The Women and Sustainable Cities programme (Femmes et Villes Durables in French) aims to strengthen women's leadership in the decision-making and management of scarce urban water resources in the MENA region. Launched in May 2023, the 2.5-year pilot will be implemented in collaboration with local governments and feminist organizations in Figuig (Morocco), Kairouan (Tunisia), and Sebkha (Mauritania).

By enhancing the capacities of local authorities and civil society, the programme promotes gender-responsive design and implementation of urban water management policies and projects. Collaborating with women and local organisations, the programme implements pilot projects in urban areas to improve women's access to water and enhance sustainable water management.

The programme is funded by the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE), under its Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects (FSPI). It has also been designated as a Support Fund for Feminist Organizations project by the Ministry and the Agence Française de Développement, enabling feminist civil society organisations to advance their vision of gender equality.

 

Climate justice and water management require women leadership because representation matters. If you have more women in leading positions, they can take more gender‑sensitive decisions.

Deyala Tarawneh, University of Jordan

Femmes et Villes Durables

The programme, spanning from 2023 to 2025, will be implemented in Figuig (Morocco), Kairouan (Tunisia), and Sebkha (Mauritania), focusing on three key components:

  1. Enhance the governance capacities of local authorities for gender-sensitive and sustainable water management: Engage in a participatory approach to collect data on women's and girls' vulnerabilities, challenges, and opportunities related to water access, management, and climate adaptation. This data informs policies and develops a deeper understanding of their current living conditions, empowering local authorities to respond inclusively and sustainably through capacity building. The participatory data collection process is based on Her4Water, a tool developed by Cities Alliance to understand women's participation, engagement and vulnerabilities with respect to water scarcity and other water-related climate risks.
  2. Support women's empowerment in sustainable water management through capacity building and interventions in public spaces: Facilitate active involvement of women and girls in the programme, enabling them to co-design solutions for identified challenges and implement pilot projects in their cities. Through comprehensive training and capacity-building initiatives, they enhance their knowledge and skills in inclusive urban water management.
  3. Foster exchange and learning for women-led sustainable water management in targeted cities and countries: Organize a series of exchange events to facilitate knowledge sharing among participating local authorities, civil society organizations, and national/international stakeholders. By disseminating project practices and key findings, the program scales up its impact and contributes to global efforts for creating more inclusive and resilient cities.

The key objectives of the programme include: 

  • Facilitating the participatory collection of sex-disaggregated data and gender-sensitive indicators on water governance.
  • Promoting women's leadership in water governance and management within cities.
  • Developing and strengthening the capacities of local and national authorities to design and implement gender-sensitive urban water infrastructures and services.
  • Supporting the economic security of women by enhancing their access to water for household use and food production, thereby reducing their workload.
  • Stimulating and supporting inclusive multi-level urban governance for water management.

Grantees of the programme:                                    
The Women and Sustainable Cities programme collaborates with local NGOs as grantees in Sebkha, Kairouan and Figuig. The NGOs Lam Echaml (Kairouan), Annahda (Figuig), Serv'Eau (Sebkha) have local knowledge on gender, WASH and participatory approaches and therefore ensure a contextualised project implementation in the cities. They are supporting the project throughout its first phase of data collection, piloting and capacity building for the community.

The close cooperation with the NGO generates capacity building and learning opportunities of project management skills for the present staff in the project cities. A close proximity to the community is ensured through this collaboration with and implementation through local actors, which aligns with Cities Alliance’s principles of localised and contextualised project conception and implementation.

empower a woman with water and she can change her city

 

Empowering Youth: Understanding Climate Change Effects and Promoting Water Conservation

Harnessing the  creativity of young minds is paramount , as they embody the future guardians of our communities. Through different educational workshops and innovative artistic projects, Cities Alliance has collaborated with youth from Kairouan, Figuig, and Sebkha to ignite awareness about the far-reaching effects of climate change, and learn from them how the pressing issue of water scarcity in their cities affect them. Read more here.

 

girls showing painting - water

 

School kids learning about water

 

Poster - Short Film Competition Figuig

 


Project output: Stakeholder advancing gender-responsive water governance

Read here the key findings of workshops with key actors, including local authorities, national ministries, civil society, utility providers, elected local representatives, in the three project cities on how to foster more gender-responsive urban water governance.

Cover Brochure Femmes et Villes Durables

Citizen Engagement sessions in Kairouan, Sebkha and Figuig (October to December 2023)

During the months of October, November, and December 2023, citizen engagement activities were executed in the three project cities. Utilising the Her4Water tool, surveys and women's workshops were undertaken in Kairouan, Sebkha, and Figuig. Nine collaborative assessment sessions with more than 90 women from these cities, encompassing workshops and walking tours, facilitated nuanced and personalised insights into women's involvement in the water sector. 

Ateliers de Sebkha 2023
Atelier in Sebkha, 2023

To encompass a broader perspective of citizen views on these matters, surveys were deployed, accumulating a total of over 790 data points (220 in Kairouan, 410 in Sebkha, 137 in Figuig). The Her4Water methodology guided the survey questionnaire, aiming to gain a profound understanding of women's engagement in the water sector, the specific risks and impacts experienced by women and vulnerable groups, and the challenges encountered. 

Sebkha_Enquete1
Citizen Survey in Sebkha, 2023

The incorporated indicators encompass aspects such as the extent of women's participation in water commissions or decision-making bodies related to water governance, the means by which water is obtained in their households, and the adverse effects of water scarcity on their lives, education, and employment opportunities.

Lam Echaml Citizen Survey
Women Workshop in Kairouan, 2023

 


Stakeholder collaboration session in Figuig on 14th November 2023

Representatives of the commune of Figuig, the local civil society, the national utility office, and the local water councils came together in an interactive session to discuss challenges and recommendations for more inclusive, gender-sensitive and resilient water governance and management in the oasis town Figuig. Discussions on the lacking participation of women in water councils and decision-making, issues of polluted drinking water, lacking sanitation facilities, and non-maintained wash houses, a key element in women's daily lives, shaped the day.


Participatory stakeholder engagement workshop in Sebkha on 19th October 2023

On October 19, representatives of the municipality of Sebkha, local women-led civil society organisations, regional authorities, and water authorities and institutes discussed the challenges of inclusive water access and climate adaptation measures in Sebkha. Participant's engaged in focus groups on various themes, including the impact of climate change on women's access to water, challenges and opportunities of gender-sensitive and inclusive water governance, and the sensibilisation for more sustainable water use in Sebkha.

Woman during Workshop in Sebkha

 


Key Stakeholder Workshop in Kairouan on 19th September 2023

Following the successful project launch, key representatives of the municipality, the governorate, local civil society, water authorities, and research institutions came together in Kairouan on September 19 to discuss challenges and opportunities in governing local water scarcity. Discussed topics were among others, the role of women in current municipal and regional sustainable water governance, the value that traditional water conservation techniques can play in adapting to climate change, as well as the importance of accessible water facilities and green public space for the Kairouan's citizen, and most importantly women and their families. Read a detailed summary here