Water First!

WATER FIRST! is one of the international programs directed by COACh, a grassroots organization  working around the globe  to increase the number and success of women in science and engineering careers. Since 1997, COACh has reached over 20,000 scientists in the U.S. and over 20 developing countries. WATER FIRST! delivers workshops to women scientists to build capacity, create networks of women working in water research, academia and provide professional skills development.

Water Security and Gender in Africa

Water security remains one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. In sub-Saharan Africa, women bear 71% of the water collection burden, produce 90% of all food and comprise 70% of the agricultural workforce. Women are involved in water-related activities such as water conservation, water storage, domestic cleaning, crop production and preparation of food. Despite this, women have restricted access to the resources needed to secure and manage scarce water such as land, agricultural inputs, finance and credit. African women are at the forefront of the daily struggle for water security, but few are in key leadership positions in the water resources area. This lack of representation in decision-making roles removes women’s vital contribution to water resource policymaking and management, and further exacerbates the existing disconnection between policy and implementation.


Beneficiary group: Researchers and policymakers
Demographic: Female
Budget: $70,000
Location: Africa

  • Foster a network of women researchers in the US and Africa who have common interests in increasing international water research and collaborative activities between women scientists in these countries.
  • Leverage the Water First! network and the expertise of its participants to develop innovative and cross-disciplinary strategies for advancing the research and educational activities of women researchers and their students in these countries.
  • Develop plans to maintain and grow this network and to extend its outreach into other scientists (men and women), communities, and institutions.
  • 27 women from 15 different African countries attended the first workshop held in Accra, Ghana, September 9-11, 2019.
  • A WhatsApp group was created for participants to continue staying in contact. To date, the site is very active with participants posting jobs, travel opportunities, conferences, etc. In additon, the WhatsApp group has been a great gauge of how the group bonded in Ghana.

The next workshop will be held in Zanzibar in December 2020.

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