“If you really want the [water] association to work well,” she added, “the head should be a woman.”

Uguloi is leading by example. In the beginning, farmers were reluctant to pay fees for water management, and WUAs received little support. Through sheer grit, Uguloi educated her community and collected a large amount of fees. Now, she is well respected and her WUA is providing a secure supply of water to farmers.

But she is in the minority. As men migrated to find work in Russia, studies have shown that they passed their responsibilities to other farm shareholders. Research carried out by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) found that female-managed farms were 9% less likely to pay WUA membership fees than farms operated by males, 11% less likely to sign a water contract to request sufficient water for their farm, and 3% less likely to attend the WUA meetings.

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