Budgeting for the right to water and sanitation - Reflections on integrating the right to water in MDG costing models

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Publication Title

Budgeting for the right to water and sanitation - reflections on integrating the right to water in MDG costing models

Publication Type


Gonzalo Pizarro, UNDP and Virginia Roaf, COHRE

Publication Date

27 Nov 2008


Publication URL





Applying a human rights-based approach to water and sanitation has important practical implications at all stages of the development process, including the budgeting stage. Based on the work of UNDP to revise one of its core development tools, the MDG water costing tool, from a human rights based perspective, this paper identifies specific measures that need to be taken into account in budgeting for water and sanitation services. The human rights principles of non-discrimination, participation and accountability for example, require the costing of measures such as: collecting disaggregated data to determine who is not receiving services, so that interventions can be tailored specifically to these individuals and groups; ensuring that marginalised groups are prioritised in programmes; establishing participatory public hearings, conferences, civic meetings, advertising in media; and creating local offices for water and sanitation services to encourage participation and facilitate information sharing and extension of services. Abiding by the human rights standards related to water and sanitation- quality, availability, physical accessibility, information accessibility, non-discrimination and affordability of water- also requires specific measures such as the monitoring of water quality, ensuring that water resources are not polluted and that water and sanitation services are affordable for all.

It is clear that implementing these measures to ensure human rights principles are applied to the delivery of water and sanitation will require targeted investment. However, the benefits of these investments can significantly reduce long-term costs; ensuring that safe and affordable water and sanitation services are available to all. In the context of limited financial resources, trade-offs and constraints will require considered budgeting. Drawing on the discussion held among the multi-disciplinary team involved in the UNDP project, this paper will present possible solutions and suggestions to address these constraints and challenges.


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