UN-HABITAT is the United Nations agency for human settlements and it is mandated to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. UN-HABITAT's work is directly related to the United Nations Millennium Declaration, particularly the goals of member states to improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020, as well as to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015 (Targets 11 and 10 respectively, MDG #7). The Water and Sanitation Trust Fund was established in 2003 in recognition of the need for a programmatic approach to address the challenge of inadequate access for the poor to water supply and basic sanitation.
The Trust Fund recognized the core competencies of UN-HABITAT as being its convening power and consequent ability to mobilize political will and forge partnerships at all levels; its knowledge base leading to excellence in normative work and its ability to develop and implement pilot and demonstration projects which have a catalytic impact on the sector. Building on the complementary priority areas as follows:
The Water for Asian Cities (WAC) Programme is a collaborative initiative between the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Governments of Asia. The WAC Programme was officially launched at the Third World Water Forum (WWF) on 18 March 2003 and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between ADB and UN-HABITAT on the same day in Osaka, Japan. The Programme is ongoing in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Pakistan, PR China and Vietnam.
MEK-WATSAN was initiated at the request of the Governments of the Mekong Region - Kingdom of Cambodia, the People's Republic of China (Yunnan province), the Lao People's Democratic Republic, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Similar to the Water for Asian Cities Programme, the overall objective of MEKWATSAN is to support the participating countries achieve the water and sanitation MDG targets in the rapidly growing economic corridors. There has been an increasing demand from the cities and countries where the programme is operational for greater assistance from UN-HABITAT in supporting the development of investment proposals, innovative approaches, mechanisms and tools. Currently the programme is on-going in 30 small towns.
As Gender Mainstreaming is one of the major component of these programmes, this resource book has been developed to enhance awareness about gender mainstreaming in water and sanitation sector in Asia and Mekong region. This resource book aims to facilitate the Water and Sanitation sector of these countries provide guidance in mainstreaming gender in the sector with uniform understanding and common vision.