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New Frontiers in Research Fund Grant Award: Cohesu Boosts Women Entrepreneurs in Water Solutions

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

Cohesu is excited to announce our partnership with an international team led by Dr. Dustin Garrick, a Water Institute faculty member from the University of Waterloo. The team has been awarded $500,000 in funding through the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) Special Call for Research for Post-pandemic Recovery.


The Beyond the Informal Water Paradox project, co-created with Cohesu's Dr. Diana Karanja as Co-Project Investigator, aims to address water insecurity in East Africa's informal sector by focusing on mobile water vendors. These vendors play a vital role in bridging gaps in water provision but can also pose risks, leading to a challenging situation for water utilities.


In recognition of the project's potential, the International Development Research Centre has granted an additional $200,000 to support the creation of a women's entrepreneurship network and the development of True Water, a new social enterprise focused on building trust and transparency in vended water from source to tap.


Our project will employ a three-phased approach to map water vending networks, understand the role of women as consumers and potential entrepreneurs, and develop social enterprise models for empowering a new generation of female entrepreneurs in the inclusive development of informal water vending networks across East Africa.

The project's objectives are centered around three main aspects. First, spatial data will be used to map and assess existing water vending networks, with a focus on highlighting the often-hidden roles of women throughout the supply chain.


Second, a participatory intervention will be co-created to identify pathways to water security by including women and girls in key roles within water vending networks or partnerships with utilities. Lastly, the early impacts of these interventions will be evaluated, examining their contributions to water security, women's empowerment, and capacity building.

“This project and its participatory intervention approach, including a women-led social enterprise, will greatly benefit the community by addressing the long-neglected gap of not only providing access to safe, reliable and price-friendly water, but will also lead the way in the promotion of gender equity, inclusively, and empowerment.” – Dr. Diana Karanja

Cohesu and its partners believe that innovative diagnostic assessments, participatory interventions, and the inclusion and empowerment of women in informal water vending networks can contribute to resilience and broader well-being across the East African region. We are thrilled to be a part of this collaborative effort aimed at addressing global socio-economic inequities that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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