- Title: MOROCCO: UNESCO teaches rural women water management to reduce waterborne disease
- Date: 2nd February 2009
- Summary: VARIOUS OF WATER MANAGEMENT EXPERTS AND LOCAL WOMEN IN CLASSROOM
- Embargoed: 17th February 2009 12:00
- Location: Morocco
- Country: Morocco
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVACG0BE14M3XLRU29WCDF8WO7K4
- Story Text: The chair of UNESCO's "Water, Women and Decision Power" group teaches rural women ways to manage water resources and reduce the risk of waterborne disease.
Women in rural areas of Morocco are being educated in water management in an effort to reduce the risk of waterborne diseases.
The "Water, Women and Decision Power" scheme -- run by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in partnership with Al-Akhawayn University in Ifrane (200 kilometres north-east of Rabat), and the National Office for Potable Water in Morocco (ONEP) -- organised a workshop to train women how to manage their community's water resources on Saturday (January 31).
The project focusses on women because, at the domestic level, it is usually they who are responsible for transporting water and using it at home.
But despite the fact that women are often left to deal with water scarcity or contamination, they remain excluded from decision-making processes, especially in socially conservative rural areas.
Twenty international experts from across Africa spoke to the women of Ain al-Khail village, 50 kilometres from Ifrane, to highlight simple and effective methods to keep local water supplies clean.
High rates of illiteracy amongst rural women require innovative approaches in explaining how to improve the quality of water management.
Mother-of-six Rabha Moumni said she was curious to see what the experts would teach her. She explained that she cleans water for her family by filtering it through a piece of cloth.
"We bring water and clean it using a clean peace of cloth then we store it in a water container. We then offer it to our children to drink it and by doing so, we avoid catching diseases," said Moumni.
UNESCO chair of the "Water, Women and Decision Power" scheme in Morocco told Reuters that rural women often do not see the link between polluted water and poor health.
"It is common in rural Morocco for women to be in charge of water management at home and for cooking but they don't see the relationship between water and the diseases that affect children in particular. This is why we try to attract their attention to some easy solutions that could help them be sure of water quality. We also teach them some ways to use water in a better way," Dr Asma el-Kasmi said.
According to Sonia Bellache, a representative from the Algerian Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry, the problem is common to many remote parts of North Africa, where untreated water is widely consumed by local residents.
"It is the same problem in all rural areas where women bring water either from a well or a source without treating it. The main objective of the workshop is to make women aware of the necessity to use bleach to sterilise water to prevent diseases that could be spread by water," Bellache said.
Most African countries are confronted with complex problems related to sustainable water management.
In North Africa, water resources are not only scarce but there is also the problem of resource contamination due to the lack of sanitation.
Some ninety percent of water is used for agriculture and large quantities are wasted because of obsolete irrigation techniques. In rural areas, water is sometimes re-used without being treated.
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