RWSN Themes

Equality, Non-Discrimination and Inclusion

This theme was previously called “equity and inclusion” but has been changed to better reflect the Human Right to Water. Equity is the moral imperative to dismantle unjust differences, based on principles of fairness and justice. However, from a human rights perspective, the term equity is malleable and not legally binding and may actually dilute rights claims if considered separately from non-discrimination and equality. Equality and non-discrimination are the “most correct terms for describing the objective of ensuring access to water and sanitation for all according to the needs of each person and for gaining a better understanding of human rights (de Albuquerque 2011).

Equality and non-discrimination are the bedrock principles of human rights law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in article 1 that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,” and in article 2 that “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind. […].”

RWSN strives to make sure that everyone is reached and everyone has a voice in the process of providing basic water services.

Key Publications

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Related Resources

Reducing Inequalities in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

A synthesis of experiences and lessons discussed in the RWSN Equality, Non-discrimination and Inclusion (ENDI) Group 2015

Between October and November 2015 the Rural Water Supply Network’s Equality, Non-discrimination and Inclusion (ENDI) theme enjoyed lively e-discussions on Reducing Inequalities in WASH. This covered practical approaches to improve participation of everyone; inclusive infrastructure designs and information, guidance and support that exist on these. Two webinars were held on these topics, with presentations from World Vision, Messiah College, WaterAid, FCG International, and the University of Technology – Sydney . Disability, gender, menstrual hygiene management, rights to water and sanitation and school WASH from Mali, Niger, Tanzania, Nepal, Ghana, Timor-Leste and Vietnam were covered. During the e-discussions independent consultants and staff from the Church of Uganda, TEDDO, WaterAid, WEDC, Mzuzu University, the Honduran Association of Management Boards of Water Systems, Concern Worldwide, Auguaconsult, the University of Denver, the World Bank, Amref Health, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Messiah College and World Vision shared experiences. These were drawn from their or their organisation’s work in Uganda, Vietnam, Mali, Madagascar, Zambia, Nepal, Chad, Timor Leste, Tanzania, Niger, Honduras and Pakistan. Throughout the e-discussions and webinars the primary scope was rural water supply, but sanitation and hygiene were considered when relevant.

This report synthesises the online discussions, draws on relevant content from the webinars and highlights experiences and lessons learnt. It is not an extensive literature review, but does draw on existing literature beyond what was discussed during the e-discussions. | more information »

Water and Sanitation Services: Achieving Sustainable Outcomes with Indigenous Peoples in Latin America and the Caribbean

World Bank Toolkit, Report No: AUS11215

The objective of this Toolkit is to provide practical guidance and operational tools to promote the inclusive delivery of sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation (WSS) services to Indigenous peoples in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). | more information »

Effective Joint Sector Reviews for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

A Study and Guidance - 2016

This is the first consolidated and referenced multicountry study of Water or Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Joint Sector Reviews (JSRs). The study report and associated Learning Note and Poster provide an understanding of JSR processes and practical guidance on how to introduce and improve them. The study sets out a methodology in the form of visual checklists to reflect and take stock of WASH JSR processes. This could also form the foundation for subsequent cross-country comparisons of the JSR process.

The publications provide an analysis of JSRs as well as practical guidance on how to introduce and effectively manage them. The initial focus of the work was on JSRs in fragile states. However, the contested definitions of a fragile state, arbitrary thresholds as well as the realization that there are common issues with respect to JSRs in nonfragile countries led to a widening of the scope of countries studied. Notably, all countries included are considerably donor dependant for WASH. The study considered 25 countries, and found that between 2001 and 2015, WASH JSRs had taken place in 19 of them.

Note that these documents are review copies. | more information »

Review of Self-supply and its support services in African countries

Synthesis Report

Over the past decades, in many countries, significant progress has been achieved in improving access to rural water supplies. However, it will be almost impossible to reach universal access by using community supply models alone, as this approach will simply be too costly. For achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensuring universal access to water for all, new approaches and a shift in mindset and policies are needed. Supported Self-supply is a very cost effective service delivery approach which is complementary to communal supplies, is aligned with Human Rights principles, supports equity and inclusiveness and achieving several SDGs.
This Synthesis report summarises the results of a UNICEF funded review of supported Self-supply in Zambia and in Zimbabwe which was conducted in 2015 and reflects on findings from discussions at national workshops in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi and from a webinar on supported Self-supply and Human Rights to Water organized by the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN). | more information »

Human rights to water and Self-Supply – Potential and challenges

RWSN webinar on 24th November 2015 – Key messages and generic findings

Summary of generic messages:
1. The Human Right to water does not favour or exclude any management model for provision of safe water to all. The important objective is that eventually all people have universal access, that core principles are adhered to and that there is no difference in quality and access no matter which supply approach is used.
2. Self-supply is aligned and compatible with the concept of progressive realisation of the Human Right to Water.
3. Government’s role in Self-supply is to identify where and when Self-supply is an appropriate option to provide access to safe water. Additionally government should provide technical support, monitoring, financial support (e.g. subsidies), establish an enabling environment and recognize Self-supply as one viable option to achieving the Human Right to Water.
4. In Self-supply, like in other approaches, challenges might occur around affordability, water quality, monitoring, and long term sustainability. The Government must support people moving up the water ladder but also take preventive measures to avoid negative impacts from Self-supply.
5. To further scale up Self-supply subsidies might be an adequate means to allow poor people to move up the water ladder in incremental steps. Subsidies need to be designed and provided in a smart way, without distortion of the local economy. If subsidies are provided there is need to find sustainable funding sources.
6. As Self-supply will not be an option in all regions, and because the cost of using the community managed approach alone will be far too high, a blended approach using boreholes, piped schemes and Self-supply sources (using different technologies) might be the best way to go for achieving universal access in rural areas. | more information »

المقررة الخاصة للأمم المتحدة المعنية بحق الإنسان في الحصول على مياه الشرب المأمونة وخدمات الصرف الصح

This Handbook is the product of six years of work by the first UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to water and sanitation. It explains the meaning and legal obligations that arise from these rights, translating the often complex technical and legal language into accessible information.

This Handbook clarifies the meaning of the human rights to water and sanitation, explains the obligations that arise from these rights and provides guidance on implementing the human rights to water and sanitation. It also shares some examples of good practice, shows how these rights are being implemented and explores how States can be held to account for delivering on their obligations. Finally, the handbook provides a series of checklists, so that readers can assess how far they are complying with the human rights to water and sanitation.

The Handbook is primarily for governments at all levels, donors and national regulatory bodies. It provides information that will also be useful to other local, regional and international stakeholders, including civil society, service providers and human rights organisations.

The Handbook is presented in nine booklets, each of which addresses a particular area of activity:
1: Introduction
2: Frameworks (Legislative, regulatory and policy frameworks)
3: Financing (Financing, budgeting and budget-tracking)
4: Services (Planning processes, service providers, service levels and settlements)
5: Monitoring
6: Justice (Access to justice)
7: Principles (Non-discrimination, equality, information, participation, sustainability)
8: Checklists
9: Sources (Glossary, Bibliography, Index)

Booklets 2-7 contain checklists for the State and other actors to assess whether the State is complying with the requirements of the human rights to water and sanitation. | more information »

Realising the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation: A Handbook

This Handbook is the product of six years of work by the first UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to water and sanitation. It explains the meaning and legal obligations that arise from these rights, translating the often complex technical and legal language into accessible information.

This Handbook clarifies the meaning of the human rights to water and sanitation, explains the obligations that arise from these rights and provides guidance on implementing the human rights to water and sanitation. It also shares some examples of good practice, shows how these rights are being implemented and explores how States can be held to account for delivering on their obligations. Finally, the handbook provides a series of checklists, so that readers can assess how far they are complying with the human rights to water and sanitation.

The Handbook is primarily for governments at all levels, donors and national regulatory bodies. It provides information that will also be useful to other local, regional and international stakeholders, including civil society, service providers and human rights organisations.

The Handbook is presented in nine booklets, each of which addresses a particular area of activity:
1: Introduction
2: Frameworks (Legislative, regulatory and policy frameworks)
3: Financing (Financing, budgeting and budget-tracking)
4: Services (Planning processes, service providers, service levels and settlements)
5: Monitoring
6: Justice (Access to justice)
7: Principles (Non-discrimination, equality, information, participation, sustainability)
8: Checklists
9: Sources (Glossary, Bibliography, Index)

Booklets 2-7 contain checklists for the State and other actors to assess whether the State is complying with the requirements of the human rights to water and sanitation. | more information »

RWSN Webinar Series 2015

Presenters from more than 25 different organisations, working in over 20 countries share their practical experiences and research findings. Participants have the opportunity to ask questions, and meet others with similar interests at the events. Topic covered include:
- radio for rural water supplies, drawing on practical experiences from Kenya and Tanzania.
- Self-supply in emergency and development contexts, and we shall be hearing from Sierra Leone as well as Ethiopia, and on the costs and quality of self-supply as well as government roles.
- a series of webinars on groundwater.
- experiences about dealing with gender, violence and access to WASH
- rainwater harvesting
- etc.

All of the presentations and links to the recordings will be posted here within two to three days of each webinar. | more information »

RWSN Strategy 2015 - 2017

This Strategy sets the direction of the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) for the next three years. It explains what we are trying to achieve, how, why and who. The four themes from the previous strategy will continue, with some changes of focus, and "Mapping & Monitoring" becomes a cross-cutting topic.

This is not the definitive final version so may be subject to change over the next few weeks or months. | more information »