The Invisible Water Managers


Dankelman, Irene, and Joan Davidson. 1988. “The Invisible Water Managers.” In Women and Environment in the Third World, 29–41. London: Earthscan Publications Limited.

Authors: Irene Dankelman, Joan Davidson


This chapter evaluates the UN’s International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (1982-1992) by focussing specific attention on how successfully-- in light of structural, cultural, and gender-based discrimination-- limitations on women’s access to quality water supplies have been addressed. Dankelman and Davidson highlight a reality that subsequent academics use as the foundation of their argument: women already do a great deal to manage water on a daily basis when they make decisions on how to collect and transport, how different water sources of varying qualities should be used for different purposes, and how to purify drinking water. The authors use case studies from Burkina Faso, Kenya, and Brazil to illustrate how over centuries of performing these informal water management tasks, women have built up substantial knowledge of water, health, and sanitation that is passed on through generational exchanges and that must be acknowledged if improvements to water supplies are to be successful.

Topics: Gender, Women, Health, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, International Organizations Regions: Africa, East Africa, West Africa, Americas, South America Countries: Brazil, Burkina Faso, Kenya

Year: 1988

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