Last week, November 13-15, WaterLex organised a seminar in Burkina Faso on The Realisation of the Human Rights to Water and Sanitatoin in West and Central Africa (La Réalisation des Droits de l’Homme à l’Eau et à l’Assainissement en Afrique Occidentale et Centrale). This regional workshop, designed and facilitated by WaterLex, was designed to bring ministers, water authorities and NGOs together for a constructive three-day interactive session on the awareness of human rights to water and sanitation, and discussions on challenges, good practices and opportunities for implementing ideas for progressive realisation of the human rights to water and sanitation (HRWS). Hosted in, and with the honour of a keynote presentation from the Burkina Faso Minister of Water and Sanitation at the closing ceremony, The Honourable Ambroise Ouedraogo, the workshop included participants from Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, and Niger.

The benefits of bringing experts from the four countries together, and the mix of different actors, enabled informed discussions and sharing of ideas.

The tangible outcomes from the workshop take the form of three main outputs:

  1. Greater awareness of what the human rights to water and sanitation mean in practice with the participants
  2. A document that will be published early next year to summarise the legal analysis that was conducted in advance of the workshop, together with a compilation of good practices from the region, as a way of sharing ideas for other governments and practitioners. Additionally, the national legal mapping publications are already available online on https://www.waterlex.org/country-legal-mapping/
  3. Each participant has made commitments for action plans formed during the workshop (see annex) that will enable immediate actions for implementing improvements in governance and plans to improve water management, access to safe drinking water for vulnerable groups, and management of sanitation and hygiene.

The workshop highlighted the main messages that were given by each country during the workshop, including the national legal mapping analysis, the identified main challenges being faced with respect to water and sanitation, the examples of good practice that were presented, and the main commitments for reform identified. Full details for all these subjects will be found in the full publications online and the annexes attached, but this summary pulls the information together into one document for reference. The document is presented by country, including Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea and Niger.

The questionnaire at the end of the workshop demonstrated a marked increase in cognisance regarding the ways to improve access to water and sanitation through the human rights framework, with the average responses increasing from 2.3 before the workshop, to 4.0 at the end (Annex 3). Sadly, the participants from Mali were not able to attend at the last minute due to unforeseeable issues with air travel, but the legal mapping is available online, and the participants are keen to join in the planned phase two, with active participation through the new network that has been set up by the participants at the workshop.