How do you support your family as a single parent – when you have to travel for hours each day to earn a living and can’t earn enough to keep your five children healthy?

This was the dilemma Julieta, a mother in Maputo, faced.

Every day, she travelled long distances to work as a maid on foot, worrying about leaving her children at home alone but seeing no other option.

After one of her children was burnt as they tried to cook a meal for themselves, Julieta was haunted by the idea of leaving them.

Today, things are very different for Julieta.

In 2009, the neighbourhood were Julieta lives, Chamanculo ‘C’, was chosen as a WSUP programme location with projects involving sanitation blocks, water tanks and clothes-washing areas.

But it’s not just access to these improved facilities that has helped Julieta; the programme has empowered her to take on responsibility in her community and earn a higher income.

Julieta’s community chose her to manage the neighbourhood’s new water point because of the strength she had shown trying to support her family in difficult circumstances. The head of the block said she was chosen “because she is predisposed to survive, … a fighter.”

A one-off payment of 500.00 MT from community members facilitated the purchase of water and management of the water point. Julieta quickly managed to return the initial investment and make a profit of 400.00 MT, which she reinvested in the business.

The water point has given Julieta money and time. Working close to home, she can spend more time with her children and, earning more, she can spend more on their food and clothing.

Most of all, Julieta says, her job has given her self-confidence: “Water management has strengthened my knowledge. I know that I truly am a reliable person, ready to assist and cooperate with my community. I don’t doubt my abilities now.”

Julieta is not the only woman facing water challenges. Globally, women and children spend 125 million hours each day collecting water (WHO and UNICEF, 2015), often up to six hours a day (UN Water, 2013).

WSUP’s work is facilitating access to water and sanitation facilities in its six core countries and helping to relieve this burden, but is also generating livelihoods for women – as standpost operators in Mozambique, water kiosk managers in Madagascar and more, empowering them to access sustainable livelihoods and valuable skills training.