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Executive Summary


This report was prepared by a UNICEF consultant engaged to conduct an assessment of gender equity and social inclusion (GESI) in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) policies and programmes in Vanuatu, and to develop recommendations to strengthen work in this area. The assessment presents the findings of a comprehensive literature review and stakeholder consultation process. It considers GESI and WASH issues at national, provincial, community and household levels and identifies opportunities for greater participation of vulnerable groups including women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities. It is expected that the results of this review will be used by government and non-government agencies to promote greater gender equity and social inclusion in their work.

In addition to this report, other documents prepared as part of this assessment include:

1. “Gender Equity and Social Inclusion Guidelines for WASH Programmes in Vanuatu”1. This resource manual is designed for WASH practitioners in Vanuatu to assist with the process of GESI mainstreaming. Written from a human-rights perspective, it focuses on community-based methods and WASH in institutional settings and includes guidelines to ensure GESI sensitivity across the project lifecycle.

2. “GESI and WASH Stakeholder Validation Workshop Report”2. Preliminary findings of this analysis were presented to 22 key stakeholders at a workshop held on 14/10/15 in Port Vila; the outcomes of these discussions have been incorporated in this report.

Access to clean water is a basic human right and a universal development priority with great potential to improve health, life-expectancy, education, food security and livelihoods. As such, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #6 is “to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. WASH objectives are also relevant to the achievement of SDG #5: Gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls through the provision of public services and infrastructure (5.8) and to ensuring women’s full and effective participation in decision-making processes (5.9). Increasing women’s inclusion in WASH decision-making is of particular importance in Vanuatu given the endemic under-representation of women in public fora at all levels. Infrastructure development and implementation of community-development approaches to improve WASH services can also result in a reduction in gender-based violence as discussed in Section 5.3.9.

In Vanuatu, the water sector is governed by the Water Resource Management Act 2002, the Water Supply Act 1985, the Public Health Act 1994 (under review) and the Public Work Act (under review). In 2012, the Vanuatu Law Commission reviewed these laws and concluded that “water and sanitation has been absent from high level planning for some time… Government agencies responsible for water supply face resource constraints in terms of both skilled staff and budget… Currently the sector is highly fragmented”.3

Despite improvements in water and sanitation services over the last decade, serious concerns still exist about water quality and quantity, especially in isolated rural communities – made worse by the devastating effects of Tropical Cyclone Pam in March 2015. During the dry season and in drought conditions, including current El Nino conditions, some communities are forced