Melita Grant is a Research Principal at the Institute for Sustainable Futures specialising in integrated water resources management (IWRM), and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in international development, with a focus on evidence-based policy and practice. Melita has worked for over 15 years’ in government, university, and civil society sectors. With an academic background in Political Science and Environmental Management, Melita has expertise in water governance, regulation and policy development, and has applied this in Australian, Southeast Asian, and South Asian contexts. She has a technical background in rural water management policy; urban water conservation/demand management technologies, behaviours and policy; transboundary water politics; and integrated water resources management through roles at the NSW Office of Water, the Office of the NSW Minister for Water, and local government.
Melita is the gender and social inclusion (GESI) Expert Review Panelist for the Australian Water Partnership, and has managed projects related to GESI and water resources management and WASH in Timor-Leste, Viet Nam and Cambodia. As a member of the Australian Water Partnership funded River Basin Planning Project in India, Melita engaged government agencies across several states in India, the Indian Central Government, and river basin planning stakeholders to consult on how river basin planning processes and institutional arrangements could be strengthened in India, and made more inclusive.
Melita has recently led a number of research projects focused on rural water governance in Viet Nam and Cambodia, with a focus on small privately owned piped systems. She has also worked within the food-water nexus through roles such as with Oxfam Australia, where she managed partnerships, community engagement and advocacy initiatives related to food sustainability and sovereignty issues. Melita has extensive experience in designing, implementing and evaluating stakeholder and community engagement within civil society organisations.
Working in the Department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney, Melita taught ‘Human Rights in International Development’ to Masters Students in 2010. She holds a Bachelor of Arts - Government (Honours first class) from Sydney University, and a Master of Environment from The University of Melbourne.
- Member of Expert Review Panel: Australian Water Partnership (Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Expert) – 2018 – present
- Executive Committee Member: Australian WASH Reference Group – 2016 – present
Carrard, N, Madden, B, Chong, J, Grant, M, Tuyen, PN, Ly, HB, Hue, TTH & Willetts, J 2019, 'Are piped water services reaching poor households? Empirical evidence from rural Viet Nam', WATER RESEARCH, vol. 153, pp. 239-250.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Grant, M, Soeters, S, Bunthoeun, IV & Willetts, J 2019, 'Rural piped-water enterprises in Cambodia: A pathway to women's empowerment?', Water (Switzerland), vol. 11, no. 12.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2019 by the authors. This research examined the extent to which women's ownership and management of water supply schemes led to their empowerment, including their economic empowerment, in rural Cambodia. Privately managed water supply schemes in rural Cambodia serve over one million people. This study is the first of its kind to systematically investigate the experiences and needs of female water supply scheme owners, using well-established theoretical frameworks for women's empowerment, namely Longwe's stages of empowerment, and Rowlands, VeneKlasen and Miller's elaboration on different types of power. Business management frameworks relevant to the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector were also drawn on to assess operational constraints and enablers. Fifteen structured interviews were conducted with female water entrepreneurs in rural Cambodia. Female entrepreneurs reported encountering four key barriers to establishing and managing water supply schemes. The first were operational, and government and regulatory related issues, followed by financial issues and limited demand for water services. Three important enablers were reported by entrepreneurs: social enablers, economic enablers and program support from government, associations and non-government organisations (NGOs). This study found that, whilst there was evidence of empowerment reported by female water enterprise owners, the complexity of the ongoing empowerment process, challenges and limitations were also observed. Women's empowerment can be advanced through leadership of, and involvement in water enterprises, as evidenced by this study, however, gender norms constrained women, especially with respect to mobility (leaving the home for extended periods), and household and family duties impacting on income-generating work or vice versa. As such, targeted strategies are needed by a range of actors to address such constraints. The findings of this study can assist NGOs, donors and governments ince...
Grant, ML, Dominish, E, Carrard, N, Bui, L, Ha, H, Nghiem, T & Willetts, J 2016, 'Reducing or increasing inequalities? The role of private water enterprises in rural Viet Nam', Development Bulletin, vol. 77, no. August 2016, pp. 31-36.
Extreme inequalities are recognised as being detrimental to
human rights and economic development (Stiglitz 2012),
and in response, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
has explicitly included addressing inequalities as one
of the 17 Global Goals. In order to reduce inequalities an
integrated approach across multiple dimensions of human
development is required, including access to safe water.
This research investigated stakeholder perceptions of
rural piped water services in Viet Nam to better understand
issues of equality, access and affordability. It asked the
question: can poor households access piped water services
provided by small scale private enterprises in rural Viet
Nam? This question is important because little is known
about whether or not poor households access piped water
services, related issues of affordability of connection fees
and tariffs, and other potential barriers. It is also important
because private enterprises are increasingly providing piped
water services in Viet Nam, supported by incentives from
Government and international donors including some civil
society organisations (CSOs)
Grant, M & Willetts, J 2019, 'Learning for adaptive management: using systems thinking tools to inform knowledge and learning approaches' in Systems Thinking and WASH Tools and Case Studies for a Sustainable Water Supply, Practical Action Publishing, UK, pp. 107-132.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This chapter explores how learning theory and systems thinking tools can help WASH organizations select the most appropriate processes and tools to facilitate learning, leverage greatest WASH impacts, and support their staff to optimize their learning potential. We draw on two key systems thinking tools: the Cynefin framework developed by David Snowden and Donella Meadows’ leverage points. The Cynefin framework can be used to help actors identify what kind of WASH situation an organization is operating within, and which learning tools and processes might be most useful for each situation. The concept of ‘leverage points’ can support a process of stepping back to consider the kinds of changes needed and intended, which ‘levers’ could create such changes in a WASH situation, and which learning processes are best suited to a particular leverage point. By using these tools from the outset, organizations can make informed, strategic decisions about where to place scarce resources for knowledge and learning to increase leverage, and maximize WASH outcomes. This chapter concludes that learning can be a key driver of sustainability transformation and impact, but only if inequitable power dynamics are challenged, critical thinking is employed, and learning is truly shared and applied to real-world problems.
Grant, M & Willetts, J 2019, 'Women’s empowerment in WASH economic activity. Presentation at IWA Congress, Sri Lanka', IWA Congress, Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka.
The study examined the extent to which women’s involvement in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector businesses led to their empowerment in Cambodia and Indonesia. This qualitative study was the first of its kind to systematically investigated the experiences and needs of female WASH entrepreneurs with reference to women’s empowerment frameworks. This research presents examples of The findings provide evidence of gender equality outcomes and as well as revealing the inherent complexity of empowerment processes, which include challenges and negotiation as societal norms are questioned and evolve experiences by individuals involved in WASH markets, and the implications of these for improving WASH programming. A range of evidence-based recommendations are provided for governments, NGOs and donors to support women working in WASH enterprises to improve related programming were developed from this study.
This research demonstrates the existence of inequitable outcomes in provision of piped water services by both private and other service providers in rural Vietnam. This study is the first of its kind in Vietnam, providing robust scientific evidence on who accesses water services from private enterprises. Qualitative research in 60 communes was followed by a quantitative study in six locations. A policy and regulatory review was also conducted, in addition to an assessment of enterprise motivators, enablers and challenges. The study highlights the need for effective regulatory mechanisms to ensure inclusive water service delivery in rural Vietnam.
Grant, M, Murta, J & Powell, B 2016, 'Effective Communication for Maximum Impact: How do CSOs Learn?', WASH Futures International Conference.
Carrard, N, Grant, M, Willetts, JR, Bui Ha, L, Nghiem, T, Thu Ha, N & Tran, N 2016, 'Are poor households connecting? Private water enterprises in rural Viet Nam', WASH Futures International Conference.
This publication presents key issues pertinent to the relationship between SDG 5 and SDG 6, including:
• water governance and gender inequalities;
• climate change, resilience and disaster-risk reduction and gender equality;
• sustainable cities, human settlements and gender;
• water data and gender;
• valuing water and gender; and
• gender and universal access to safe water and sanitation.
This report was developed as a result of a partnership between Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney (ISF-UTS) and WaterAid. The strategic and practical gender changes that men and women had experienced at community and household levels were discovered through the project. The study engaged 172 people across nine communities with an explicit focus on reflection, learning and action research with 18 field staff.
Grant, M, Winfield, D, Harriss, D & Weber, T Australian Water Partnership 2019, River Basin Planning: An Indian Guide, Canberra.
This User Guide is drawn from materials and experiences on river basin planning globally,
it particularly draws on the experience of the Krishna and Godavari River Basins in India, and the
Australian experience in the Murray-Darling Basin. While the Indian and Australian contexts have clear
differences, there are also many similarities in legal, bio-physical, agricultural and social dependencies, which make the exchange of knowledge and lessons in basin planning beneficial for both. As a result, technical exchanges, knowledge sharing and consultations underpin the development of this Guide.
In 2015 there were an estimated 300 privately managed water supply schemes in rural Cambodia, serving over onemillion people (World Bank, 2015,p. 15). In recent years, a range of policies has been put in place by the Cambodian Government to promote gender equality within the rural water and sanitation sector. One such policy is theCambodian National Strategy for Rural Water Supply (2011–2025),whichincludesprovisions to increase gender equality. One of the ways the Strategy aims to do this is by: ‘Mainstream[ing]gender in the [rural water supply] sector’ (Cambodian Government, 2011, p.10). However, there are major knowledge gaps related to how gender norms intersect with the rural water sector, and with the growth of water enterprises in Cambodia. These gaps include:a lack of knowledge about how gender influences who becomes a water entrepreneur; what the experiences, challenges and opportunities of water entrepreneurs are; and how water entrepreneurship relates towomen’s empowerment, including economic empowerment. To begin to address these knowledge gaps, this study examined the extent to whichwomen’s ownership and management of water supply schemes led to their empowerment, including economic empowerment. This study, and a related concurrent study in Indonesia,arethe first of their kind to systematically look into the experiences and needs of female water supply scheme entrepreneurs(henceforth referred to as “entrepreneurs”), and the first to explore their experiences with reference to women’s empowerment frameworks.
Grant, M Global Water Partnership 2017, Gender Equality and Inclusion in Water Resources Management – Action Piece, Stockholm.
This Action Piece is an evidence-based call to action to all actors to build more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable societies. Countless gender and inclusion strategies within the water management sector have been developed across the world by non-governmental organisations, governments, regional bodies, partnership organisations, multilateral development banks, and bilateral aid agencies. And yet, evidence has revealed a clear gap between these policies and practice: gender strategies are seldom funded adequately, gender mainstreaming is not well understood, and on the whole monitoring and evaluation processes are not sophisticated enough to reveal the true gender and inclusion power dynamics occurring within a water resources management context. Furthermore, there is a need to better understand and account for a broader range of factors that can lead to exclusion and marginalisation, such as age, disability, ethnicity, caste, and sexuality, if we are to ensure that no one is left behind.
This discussion paper is intended to contribute to the implementation of the High Level Panel on Water
(HLPW) Action Plan. It should be read alongside other framing notes commissioned by the Australian
Water Partnership.4 The key points of intersection with the High Level Panel on Water Action Plan are
shown in Figure 1. This Discussion Paper identifies and explains key areas of action for the High Level
Panel on Water and other international development actors and governments. The paper provides a
range of case studies, and the implications for improving policy and practice are outlined. This paper
focuses primarily on the HLPW Action Plan’s ‘Water Governance’ and ‘Universal Access to Safe Water and
Leahy, C, Lunel, J, Grant, M & Willetts, JR 2017, Women in WASH Enterprises: Learning from female entrepreneurship in Cambodia, Indonesia and Lao PDR, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney.
Grant, M, Huggett, C, Willetts, J & Wilbur, J Australian Water Partnership 2016, Gender and SDG 6: The Critical Connection. A Framing Paper developed for the High Level Panel on Water, Sydney, Australia.