M&E Tool: Monitoring access to sanitation in rural contexts from a human rights perspective

A study undertaken by the Spanish NGO ONGAWA and the Polytechnic University of Madrid aims to complete the usual measurement indicators of access to sanitation from a human rights perspective. The indicators used by the WHO / UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) are mainly based on technological criteria. It is assumed that certain types of technologies ensure a higher probability of getting a sanitary installation that hygienically separates human excreta from human contact (1). However, from a human rights perspective, it is necessary to analyse other criteria such as those provided by the categories of the human right to water and sanitation.

With this purpose, a pilot process to gather information on water, sanitation and hygiene in the rural town of San Sebastián de Yalí, department of Jinotega (Nicaragua) was undertaken. Home surveys were conducted in order to determine the degree of compliance with the right to sanitation from the perspective of the rights holders. During the information gathering special attention was given to ensure that the random samplings would include the vulnerable sectors of the communities. From the questionnaires, simple indicators were built and assessed to reflect the five normative criteria of the right, as summarised in Table 1.

TABLE 1: Sanitation indicators based on the normative criteria of the Human Right to Sanitation

Criteria (normative) Elements // Indicators Evaluation of the indicators
Availability Sufficient sanitary facilities considering 4 elements (possession, use, property and shared use) 0: Do not use latrine or share latrine with more than 1 family
1: Own latrine used individually or sharing with 1 family maximum
Accessibility Safety in latrine & way to latrine (right- holders’ perception) 0: the family expresses insecurity in the latrine and/or roads
1: the family expresses security in the latrine and roads
Quality and safety Hygienic conditions depending on the type of latrine (improved vs. unimproved) modified by 3 factors (cleanliness, insects and odours) 0: Unimproved access or improved access but unhealthy hygienic conditions (abundant faeces, insects or very unpleasant odour)
1: Improved access with healthy conditions (clean latrines or dirty latrines but without faeces // no bugs or insects // odourless or slight unpleasant odour)
Affordability Right-holders’ perception 0: Respondent considers their contribution for latrine construction to be excessive.
1: Respondent considers their contribution for latrine construction to be fair according their possibilities.
Acceptability Evaluation of privacy, comfort, location (right-holders’ perception) 0:  Respondent believes that its sanitation is inadequate.
Case 1: does not guarantee privacy
Case 2: ensures privacy but it is not conveniently located and is also uncomfortable.
1: Respondent believes that its sanitation ensures privacy. It is also well located and / or is comfortable

With this information, various rates were constructed adding the different components (% of households with available sanitation, % of households with available and quality sanitation, % of households with available, quality and physically accessible sanitation, % of households with available, quality, physically accessible and culturally acceptable sanitation, and % of households with available, quality, physically accessible, culturally acceptable and affordable sanitation.

In this case study, information from a subsample of five communities of the municipality is averaged. As illustrated in Figure 1, these results showed that when incorporating the normative criteria of the human right to sanitation to measuring access, the coverage figures are substantially reduced. This framework provides new elements for the monitoring of the sector in order to identify relevant issues that had not been sufficiently considered so far. Methodologies like the proposed one have great potential for decision making and resource allocation in order to achieve territorial equity and a sustainable access to the service.

FIGURE 1: Coverage rates differences from a human rights perspective

Source: Ongawa (Sonia Wheelock) and Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña (Oscar Flores)