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H2Open Journal Special Issue on

"Strengthening systems and realising human rights: strategies to progress water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)"



H2Open Journal, the high impact interdisciplinary Open Access journal from IWA Publishing, is inviting submissions for a special issue on “Strengthening systems and realising human rights: strategies to progress water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)”. 


The issue was initiated by WaterAid and Guest Editors for the special issue are Prof Juliet Willetts (UTS Australia), Dr Mova Al’Afghani (CPRG Indonesia) and Naomi Carrard (UTS Australia).


This special issue aims to bring the voices of practitioners and researchers in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs) to the fore. A mentorship system will be available to support quality submissions from a range of contributors. Where appropriate, all papers must have at least one author from LMIC, and where feasible and appropriate LMIC authors should be lead authors..



About the issue: 



Systems strengthening is widely recognised as foundational for ensuring access to sustainable, equitable WASH services in low- and middle-income countries, leaving no-one behind. Such systems comprise clear sector policy and strategy, effective institutional arrangements, sufficient sector financing, regular cycles of planning, monitoring and review and capacity development across the sector; as well as the people, interactions, power relations and behaviours that shape these elements.


Equally, the human rights to water and sanitation provide numerous entry points for change, both in supporting people to claim and realise their rights and in supporting and advocating for governments at all levels to respond.


Effective approaches to strengthen systems and realise the rights depend on inclusive processes that meaningfully involve people and advance equality, including gender equality. They facilitate mutual learning, capacity building and increased accountability, promote informed choice and place development in the hands of those it concerns.


This issue will bring together research and analysis related to strengthening of WASH systems and empowering people towards realisation of the rights to water and sanitation and sustained hygiene behaviour change. We encourage the submission of manuscripts by policy and programme practitioners, as well as researchers, focusing on this subject. 


Possible topics will reflect the explanation above and may include (but are not limited to):  

  • Strengthening water, sanitation and/or hygiene sector policy and strategy: institutional arrangements; financing; planning, monitoring and review; or capacity development
  • Using WASH monitoring or other data at local and national levels for better decisions and stronger systems 
  • Decentralising fiscal responsibility and budgets for WASH to subnational governments and building local capacity and accountability
  • Practical steps to transform gender relations within WASH systems, and as outcomes of WASH initiatives 
  • Working with people to claim their human rights to water and sanitation
  • Working with governments to support realisation of the human rights to water and sanitation
  • Systems approaches to achieving hygiene behaviour change and menstrual hygiene
  • Building effective partnerships for WASH systems strengthening and realisation of human rights across global, national or local scales
  • Working with gender and disability specialists and other strategies to make WASH systems inclusive, and achieve inclusive outcomes
  • Working with the health or education sectors to integrate WASH in plans, budgets and systems 
  • Designing and monitoring WASH systems strengthening programmes to achieve and track quality outcomes


This special issue will also include invited articles from experts in relevant domains. 

Link for submission of manuscripts: 

When submitting to the journal, choose the WASH Special Issue Article Type, and the Section/Category “Special Issue: Strengthening systems and realising human rights - Strategies to progress WASH” 




This Special Issue will take a phased approach to submission with three steps. First, submission of a 250-word abstract by 31 January 2021. Then, those selected will be asked to provide an extended abstract by 16 April 2021. Selected extended abstracts will be offered mentorship support for LMIC authors where that may be helpful, with full papers to be submitted by 30 June 2021. Papers will be published immediately on final approval, and the virtual special edition will be launched when all papers are finalised.


When submitting to the journal, choose the WASH Special Issue Article Type, and the Section/Category “Special Issue: Strengthening systems and realising human rights - Strategies to progress WASH”. You will be asked to upload the submission item "Abstract". See below for information on what an Abstract should include.




Authors may find it helpful to follow the Kamler and Thomson ( framework: locate (where), focus (why), report (how), argue (so what?).

Those selected will be asked to provide an extended abstract.


 Please contact the Editorial Office if you need help with this.



Mentorship Options:


If you are new to publishing or are not sure about writing an academic article, we encourage you to submit an abstract. A mentoring system will be provided to those who request support and whose abstracts are accepted.


For those who are already published, you can nominate to be a mentor for this Special Issue. This role would comprise supporting a lead author with their submission and being a named co-author on the paper. Mentorship applications are now closed.

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