Globally, women and girls are traditionally responsible for managing a households’ clean water supply and home environment. However, their roles are primarily undervalued and bypassed in decision-making processes. Through local level, culture-sensitive and creative approaches, Women & Water seeks to address the water situation in small-scale fishing villages while promoting local mothers and daughters’ participation and leadership capabilities as stewards of positive change for greater gender equity and social-ecological resilient coastal communities.
Women & Water was initiated in 2018 when Sarah Hauser, a professional windsurfer from New Caledonia, was traveling to South America to compete in the International Windsurfing Tour's Peru Pacasmayo Classic. Sarah wanted to do more something beyond the competition during her time in Peru so, the women at the Changing Tides Foundation connected Sarah with Emi Koch, co-director of Coast 2 Coast based in Lobitos, Peru.
Nestled into an isolated, bone-dry stretch of Northern Peru’s coastline, Lobitos is a small-scale fishing village that once played host to pioneering British and American oil companies. In 1968, the Peruvian military-led government expelled foreign enterprises. The army quickly moved into Lobitos, destroying all leftover infrastructure, including the desalinization plant installed by the enterprises that provided the local community with clean drinking water. Today left parched in the desert, Lobitos receives a limited, fickle supply of unfiltered water pumped into the town weekly. To quench their thirst, residents must first boil the water. However, many have grown accustomed to drinking milk, juices, or other sugary beverages instead.
Emi briefed Sarah on issue of water scarcity and its impact particularly on women. After brainstorm sessions, research and inputs from local community members, Women & Water launched in an effort to improve the water situation in Lobitos while promoting local mothers and daughters’ participation and leadership capabilities as stewards of positive change for their community.