This paper explores access to water, sanitation, and health in pastoral communities in northern Tanzania.
It argues that the concept of gender, used on its own, is not enough to understand the complexities of sanitation, hygiene, water, and health. It explores pastoralists’ views and perspectives on what is ‘clean’, ‘safe’, and ‘healthy’, and their need to access water and create sanitary arrangements that work for them, given the absence of state provision of modern water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure.
Although Tanzania is committed to enhancing its citizens’ access to WASH services, pastoral sanitation and hygiene tend to be overlooked and little attention is paid to complex ways in which access to ‘clean’ water and ‘adequate sanitation’ is structured in these communities. This paper offers an intersectional analysis of water and sanitation needs, showing how structural discrimination in the form of a lack of appropriate infrastructure, a range of sociocultural norms and values, and individual stratifiers interact to influence the sanitation and health needs of pastoralist men, women, boys, and girls.
- WASH researchers and practitioners should apply intersectionality as a tool to help identify the most vulnerable groups, so that they are considered in policy interventions on sanitation, hygiene, and health.
- Public health interventions by the Tanzanian government and nongovernmental organisations should incorporate people who may be disadvantaged and who are not usually involved in policy processes including older people and people with disabilities (taking care to accommodate and address their travel needs).
- Governments and development actors should research and develop pastoralist-specific WASH strategies that are sensitive to local terminology, cultural taboos and practices, including avoiding language and tone that trigger shame and disgust, and acknowledging cultural taboos to mixed-gender sanitation practices.
- The Tanzanian National Sanitation Campaign can go further by integrating sanitation approaches with pastoralist priorities (such as water supply in arid and semi-arid settings, livestock health, and livelihoods etc) by using holistic intersectoral approaches.