WaterLex co-organised a side event on “Measuring Progress to Achieve Equitable Access to Water and Sanitation” during the UNECE 4th Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol on Water

Rose Osinde Alabaster, WaterLex Programme Director for Africa

Rose Osinde Alabaster, WaterLex Programme Director for Africa

and Health. The event took place on 14 November at the UN Palais and was co-organised with Women for Water Partnership and the French Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

The side event focused on access to water and sanitation with a perspective on equality and non-discrimination. WaterLex Programme Director for Africa, Rose Osinde Alabaster, gave opening remarks, introduced the background of the side event and highlighted key issues in this area. She clarified inequalities in access to water and sanitation and the role of accountability and monitoring in that respect.

“It is imperative to consider the political framing of the SDGs: as international commitments to be translated into national implementation efforts”. – Rose Osinde Alabaster, WaterLex Programme Director for Africa

Ms. Lenka Kruckova, Legal Officer at WaterLex, discussed the enabling framework for measuring progress to achieve equitable access to water and sanitation. She made linkages with the human rights framework and the SDG framework, and highlighted the need for

Lenka Kruckova, WaterLex Legal Officer

Lenka Kruckova, WaterLex Legal Officer

adequate provisions in legal and policy frameworks to maximise existing mechanisms and approaches at international, regional and national levels. Ms. Emma Anakhasyan subsequently took the floor and presented the need for gender-disaggregated indicators to track equitable access to water and sanitation.

A panel discussion followed, with concrete examples from various regions. Key speakers from governments, Civil Society Organisations and International Organisations were present:

  • Yannick Pavageau, France Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
  • Natasha Dokovska, Journalists for Human Rights
  • Anna Tsvietkova, MAMA-86
  • Robert Bos, International Water Association
  • Rick Johnston, World Health Organisation

Mrs. Diana Iskreva of Women for Water Partnership and Director of the Bulgarian non-governmental organisation Earth Forever moderated the panel.

Robert Bos (IWA), highlighted the following:

  • There is a need to understand how to contribute to shaping policies and legal frameworks;
  • For service providers, there should be emphasis on monitoring and tracking; and
  • There is insufficient focus on human capacities (human resources) on WASH service delivery due to lack of data and hence due consideration needed on the cost for training to fill these gaps.

Another important point was made, that WASH needs to be brought into institutions – the lack of national standards on water , sanitation and hygiene (including water hygiene and menstrual hygiene management) for institutions, for example schools.

Rick Johnston (WHO) noted that dis-aggregation done in the household survey instruments, and for SDG 6 implementation, the focus is now on a step-wise approach for benchmarking.

Emma Anakhasyan (Women for Water Partnership) stated, “Access itself is not enough, there is need for proper dis-aggregation. How can we ensure real progress through indicators?” and she suggested focusing on partnerships for generating national-level dis-aggregated data. Regional disparities in access, indigenous group access – including groups such as travellers and nomads – need access to water as well. The work in regions should therefore have proper diagnostics on equitable access.

Yannick Pavageau (French Ministry of Social Affairs and Health) made sure to share the focus on guaranteeing drinking water through small distribution networks as appropriate as one example, and the need for development of national plans for non-sewered sanitation as another example in the broad discussion. Support for equal and equitable access to sanitation and the need for clarity on minimum standards, household monitoring and setting targets and sanitation tracking outside of the home was another point made.

Anna Tsvietkova (Ukrainian National Environmental NGO, MAMA-86) explained what access is at the local level and why it is important to identify the vulnerable groups e.g. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) when examining access challenges. “Focus on regional inequalities with respect to aspects such as affordability and safety.”

Ms Osinde Alabaster’s opening remarks emphasised the following points:

  • The importance of understanding “access to water for life” (the human right to water) which should be given priority over “access to water for livelihoods.”
  • The onus of monitoring at country level will be on countries and therefore the monitoring framework for SDG 6 must be driven by country monitoring needs with due consideration for country capacities. In the SDG 6 implementation it is important for countries to ensure respect of human rights and have a particular focus on the poorest, most vulnerable and those furthest behind.
  • Monitoring approaches need to be practical, regularly reviewed and updated through appropriate tools (political, financial and technical).
  • Regional differences have to be taken into account – understanding the different dimensions of the regional challenges (in-country and continental levels) to achieve equitable access to WASH. Specific strategic equity frameworks may be needed to offer specific approaches to accelerate access.
  • Accountability for eliminating inequalities can be strengthened through a combined reading of SDG 6 and SDG 10 at the technical level through indicators.

WaterLex would like to thank the UNECE Secretariat for the organisation of the side-event. Ms Chantal DeMilecamps has been very helpful in the preparation and management of the event.

For more information:
Please see the UNECE-WHO Europe Protocol on Water and Health session specific website.
Women for Water Partnership website
France Ministry of Social Affairs and Health website

MAMA-86 website
Earth Forever website
AWHHE website

Click here to read the programme: MoP Side event on equitable access_2016.11.09 Final


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Lynn Sorrentino, Communications and Events Manager
Tel: +41 22 907 36 46
Email: info (at) waterlex.org

About WaterLex:

WaterLex is an international public interest development organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. It is a UN-Water Partner with UN ECOSOC special consultative status. Its mission is to develop sustainable solutions based on human rights to improve water governance worldwide, particularly in regard to consistent water law and policy frameworks, with the Sustainable Development Goals (especially SDG 6, water for all) in mind. It is an official member of the Global Water Partnership, UNDP Cap-Net, UNDP Global Water Solidarity, UNEP Global Wastewater Initiative, and Swiss Water Partnership.