Water Insecurity and Gender-Based Violence: Exploring links and steps for prevention. A comparative study of Indonesian and Peruvian women

Stroma Cole

THE PURPOSE OF the study was to investigate the potential link between household water insecurity and gender-based violence (GBV) in Indonesia and Peru. It also aimed to identify factors that may be related to the vulnerability or resilience of women in these study areas to household water insecurity.

The larger goal was to use this knowledge to inform locally-appropriate strategies to reduce water insecurity and GBV in the study areas. Starting with a review of the global literature on water insecurity and GBV, it was found that no other studies have used robust qualitative or quantitative data or have been conducted outside of Africa or South Asia (Tallman et al., 2023). This study uniquely found a qualitative and quantitative association between household water insecurity and GBV in Indonesia. These findings have been submitted for publication (Cole et al., submitted). Furthermore, we identified extended risks of household water insecurity to include indirect impacts on women’s health and well being in Peru and Indonesia (Tallman et al., submitted). This included issues such as teenage pregnancy (Archdeacon et al., 2023). Policy recommendations were developed in collaboration with non-governmental organisations to mitigate the risks of GBV and promote gender-sensitive water interventions. Together with stakeholders, impact programmes were developed, including reproductive health education for community health workers, education for teenagers on gender equality, and calendars for households to remind them about broader issues related to gender equality and the environment.

There were several strengths from the interdisciplinary and international aspects of this study. For instance, working with mixed methods from the researchers’ respective disciplines (anthropology, public health and social work). This generated quantitative findings which were presented to local stakeholders allowing for the identification of solutions. Qualitative data provided insights into the dynamics at play that lead to GBV in the context of water insecurity. Combined findings were used to inform action and garner impact.

This project showed that GBV and water insecurity are connected and that GBV is not only a social and health problem but is intimately connected to environmental resource scarcity, governance and infrastructure.

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