towards economic autonomy, access to property (land and other resources), food self-sufficiency, credit facilities, offering alternatives to promote training processes, the acquisition of knowledge, skills and access to appropriate technologies and, of course, the existence of facilities and conditions for their participation in community and social decision-making and managerial spaces.

Even so, we must recognise that the work and contribution of a community organisation such as an ASADA can accompany the closing of inequality gaps; it can eliminate the discrimination and violence that some people, women, girls, boys, young people, people with disabilities, older people, people from the LGBTQI+ community, among other realities and conditions, experience on a daily basis. Therefore, including and taking into account all these considerations is key to reducing vulnerability and risks at the social level in our communities. Communities where women participate on an equal basis and are actively included in the community in decision-making and in the different projects, achieve higher levels of development and a better quality of life.

EUROCLIMA+ sector Water management with an urban resilience perspective 

Through this sector of the EUROCLIMA+ programme implemented by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the French Development Agency (AFD), a total of seven projects will be implemented. For more information on each project, please visit: 


EUROCLIMA+ is a programme funded by the European Union and co-financed by the German federal government through the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), as well as by the governments of France and Spain through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.  

The Programme's mission is to reduce the impact of climate change and its effects in 18 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, promoting mitigation, adaptation, resilience and climate investment. It is implemented according to the "Spirit of Team Europe" under the synergistic work of seven agencies: the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the French Development Agency (AFD), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Expertise France (EF), the International and Ibero-America Foundation for Administration and Public Policy (FIIAPP), the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) GmbH, and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).