Women and Water: A report by the National Commission for Women

This report by the National Commission for Women looks at social conflict and tension that arise due to water crises and analyses the impact of these on women.

This report by the National Commission for Women looks at social conflict and tension that arise due to water crises and analyses the impact of these on women. The stress on water resources is a result of rapidly rising population and changing lifestyles, which have increased the need for fresh water. Intense competition among water users from agriculture, industry and domestic sector is pushing the ground water table deeper. Women bear the burden of fetching drinking water in rural areas and if opportunity costs are taken into account, it would translate to about 150 million women days each year. This amounts to a loss of a whopping 10 billion rupees per year to the national exchequer.

Examples from various States and their urban centers like Chennai, Bangalore, Shimla, Delhi, Kochi, Kottayam, Bhopal, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Sriganganagar are provided.

To mitigate the water burden on women, the study suggests the following measures:

  • Restoration of conventional methods of water conservation like baolis, johads, ponds and tankas.
  • Introduction of rainwater harvesting.
  • Changing the cropping pattern from water intensive crops like paddy and sugarcane, to crops like millet and ragi, which consume less water.
  • In cities instead of Public-Private-Partnership (Privatisation of Water), Public-Public-Partnership (Public and Government) can be introduced as an alternative for coping with the water crisis.
  • Proper water conservation measures should be used and people should be trained on the techniques.
  • Government schemes should be implemented properly.
  • Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and NGOs should be involved in the management of rural water supply.
  • Women should be trained as water managers for better utilization of the resource.
  • Future programmes and projects should be designed, keeping in view women as water users.

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