Implementing a human rights based approach
Adopting a human rights approach to water and sanitation forces practitioners to ask specific questions about access, such as:
• which individuals within communities have disadvantaged or no access to those services which are provided?
• why do certain communities within a district or city not have access to any services?
Such an approach identifies the discrimination suffered by ethnic minorities and the plight of people with disabilities unable to collect their own water or access public sanitation facilities. It highlights the problems facing the elderly, particularly widowers and widows. It also points to the fact that poor people who have lost their families, whether through conflict or natural disaster, are particularly vulnerable in urban areas where they may be unable to rely on the kind of community support more usual in rural areas.
Many of the most sustainable and effective projects around the rights to water and sanitation are those undertaken by individuals and communities at the grassroots level, largely because such projects provide a sense of ownership by these communities over their own rights.
Community-managed water systems, for example, have proven not only successful in safeguarding and rejuvenating existing water resources, but are also cost-effective and sustainable.
There has also been a number of scientific evaluations of the rights based approach, carried out by various organisations to test the outcomes of this method. To view these please see ‘The History of Human Rights and Development‘.