Document Type

Original Research


This article reflects the thoughts and conclusions of a session sponsored by the Women in Water Programme Steering Committee of the International Water Association (IWA) at the Second IWA Development Congress and Exhibition held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in November 2011. The session, held on 24 November, examined the role women can play in community-based water and sanitation solutions in urbanizing areas. Such solutions range from watershed protection and integrated water resources management (IWRM), to capacity development and stakeholder mobilization.

The cases presented reflect the experience and results of projects undertaken by the authors in Asia. The experience of each author brings a broad range of approaches to tackling the challenges faced by water managers in densely populated urban areas. These provide the basis for innovative solutions to expand coverage, strengthen service provision and create new businesses.

The article explores ways for communities to work together more effectively to increase knowledge and understanding of the wide variety of interests that exist in a water basin. In particular, community-based solutions can promote protection of the sources of water, and sustainable water and sanitation management. "Source to tap and back again" speaks to the imperative that all people understand the relationship between upstream and downstream users, and that both women and men be involved in resource management. This article addresses the following issues:

  • Watershed management and urbanization;
  • Community-based approaches for sustainable sanitation in urban areas;
  • The leadership and participation of women in IWRM research and development; and
  • Targeting capacity building programs to empower women water professionals in Asia.