Designing Human Rights for Duty Bearers: Making the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Part of Everyday Practice at the Local Government Level

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Water, 12 (2), pp. 378 - 378
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In most countries, local governments bear primary responsibility for ensuring everyone has access to water and sanitation services. For the human rights to water and sanitation to move from recognition to realisation, they need to become part of the everyday practice of local authorities. Yet the potential for the human rights to water and sanitation to practically inform local efforts towards inclusive, sustainable service delivery has received limited attention to date, with human rights discourse more typically focusing on national and international levels or on building the capacity of rights holders to claim their rights from government. There is considerable opportunity to consider how human rights can constructively inform local government efforts to expand and improve services. This Communication article presents a novel approach to making human rights relevant and actionable for local authorities. Developed by a consortium of WASH-focused organisations and informed by design thinking, the Making Rights Real approach combines user-centred materials showing how human rights can inform local action, with a process of constructive engagement between civil society and local government professionals. The Making Rights Real approach has been applied in 12 countries by 37 civil society organisations to date. In this paper, we describe the development and features of the Making Rights Real approach, share initial results from its implementation, and reflect on the potential for the approach to catalyse transformational change towards local realisation of the human rights to water and sanitation.
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