Water for human consumption is increasingly inaccessible, due to poor management, degradation of water sources, the effects of climate change and more.

Marginalized groups — such as rural communities and women — are disproportionately affected by water security issues, and women often play a key role in collecting, storing, distributing and managing water. In fact, most water carriers in low- and middle-income countries are women, with a particular burden falling on girls.

In Mexico City — currently in the throes of a serious drought — when homes do not have water tanks, women are usually responsible for obtaining water, storing it and ensuring it is appropriately used and reused. One report estimates that in some alcaldías (municipalities) women can spend up to an entire working week on water-related activities. In a country where over 50 percent of the population lives in areas where water is scarce, Mexico City (as well as two states) is most at risk.

Growing evidence suggests that nature-based solutions, when designed and implemented in a participatory and inclusive way, could help make water access more equitable, and even favor the most disadvantaged and vulnerable. But unfortunately, minority groups are too often left out of planning and design processes.

One program in Mexico City seeks to strengthen water resilience by decreasing the social vulnerability of women through rainwater harvesting systems, an example of green-gray infrastructure. The program could have important lessons for other cities and countries around the world.

Given the disproportionate role women already bear from housework and childcare, the addition of water management in places of low water access results in unfair sacrifices to their own personal, professional and educational development. The time women invest in unpaid work in the home is multiplied when water does not arrive in the necessary quality and quantity.

Read the full article about involving women in water security investments at GreenBiz.