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The e-Newsletter of the Gender Network

August 2015 | Vol. 9, No. 2

Providing Water and Waste Collection – Freeing women from domestic burdens
in Issyk–Kul, in the Kyrgyz Republic
By Imrana Jalal1
Lake Issyk–Kul is the tenth largest lake in the world by volume, and a famous UNESCO heritageprotected site. Millions of tourists visit every year. However, existing water supply and sanitation
infrastructure— including solid waste management—is decrepit, dysfunctional, and poorly maintained.
It is unable to serve the high number of tourists, which exceeds the resident population by a factor of
four. Excessive pressure on the existing infrastructure is partially responsible for the lake's pollution.
The Kyrgyz Republic: Issyk–Kul Sustainable Development Project (ISDP), categorized “effective gender
mainstreaming,”2 under ADB’s gender mainstreaming category system, in the Issyk-Kul Oblast;3
attempted to improve the health of the resident population and to ensure the environmental
preservation of the UNESCO site.
More specifically, it tried to improve urban basic service delivery, including sewerage, sanitation, solid
waste management, and water supply, in the cities of Balykchy, Cholpon–Ata, and Karakol.
Gender Responsive features promote gender equality
Shanny Campbell, Senior Social Development Specialist (Gender) in the Central West Asia Department of
ADB has remarked that the gender features of the project were critical in bringing about change,
“The Gender Action Plan (GAP) was critical in contributing to the overall project outcomes by
improving the living environments of women and men through the provision of access to safe
sanitation and improved waste management, reduced incidence of waterborne illnesses and
associated costs. Women and their families have also benefitted from the training and
awareness-raising campaign focusing on drinking water safety, water source protection and
treatment, water and environmental sanitation and diseases, toilet renovation, and hygiene and
sanitation education.”
The new water connections, improved potable water supply and sanitation (WSS), and collection of solid

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Imrana Jalal, Senior Social Development Specialist (Gender and Development), ADB
ADB. 2009. Report and Recommendation of the President to the Board of Directors: Proposed Loan and Asian Development
Fund Grant Kyrgyz Republic: Issyk–Kul Sustainable Development Project. The loan agreement was signed in September 2009 and
was declared effective in January 2010. ADB provided a loan of $16.5 million loan, and $13.5 million grant equivalent from
ADB’s Special Funds resources. The expected date of the project completeness was 31 Dec 2014 but it has been extended to 1
July 2015 to enable Output 3 and some civil works to be completed.
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The Mission visited project sites in the cities of Balykchy, Cholpon Ata and Karakol in the Issyk-Kul area, and held discussions
with the Project Management Office (PMO) staff and project implementing partners (Vodokanal enterprises and Tazalyk
enterprises) as well as with project beneficiaries (kindergartens, schools, clients of waste treatments enterprises and water
supply agencies).
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waste were designed to have a direct positive impact on women and children, and reduce women’s time
poverty, and labor inputs, including caring for the family when they are ill.
Gender-responsive water supply and sanitation, and solid waste collection to district households,
schools, and kindergartens.
About 23,000 people in the three project cities have benefitted from
improved WSS, and about 68,000 persons have benefitted from
sewerage and sanitation investments, of whom at least 50% are
women. More specifically, 49.4% of home-dwellers of Karakol (38,584),
44.6% in Balykchy (23,505), and 52.1% in Cholpon-Ata (5,866) now have
access to safe WSS. About 133,500 persons have benefitted from solid
waste collection and disposal services of whom 48.8% are women.
Several women expressed satisfaction with the waste collection saying
that it has significantly improved their lives. Ninety-five (95) femaleheaded households will also be provided with free water meters.
Previously, district female residents of Kelechek, Karakol had to walk
from between 550 to 700 metres to the water collection point,
Photo 1. Suyun Juzenova, a female
sometimes several times a day. Now, in Juzenova’s settlement, 56
resident of Kelecheck district,
Karakol has recently had a water
households have had new water connections installed in their plots,
connection installed on her plot.
and several have inside toilets as a result of the new water supply
directly in their plots. Additionally, the water from all the project sites has met the safe standards test
administered by the quality inspection laboratory of the Vodokanal Karakol.
Box 1: Water supply creates time savings and improves value of land
for Juzenova of Kelecheck district
“I am one of 56 households in this area. Before the (project) new water supply system directly connected
pipes into my yard, I used to walk 550 metres to collect water, three to four times a day. This used to take
between 20 to 25 minutes per trip. The new water connections have saved me between 2 to 2.5 hours a
day. If I had laundry to do, I would make several more trips. Life was hard raising several children. I have
physically collected water for 20 years. The only upside to this time consuming task was that this allowed
women to gather socially around the water supply area and chat. But I am not complaining! I am grateful.
In the next village, the younger women have complained that the new water connections mean that they
can no longer gather several times a day to chat around the communal water supply area! I co-own the
house with my husband. Since the direct water supply has been installed in my yard, the value of my land
and house has improved considerably. Some women already have connections inside their houses. My
husband and son are working in Russia as migrant labor. We don’t have a sewerage system inside our
house, but some household’s have flush toilets. I am waiting for them to return so we can install the water
supply and toilet inside. It will be easier for us in winter then. Before (the project), rubbish used to collect in
the area, piles of foul smelling rubbish. Now as the result of the Tazalyk’s increased efficiency, solid waste
rubbish is collected once every week, for over one year now.”

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Two female pensioners shared their views about the
improved services by their Tazalyk water utility.
Maslova Nadejva has been a customer for 15 years.
She lives in an apartment and gets 6,000 Kyrgyz som
pension per month. She recalled that four years ago
there were frequent interruptions to water supply
services, which required constant repairs and
maintenance to be done.
“Sometimes one whole day was spent on repairs,
resulting in no water being available for the whole
day. For the last two years, there has been
uninterrupted water supply, and when repairs are required, the problem is addressed within a few hours.
The only problem now is that during the summer months, the water supply pressure is too low, as a
result of water for irrigation being diverted. The Tazalyk is also now collecting solid waste on a regular
basis and there is greater efficiency in the quality of services.”
Photo 2. Part of the Mission Team with the KYRM Gender
Specialist and Juzenova, a female beneficiery at Kelecheck
district Karakol

The provision of water connections directly to the kindergartens and schools has greatly enhanced the
education facilities. ADB supported the rehabilitation of sanitation facilities in seven schools, the
construction of three new toilets in Balykchy schools and in one kindergarten in Cholpon-Ata. About
3,460 girls benefitted, of whom about 1,926 are of reproductive age. Where previously some schools
had unsanitary outside toiles, the project has enabled the building of inside separate sanitary facilities
for boys and girls.

Photo 3. Kindergarten in Cholpon-Ata with sanitary
facilities funded by the project.

Photo 4. Kindergarten children in Issyk-Kul

Improved solid waste collection and women’s sanitary health
The project has also led to about 133,500 persons benefitting from solid waste collection and disposal
services, of whom almost 49% are women.
Jamilya Beyombaeva says three or four years ago, there were piles of stinking rubbish left outside her
apartment block, causing illness and stench. Now, as a result of the project’s support to improve the
Tazalyk’s efficiency, rubbish is collected three times a week.

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“Now there is also regular and efficient collection of
solid waste rubbish. There are no more piles of
stinking rubbish collecting outside our apartment
building.”
Vice Mayor Gulnaz Orozova of Karakol provided
feedback that, “Women have benefitted from the
project. Students, girls and teachers have sanitary
facilities at kindergartens and schools now provided
by the project. The expectation also is that illness will
Photo 5. Talking to women pensioner customers in Karakol
decrease, but we don’t have hard data for that yet,
Vodokanal about water and solid waste collection
only anecdotal evidence. The doctors tell me that
they have observed a decrease in infections related to the quality of water, particularly for women, in
sexual health and related infections. We have also established a Vodokanal and Tazalyk committee
consisting of representatives - staff from the mayor’s office, parents and teachers of schools, civil society
organizations, and NGOs, with more than 30% women, so that we can have a dialogue on solid waste
and WSS matters. The main complaints now are about a lack of irrigation water.”
Economic Empowerment for Women - Women Controllers Trained to Improve Vodokanal Revenue
Collection
In all the Vodokanal Enterprises, there is a typical gender segregation of jobs in the water sector, with
men generally holding engineering and technical water positions, and women being the controllers,
inspectors and accountants. In Balykychy Vodokanal, the project supported capacity building and better
equipment, which led to several important benefits. First, female controllers (100% female controllers)
have been able to significantly improve revenue collection, and thereby improve their incomes through
additional bonuses. Second, their mobilization has led to improved social protection and labor
conditions. Third, the improved computer system has led to women customers being able to pay their
water and solid waste bills in a variety of places near their homes, or during lunch hour breaks or as part
of errands, providing valuable time savings. Previously, they had to go all the way to the post office or
the Vodokanal office. Additionally, the project has supported a computer system that has enabled a
proper invoice to be issued, which shows how much water is consumed, and how much is owed. Some
female controllers argue that there is also decreased corruption owing to the fact that customers get a
proper invoice, as opposed to arbitrary amounts being written down in a book.
Box 2: Vodokanal Efficiency Improved
The Director of Karakol Vodokanal has attributed the improvements to the ADB supported ISDP.
“Since the project began, we have had a 50% reduction in debt collection, hence we have been able to
improve our efficiency. The controllers are almost all women staff. They are very good at collecting
money. It is true that as a water agency, we have no women in the senior management team. All
three are men, but we are trying to change that by adding a female engineer, Olga, to the
management team. It is true that more women are needed in the technical elements of WSS and solid
waste. That is a path to management. Yes, it is also true that the video information campaign had
only one woman out of many men and boys. I did not notice this until you pointed it out just now. We
need to building
do something
aboutfemale
that!”staff at Vodakanals and Tazalyks
Capacity
for senior

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The capacity of female staff members in Vodokanal and Tazalyk enterprises has improved, especially
regarding database and financial management. Capacity development training has been conducted for
52 female staff of mayors’ offices, and Vodokanal and Tazalyk enterprises. Their improved capacities
have led in part to the improved efficiencies of the Vodokanals and Tazalyks visited, which in turn have
led to the improved gender benefits.l
Jenishkul Davlesova, Gender Focal Point of
Karakol Vodokanal states that as a result of the
project,
“We have conducted five training sessions on
gender awareness. The ADB project has
provided for the collection of sexdisaggregated data, including improving the
collection of accurate data on households and
clients. Income and revenue collection has
Photo 6. Jenishkul Davlesova, Gender Focal Point of Karakol
vastly improved. The previous Swiss WSS Vodokanal (on right) and Olga.
project had no gender component. This project
is therefore quite different. The majority of complaints about WSS and solid waste are made by women.
These are tracked. Some 19,000 people have benefitted.”
Improved social protection
The project has led to improved social protection for staff. Staff in the Balykych Vodokanal pointed out
that as a result of improved revenue, this had enabled the Vodokanal’s debts to be settled, which in turn
had lead to their pensions being increased, as well as their social insurance and health benefits. This was
a direct result of the improvement in the overall efficiency of the Vodokanal, attributed to the ISDP.

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The views expressed in this paper are the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian
Development Bank (ADB), or its Board of Governors, or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the accuracy
of the data included in this paper and accepts no responsibility for any consequence of their use. The countries listed in this
paper do not imply any view on ADB's part as to sovereignty or independent status or necessarily conform to ADB's
terminology.