Foreign water aid still has a ways to go towards boosting gender equality

Posted 8 June 2017

Asian woman sitting in a boatForeign aid investments in water are not performing as they once were, particularly when it comes to supporting gender equality, a new report shows. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's (DFAT) Performance of Australian Aid 2015-16 report shows only 58% of aid investments in agriculture, fisheries and water were rated as satisfactory in terms of boosting gender equality. 

“After improvement during 2014-15, investments in the agriculture, fisheries and water sector declined in their performance on gender equality,” the report stated. 

“An increasing proportion of investments in this sector involve partnerships with private sector entities whose awareness of and ability to address gender inequalities in agriculture, fisheries and water still need strengthening. DFAT will need to focus on supporting this sector.”

In 2015-16 Australia invested $305 million – or 8% of Official Development Assistance (ODA) – in the agriculture, fisheries and water sectors to help improve food security and sustainable use of resources in the IndoPacific region. 

However, the report highlighted that this funding did not necessarily translate to improvements in the performance of water aid in these sectors. 

“In the 2015-16 Aid Quality Checks, investments in agriculture, fisheries and water scored below the aid program average for all but one – monitoring and evaluation – of the seven performance criteria,” the report stated. 

“This is at odds with the 2014-15 performance results, which were above the aid program average for four of the seven criteria. Of particular concern were the gender equality scores for 2015-16, which were 20 percentage points below the aid program average. 

“To address these results, strategies to empower women to overcome barriers to their participation in the agriculture, fisheries and water sectors are being included in new investment designs.”

Several poor-performing initiatives will be closing in the next reporting year, which could see results pick up.

“In addition it is anticipated that a new operational guidance note, issued in September 2015, will help support program managers to more effectively address gender equality issues in agricultural investment design and implementation,” the report stated. 

“Regarding the other segments of the portfolio that are underperforming, attention is being given to improving investment designs, and monitoring and evaluation systems.”
The Australian Water Association, in collaboration with the Australian Water Partnership, has launched a new program focused on increasing equality and diversity in the water sector across the Asia Pacific region and Australia. To learn more, click here.