Inadequate water access deprives women of entrepreneurship opportunities

Water Research Commission
Areas with water shortages deprive women of access to productive wealth such as education and paid formal and informal employment.

This was one of the findings of a WRC study into women in rural areas, which found that women’s entrepreneurial dreams are not fulfilled as they struggle to have access to water.

While interviewing various respondents from Muyexe village located in Giyani, Limpopo, project leader Dr Barbara Nompumelelo Tapela, noted women’s perceptions, expectations and aspirations for service delivery. Women expressed how they yearn for a move beyond the confines of reproductive roles, such as child care, towards greater involvement in productive roles.

Women stated that if they had access to water they would like to have gardens for vegetables in order to sell produce for a living. Some said that they would also like to plant fruit trees in orchards, as a means to earn a living. Others said that if they could get water they would establish small informal economic enterprises.

Among the enterprises mentioned was a brickyard for the purpose of helping the community to speed up development. Such informal economic activity was seen as possibly bringing some income to women’s households as well as the broader community, as some local people would be employed.

Additionally, the study found that brewers of African beer, who apparently provide a socially and traditionally valued service within Mbuzini village in Mpumalanga Province, often failed to brew enough beer to satisfy the demand due to inadequate access to water.

In Mbuzini village beer brewing was considered to be a significant consumer of available water, with each of the numerous brewers using one hundred and sixty litres (160 L) per day. Respondents indicated that water-consuming small-, medium- and micro-enterprises (SMMEs), such as brick making and building construction, also suffered, as water scarcity frequently delayed their projects.

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