From where I stand: "Resolving water problems makes women’s work easier"

Date: Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Esma Goglidze; Photo: UN Women/Justyna Mielnikiewicz
Before the war in 2008, the population residing near the conflict zone in Shida Kartli used to get drinking water from the village of Vanati. After the war,Vanati happened to be located beyond the dividing line, so we no longer had access to water. The situation was unbearable: we had to wait for the rain. We had 200-litre reservoirs under the gutters, but those who did not have any would harvest their neighbour’s rainwater.

Soon we got water through boreholes made with the support of international organizations, but there was no disinfection or quality inspection. It was 2012 when doctors arrived with a humanitarian mission to check the health status of the population. They discovered that the vast majority of people had gastrointestinal problems, which was more acutely demonstrated among women and children. The doctors identified that it was the drinking water that caused health problems.

During that period, we had self-care groups within the framework of “Women for Equality, Peace and Development”. I was a leader of one of the groups and also chaired a committee to promote cooperation with the local government. When the women came to me with the problem of water quality, I wrote an application, collected population signatures and requested water disinfection. The request was granted, and the water quality improved significantly for thousands of residents in eight villages. Soon these improvements were reflected in the health of the people.

Since then, the water has been disinfected systematically. Samples are also collected and tested regularly. We then resolved one more problem connected to water: we constructed a new borehole in the village of Meghvrekisi, which significantly improved the water supply for the rural population.

Women have to perform much labour-consuming work in rural areas. They are the ones to carry the greatest burden in their families. When families have uninterrupted running water, they can use dishwashers or washing machines, ease work and have time off – this is why resolving the water problemis especially important for women.

Esma Goglidze, director of Shida Kartli Community Foundation for Peace and Development, cooperated with UN Women within the framework of the project “Women for Equality, Peace and Development” and led a self-care group. Esma’s activities are focused on achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6, which aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.