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Development cooperation in water and sanitation: is it based on the human rights framework?

Colin Brown Léo Heller About the authors


The water and sanitation sector is verifiably receiving increased attention and funding through international development cooperation. Not least because of the way that it affects incentives and institutions in partner countries, development cooperation can have either positive or negative effects on human rights though. The consolidated frameworks for the human rights to water and sanitation is becoming linked to the international community’s coordinated development efforts, as evidenced notably in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, a review of major funders’ official policies for development cooperation in the sector suggests that many only partially endorse the frameworks for the human rights to water and sanitation. An observation of development cooperation flows to the sector allows the hypothesis to be advanced that worldwide inequalities in access to these services may be reduced through a full and clear application of the human rights framework in development cooperation activities. The article presents findings of this research and explores key stakes for development cooperation in the water and sanitation sector that are relevant for their ability to either negatively or positively contribute to the realization of human rights.

Development cooperation; Human rights; Water; Sanitation; Policy review

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