Yvonne Siyeni: Interview with a leader in water and sanitation in Zambia

Themes: Gender
Countries: Zambia

“Working in a utility dominated by men has been challenging but exciting,” says Yvonne Siyeni, Manager for the Peri-urban department at Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC).

Yvonne, a leader in the utility which supplies the city of Lusaka with water and sanitation services, encourages more women to work with utilities.

“In as much as it is difficult to be recognised in male dominated field, hardworking, self-motivated, committed, dedicated, innovative and assertive women like myself have been accepted in this field and have earned our respect.”

“With hard work, there is no field a woman would not fit in. Indeed if more women can be on different levels of decision making in engineering, administration, commercial, information technology and other fields, change can be enhanced.”

Yvonne leads the department which coordinates water and sanitation service provision to 70% of the urban population of Lusaka – over a million people in total.

She is clear about the way in which her work is improving the lives of women in Lusaka.

“Poor WASH provision exposes women to waterborne diseases such as typhoid and cholera among others,” she says.

“The dignity of women is compromised as poor WASH services may result in sexual assault as women have to wake up early to draw water and cover long distances. Poor WASH services results in loss of productivity as women spend more time and cover long distances searching for water. This also results in huge hospital bills and government spending more resources on treatment of women and children due to waterborne related diseases.”