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





Stockholm World Water Week 2012

28 08 2012

On August 30, 2012, I will be taking part in a seminar on “Scaling Pathways for Multiple-Use Services, for Food Security and Health,” at the 2012 Stockholm World Water Week. During my presentation, I will highlight some interesting results from our multi-country study on the productive use of rural domestic water in Senegal and Kenya. More specifically, I will discuss the relationship between the productive use of domestic water and the (technical/financial) sustainability of rural piped water systems.

Our first paper from this multi-country study on “The role of productive water use in women’s livelihoods: Evidence from rural Senegal,” will be published in the October edition of Water Alternatives. A series of other papers from this work are currently under review/development.