Water Justice Fund - grassroot grants to the water crisis

Project: Bangladesh, Kenya and Nepal, 2022 — 2030

Millions of women and girls are hit hard by the water and sanitation problems caused by climate change. The Water Justice Fund supports local women groups in Kenya, Nepal and Bangladesh and journeys with them to realize locally-led and women-owned solutions to water and climate challenges.

The Climate Crisis is a Water Crisis

The effects of climate change are largely felt through water. Flooding, multi-year droughts, saltwater intrusion and long-term changes to groundwater, seriously threaten the availability of household water supply.

Today 1 in 4 people – or 2 billion people – around the world lack safe drinking water, and climate change is expected to increase water scarcity around the world. Women and girls are hit particularly hard as they are responsible for securing water and food. At the same time women continue to have less access to resources and decision making than men.

The goals of the Water Justice Fund

The vision of the Water Justice Fund is a climate just world where women and communities are more resilient to the impacts of climate change on their access to water and sanitation services. 

The force of climate impacts on women, combined with existing poor water and sanitation services, is at the core of the ground breaking initiative of the Water Justice Fund. The Water Justice Funds provides resources to women directly for locally-led climate actions that tackle water vulnerability. The fund commits to support the UN Action Agenda and the SDG 6 Acceleration Framework. Our goals on the long term are:

  • The most vulnerable communities are resilient to climate impact and the water crisis with improved access to water and sanitation services. 
  • The voices of women and girls have been strengthened and they are seen as important influencers and contributors to decision making and climate adaptation measures. 
  • Activism to put climate adaptation higher on the agenda has been strengthened. 

Barriers to women-led adaptation

Finance gap: less than 1% of the billions pledged to address climate change supports water services for poor communities. An even smaller percentage directly reaches women.

Practice gap: women are key players in adaptation, but have a limited role in decision making. That constraints them in translating local adapatation knowledge into practical action.

Gender gap: only one-third of climate projects factor in gender considerations, reinforcing the exclusion of women and other vulnerable groups from local level action and decision-making.

Supporting women led action

Dedicated international and national climate funding mechanisms are needed that provide resources, decision-making power and authority to women and girls at the community level. Together with locally rooted partners in Bangladesh, Kenya and Nepal, Simavi initiated the Water Justice Fund, a fund that provides access to small grants for water-stressed communities. 

The fund is dedicated to support women groups and women-led community organisations. The Water Justice Fund supports locally-led climate actions. Actions that tackle water vulnerability, that protect water sources or lead to more equitable water access when water is scarce. 

With the Water Justice Fund, we impact community climate resilience, increase women groups’ decision making power and organisational capacities, and create spaces for women’s leadership in water adaptation actions. The fund invests in collaborative learning and impact measurement.

Through methods like ethical storytelling and Most Significant Change (MSC), we create opportunities for grant recipients to tell their stories. To share their challenges and solutions and what these grants have meant to them. These learnings are crucial to improve grant-making procedures as well as influence policies to assure more funding reaches women at the grassroots.

Journeying with Women and Girls Groups

The Water Justice funds works with its partners to change decision making and shift resources to communities. Collaboratively, we build a practice of greater accountability – where women take decisions at all stages of the grant cycle.

Resources are directly placed in the hands of women and girls, so that they are decision-makers and act on their own priorities and solutions. That way, the Water Justice Fund actively challenges gender norms that reinforce power inequalities. It enables women to put themselves in position of influence - at the local level and beyond.

The fund enables Simavi’s partners to accompany women and girls’ groups on their journeys to establish durable solutions to water related challenges they encounter due to climate change. With the Water Justice Fund we seek to impact both the capacity and position of women groups so that they are seen as active agents and decision-makers in delivering a water secure and climate resilient future.

A Global Co-Created Initiative

The Water Justice Fund is developed in close collaboration with partners in Nepal, Kenya and Bangladesh. Through local community consultations and global planning sessions, our partners steered the design of the Water Justice Fund. We will continue to work together to test, learn and demonstrate our grant-making practices and impact.

Do you want to know more about Water Justice Fund or become a partner? Contact Veerle Ver Loren van Themaat, Director Partnership Development

Veerle Ver Loren van Themaat
Veerle Ver Loren van Themaat
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Esther Oeganda

Everybody has the human right to safe water and sanitation.

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