1. Rationale for a SWM Gender Strategy
The Rohingya refugee influx to Bangladesh caused the population of the Upazilas (sub districts) of Ukhia and Teknaf in the southern part of Cox’s Bazar to rise to around 1.5 million people. This has strongly contributed to existing health and environment challenges, including underfunded and under-resourced solid waste management (SWM) services. The impact of improper and uncontrolled solid waste management by refugee and community households is hazardous both to the health of their peoples and of the environment and is likely to lead to deteriorating conditions in the cyclone and monsoon season.
The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP), with funding from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), initiated a project called Sustainable Solutions to Solid Waste to respond the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh and the pressing SWM needs, both in the host communities and refugee camps.
UNDP’s SWM project targets the prevention of diseases, the promotion of hygiene and proper sanitary standards, as well as the protection of women and children. This project is being implemented in the host communities of Ukhia and Teknaf, and in the refugee camps supporting the UNHCR, IOM and UNICEF WASH activities, for a three-year implementation phase.
In line with developing the SWM systems in Cox’s Bazar district, UNDP highlighted the importance of mainstreaming gender equality in the project to ensure the equal participation of women and men (inclusive of girls and boys of 18 years and above) in the SWM systems and decision-making processes. Gender matters in the SWM systems because:
a) Since the perception and views on roles and responsibilities of work both domestic and public are gendered, the needs and preferences differ between men and women;
b) Many women participate in different stages of the solid waste and recycling system as waste pickers, waste sorters for the scrap shops/dealers, or other tasks for the recycling industry;
c) To address threats/barriers that women may face in new technology investment, access to necessary training or credit, and to counter exclusion when the SWM activities get formalized/paid;
d) To address and identify GBV issues from a project perspective so that mechanisms can be put in place.