Situation analysis – STEP 1

Country situation of the human right to water and sanitation

1. Identifying State’s human rights obligations related to water and sanitation at the international level

In order to identify the human rights obligations of the country, it is important to find out what human rights treaty the country is subject to. In addition to international human rights treaties, states are often also part of regional treaties or agreements, which can provide for additional provisions on some rights, which only apply to the countries of the region.
As soon as the state ratifies the treaty it becomes bound by the provisions and has a legal obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the rights protected by this instrument.

Key questions read as follows:

  • What international and regional human rights treaties is the country a party to? Which treaties have not been ratified?

2. Identify the normative framework concerning the right to water and sanitation at the national level

The State has the obligation to identify the roles and responsibilities of the different stakeholders in the law. It is important to consider the legislative framework for the water and sanitation sector. The state is required to identify the roles and responsibilities of the different stakeholders in law.

Key questions read as follows:

  • Is the human right to water and sanitation recognized in the national constitution and / or national legislation?
  • Are water and sanitation seen as a national priority? Which are these priorities in the water and sanitation sector?
  • What are the regulations, plans, strategies and activities in the water and sanitation and related sectors? Are they consistent? Do they consider water as a cross-cutting issue?
  • Is there a national or sectoral action plan, which specifically contemplates human rights?
  • Are there any budgetary measures to ensure that the State is committed to the maximum of available resources to the realization of the right to water and sanitation?
  • Are there adequate institutional measures, including accountability mechanisms to ensure compliance with the law?

3. Evaluate the level of implementation of the right to water and sanitation in the country

Once we have clarity on the framework we want to know what is actually happening in practice. Atthis stage it is important to analyze which components of the right are not being guaranteed and who is being most affected. From there, we can identify the causes of the violations, and who are the responsible actors.

The following table may be useful to see which dimensions and principles of the HRWSare not being guaranteed.

Dimension Criteria Are they guaranteed?
Availability Access to water for personal and domestic use is ensured on a continuous basis. Yes / No
Quality Drinking water, without hazardous substances that may threaten the health, and whose odor and taste are acceptable Yes / No
Accessibility In the household or its vicinity Yes / No
Affordability It does not compromise the ability to pay other essential necessities. Yes / No
Non discrimination The population has equal access to water and sanitation services, regardless of the basis of ethnicity, social background, income, housing type, or gender. Yes / No
Participation Anyone can participate in decision-making and issues related to water and sanitation. Yes / No
Accountability Transparency in public accounts related to investments in water and sanitation. There are disaggregated data  available to the population Yes / No

An example in the tools section summarizes the degree of implementation of the human right to water and sanitation in Nicaragua. It reflects the conclusions of the first report on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation in Nicaragua (2011), published by the Coalition of Organizations for the Right to Water.