Thursday, 24 September 2009

Expert recommends recognition of sanitation as a human right

Some great news from the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva just recently, with a statement from Catarina de Albuquerque (left), the Independent Expert on human rights obligations related to water and sanitation.

In her post for under a year, she was reporting to the Council on her findings from trips to Costa Rica and Egypt. She declared that she is 'convinced, now more than ever, that sanitation is a matter of human rights ...we are in the midst of a sanitation crisis.'

This statement is a historic recommendation that sanitation be recognised as a distinct human right. Groups such as End Water Poverty and the Freshwater Action Network have been pushing for the UN to recognise sanitation as a human right - after the successful push to recognise the Right to Water in 2002. Let's keep pushing these issues up the political agenda and achieve real change together.

Read her statement in full here. (thanks to Kolleen from the Freshwater Action Network for providing this).

Read WaterAid's paper 'Sanitation: A human rights imperative'

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Reflections on World Water Week

Mid August saw water and sanitation experts from around the world gather in Stockholm for World Water Week. It was both fascinating and exhausting taking part, as you may know from following our tweets. And it was great to see sanitation climb in profile, with Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of the Sulabh Sanitation Movement in India, being named the 2009 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate.

Amidst all the formal discussions on transboundary waters and climate change, there were an array of key meetings with governments, organisations and institutions working to realise End Water Poverty's call to establish a
Global Framework for Action on Water and Sanitation.

While working on these meetings with colleagues from Liberia, Kenya and Asia, a few things became really clear to me:

  • We've come really far as a campaign. At the same conference last year, we were struggling to get any government to back our demands; and now there is a real momentum of support, with more institutions, governments and organisations championing us each day.
  • End Water Poverty is benefiting from a wide spectrum of support from organisations across the Global South, allowing us to show a truly global perspective on the issues.
  • There is still much to do. Some governments remain ambivalent and need pressure, and we must make sure our work delivers tangible and ambitious results for the world's poor.

In April 2010, political leaders from across the world will meet in Washington, USA to discuss water and sanitation at the first ever High-Level Meeting on the issues.

And what's the difference we're hoping for between Stockholm and Washington? One word: action. The High-Level Meeting is the opportunity for the world to act on water and sanitation, and it seems to me that mass mobilisation and campaigning in the next few months could ensure real change is achieved for those denied their rights to toilets and clean water.