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Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) in RWSSP-WN II


RWSSP-WN II translates the United Nations Resolution A/HRC/24/L.31 on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation into action through its action plan outlined in "HRBA & GESI Strategy & Action Plan - Operationalizing Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) and Gender Equality & Social Inclusion (GESI) Principles in the Water and Sanitation Sector". The document, provides the framework for human rights based approaches in all projects.


Everyone has the right to water and sanitation in Nepal. Nepal ratified the UN declaration of WASH (insert link) as a human right in 2010. Nepal has also ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (insert link). The right to freedom from discrimination against women in rural areas is of particular relevance in the context of rural WASH (CEDAW article 14.2). The Interim Constitution of Nepal states all citizens’ fundamental right is to live in a hygienic place (Section 3 article 16) – accepted as part of the draft new Constitution also. Women’s rights are also in the interim constitution and gender mainstreaming is considered in the Five Year Plans.

However, disadvantaged groups such as Dalit households and menstruating women often, face restricted access to common sources of water due to social discrimination. The elderly and people living with disabilities can face physical access barriers, especially in rural areas. Increasing access to sanitation and improving people’s hygiene behaviour are key to reducing many diseases, decreasing the work burden of women to collect water and increasing attendance at school for girls. It can also provide economic benefits for both the poor and non-poor by reducing the number of sick days and financial costs from treatment of water-related illnesses. In accordance with Nepali and international law we have a responsibility to fulfil this right.

The joint RWSSP-WN II and RVWRMP II (Rural Village Water Resources Management Project Phase II) HRBA & GESI Strategy and Action Plan introduces ways in which the projects translate the ten criteria for HRBA into practice, including the normative criteria (availability, accessibility, quality/safety, affordability, acceptability), and five cross-cutting criteria (non-discrimination, participation, accountability, impact, sustainability), as well as defining the strategic approaches we use:


  • Appropriate targeting to identify and work with the least served, women, the very poor and other disadvantaged groups. For instance, identify target groups and select Municipalities for project support by focusing on indicators such as remoteness, poverty and level of coverage for water supply and sanitation

  • Institutional building – For instance, ensure that duty bearers and project staff understand their roles and responsibilities, and that their capacities are built accordingly

  • Capacity building – Build capacity of staff, partners and other stakeholders (especially duty bearers) to work with women, the poor and disadvantaged groups, and to address social issues

  • Access, Voice, Influence – Ensure the representation and active participation in the Project cycle of rights holders including women, the poor and disadvantaged groups (eg. quotas for committees, confidence building workshops, participation in capacity building)

  • Monitoring and evaluation disaggregating data to ensure we can identify the ‘unserved’

  • Advocacy and awareness raising – raising awareness of potential discrimination and promoting links to other support and advocacy organisations and projects

  • Strengthening GESI and HRBA focused information and communication system, ensuring transparency, and using local languages

  • Coordination, collaboration, synergy building, and sharing of best practices.

The joint RWSSP-WN and RVWRMP HRBA & GESI Strategy and Action Plan merges both GESI and human rights based approaches together as one comprehensive strategy document that translates policies and principles into meaningful action with practical steps to deliver tangible results. See also related broschures.

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