Situation analysis – STEP 3&4

STEPS 3 & 4. Developing a role and capacity gap analysis

A role and capacity gap analysis allows development partners to identify the right holders, the duty bearers and their needs for capacity development in order to realize the human right to water and sanitation. In addition, it assists in establishing a list of partners for the development and the implementation of their strategy in water and sanitation (in accordance with the Paris principles of ownership, alignment and harmonization).From a human rights perspective, capacity development is understood as strengthening the capability of rights-holders to know, claim and exercise the HRWS, as well as that of duty bearers to respect, promote and fulfill it, in line with their corresponding obligations. Empowerment is at the core of a human rights-based approach.

1. Identification of the rights-holders and their capacity gaps to exercise the right to water and sanitation

Who are the right-holders?

Right-holders are understood as:

  • Persons with recognized rights
  • Persons that are entitled to demand their rights
  • Persons entitled to establishing liability of the obligation-holder
  • Persons that have a responsibility to respect the rights of others

Identifying the list of populations un- or underserved

All human beings are entitled to the HRWS. Working with a HRBA means we will prioritize those people and groups in a more vulnerable situation. Several factors are at the origins of this vulnerability.

  • Geographical factors
    The population living in rural and remote areas has usually a lower access to water and sanitation as the cost is usually higher. Furthermore, despite the current lack of related data, population living in peri-urban areas may face the major problems of access to safe drinking water.
  • Social and cultural factors
    Disabilities, ethnic status, age and any factor for which groups of individuals are marginalized or find themselves in a vulnerable situation. That is the case of people with disabilities or HIV/AIDS that may experience difficulties in accessing water for technical or moral impediments. People in institutional facilities (prisons, refugee camps, hospitals, schools etc.) are in a vulnerable situation as they depend on the State for accessing water and sanitation.
  • Economic factors
    People who are forced to choose between the water bill and the medical bill see jeopardized their human rights. An enabling environment must be provided by the State for each individual to fulfill his/her basic needs, notwithstanding his/her income.
  • The gender factor
    This factor highlights direct as well as connected issues in relation to water and sanitation. Regarding sanitation, the fact that sanitation facilities are not gender- differentiated may have an impact on concrete use of the facilities by girls and women. Regarding water, the gender factor intervenes in the role dedicated to women to fetch water and the subsequent impact on their economic and social development.

Who these vulnerable groups are will indeed depend on the context. Instead of using average values to describe the degree of access to water and sanitation, information collected should, to the extent possible, provide specific details about the disparities among vulnerable or marginalized populations. The following list presents a checklist to assess whether the information compiled has taken into account the most vulnerable groups.

List of the populations at risk
Geographic Factor
People in remote rural areas
People vulnerable to draughts, floods, typhoons, earthquakes or natural disasters

Economic Factor
Those living in extreme poverty
People of the lowest wealth quintil

Cultural and Social Factors
Minorities & indigenous groups
Religious and ethnic groups
People without the right of tenure
People living in slums
People living with HIV
Women and adolescent girls
People living with disabilities
Older people
Refugees and internally-displaces persons

What are their capacities?

Capacity is understood as the “ability to effectively perform functions for setting and achieving objectives, and identifying and solving problems. In development terms, capacity is the sum of all factors that enable individuals, communities, institutions, organizations or governments to adequately perform their respective roles and responsibilities.” (UNFPA)
Under a human rights-based approach, the following components need to be taken into account:

  • Do they have rights recognized by law?
  • Are they aware of their rights?
  • Do they know how and where to claim them?
  • What are their assets and capabilities?
  • How are they organized?
  • How can they use and strengthen these capacities in order to obtain maximum empowerment?

2. Identification of the duty-bearers and their capacities

Who are the duty-bearers?

The State is the primary legal duty-bearer. The duty of the State extends to all its bodies such as government, parliament, local and national authorities, the legal and the educational system, police and many more. In case of decentralization, local authorities represent the State and are responsible as primary duty-bearers. In case of privatization of service provision, the State does not exempt itself from its human rights obligations by involving non-State actors. Irrespective of responsibilities of the latter, the State remains the primary duty-bearer for the realization of human rights. However non State service providers must comply with the laws and regulations of the State in terms of a general legal obligation: they have a general responsibility to respect human rights .

Civil society organizations, local leaders, and development partners are also bearers of responsibilities insofaras they affect other people’s lives and even though they may be regarded as rights-holders in other respects. It is also important to remember that rights-holders have specific responsibilities, too, like respecting the rights of others and taking responsibility for their own lives and actions.

Duty-bearers will be different for each problem and an important part of the analysis is to define who they are as precisely and specifically as possible.

List of stakeholders in water and sanitation
Local Governments
Water and Sanitation Providers
Research Institutes/Academia
Civil Society Organizations
National Human Rights Commission
Development Partners

What are their capacities?

From a human rights based approach the following components are essential for developing capacities:
“Authority”: This refers to the legitimacy of an action, when individuals or groups feel or know that they can take action. Laws, formal and informal norms and rules, tradition and culture largely determine what is or is not permissible. Accordingly, national laws and policies must be harmonized with international human rights treaty commitments and identify specific duties.

“Responsibility/motivation/commitment/leadership”: This refers to the characteristics that duty-bearers should recognize about their roles in order to carry out their obligations. Information, education and communication strategies help to promote a sense of responsibility for realizing human rights. Ensuring a pluralistic and free media, a vibrant civil society, effective oversight mechanisms and access to remedies (judicial, administrative and political level) for violations are equally vital.

“Access to and control over resources”.‘Capacity’ must therefore also include the human resources (skills, knowledge, time, commitment, etc.), economic and organizational resources influencing whether a rights-holder or duty-bearer can take action. For example, women living in the most extreme poverty may be unable to claim their rights as individuals, and lack the capacity to be able to organize.

Key Questions:

  • Who are the duty-bearers?
  • Are they to be found at community level, national level, or international level?
  • Do the duty-bearers have their role and responsibilities in the law?
  • What are their obligations in relation to the concrete problem?
  • Are they aware of them? Do they recognize them?
  • Are they complying with their obligations? If not, why? What is their position regarding the problem?
  • What are their resources and capacities?
  • Are they interacting with right holders?

3. Identification of dialogue and alliance partners

Along the principles of ownership, alignment and harmonization, development partners must coordinate and work in a coherent manner with the host State, local authorities and other development partners. The matrix of duty-bearers and the list of CSOs constitute a background mapping to determine those stakeholders that will constitute dialogue and alliance partners.