About the human rights to water and sanitation

Having access to safe drinking water and sanitation is central to living a life in dignity and upholding human rights. Yet billions of people still do not enjoy these fundamental rights.

The human rights to water and sanitation require that drinking water and water for personal and domestic usage as well as sanitation and hygiene facilities are available, accessible, safe, acceptable and affordable for all without discrimination. These elements are clearly interrelated.

While access to water may be guaranteed in theory, in reality, if it is too expensive, people do not have access. Women will not use sanitation facilities which are not maintained or are not sex-segregated. Having a tap which delivers unsafe water does not improve one’s access. Human rights demand a holistic understanding of access to water and sanitation.

The human rights to water and sanitation further require an explicit focus on the most disadvantaged and marginalized, as well as an emphasis on participation, empowerment, accountability and transparency.