BY SAMIE WAIKORI
AHETAHA Water Conservation Association (AWCA) has successfully completed a two days community collaboration and training on maintenance and operation of the WASH program from the 18th to 19th November at Ahetaha, ward 19 of East Are Are Constituency.
The training is part of AWCA’s community service for the following affiliated communities; Foulofo, Kanata, Su’u, Manawai, Ahetaha, Raeao and Nariao’a village.
The Coordinator of AWCA Eddie Huitarau said the program was the fourth phase of SPC-HRSD Pacific People Advancing Change (PPAC) Small Grants targeted for Pacific People Advancing Change towards advocacy campaign on any particular issue identified by pacific people that needs special attention.
He said the AWCA Advocacy campaign for this phase is premised on “promoting women in WASH with operation and maintenance skills in rural communities and settings”.
Huitarau said activity of the program was mainly on hardware component which advocated for involvement and wider participation of women in rural WASH committees.
Adding this is especially on planning to highlight greater importance and to have women’s participation at community level, and to avoid the burden of women lacking basic technical skills when needs arise in their own settings.
He said from the workshop, most of these women have seen the challenges of being the male advocators, taking initiative to prioritise women and girls for WASH activities.
One of the participants, Belinda Watewari expressed her appreciation to AWCA coordinator saying, “we as women have realised our own challenges and concerns in the face of WASH facilities.
“What saddened us is the fact that it was difficult for women elites of Aiaisi ward 19 to see this need from the lens of women themselves, instead you have identified this challenge as an individual from a community and lead this idea as a cross cutting issue best fit to exposé as an important agenda for East Are Are communities,” she said.
Huitarau said the training is part of Human Rights and Social Development (HRSD) project targeted for women and it aims to achieve this by advancing human rights, equality and social inclusion for all pacific people, grounded in cultural values and principles.
He said the project was funded through the SPC-Building positive advocacy capacity to advance human rights, a twelve-month funded program working with Civil Society Organizations on innovative ways to improve water, sanitation and hygiene for women and girls in the rural villages.
Huitarau said the project is led by PPAC in collaboration with AWCA and the partnership includes financial oversight, management and coordination of the project, with an implementing team made up of AWCA and WASH specialists in the communities.
He said the key WASH tools and approaches used in the project includes; Community Led Total Sanitation, WASH Facility Improvement Tool, and Social Marketing approaches to improve hygiene practice and behaviors.
Huitarau explained that the CLTS training approaches provide skills and motivation to households for women to effectively assess, plan, act and monitor WASH improvements to achieve safe, secure and inclusive WASH.
He said the project seeks to empower rural women to gain skills and knowledge to enable them to repair basic WASH facilities for their families to meet family hygiene and other family needs and cultural obligations.
Huitarau said that for this phase, AWCA identified that although women begin to access WASH facilities within their homes and communities, there is still problem with low cost and inappropriate material used by women across many rural communities and villages in East Are Are.
“In terms of our project outcome, our expected change over time is for women members in WASH committees to be aware of WASH facilities Operation and maintenance and practices and know how to apply and use them.
“Furthermore, the immediate result we want to see is for women committee members to have better awareness on WASH facilities Operation and Maintenance,” he said.
Huitarau said the training was facilitated by AWCA Coordinator, Mr Eddie Huitarau, Mr James Singi and Mr John Haroka and attended by 30 female participants from the mentioned communities.