Continuation of 5.8

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5.8.5. Gender in relation to water, sanitation, and hygiene

The simple act of providing water and sanitary facilities will not, alone, guarantee optimal use or lead to a positive public health outcome if matters of gender, culture, and social relationships are not taken into account in designing and carrying out water supply, sanitation, and hygiene programs. It is important to involve all community members, particularly women and girls, in all phases of disaster management programs, since they contribute valuable perspectives, capacities, and contributions, which help to adapt these programs to specific needs. In many cultures, there is a close relationship between women and water, which means that it is crucial to include the special needs of women and girls in selecting and designing sanitation facilities and programs.

The IASC manual on gender issues in humanitarian action (beginning on page 105) lays out the appropriate standards and procedures for providing water, sanitation, and hygiene services to populations affected by a disaster.

5.8.6. Gender and non food items

Population displacement always involves a loss of personal property, which means that in addition to food, the affected population also needs basic, indispensable non-food items such as blankets, sleeping mats and materials to protect themselves from the weather, as well as kitchen utensils, soap, and containers to collect and store water. Women and girls need sanitary supplies. Boys and girls, orphaned boys and girls in particular, also have specific needs.

Non-food items should be appropriate to the culture, context, climate, and the population’s needs. For example, in regions where malaria is an issue, insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets should be on the list of necessary articles. Sanitary pads and/or personal cleanliness kits for women should be normal items in packages of non-food items, though the types of included articles can vary from one region to another.

The participation of women in distribution often optimizes the efficiency of the process. Distribution logistics should not neglect the question of what the best time is to ensure that women, girls, boys, and men alike get the benefit of the articles distributed.

The IASC Gender Handbook for Humanitarian Action (beginning on page 89) provides basic guidelines for planning activities related to non-food products, and includes a checklist of the elements that must be taken into account in this context.