Policy Brief: The Human Right to Domestic and Productive Water

25 08 2015

In 2010, a milestone was reached when the UN General Assembly recognized the human right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation. Yet, water also plays an important role in realizing other human rights such as the right to food and livelihoods, and in realizing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. These broader water-related rights have been recognized but not operationalized. This (draft) policy brief argues for a more holistic interpretation of existing international human rights law that supports a broader range of water-related rights. In addition, it raises the question of whether the current formulation of the human right to safe and clean drinking water, could limit development opportunities for people in rural and peri-urban communities who also use water for productive activities around the homestead.

We would welcome any comments you might have on this policy brief that should be viewed as a working draft.

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New Paper in Water Alternatives on MUS

2 10 2014

The Productive Use of Rural Piped Water in Senegal

Ralph P. Hall, Eric A. Vance, and Emily van Houweling

Abstract: Over the past decade there has been a growing interest in the potential benefits related to the productive use of rural piped water around the homestead. However, there is limited empirical research on the extent to which, and conditions under which, this activity occurs. Using data obtained from a comprehensive study of 47 rural piped water systems in Senegal, this paper reveals the extent of piped-water-based productive activity occurring and identifies important system-level variables associated with this activity. Three-quarters (74%) of the households surveyed depend on water for their livelihoods with around one-half (54%) relying on piped water. High levels of piped-water-based productive activity were found to be associated with shorter distances from a community to a city or paved road (i.e. markets), more capable water system operators and water committees, and communities that contributed to the construction of the piped water system. Further, access to electricity was associated with higher productive incomes from water-based productive activities, highlighting the role that non-water-related inputs have on the extent of productive activities undertaken. Finally, an analysis of the technical performance of piped water systems found no statistically significant association between high vs. low levels of productive activity and system performance; however, a positive relationship was found between system performance and the percentage of households engaged in productive activities.

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New Paper on The Human Right to Water

15 12 2013

ScienceThe Human Right to Water: The Importance of Domestic and Productive Water Rights

Ralph P. Hall, Barbara Van Koppen, Emily Van Houweling

Science and Engineering Ethics

Abstract

The United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights engenders important state commitments to respect, fulfill, and protect a broad range of socio-economic rights. In 2010, a milestone was reached when the UN General Assembly recognized the human right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation. However, water plays an important role in realizing other human rights such as the right to food and livelihoods, and in realizing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. These broader water-related rights have been recognized but have not yet been operationalized. This paper unravels these broader water-related rights in a more holistic interpretation of existing international human rights law. By focusing on an emerging approach to water services provision—known as ‘domestic-plus’ services—the paper argues how this approach operationalizes a comprehensive range of socio-economic rights in rural and peri-urban areas. Domestic-plus services provide water for domestic and productive uses around homesteads, which challenges the widespread practice in the public sector of planning and designing water infrastructure for a single-use. Evidence is presented to show that people in rural communities are already using their water supplies planned for domestic uses to support a wide range of productive activities. Domestic-plus services recognize and plan for these multiple-uses, while respecting the priority for clean and safe drinking water. The paper concludes that domestic-plus services operationalize the obligation to progressively fulfill a comprehensive range of indivisible socio-economic rights in rural and peri-urban areas.

Download or Read Paper On-line





New Paper in Water Alternatives

13 09 2012

The first paper from our research on the productive use of rural domestic water in Senegal will be published in Water Alternatives (Volume 5, Issue 3). The abstract to the paper is included below.

ABSTRACT: Enhancing livelihoods and promoting gender equity are primary goals of rural development programmes in Africa. This article explores the role of productive water use in relation to these goals based on 1860 household surveys and 15 women’s focus groups conducted in four regions of Senegal with small-scale piped water systems. The piped systems can be considered ‘domestic plus’ systems because they were designed primarily for domestic use, but also accommodate small-scale productive uses including livestock-raising and community-gardening. This research focuses on the significance of productive water use in the livelihood diversification strategies of rural women. In Senegal, we find that access to water for productive purposes is a critical asset for expanding and diversifying rural livelihoods. The time savings associated with small piped systems and the increased water available allowed women to enhance existing activities and initiate new enterprises. Women’s livelihoods were found to depend on productive use activities, namely livestock-raising and gardening, and it is estimated that one half of women’s incomes is linked to productive water use. While these findings are largely positive, we find that water service and affordability constraints limit the potential benefits of productive water use for women and the poorest groups. Implications for targeting women and the poorest groups within the domestic plus approach are discussed.

Citation: Van Houweling, E.; Hall, R.P.; Sakho Diop, A.; Davis, J. and Seiss, M. (2012) The role of productive water use in women’s livelihoods: Evidence from rural Senegal. Water Alternatives 5(3): 658-677.





Stockholm Presentation

30 08 2012

The presentation I gave during the seminar on “Scaling Pathways for Multiple-Use Services, for Food Security and Health” at the Stockholm World Water Week 2012 is posted below. Following this prezi, I have provided links to the presentations given by the other seminar participants.

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Presentations by Seminar Participants

Background to MUS.
Barbara van Koppen, Coordinator MUS Group/IWMI, South Africa

MUS Practices and Scaling Pathways for Food Security in Ethiopia.
Deres Abdulkadir, RiPPLE, Ethiopia

What does MUS Look Like? Moving from Concept to Practice in 7 Countries.
Mary Renwick, Winrock International, USA

Guidelines for Providing and Implementing MUS.
Stef Smits, Secretary MUS Group/IRC, the Netherlands

If it is such a Good Idea, Why doesn’t Is Scale Up? Opportunities and Barriers for Scaling MUS.
Barbara van Koppen, coordinator MUS Group/IWMI, South Africa