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Accepted Paper:

We women are suffering: fragile water infrastructure and gendered emotional and embodied labor in Kilifi county, Kenya  
Marlotte de Jong (University of Michigan)

Short abstract:

This paper examines the fragility of water infrastructure to elucidate how cycles of breakdown and repair in water infrastructure create forms of physical and emotional labor disproportionately borne by rural women.

Long abstract:

One of the core tenants of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #6 is the achievement of universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030. Per a United Nations’ progress report published in 2021, an estimate 2 billion people, 26% of the world’s population, still lacked access to safely managed drinking water services in 2020. In Kilifi County Kenya, the official narrative by county and national governments, development agencies, and the private water provider, Malindi Water and Sewerage Company (MAWASCO), claims that all residents have access to clean and safe drinking water. However, many residents counter the official narratives, saying they experience frequent water supply interruptions and often go months, and in some cases years, without access to clean and safe drinking water. Using household surveys, key informant interviews, and participant observations from 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Kilifi County, this research examines the fragility of water infrastructure to elucidate the gendered material, emotional and embodied experiences of water insecurity in rural and peri-urban coastal communities. Through the lens of infrastructural fragility, this research examines how cycles of breakdown and repair in water infrastructure create forms of physical and emotional labor disproportionately borne by rural women.

Traditional Open Panel P106
The promises and fractures of infrastructures: infrastructural imaginaries and the realities of our built world
  Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -