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September 24, 2018
Fighting the drought: An opportunity for women empowerment in Cuba

Santiago de Cuba suffers from a situation of increasing severe drought. The supply sources in 2015 only reached 27.5% of their capacity, and in the city of Santiago de Cuba, with half a million inhabitants, barely registered 16%. Contributing to the Cuban authorities, local counterparts and specialized agencies of the UN, the Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG Fund) launched a joint program in 2016 to address the problem through a holistic approach. That included early warning systems, the distribution and supply of water in conditions of scarcity, the creation of capacities for access to safe water; or the efficient use of water to continue with the production of food in drought conditions. In the midst of this great task, women have risen as key agents, turning the fight against drought into an opportunity to advance their empowerment.

In line with Cuba's political commitment regarding the equality of men and women, the SDG Fund joint programme has promoted gender equality and the empowerment of women. On the one hand, it recognizes and takes advantage of the protagonism, the technical-professional preparation and the leadership of women when performing community gender roles. On the other hand, it promotes the participation of women and men in conditions of equality, and promotes fair and equitable treatment according to the differentiated needs, conditions and gender positions of them and them.

The program has conceived to prioritize the improvement of the living conditions associated with the efficient use and adequate storage of water considering that this affects the exercise of care and the well-being and time of women. The "Always Safe Water Campaign" continues its development, making it gender-sensitive and having as one of its purposes to encourage the elimination of women's overload. It also accompanies and reinforces community awareness, providing it with information, communication and education on the rational and responsible use of water and the prevention of water and vector-borne diseases.

Most of the key people in the efficient management of water in Santiago de Cuba are women and the SDG Fund program contributes to strengthening their capacities and empowerment, as well as the joint work they carry out integrating and leading multidisciplinary and inter-institutional teams. This can be seen in the design and initiation of the implementation of the actions that will be carried out as part of the pilot initiative "Add your drop to gender equality. Women at the center of the problem and solutions ", whose first intervention in the community received the participation of a hundred people and in greeting the 57th Anniversary of the Federation of Cuban Women.

During the implementaion, a gender awareness workshop was held at the Abel Santamaría school, with the participation of members of the five cooperatives linked with the SDG Fund program. In addition, two cooperative presidents strengthen their capacities by participating in meetings of gender equality, economic autonomy and female leadership for adaptation to climate change in the agricultural sector; workshops that were carried out and that allowed sharing experiences and learning about empowerment with women from other territories.

In addition, women and girls are empowered in their right to water, since with the program they have strengthened their empowerment with information, communication and education on the rational and responsible use of water, as well as in the prevention of diseases of origin water and vector. This empowerment contributes to greater well-being at the family and community level.