This Gender Evaluation study has been conducted in ADRA’s Essential Water, Sanitation, and Protection (EWASAP) project area of the two localities, Kurmuk and Geissan in Blue Nile State. Uniquely tailored project participant surveys, focus group discussions and key informant interviews were designed according to the context of all 929 participating community partners and stakeholders. The purpose of this Gender Evaluation is to explore major structural-, cultural- and inter-relational barriers that exist between men and women, boys, girls, and vulnerable groups in the communities of the project localities. In particular, this Gender Evaluation examines gender roles, different opportunities and levels of access to and control over resources, and barriers to power in the context of the WASH and Protection project activities and its integrated SRHR/GBV activities. The term ‘Gender Equality’ (GE) as described and utilized in this report is understood as a systematic and systemic assessment of the impact of traditional/cultural norms, policies (or lack thereof), emergencies, and crises as well as project activities on gender dynamics over time.
The goal of the EWASAP project’s training on human rights was to increase people’s knowledge of rights and to alter the behavior and practices of trainees on the ground. Particularly government staff and project trainers became very knowledgeable in human rights and began to discuss human rights openly. The training manual utilized by government authorities and other trainers covered gender equality, SRHR, child rights, conflict resolution, peacebuilding, (international/national) human rights, and access rights to clean water and training.
On the journey of engaging motivated and highly committed community volunteers and leaders, all project staff and stakeholders had the privilege to witness how particularly male and female youth developed into change agents on community grounds. In their various roles of advocacy across community-based committees, youth volunteers and community leaders worked towards increased awareness of Human Rights-based policies and guidelines for Gender Equality.
EWASAP project activities served as a bridge for women empowerment and GE/GBV awareness. Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy confirms the promotion of GE and empowering women and girls as the most effective approach to achieving this goal. EWASAP project activities helped the people from Kurmuk and Geissan localities to experience solid beginnings of the power of change and their strength and ability to initiate transformative change on the level of households and communities.
The overall design of the project has been well informed by the current needs of women, girls, men, and boys from both project localities. Despite considerable restrictions on GE and protection project activities and evaluations under the previous government, the overwhelming success of this WASH and Protection project approach gives ample evidence that the project design has been need-informed and thus relevant for the project participants. The unique WASH and Protection approach created new hope, enthusiasm, and new trust-relationships between project participants, project staff, and government authorities.
It’s been interesting to note that, while most project participants are deeply anchored in the Shari’a Rights Frame and the personal belief that true justice and equality is rooted in Islamic religious foundations, project stakeholders across the board and sectors of this study articulated their concerns with existing traditional customs, practices and norms as major barriers on the way to justice, GE, empowerment, and inclusion. Therefore, traditional laws and customary practices which are in direct contrast to international rights frameworks are continuously challenged by those who favor new approaches, as has been introduced in the EWASAP project.
Key gender development challenges as noted above, could be successfully addressed and equality-related outcomes and gender indicators (GES, PMF) could be reached. Within a relatively short duration of the first phase of the EWASAP project, project planning followed a realistic strategy for achieving its GE results. Overall, it can be said that the project was able to reach a good start with more gender-equitable participation decision-making.
To tackle gender power relations on a more transformative and sustainable level, follow-up project components on gender and protection are recommended. Recommendations of this report are geared towards safeguarding of what has been reached and nurturing next steps on the journey toward more transformative levels of GE in communities. One key area of work that remains for follow-up projects is to build and improve social service structures for GBV survivors in local communities. The initial and very promising results the EWASAP project was able to achieve are essential building blocks for steps towards increased levels of Gender Equality.