UNU-INRA was engaged by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) to implement a project that aimed at reviewing the progress made by eight countries in Africa (Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Uganda), Asia (India, Nepal) and the pan-European region (France and Serbia) towards the integrating, implementing and realizing the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation (HRWS). The project further aimed to identify gaps and challenges, make appropriate recommendations and identify best practices to leaving no one behind in accessing safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services to be “exported” to other countries.
UNU-INRA contracted WASH and human rights experts (one per country) to lead the review in the eight countries. As part of our coordination role, INRA led in the development a data collection protocol, conceptual framework and report outline. Two colleagues from UNU-INWEH were engaged to support in the project coordination. Based on the developed data collection tool, experts interviewed key informants in the WASH sector in their respective countries. Key informants included duty bearers (government ministries/institutions), rights holders (marginalized and left behind population) and enablers (e.g. civil society groups, United Nations, development agencies, rights groups, faith-based organizations, private sector, etc.). National experts further reviewed legal frameworks, policies and development plans of their respective countries to determine progress made towards realizing the HRWS.
Three main deliverables were produced in the project as follows:
National reports: eight country reports outlining status of the domestication of HRWS at national and sub-national levels, gaps and challenges, lessons learnt, and best practices and innovations that can be “exported” to other countries.
Synthesis report: a summary of the main country findings, common trends and differences between countries, and the main recommendations.
LNOB in WASH manual: a user-friendly LNOB (leave no one behind) in WASH manual to provide guidance on how rights-based approaches can be operationalised to better meet the needs of those left behind and those in danger of being left behind. The manual is primarily targeted at United Nations Country Teams (UNCTs) and other interested institutions.
In general, the study revealed different levels of the domestication of HRWS across the eight countries. Although all countries have integrated HRWS in their constitution and legal frameworks, which informs policies, strategies and plans, the reviews revealed that HRWS is far from being realized. Rights holders (i.e. vulnerable and left behind populations) are still discriminated against on the basis of age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic group, etc. and are, therefore, unable to enjoy their rights to water and sanitation. In addition, rights holders were found to have limited knowledge of their rights to water and sanitation and lack the capacity to seek redress for the violations of their rights. Further, they are not adequately capacitated to participate in WASH sector decision making such as the design, planning and implementation of WASH sector projects. On the part of duty bearers (government), the lack of disaggregated data on left behind populations was found to be a major limitation for the implementation of HRWS specific interventions at national and local levels. Existing databases and monitoring systems lack HRWS specific indicators, which limits chances of designing specific interventions to facilitate the realization of HRWS. Lack of human, technical and financial capacity, especially at local levels, was found to be another major hindrance to the development and implementation of policies and plans.