Accomplishing Water, Sanitation, and Health Globally

The importance of achieving water and sanitation globally is not disputed. The “human right” aspects must be acknowledged and addressed. However, advocating for water and sanitation as a “global human right” is insufficient and in some cases counter productive.

Giné-Garriga R, Flores-Baquero Ó, Jiménez-Fdez de Palencia A, Pérez-Foguet A.
Monitoring sanitation and hygiene in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: A review through the lens of human rights. The Science of the total environment. 2016 Dec 15. pii: S0048-9697(16)32753-X. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.12.066.

International monitoring of drinking water and sanitation has been jointly carried out by WHO and UNICEF through their Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP). With the end of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) era in 2015, the JMP has proposed a post-2015 framework for integrated monitoring of water and sanitation targets included in the Sustainable Development Goal no. 6. This article discusses how each element of the proposed sanitation target and corresponding indicators can be understood from a human rights perspective. Building on the MDGs, and although some of the weaknesses and gaps persist, the discussion suggests that the post-2015 proposal is a step forward towards a monitoring framework where human rights elements related to sanitation are effectively promoted. In addition, to support the interpretation and implementation of the normative content of human rights obligations related to sanitation, the study proposes a reduced set of easy-to-assess indicators to measure the normative criteria of this right, which are then grouped in a multidimensional framework to describe increasing levels of sanitation service. To do this, the study combines literature review and specific local experience from three case studies. It is shown that the proposed monitoring tools, namely the indicators and the multidimensional indicator framework, provide guidance on monitoring the human right to sanitation. In doing so, they might ultimately help sector stakeholders in the realization of this right.

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