A Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) to Improve Water Governance in Europe & CIS

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edit  ·  Toolkit Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) to Water Governance
UNDP Regional HRBA to Water Programme for Europe & CIS

Detailed documentation: Background | Regional aspects | Regional Programme | Methodology
PHASE 1: Checklist (Bosnia and Herzegovina | Georgia | Moldova | Tajikistan | Turkey | Ukraine)
PHASE 2: Country Sector Assessments and Proposed Projects (Bosnia and Herzegovina | Tajikistan | Kosovo | Serbia) | Bibliography

Legal Framework: The Rights to Water and Sanitation in International Law | Regional Law | National Law
WaterWiki-resources:Rights to Water and Sanitation: A Handbook for Activists | UN Human Rights Council Resolution on Water and Sanitation | UN Recognises Access to Clean Water as a Basic Human Right | Human Rights-Based Approach | Applying a HRBA to Water:A Case Study | Water-related Legislation and Conventions | The Right to Water - WHO Publication | A UN Convention on the Right to Water - An Idea Whose Time Has Come | International Conference on the Right to Water and Sanitation in Theory and Practice | Q&A: The Right to Water | General Comment 15 (2002) | Q&A: Water Governance | Water and Health | Equitable Access to Water and Human Rights | European Union Water Framework Directive | Essay: What exactly is “The Right to Water”? | Protocol on Water and Health | Protocol on Water and Health/Q&A | Lessons Learned From Rights-Based Approaches in the Asia-Pacific Region | Human Rights-Based Approach Strategies adopted by UNICEF Laos | Utility Privatisation through the Lens of Human Rights | The Right to Water - From Concept to Implementation | The Human Right to Water:Translating Theory into Practice | Report of the Seminar on Human Rights and MDGs, May 2009
External resources: HRBA and Water Governance Fast Facts - UNDP | Applying a HRBA to Developing Cooperation and Programming (UNDP, 2006) | COHRE Manual on the Right to Water and Sanitation | Protocol on Water and Health - Full Document) | COHRE Monitoring Implementation of the Right to Water: A Framework for Developing Indicators | Sub-commission guidelines for the realisation of the right to drinking water and sanitation (2005) | UNFPA - A HRBA to Programming, Practical Implementation Manual and Training Materials (2010) | Operational Guidelines for Implementing a Rights-Based Approach in Water and Sanitation Programming (CoHRE,2008) | COHRE Monitoring Implementation of the Right to Water: A Framework for Developing Indicators | FAQs on a HRBA to Development Cooperation | The Human Rights-Based Approach to Development - The Right to Water | UN Independent Expert Report on the issue of human rights obligations related to water and sanitation 2009 | UN Independent Expert Report on MDGs and right to water and sanitation 2010
Websites: The Rights to Water and Sanitation Information Portal | UN Independent Expert on Right to Water and Sanitation Webpage

Project ID

Project Title

A Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) to Improve Water Governance in Europe & CIS

Type

UNDP-DEX

Focus Areas

Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), Capacity Building,

Geographic Scope

Europe & CIS (Pilot Countries : Bosnia & Herzegovina | Tajikistan | Kosovo | Serbia | Cyprus | more TBC)

Lead Organization(s)

Project Partners

Financing

Total: $380,000; Sources of Financing: UNDP

Timeframe

2009 - 2011

Status

under implementation

Project website(s)

Contacts

Contents

Description

The regional HRBA to Water Governance Programme was partly kick-started at the first meeting of Parties to the Protocol on Water and Health in 2007, when a meeting was held about the issue of a right to water. Subsequently, at a workshop on Water and Health in Bucharest, May 2008, it was agreed that the programme would add-value to water governance projects. Since then, UNDP has identified suitable countries to be included in the programme and has carried out preliminary situational analyses.


The next step is to undertake further, and more in-depth, country assessments, in order to identify areas the Country Office could provide support within the terms of the programme, with assistance from UNDP Bratislava Regional Centre. The aim is to identify a number of project options for discussion, and then to agree on the preferred project option. Scoping missions to identify potential UNDP interventions have so far been carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tajikistan, Kosovo and Serbia (see Achievements (below) for initial results from these). It is likely the programme will next be rolled out to Moldova, Cyprus and Turkey although this has not yet been confirmed.

Aim

The overall aim of the programme is to define new areas of opportunities in the RBEC region for the development of new projects in the cross-cutting field of human rights and water governance, with the ultimate goal to bridge the gap between theory and practice with regard to the right to water. In short, the right to water means having access to sufficient, affordable water of drinking water quality.

The programme adopts a HRBA, as it is widely accepted that the enjoyment of all human rights is both a means and goal of development. Moreover, UN(DP) is mandated to mainstream human rights into their development programming. Following the previous secretary-general Kofi Annan’s request of UN agencies to mainstream human rights into their development programming, a UN Common Understanding on the HRBA was created, which provides a strong methodology on which this new regional programme is based.

Key Focus Areas

The programme is structured around key areas of concern:

  • 1. Water accessibility
  • 2. Water affordability
  • 3. Water allocation and quality.
  • 4. Transboundary Cooperation

These 4 areas constitute basic elements of the human right to water, according to General Comment 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, & Cultural rights.

Programme Structure

The 3 year (2009-2012) regional programme consists of 3 main phases:

  • PHASE 1: individual desk studies, TORs and work plans
  • PHASE 2: further in-depth country assessments, focus on the design of specific projects. This phase will involve in-depth stakeholder consultations and the development of detailed project proposals for submission, as well as partner and resource mobilisation.
  • PHASE 3: launching of projects, inception, implementation, reporting, monitoring and evaluation.

UNDP BRC/UNDP Country Office responsibilities

Implementation of the programme is a partnership between UNDP BRC and the CO. BRC will be assisting and supporting the CO throughout all phases of the programme. However, specific responsibilities are as follows:

  • BRC: will play an overall facilitation role with a focus on initial assessments and support of activities at the national level, in particular knowledge management, building partnerships and resource mobilisation.
  • CO: is mainly responsible for in-depth country assessments, project development (phase 2), and project implementation (phase 3).

Expected Outcomes

The overall aim of the programme is to define new areas of opportunities in the RBEC region for the development of new projects in the cross-cutting field of human rights and water governance, with the ultimate goal to bridge the gap between theory and practice with regard to the right to water.

Achievements: Results and Impact

PHASE 1 - Desk Studies

Desk reviews of the situation in-country were completed in June 2008 for the first 6 pilot countries:

  1. Bosnia and Herzegovina's desk review
  2. Georgia's desk review
  3. Moldova's desk review
  4. Tajikistan's desk review
  5. Turkey's desk review
  6. Ukraine's desk review

PHASE 2 - Country Sector Assessments & Project Development

As of December 2010, scoping missions and country sector assessments have been completed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tajikistan and Kosovo. The following are some of the initial results from these missions (phase 3/project implementation is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2010 for all 3):

Initial Results

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Main Issues:ageing infrastructure, institutional fragmentation, weak local authority capacity, groundwater pollution, pricing/revenue collection, water usage metering.
  • Priority groups:RURAL, 125,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), Roma, minority returnees, schoolchildren, disabled persons. Rural areas are especially vulnerable in access to affordable, potable water. Big U/R discrepancies. Following the civil war (1992-1995) IDPs (3% of popn) and returnees are very vulnerable, with deprived access to water. Rights not being met.
  • Weak governance & degrading infrastructure is impeding duty-bearers from meeting their water service delivery obligations.
  • Experience from shown it is difficult for international Human Rights standards to fully guide a programme. It must be tailored to a pragmatic, context-specific approach.
  • There is a distinct lack of knowledge & awareness about the right to water and HR processes in general.
  • The legislative framework is sufficient on paper. Bosnia and Herzegovina have signed or ratified the relevant international HR conventions, e.g. Internationall Covenant on ESCrights (1966), Convention on the rights of the child (1989) etc. The problem is enforcement/ implementation of the legislation.

For the full Country Sector Assessment see Bosnia and Herzegovina/sector assessment

  • Suggested UNDP Interventions:
  1. Water Rights & Responsibilities Awareness Campaign / Capacity Building (joint UNDP-UNICEF)
  2. Comprehensive programme with target setting and on-the-ground interventions promoting safe/secure Water Service Delivery for IDPs

For details of these project options see  B&HProjectOptionsDocumentJune2009.pdf and  B&HProjectComponentDocumentJune2009.pdf. For additional project ideas for future implementation based on the areas of need in Bosnia and Herzegovina from a human rights perspective see  B&HProjectPipeline.xls

Tajikistan

  • Main Issues:Soviet - market economy transition (soviet era water sector was heavily subsidized and well-managed, not so true today); water governance inadequacies; non-payment/fee collection. There is a real need to change public perception and instil a sense of ownership and interest in management of water resources.
  • Priority groups:Rural communities, schools & medical institutions. Rural communities in the latter soviet period generally had functioning piped water supply systems operated by collective farm operators. But with the break up of these farms in post-soviet era and civil war (1992-1997) damage, rural areas are very vulnerable/lack sufficient and affordable access to potable water.
  • Top “water wealthy” in world, but able to provide just 59% population with potable water. There is approximately 13,000 cubic metres of water available per capita, but VERY weak water governance is preventing duty-bearers meeting their obligations. Approximately 59% have access to potable water, but this masks huge R/U disparities.
  • Very weak governance - this was emphasised continuously and underlined by Ministry of Water Resources and Land Reclamation – they are aware of the situation, but lack capacity to change situation.
  • Lack of knowledge & awareness about RTW & process through which to claim rights & hold DBs accountable.
  • New approach needed: Over a decade of support from various donors – with little tangible improvement. Many players in the sector, but the situation with regards access to safe drinking water and water governance has not really improved. Majority of actors have tackled the problem with infrastructural projects, we’re hoping tackling the problems from a human-rights perspective can bring about sustained improvements that are so vitally needed.
  • Legislative framework adequate, problem is implementation and “buy-in” to Water Governance. Tajikistan have ratified key intl conventions, and national water laws and Water Code are comprehensive. But not fully implemented. Appointment of national ombudsman who would be a trusted intermediary and route through which to claims rights, is taking longer than expected.

For the Country Sector Assessment see Tajikistan/sector assessment

  • Suggested UNDP Interventions:
  1. Promote HR / RTW focus within decentralized ”UNDP Communities Programme” (supported i.a. by CA IWRM programme)
  2. Targeted action for awareness & empowerment: Mobile theatres / capacity building workshops / etc.

For details of these project options see  TajikistanProjectOptionsDocumentJune2009.pdf and  TajikistanProjectComponentDocumentJune2009.pdf. For additional project ideas for future implementation based on the areas of need in Tajikistan from a human rights perspective see  TajikistanProjectPipeline.xls

Kosovo

For the Country Sector Assessment see Kosovo/sector assessment

  • Suggested UNDP Interventions:
  1. Inclusion of Serbian minorities into water governance at the municipal level
  2. Empowerment of ethnic minorities and vulnerable groups in Dragash to monitor the quality of drinking water and related impact on health

For details of these project options see  KosovoProjectOptionsDocumentJanuary2010.doc

Serbia

For the Country Sector Assessment see Serbia/sector assessment

  • Suggested UNDP Interventions:
  1. Review of current policy framework in the light of, and capacity building towards, EU WFD / IWRM / international treaties, including citizens' access to information and participation to law, policy, strategy making and project assessment related to water, sanitation, and wastewater.
  2. Improving access to water, hygiene and sanitation for Roma and other vulnerable groups, by improving the policy level (housing strategies etc.), public awareness, and strengthening Roma organizations' knowledge and capacity.
  3. National capacity strengthening fostering transboundary cooperation

For details of these project options see  SerbiaProjectOptionsDocumentJuly2010.pdf.

Lessons for Replication

Stakeholder Perspectives

  • Stakeholders actively welcome the HRBA to as a new, innovative and promising approach for improving access to water and governing it in an effective and sustainable manner.
  • Stakeholders believe the HRBA fills an important gap in development approaches aimed to improve water governance/access to water and sanitation. Many highlighted the infrastructure projects of the past have led to little improvement in the number of people with access to safe drinking water, partly due to civil war damage in the 1990s in both countries. They expect the HRBA to complement existing projects to ensure real and long-lasting impact on the ground.
  • Stakeholders perceive the level of commitment from duty-bearers to be higher than normal in the application of the HRBA, and maintain a HRBA addresses water access and governance challenges in a more comprehensive way.

Lessons for National Programming

  • The normative HRBA framework informed by international human rights principles and standards is not always totally applicable to the country situation, but has to be tweaked to develop a pragmatic, context-specific approach. (A useful acronym for remembering the HR principles that should inform programming is PANEL: Participation, Accountability, Non-discrimination, Empowerment and Legislation).
  • Anchoring human rights principles into programming and recognising them as rights, makes them non-negotiable, consistent and legitimate. Whilst a development practitioner might typically think about participation and inclusion in the programming cycle, a HRBA forces one to consider the added dimensions of accountability and the rule of law, and the interdependence and interrelatedness of the ‘right to water’ with all other human rights. That is a project focusing on the ‘right to water’ might appear narrow in scope, but is actually helping towards the full realization of all human rights. It is important that this is emphasised, especially in getting NGOs on board who claim they deal only with first generation human rights as they deem those of most importance.
  • It became clear during the missions that as active subjects, citizens do not only have rights, but also responsibilities; i.e. they have a right to sustainable access to safe potable water, but they simultaneously have responsibilities in water management (e.g. a willingness to pay affordable tariffs and to not pollute watercourses with rubbish or open defecation). It is paramount that both rights and responsibilities are recognised and emphasised.
  • In Bosnia and Herzegovina, responsibility for water service delivery is widely dispersed in the public sector, as a result of the post-civil war constitutional settlement. As a result, it would have been very difficult to make an impact of any significance using water governance projects of conventional design. However, the HRBA approach, by focusing on the rights and responsibilities of a group subject to various forms of discriminatory deprivation, opened up a new angle to approach local government bodies which has a good chance of success.
  • Adopting a HRBA with its explicit priority target group of the most marginalised/disadvantaged/excluded groups, really helped to clearly define and justify the beneficiaries of the programme activities.
  • It became clear from the missions that weak water governance was not an outcome of duty-bearers unwillingness to provide efficient and effective water service delivery to all in their country, but rather that they were unable to with the resources available to them.

Positive changes brought about by a HRBA compared to more “traditional” approaches

  • Adopting a HRBA alters the mission formulation. Water Governance and HRBA experts were both needed, and additional stakeholders from the human rights field had to be included in the list of stakeholder meetings on the mission agenda. For example, it was necessary to meet with not only Ministries, NGOs and other organisations dealing with water, but with Ministries of Human Rights, the national Ombudsman, OHCHR representatives in country, government departments dealing with constitutional rights and Human Rights NGOs. In terms of NGOs, experience has shown very few specifically deal with third generation human rights such as the ‘right to water’, but rather prioritise first generation human rights.
  • Projects designed from a HRBA specifically target the most vulnerable and marginalised groups in terms of their access to safe potable water, which is not necessarily the case in development projects not adopting a HRBA, as fewer resources are needed and greater results are generally achieved by targeting those not in most need. Efforts to improve the lives of the poorest of the poor/most marginalised tend to more challenging, and resource-intensive.
  • In a standard water supply and sanitation programme beneficiaries have no active claim to ensure that their needs will be met, and there is no binding obligation or duty for anybody to meet these needs. In contrast, the rights-based approach recognizes beneficiaries as active subjects or “claim-holders” and establishes duties or obligations for those against whom a claim can be held. Thus the HRBA changes the conception of people as passive beneficiaries of State policies and development projects, to being active participants in their own development.
  • A larger impact is made by the HRBA as compared with a conventional water programme. Both aim to improve water governance, but the former also aims for the programme activity to have an impact in terms of contributing to the further realization of human rights and protecting the dignity of all people. A HRBA therefore aims for more than material outcomes such as improved access to safe water, to include qualitative values such as human dignity and ethics.
  • A conventional Water Governance programme largely focuses on capacity building in the form of improving governance at central and/or local government levels via a top-down approach. A HRBA to Water Governance does the same, focusing on strengthening the capacity of government and other duty-bearers to meet their water service delivery obligations. But the HRBA approach further aims for simultaneous capacity building of individuals in civil society so they are able to actively and effectively claim and exercise their ‘right to water’. It therefore utilises both a top-down and bottom-up approach to capacity development.


Read the full report of first results and lessons learned from phases 1 and 2 in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Tajikistan -  Initial LessonsLearnedHRBA2WatGov.doc

References

See also

Human Rights-Based Approach

Bosnia and Herzegovina/sector assessment

Tajikistan/sector assessment

Kosovo/sector assessment

Serbia/sector assessment

Water-related Legislation and Conventions

  1. Water Rights, Poverty and Inequality: The Case of Dryland Africa
  2. UNFPA - A HRBA to Programming, Practical Implementation Manual and Training Materials (2010)
  3. UN Independent Expert Report on Human Rights Obligations Related to Non-State Service Provision in Water and Sanitation
  4. The scramble for water in India – lessons on human rights and conflicts over water resources
  5. The Right to Water - WHO Publication
  6. The Right to Water - From Concept to Implementation
  7. The Implementation of the Right to Water in Central and Eastern Europe
  8. The Human Right to Water:Translating Theory into Practice
  9. Sustaining the Right to Water in South Africa
  10. Sub-commission guidelines for the realisation of the right to drinking water and sanitation (2005)
  11. Socio-cultural norms, human rights and access to water and sanitation (in India)
  12. Rights, customary law and water resource management: comparative perspectives
  13. Rights to Water and Sanitation: A Handbook for Activists
  14. Report of the UN Independent expert on the MDGs and Right to Water and Sanitation(2010)
  15. Report of the Seminar on Human Rights and MDGs, May 2009
  16. Report of the Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation (2009)
  17. Palestine: Challenges to progressive realization in the Occupied Territories
  18. Outcome of International Expert's Meeting on the Right to Water
  19. Operational Guidelines for Implementing a Rights-Based Approach in Water and Sanitation Programming (CoHRE,2008)
  20. Lessons Learned From Rights-Based Approaches in the Asia-Pacific Region
  21. Intersections of international economic law with the right to water
  22. International watercourses: implications of the right to water
  23. International Organizations and Human Rights: Realizing, Resisting or Repackaging the Right to Water?
  24. Integrating human rights into development cooperation: empirical findings from the right to water
  25. HRBA and Water Governance Fast Facts - UNDP
  26. From a ‘political good’ to an ‘economic good’: The Case of Jakarta, Indonesia
  27. FAQs on a HRBA to Development Cooperation
  28. Enhancing Water Governance in Kenya through a Human Rights Based Approach
  29. Egypt mission report of the UN Independent Expert on human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation
  30. Development cooperation and international human rights obligations
  31. Defining and Defending the Right to Water and its Minimum Core
  32. Costa Rica mission report of the UN Independent Expert on human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation
  33. Climate Change and the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation
  34. COHRE Monitoring Implementation of the Right to Water: A Framework for Developing Indicators
  35. COHRE Manual on the Right to Water and Sanitation
  36. Budgeting for the right to water and sanitation - Reflections on integrating the right to water in MDG costing models
  37. Bangladesh Mission Report of the UN Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation and UN Independent Expert on the question of human rights and extreme poverty
  38. Applying a HRBA to Developing Cooperation and Programming (UNDP, 2006)

External Resources

Attachments

 B&HProjectOptionsDocumentJune2009.pdf  B&HProjectComponentDocumentJune2009.pdf  B&HProjectPipeline.xls  TajikistanProjectOptionsDocumentJune2009.pdf  TajikistanProjectComponentDocumentJune2009.pdf  TajikistanProjectPipeline.xls  KosovoProjectOptionsDocumentJanuary2010.pdf  ProgrammeOverview.doc  ProjectDocument.doc  RegionalProgrammeDocument.doc  InitialResultsfromB&HandTajikistanMissions.ppt  Initial LessonsLearnedHRBA2WatGov.doc

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