Tag Archives: right to sanitation

Is the UK’s recognition of right to sanitation half-hearted?

In a statement issued on 27 June 2012, the UK Government officially recognises sanitation as a human right under international law. However, in their interpretation of this right, the government excludes “the collection and transport of human waste”. It also does not accept, in their entirety, specific U.N. documents on the right to water and sanitation.

The UK had originally abstained from voting on the resolution on the right to water and sanitation at the UN General Assembly in 2010. It stated then that it did not believe that there was a sufficient legal basis under international law to declare sanitation as a human right.

Facing growing international pressure by NGOs and UN Special Rapporteur Catarina de Albuquerque, the UK announced on 15 June 2012 that it would support the inclusion of commitments to the right both to safe drinking water and to sanitation as a human right in the Rio+20 outcome document.

What the implications are of the UK’s interpretation of the right to sanitation is unclear. Maybe the government should send their legal advisers to a slum during the rainy season to see what happens when there is no adequate collection and transport of human waste.

Related news:

  • Rio+20: Canada finally recognises human right to water and sanitation, E-Source, 13 Jun 2012
  • Right to water and sanitation: finally declared legally binding in international law, E-Source, 19 Oct 2010

Related web sites:


  • UK recognises right to sanitation, UK FCO, 27 Jun 2012
  • Isabella Montgomery, UK Government supports right to sanitation inclusion at Rio+20, FAN, Jun 2012

Durban to host 2012 World Toilet Summit

South Africa will host the 12th annual World Toilet Summit in Durban from 3-6 December 2012. The South African Toilet Organization (SATO) is co-organsing this annual World Toilet Organization (WTO) event.

The main theme of the Summit is African Sanitation: Scaling Up – Dignity for All.

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Focusing Attention on the Critical Role of Gender in Water and Sanitation

In Nepal, reducing the time it takes to fetch water by just one hour could increase girls’ school enrollment by 30%.

While women’s lives around the world have improved dramatically, gaps remain in many areas, including water and sanitation. For example, a recent study in 44 developing countries found that women carry water more often than men by a ration of nearly 2 to 1. Time is but one cost. There are many. How can we draw more attention to gender issues in water and sanitation ? Perhaps through drawings.

The World Bank/WSP 2012 Calendar combines illustrations,  humor, and data to focus attention on the role of gender in developing countries’ ability to ensure improved water and sanitation services for all citizens.  Gender is also the focus of the World Bank’s 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development .

Take a look. Images are worth a thousand words– and they can speak on behalf of billions.

Comments and feedback on the calendar are welcome at wsp@worldbank.org.

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USA: Amnesty and WaterAid “Give a Crap about Human Rights” campaign

From now until World Toilet Day, 19 November, WaterAid USA and Amnesty International USA are urging people to Give a Crap about Human Rights by supporting the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act.

This Act would help provide 100 million people with “first-time, sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation within six years”.

The “Give a Crap about Human Rights” campaign is part of Amnesty’s Demand Dignity Campaign sub-programme on the human right to housing. This includes work on equal access to services for people living in inadequate housing – and clean water and sanitation are crucial services, and basic human rights.

Go to the Give a Crap about Human Rights web page for more information.

Source: Amnesty International USA,

Right to water and sanitation: new UN resolution supports sustainable service delivery approach

A new resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council at its 18th session calls on states to ensure enough financing for sustainable delivery of water and sanitation services. Passed by consensus on 28 September 2011, resolution A/HRC/RES/18/1 has taken last year’s landmark decision [1] to recognise the right to water and sanitation as legally binding in international law, a step further.

Catarina de Albuquerque. Photo: OHCHR

The new resolution is based on ongoing efforts by UN Special Rapporteur Catarina de Albuquerque to get states to go beyond Millennium Development Goals and strive for universal service provision.

States should maximise investments so that:

water and sanitation systems are sustainable and that services are affordable for everyone, while ensuring that allocated resources are not limited to infrastructure, but also include resources for regulatory activities, operation and maintenance, the institutional and managerial structure and structural measures, including increasing capacity

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South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal: factory workers denied proper sanitation

Workers in many clothing and textile factories in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal are denied proper sanitation facilities, a trade union survey has found.

Workers were not supplied with toilet paper and being forced to use pieces of fabric, SA Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) secretary Chris Gina said. […].

“Workers are expected to place these fabric off-cuts in bags or boxes next to the toilet… which are often only removed once a week, resulting in filthy, smelly, and unhygienic conditions,” he said in a statement.

“At almost all companies that we surveyed workers are not supplied with toilet paper.”

Factories that did supply toilet paper, made workers pay for it and deducted the costs from their weekly wages.

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UN expert hails Bill Gates drive to reinvent the toilet, but warns hardware solutions alone are not enough

Catarina de Albuquerque

UN Special Rapporteur Catarina de Albuquerque welcomed the multimillion dollar grant offered by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at “reinventing the toilet” through new technology to save water and transform human waste into energy and fertiliser. However, she warned “the great challenge ahead is making sure that people actually use the new hardware solutions.”

“New technology alone is not enough to overcome the sanitation and water crisis we face,” said the expert on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. “Investments in software solutions, like awareness rising among the people on the vital importance of sanitation, are crucial to make sure the hardware solutions are actually used, as I have witnessed in some of the countries I have visited.”

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