Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to
safe drinking water and sanitation: Consultation with Civil Society
OrganizationsGeneva, Switzerland: 13-14 September 2010
Report by Linus
The UN independent expert on the right to
water and sanitation, Mrs. Catarina de Albequerque, organized a seminar on the 13-14th
September with civil society following her call for good
practices in the WatSan sector earlier this year. Good practices in this case
was linked to the consideration several key criteria from a human rights point
of view. Some 19 presentations were given and SEI and CREPA presented the
experience of the “productive sanitation approach” in Burkina Faso and Niger.
This provided the opportunity to broaden the discussion and consider the
important link between sanitation and the right to water and the right to food.
If only access to sanitation is emphasized and treatment and reuse is ignored,
sanitation systems risk to undermine water quality and food production. A
dignifying paradigm shift is also possible if human excreta can be considered as
something that has a value if treated and used in the right way, instead of
something dirty and shameful.
There were many other interesting presentations during the seminar, which are
available on line (external link).
Some of these good practices will later be included in a compendium compiled by
the independent expert.
The independent expert advocates for a human rights based approach in the water
and sanitation sector which emphasizes non-discrimination, participation and
accountability. She is also mandated to investigate the implications of water
and sanitation as a human right, which has become a very important task since
the recent resolution on the right to water and sanitation was announced by the
UN General Assembly the 28th of July followed by the confirmation the 30th
September by the Human Rights Council, that water and sanitation are part of the
right to an adequate standard of living.
can be followed here (external link).
IIn a recent speech to the General Assembly regarding the MDGs and the link to
the human rights, Mrs. de Albequerque proved that she emphasizes the sustainability of sanitation
interventions: “…pit latrines meet the MDG requirements for “improved”
sanitation, but many people cannot afford to have the pits emptied correctly.
This results in abandonment of use of the latrine and a return to open
defecation, or hiring cheaper alternatives for cleaning the latrine pit,
disposing of the contents into the nearest river or canal and jeopardizing the
larger environment, as well as the water quality. Human rights provide a
framework for understanding affordability or sustainability of sanitation in a
more holistic fashion. Simply giving people a toilet is not the same as ensuring
that they use it and maintain it. In fact, ‘latrinization’ is not the same as
Source (external link).