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Working together: A study of civil society partnerships between WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) and GESI (gender equality and social inclusion) organisations in Timor-Leste

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posted on 2023-03-27, 03:40 authored by Melita Louise Grant, Therese Tam Nguyen, Ajerino Vieira, Sara Louise Niner, Christopher RocheChristopher Roche
This article reports on an empirical study conducted in Timor-Leste that explored the drivers, benefits, and challenges of partnerships and collaborations between water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) organisations as integral parts of the WASH system. The research design was primarily qualitative and included a data-collection workshop with 30 representatives from 16 civil society organisations (CSOs) in Dili, longitudinal research involving two rounds of semi-structured interviews over 2.5 years with five organisations, and semi-structured interviews with an additional 18 CSOs. We applied a framework of post-development theory, including critical localism and working contingently. Key drivers to form partnerships were found to be the identification of community WASH service gaps and the alignment of advocacy agendas. Key benefits reported were increased inclusion and empowerment outcomes and strengthened organisational knowledge and capacity. Challenges emerge when organisations' key staff change, strategies misalign, and financial and administrative capabilities differ. The study contributes practical insights into how civil society organisations (CSOs) partner to strengthen mutual WASH and GESI strategies and programmes and their outcomes. We recommend strengthening the partnerships between WASH and GESI organisations in ways that are cognisant of power dynamics, local priorities, and capacity needs and promote longevity and continuity through ownership of decisions at the local level. Our findings suggest that meaningful, reciprocal, and respectful engagement with WASH and GESI organisations enables WASH programmes to be in a better position to address the harmful norms that drive inequitable behaviours, thus strengthening localism, and the WASH governance system overall.


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Frontiers in Water



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Frontiers Media SA



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© 2023 Grant, Nguyen, Vieira, Niner and Roche. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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