International institutions have the authority to monitor States' compliance with the Human Right to Water and Sanitation (HRWS) but the necessary tools for this task are not yet ready. The human development sector has a wider experience of using information about progress, which provides a perfect opportunity to develop this further. The World Health Organization (WHO)/United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring programme (JMP) and the UN Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) data sets could be used for those with a mandate to monitor the right, contributing to this challenge. Consequently, the information they offer has been analysed through a human rights lens. A matrix has been constructed to specifically identify to what extent their data sets could be combined to monitor HRWS in a broad sense. The JMP-led post-2015 proposal makes a considerable contribution to outcome indicators for measuring right-holders’ enjoyment of the right, and GLAAS adds structural and process outcome indicators to measure duty-bearers’ conduct. However, there are still some critical gaps if both UN Water platforms are to be used to report progress on HRWS. Finally, the article suggests some ideas concerning the way these shortcomings could be addressed.

INTRODUCTION

Although international institutions have the supranational political authority to monitor state compliance with human rights (HR) norms, tools are not sufficiently articulated yet. Among the different approaches to monitoring Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCRs), using information on progress towards development goals is identified as useful (United Nations 2011).

The Human Right to Water and Sanitation (HRWS) gained international legal recognition (United Nations 2010c) as an ESCR. The UN Special Rapporteur (SR) (United Nations 2009) suggests recognising sanitation as a distinct right – Human Rights to Water and Sanitation – that has been supported by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (United Nations 2010b) and academics (Langford et al. 2014). HRWS entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, accessible, culturally acceptable and affordable water and sanitation services for personal and domestic uses that are delivered in a participatory, accountable and non-discriminatory manner.

Measuring these HR is something other than counting facilities, and UN institutions dealing with Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) monitoring at an international level have been evolving in this sense over the last years. Three relevant UN water mechanisms offer WASH-related information: the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP), the Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) and the World Water Development Report (WWDR). However, only JMP and GLAAS platforms are considered in this study as WWDR focuses on different strategic water issues each year and does not provide data by country. Other cross-national data sets proposed elsewhere (Meier et al. 2014) for monitoring the HRWS have not been considered as they are not WASH-specific, periodic, country-based and/or not commonly used in the sector.

Since 2000, the JMP has been in charge of monitoring the target of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) specifically related to water and sanitation issues. During 2010–2015, the JMP has provided the platform through which debate around post-2015 goals, targets and indicators are defined for the WASH sector. It is not the only ongoing consultation process about the way these issues should be included in the post-2015 agenda but, due to their relevant role in the sector, it is likely to significantly influence the technical design of the final proposal. In 2008, GLAAS emerged to monitor the inputs required to extend and sustain WASH systems and services via a country-led process.

The objective of this paper is to analyse more closely the extent to which JMP-led post-2015 and GLAAS data sources could contribute to monitoring HRWS in a broad sense. Specifically, the article identifies the main contributions to HRWS monitoring of these two mechanisms and the elements that cannot be measured as they are conceived nowadays. It is not intended that JMP and GLAAS should monitor and report on the HRWS in the future as they are not designed as specific HR monitoring mechanisms, but to analyse their potential contributions to this challenge at present. Finally, some ideas on the way in which they could be enriched are proposed.

Measuring the HRWS

General Comment 15 (GC15) introduces HRW normative criteria: availability, quality, acceptability, physical accessibility and affordability (United Nations 2002) and the SR gathered up these dimensions in reports (United Nations 2010a; UN Special Rapporteur 2014). The SR focussed the 1st year of her mandate on exploring and clarifying the scope and content of the Human Right to Sanitation (HRS) (United Nations 2009), despite the fact it has not been recognised by the UN General Assembly as a separate right yet. Its normative content could be borrowed from the HRW, considering the same five normative criteria. However, caution is necessary to consider differences among in HR content. Non-discrimination and equality, access to information and participation and accountability are habitually considered as cross-cutting criteria.

Different researchers point out the important role that indicators play in evaluating progress or reporting on performance both in human development (HD) and HR fields. Fukuda-Parr (2011) highlights that HD and HR indicators should differ because they relate to two distinct concepts and are used in different ways. One of the main differences is related to where their attention is focussed. HD indicators are mainly focussed on individual enjoyment or human outcomes while HR indicators add value to the focus on State obligations and are developed to monitor specific legal norms (UN Special Rapporteur 2014). For that reason, the measurement tools used to assess HR compliance and HD outcomes cannot necessarily be the same. Nevertheless, measures specifically designed to evaluate HR are not usually available and conventional outcome indicators can be used to fill this gap.

In this sense, the approach based on three types of indicators (structural (SIN), process (PIN) and outcome (OIN) proposed by Hunt (United Nations 2003) is normally considered, as UN SR (2014) mentions in her handbook. Each indicator addresses a different part of the framework necessary to monitor the realisation of HR. SINs consider issues about the policy environment for the delivery of the HR and typically ‘reflect the ratification and adoption of legal instruments and the existence of basic institutional mechanisms deemed necessary for facilitating realisation of a HR’ (United Nations 2008). PINs deal with the policy environment too but they monitor State effort through the measure of programmes. It is assumed that these indicators can help to predict outcomes and it is considered that they are more sensitive to changes than OIN indicators, which are usually used in the HD sector and monitor the extent to which individuals have access to basic needs.

According to the HRWS, just a few initiatives have emerged to develop indicators and measurement tools combining HD and HR approaches. Especially relevant is the proposal by the non-governmental organization (NGO) Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) (Roaf et al. 2005), the index to measure non-discrimination and progressive equality realisation using existing information (Luh et al. 2013), and Flores et al.’s (2013) proposal to measure access to water based on HRW framework in a local context through composite indicators. Moreover, WASHwatch.org (2014) is an online platform for monitoring government commitments and financing that includes criteria comparable among countries that can be used to measure some relevant HRWS elements.

METHODOLOGY

Sources of data and the method used are briefly described below.

Data sources

The article assesses two complementary and recognised international sources of information about the situation of the WASH sector. Strengths and weaknesses of these mechanisms in relation to their contribution to HRWS monitoring are indicated.

On the one hand, the present post-2015 proposal that JMP coordinates (Joint Monitoring Programme 2014a, 2014b) is focussed on targets and indicators, and there is still no specific technical information about the new set of harmonised questions to be included in national surveys and censuses, as well as other necessary data collection mechanisms that are emerging, as targets and indicators are getting more complex. The present article analyses the proposal paying attention to the last set of indicators (Joint Monitoring Programme 2014b). On the other hand, the GLAAS questionnaire (UN-Water 2013) collects primary data through a survey that solicits information on the situation of WASH services. The questionnaire has changed since the first one in 2008 and thus, this research mainly focuses on the 2013–2014 cycle questionnaire. GLAAS assessment is based on this new list of questions and indicators from the recently published GLAAS report (WHO 2014).

Matrix construction

GC15 and further clarifications by the SR have been used for the selection of the normative and cross-cutting content of these HR. A first examination of both platforms using a HR approach shows that:

  1. Despite the fact that the JMP was not created for monitoring HR, it is well placed to provide indicators that may be used to assess right-holders’ enjoyment of the rights. In this sense, the JMP post-2015 can be evaluated to assess whether it contributes enough to monitor HRWS elements that could be measured through outcome indicators.

  2. The GLAAS initiative provides information about States as duty-bearers of WASH service provision based on different types of indicators: structural and process. Similarly, GLAAS indicators could be evaluated as mentioned before in relation to JMP ones.

Taking these ideas into account, we considered that each element should be monitored using one or both platforms, depending on its nature. If the element was essentially outcome- or structural process-focussed, it was analysed in the JMP or GLAAS section, respectively. Finally, if the element required measurement in both, it is discussed in both sections.

When it was proposed that an element should not be measured by the mechanism, a light grey colour has been used. In the opposite scenario, three possible options have been considered. Black shading indicates that the element should be monitored by the platform considered but it was not possible using the present sources of information and white shading shows the opposite. Finally, dark grey means that it can be partially achieved. When an element has been highlighted in white, a reference to the indicator proposed in JMP post-2015 or the question in the GLAAS survey has been included to facilitate the use of the results. In the case of black, another table provides elements to improve the potential contributions of the platforms analysed.

RESULTS

The results are summarised in Table 1 where 30 drinking water and sanitation normative elements and 13 general and cross-cutting ones have been analysed by applying the methodology explained above. Twenty-four out of 43 have been identified as white, 13 as black and 6 as dark grey.

Table 1

Matrix for analysing HRWS elements in JMP and GLAAS platforms (filling out the matrix and reference to indicators explained in the main text)

CriteriaElementJMP post-2015GLAAS 2013–14
(a) Water: normative criteria 
Availability Priority of essential levels of drinking water over other uses     
 Continuous supply/Seasonality 3.1   
Physical accessibility % access to improved basic drinking water services Coverage: 2.1 and 3.1 Expanding access. Policy and plans: A2–A3 
 Water point proximity 2.1 and 3.1   
 Physical accessibility for all members at any time 3.1  
 Security at water points and paths    
 Education/Health facilities Coverage: 2.4 and 2.5 Expanding access. Policy and plans: A2–A3 
 Secure access to common water sources (CWS)     
Quality/Safety Drinking water quality surveillance  B3 
 Pollution: regulation, policies, disincentives and penalties    
 Water quality at the source Households (Yes)/Schools and Health Centres (No)   
 Risk management plan (Water Safety Plan (WSP))  A7 
Affordability Household expenditure on drinking water     
 Assistance to low income groups   A8 and D6 
 Disconnections    
Acceptability Organoleptic characteristics     
(b) Sanitation: normative criteria 
Availability % access to improved/basic sanitation services Coverage: 2.2 and 3.2 Expanding access. Policy and plans: A2–A3 
Physical accessibility Physical accessibility for all members at any time 2.2 and 3.2   
 Security at sanitation facilities and paths    
 Education/health facilities Coverage: 2.4 and 2.5 Expanding access. Policy and plans: A2–A3 
Quality/Safety Open defecation-free status 1.1   
 Safe management of excreta 3.2  
 Sanitary conditions of sanitation facilities    
 Waste water treatment   B6 
 Hygiene awareness  A3 
 Handwashing device and soap Coverage: 2.3, 2.4 and 2.5 Expanding access. Policy and plans: A2–A3 
 Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Households (No)/Schools and Health centres (Yes)   
Affordability Household expenditure on sanitation    
 Assistance to low income groups   A8 and D6 
Acceptability Privacy, comfort, dignity Households (No)/Schools and Health centres (Yes)   
(c) Cross-cutting and general indicators 
General Right to water/sanitation expressly contained in law   A1 
 Human right to water/sanitation justiciability    
 Existence of a time-frame national strategy and plan of action to ensure the provision of water and sanitation  A3 
 International financial and non-financial assistance provided by developed States  ESA survey 
 Private sector participation    
Accountability/Information and participation Monitoring mechanisms  Section B 
 Civil society inclusion in monitoring process    
 Complaints mechanisms in place  A13 
 Service users and communities participation in water and sanitation supply decision-making  A13 
Non-discrimination/Equity Attention to marginalised and vulnerable groups in national strategies and plans of action  A8 
 Budgetary strategies in place to address the situation of marginalised and vulnerable groups  D5 
 Financial flows to address the needs of vulnerable groups  D11: Some groups 
 Inequities reduction Important advances but methodologies should be improved   
CriteriaElementJMP post-2015GLAAS 2013–14
(a) Water: normative criteria 
Availability Priority of essential levels of drinking water over other uses     
 Continuous supply/Seasonality 3.1   
Physical accessibility % access to improved basic drinking water services Coverage: 2.1 and 3.1 Expanding access. Policy and plans: A2–A3 
 Water point proximity 2.1 and 3.1   
 Physical accessibility for all members at any time 3.1  
 Security at water points and paths    
 Education/Health facilities Coverage: 2.4 and 2.5 Expanding access. Policy and plans: A2–A3 
 Secure access to common water sources (CWS)     
Quality/Safety Drinking water quality surveillance  B3 
 Pollution: regulation, policies, disincentives and penalties    
 Water quality at the source Households (Yes)/Schools and Health Centres (No)   
 Risk management plan (Water Safety Plan (WSP))  A7 
Affordability Household expenditure on drinking water     
 Assistance to low income groups   A8 and D6 
 Disconnections    
Acceptability Organoleptic characteristics     
(b) Sanitation: normative criteria 
Availability % access to improved/basic sanitation services Coverage: 2.2 and 3.2 Expanding access. Policy and plans: A2–A3 
Physical accessibility Physical accessibility for all members at any time 2.2 and 3.2   
 Security at sanitation facilities and paths    
 Education/health facilities Coverage: 2.4 and 2.5 Expanding access. Policy and plans: A2–A3 
Quality/Safety Open defecation-free status 1.1   
 Safe management of excreta 3.2  
 Sanitary conditions of sanitation facilities    
 Waste water treatment   B6 
 Hygiene awareness  A3 
 Handwashing device and soap Coverage: 2.3, 2.4 and 2.5 Expanding access. Policy and plans: A2–A3 
 Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Households (No)/Schools and Health centres (Yes)   
Affordability Household expenditure on sanitation    
 Assistance to low income groups   A8 and D6 
Acceptability Privacy, comfort, dignity Households (No)/Schools and Health centres (Yes)   
(c) Cross-cutting and general indicators 
General Right to water/sanitation expressly contained in law   A1 
 Human right to water/sanitation justiciability    
 Existence of a time-frame national strategy and plan of action to ensure the provision of water and sanitation  A3 
 International financial and non-financial assistance provided by developed States  ESA survey 
 Private sector participation    
Accountability/Information and participation Monitoring mechanisms  Section B 
 Civil society inclusion in monitoring process    
 Complaints mechanisms in place  A13 
 Service users and communities participation in water and sanitation supply decision-making  A13 
Non-discrimination/Equity Attention to marginalised and vulnerable groups in national strategies and plans of action  A8 
 Budgetary strategies in place to address the situation of marginalised and vulnerable groups  D5 
 Financial flows to address the needs of vulnerable groups  D11: Some groups 
 Inequities reduction Important advances but methodologies should be improved   

DISCUSSION

Which HRWS elements can be reported and which not using the JMP-led post-2015 proposal

The post-2015 proposal has been guided by five important considerations: improving service levels, including hygiene issues, reducing inequalities, going beyond the households and addressing sustainability of services (Joint Monitoring Programme 2014b). The key issues are discussed below.

According to sanitation, stopping open defecation is a major focus in order to promote a clean and hygienic environment that benefits everyone. This idea is very well tuned with HRS as it is considered that no one can fully exercise this HR unless her/his community proceeds towards open defecation-free status (Langford et al. 2014). Another group of indicators focuses on the access to sanitation services. Specifically, it is asserted that the facility has to effectively separate excreta from human contact, and it should be conducive to environmental protection. Different facility types are considered as improved or basic sanitation where special attention has been paid to their superstructure, platform or squatting slab and sharing of the facility. The facility must be physically accessible, which means that it must be available for use at all times of the day or night; it has to be designed to take account of the needs of women and children, persons with disabilities, as well as those of elderly persons. Finally, the issue of safe management of households’ excreta is addressed. All of these issues are relevant according to the normative content of the HRS.

From a HR point of view, the issues of health protection (safety), physical accessibility, affordability and privacy, comfort and dignity (acceptability) are essential (Langford et al. 2014). In this sense, the new proposal discloses four major shortcomings. First, sanitary conditions of the facility should be considered, as these elements might constrain a continued use of the infrastructure (Scott et al. 2003). Second, facilities have to be situated in a location where physical security can be guaranteed both while using them and walking the paths. Third, there is no mention about the issue of affordability, one of the most novel contributions of HR. Finally, it is important to measure the elements related to acceptability criteria mentioned above. These have been considered when monitoring education and health facilities but not at household level.

According to the HRWS framework, hygiene is considered an element of quality/safety criteria. There are a variety of hygiene behaviours that are most likely to benefit health. Post-2015 focuses on the issue of handwashing with soap for target setting. Specifically, spot checks of facilities are proposed as proxies for handwashing behaviour. At the dwelling, the assessment is expected to include two key areas: the sanitation facility and the food preparation area. Joint Monitoring Programme (2014a) reported this critical issue for the first time. In spite of unquestionable strides, the proposal is still subject to criticism. The inclusion of menstrual hygiene management (MHM) in the monitoring framework is critical in terms of its impact on the social development of girls and women. Despite MHM monitoring being still debatable one could advocate for the inclusion of proxy indicators to measure at least the ‘hardware’ element of MHM at a household level.

The core indicator for drinking water monitoring uses technology as a proxy for a binary categorisation (improved/unimproved) of the sources. But the new proposal also highlights some elements that are intrinsically linked to HRW normative criteria, especially to characterise ‘safely managed drinking water services’ (Joint Monitoring Programme 2014b). Continuity and seasonality are included in the proposed indicator. Water quality is also tested at the point-of-use and the existence of measures of risk management, such as Water Safety Plans (WSP) are necessary to consider that a service is safely managed in the post-2015 proposal. The technology-related proxy indicator used during the period of the MDG has been questioned due to the fact that it does not assess the quality of water sources (Bain et al. 2012). Rapid Assessment of Drinking-water Quality (RADWQ) methodology developed by the JMP (2012) and finally tested in five countries to improve water quality monitoring has not yet been adopted (Jiménez & Pérez-Foguet 2012) since the JMP announcement (Hueb 2006), illustrating how trade-offs between what is economically feasible versus what is desirable in global monitoring influence decisions about proxy indicators. It seems that finally, the post-2015 proposal will give way to more precise indicators related to safe drinking water. This new approach represents a major step forward according to HRW, and in addition, in the case of WSP, it also represents an opportunity to link HRW to other (potential) HR of an environmental nature. Physical accessibility is explicitly considered at both household and extra-household levels when it is emphasised that the water source has to be accessible to all members/users at any time. Moreover, a complementary indicator assesses the total collection round-trip time.

However, gender disparities in water collection are no longer addressed. Although it was not included in the MDG's target, this gender aspect has been included as a core question (Joint Monitoring Programme 2006) that has been widely analysed in the JMP annual reports. It is an issue of concern in a context where women still bear primary responsibility for collecting water and suffer damage very often which injures their physical integrity. The proposal mentioned that ‘targets should address the challenge of sustaining services to ensure lasting benefits’ (Joint Monitoring Programme 2014b) but it does not result in specific targets and indicators, in contrast to an earlier version (Joint Monitoring Programme 2013) where target 4 included affordability and accountability as sustainability-related parameters. Langford (2010) was alarmed about the final omission of affordability from the MDG Declaration. It seems that history repeats itself in the MDG proposal. Other HRW elements about disconnections and acceptability that could be measured at a household level have ultimately not been included.

According to cross-cutting issues, it is widely recognised that the MDG's focus on average global progress explains the poor progress reported for the most marginalised. The post-2015 agenda appears to move forward as it is proposed to disaggregate data to reflect differences in access between rich and poor, urban and rural, slums and formal urban settlements, and disadvantaged groups and the general population (Joint Monitoring Programme 2014b). Moreover, equity and non-discrimination elements have been incorporated into future targets and indicators and methodological approaches: Targets 1 and 3 incorporate an intra-household equity approach. Also outstanding is the effort to assess separately the male–female sanitation facilities and the inclusion of MHM – which is considered a good proxy to measure discrimination against women and girls – in schools and health centres. Methodologically speaking, disadvantaged groups will be identified through participatory national processes taking into account prohibited grounds of discrimination. Moreover, a specific measurement technique for reduction/elimination of inequalities has been designed (Joint Monitoring Programme 2014b).

Despite advances, there is no clear definition of disadvantaged groups. The method by which these context-based types of discrimination will be assessed is also unclear, and there is thus a risk that important areas of discrimination will not be considered. Moreover, the methodology proposes a kind of composite indicator to evaluate different fields of discrimination. It is a function where underperformance in some fields can be compensated with overperformance in others. The scoring proposal may lead to situations where countries with no progress in a variety of discriminatory fields, such as ethnicity, race, nationality, language, religion, sex/gender, age or disability, could be classified as ‘on-track’. A traffic lights system will serve for the overall assessment of the progressive reduction of inequalities under each target, combining the four population groups (poorest vs. richest quintile, rural vs. urban, slum vs. formal urban settlement, and disadvantaged groups vs. general population. Green implies ‘on-track’, yellow shows that there is some progress but that it is insufficient, and red means ‘off-track’. If 3 or 4 out of 4 disaggregated groups are on-track, it is assessed as green; 2 out of 4 is yellow; and 0 or 1 out of 4 is red (Joint Monitoring Programme 2014b).

Which HRWS elements can be reported and which cannot using the GLAAS 2014 questionnaire

As mentioned before, the JMP is outcome-focussed and its approach is pertinent to report right-holders’ enjoyment of the HRWS. To complement this work, the GLAAS strategy offers the possibility to measure process and structural indicators that can be used to monitor duty-bearers’ achievement of HR obligations. GLAAS 2013–2014 is analysed below to identify challenges and opportunities for HRWS reporting.

A starting point for assessing States’ compliance with international HRWS obligations is to know if the HR is expressly contained in the appropriate legislation, an issue that is addressed in section A1 about national laws. However, it is even more important that rights are justiciable in courts or other bodies. Despite the second element being first included in 2011–2012 (UN-Water 2011), these kinds of data are not available in the 2013–2014 questionnaire, leaving a gap of information.

According to GC15, ‘the obligation to fulfil requires State parties to adopt the necessary measures directed towards the full realisation of the HRW (and sanitation)’ (United Nations 2002). This obligation includes, inter alia, adopting a national strategy and a plan of action for meeting these HR. A2 and A3 provide information on this topic about all the different WASH areas, differentiating between urban/rural and taking into account settings beyond HH, which is the right approach if we consider the human rights perspective. Based on information collected, GLAAS (WHO 2014) monitors whether countries have set targets for universal access and if those are time-framed. National plans of action must prioritise the provision of essential amounts of water for personal and domestic uses, but they cannot be measured using the current survey.

Question A8 about universal access for disadvantaged groups deals with a pertinent issue according to HR obligations. There are explicit questions that pay attention to marginalised and vulnerable groups in the plan of action. An exhaustive check-list determines whether a policy-plan includes measures to reach a broad range of possible disadvantaged populations.

Two notorious contributions are considered in relation to the accountability criterion: 1) A13 collects information about the existence of public complaints mechanisms concerning the lack of, or unsatisfactory, WASH services. In this sense, the question of disconnections due to inability to afford water prices is a reason for social conflict in relation to water services, and has not explicitly been addressed. For example, the disconnection of thousands of people due to inability to pay caused the outbreak of the worst recorded cholera epidemic in South Africa in August 2000 (Bond & Dugard 2008). ii) Section B collects data about monitoring mechanisms. It is possible to report if there is a body to assess implementation of all aspects of the HRWS. However, it is necessary to consider additional questions that would assess whether such bodies are accessible and if civil society is included in the process, which is not asked in the GLAAS survey. Still on the subject of monitoring, B6 determines whether states are developing and implementing WASH indicators and benchmarks for progress monitoring and offers specific information about the percentage of wastewater that receives treatment. B3 deals with the issue of independence regarding water quality regulation and surveillance and A7 is used to find out whether WSPs are promoted as specific sustainability measures. The GLAAS report offers findings on these issues combined with information from the Global and Regional Survey on water Safety Plans (WHO 2014).

Pollution of water sources and its impact on water quality for personal and domestic uses affecting human health is an issue of concern considering HRW content. GC15 explicitly establishes connections between pollution, encroachment and Common Water Sources. Article 23 provides the obligation to protect the HRW, which requires States to prevent third parties from polluting and inequitably extracting from water resources. In this sense, GLAAS is not enough to monitor pollution-related issues.

According to information and participation, the questionnaire allows monitoring if national strategies and plans of action have been devised on the basis of a participatory process where individuals and communities can meaningfully contribute to decisions about WASH planning.

Section D gives pertinent insights about financing disadvantaged groups through equity in budget allocations and the existence of financial schemes to make access to WASH more affordable for disadvantaged groups, which complements affordability monitoring from a duty-bearer's perspective. Moreover, financial flows for WASH promotion allow the determination of disparities between urban and rural financing and also between subsectors. Monitoring the percentage of the national/local WASH budget directed towards expanding access to services to the underserved population (United Nations 2002) is important from a HR perspective but the current proposal does not provide this kind of information. The ‘TrackFin’ initiative under the UN-Water GLAAS umbrella (WHO 2014) represents a good opportunity to develop this further. Moreover, 23 External Supporting Agencies (ESAs) participated in the GLAAS 204 ESA survey (WHO 2014), which allows the monitoring of international financial and non-financial Official Development Assistance.

The independent expert emphasises that HRWS does not express a preference over models of service provision where non-State service providers can play an important role in delivering WASH services (United Nations 2010a). In this context where private sector participation has gained legitimacy, State parties’ obligations to protect HRWS is of particular importance. B7 is focussed on monitoring service providers but it does not allow for specific evaluations of private sector involvement. In the 2011–2012 survey there were several questions that offered more information on this issue but they have been removed in the 2013–2014 cycle.

Finally, open questions in the GLAAS survey are a rich source of information, as has been demonstrated elsewhere (Jiménez et al. 2014). Owing to their qualitative properties, those have the potential to contribute to HRWS information needs more extensively. Despite some of these data having not been fully exploited in the GLAAS report, it could be important from a HR perspective to know more about countries’ definition of disadvantaged population or groups (A8), what is considered to be an effective complaint mechanism (A13), the kind of performance indicators to track progress in each country to evaluate if those are rights-based (B6) or the description of the measures taken to reduce inequities in access and levels of service (D5), among others.

A proposal to move forward

HRWS elements that cannot be measured through UN Water monitoring platforms analysis are taken up again in this section where some ideas concerning the way they could be addressed are presented in Table 2. A proposal about the platform that could include gaps of information previously pointed out, potential indicators based on specialised literature and the techniques that can be used are displayed in the table.

Table 2

A proposal to move forward

CriteriaW/SaElementPlatform that could include the elementPotential indicatorTechniqueb
Availability Priority of essential levels of drinking water over other uses GLAAS Priority of essential levels of drinking water (Roaf et al. 2005
Physical accessibility W/S Security at water points, sanitation facilities and paths JMP 1. Is the path to the water source/sanitation facility safe? (Flores et al. 2013
 Secure access to CWS GLAAS 1. Existence of regulations and policies to provide secure access to CWS (Roaf et al. 2005
    2. Arbitrary interferences with customary or traditional arrangements for water allocation 
    3. Effective measures to prevent third parties from interfering with the enjoyment of the HRW of populations using CWS 
Quality/Safety Pollution: regulation, policies, disincentives and penalties GLAAS 1. Existence of regulations and policies to control pollution of water sources (Roaf et al. 2005
    2. Disincentives and penalties for pollution (States) (Roaf et al. 2005
    3. Number of people whose human right to safe drinking water has been violated due to direct causes of contamination 
 Sanitary conditions JMP Insects, flies/unpleasant smell/cleanliness (Scott et al. 2003
Affordability W/S Household expenditure on drinking water and sanitation JMP 1. HH expenditure on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene/National poverty line (JMP 2013
    2. Expenditure restricts other basic expenses (right to education, food, etc.) 
 Disconnections GLAAS/JMP 1. Legal prohibition, procedural protections (Roaf et al. 2005
    2. Proportion of HH that have been disconnected from water supply at least once per year (Roaf et al. 2005
    3. Have you been disconnected from your water supply last year? 
Acceptability Colour, odour and taste JMP Organoleptic characteristics/Perception (Flores et al. 2013
 Privacy, positioning, conditions of use, dignity (household) JMP Sanitation facility privacy and location/Perception 
General W/S Human right to water/Sanitation justiciability GLAAS 1. Can people claim their HRWS in a domestic court or similar institution? (UN-Water 2011). Which are the mechanisms? 
    2. Number of actions that have been brought before/resolved by the courts 
 W/S Private sector participation GLAAS 1. Percentage of service provision contracted out to the private sector (UN-Water 2011
    2. Government (or a regulator) monitors safety and the affordability of drinking water supplied by private sector (UN-Water 2011
Accountability W/S Civil society inclusion in monitoring process GLAAS Collect information about civil society inclusion in monitoring process 
Non-discrimination/Equity W/S Financial flows to address the needs of vulnerable groups GLAAS Besides urban–rural, include vulnerable and marginalised groups (in line with JMP post-2015 proposal but paying special attention to what are considered ‘disadvantaged groups’) c and f 
 W/S Inequities reduction JMP It is necessary to clearly define disadvantaged groups in each country. Review mechanism proposed to progressively eliminate inequalities (to avoid in-country perpetuation of some forms of discrimination) 
CriteriaW/SaElementPlatform that could include the elementPotential indicatorTechniqueb
Availability Priority of essential levels of drinking water over other uses GLAAS Priority of essential levels of drinking water (Roaf et al. 2005
Physical accessibility W/S Security at water points, sanitation facilities and paths JMP 1. Is the path to the water source/sanitation facility safe? (Flores et al. 2013
 Secure access to CWS GLAAS 1. Existence of regulations and policies to provide secure access to CWS (Roaf et al. 2005
    2. Arbitrary interferences with customary or traditional arrangements for water allocation 
    3. Effective measures to prevent third parties from interfering with the enjoyment of the HRW of populations using CWS 
Quality/Safety Pollution: regulation, policies, disincentives and penalties GLAAS 1. Existence of regulations and policies to control pollution of water sources (Roaf et al. 2005
    2. Disincentives and penalties for pollution (States) (Roaf et al. 2005
    3. Number of people whose human right to safe drinking water has been violated due to direct causes of contamination 
 Sanitary conditions JMP Insects, flies/unpleasant smell/cleanliness (Scott et al. 2003
Affordability W/S Household expenditure on drinking water and sanitation JMP 1. HH expenditure on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene/National poverty line (JMP 2013
    2. Expenditure restricts other basic expenses (right to education, food, etc.) 
 Disconnections GLAAS/JMP 1. Legal prohibition, procedural protections (Roaf et al. 2005
    2. Proportion of HH that have been disconnected from water supply at least once per year (Roaf et al. 2005
    3. Have you been disconnected from your water supply last year? 
Acceptability Colour, odour and taste JMP Organoleptic characteristics/Perception (Flores et al. 2013
 Privacy, positioning, conditions of use, dignity (household) JMP Sanitation facility privacy and location/Perception 
General W/S Human right to water/Sanitation justiciability GLAAS 1. Can people claim their HRWS in a domestic court or similar institution? (UN-Water 2011). Which are the mechanisms? 
    2. Number of actions that have been brought before/resolved by the courts 
 W/S Private sector participation GLAAS 1. Percentage of service provision contracted out to the private sector (UN-Water 2011
    2. Government (or a regulator) monitors safety and the affordability of drinking water supplied by private sector (UN-Water 2011
Accountability W/S Civil society inclusion in monitoring process GLAAS Collect information about civil society inclusion in monitoring process 
Non-discrimination/Equity W/S Financial flows to address the needs of vulnerable groups GLAAS Besides urban–rural, include vulnerable and marginalised groups (in line with JMP post-2015 proposal but paying special attention to what are considered ‘disadvantaged groups’) c and f 
 W/S Inequities reduction JMP It is necessary to clearly define disadvantaged groups in each country. Review mechanism proposed to progressively eliminate inequalities (to avoid in-country perpetuation of some forms of discrimination) 

aW, water; S, sanitation.

ba, revision of national plans of action, policies and/or laws; b, Direct question (HH); c, Direct Question (Authorities); d, consult Civil Society Organizations; e, check through observation; f, consult official data; g, review methodology.

CONCLUSIONS

Fukuda-Parr (2011) states that human development analysis can benefit from HR perspectives and vice versa. In line with this assertion, first, it is evident that the JMP post-2015 working group's proposal and the GLAAS 2013–2014 cycle have fed from the HRWS framework, which is very relevant as it introduces new visions in the field. Second, the combined use of methods and data from these two human development sector mechanisms can contribute considerably to HRWS monitoring. The JMP contributes with outcome indicators that may be used to assess the status of the right-holders. In comparison with ongoing MDG-related initiatives, the JMP-led proposal is a significant step forward towards a monitoring framework where HR elements are properly included. The GLAAS complements the JMP and could contribute by adding structural and process indicators for measuring duty-bearers’ obligations.

By contrast, there are still some critical gaps if both UN water platforms are to used to report progress on HRWS. Affordability at a household level remains unsolved in the post-2015 proposal despite HR experts having expressed concerns about the importance of visualising it. The GLAAS provides relevant information but it is not sufficient to reveal important indicators as to the percentage of poor people that benefit from special subsidies. Moreover, it could be possible to measure the proportion of households that have been disconnected from their water supply at least once a year, but the question has not been addressed.

More attention has to be paid to acceptability issues as well. There are no clear rules about the inclusion of some elements at the dwelling but not in public institutions, and vice versa, as it is the case of water quality or MHM, respectively. The negative effects that water resources contamination has on downstream access to safe drinking water have been largely reported. For a HR approach it is important to monitor the existence of regulation and policies to control pollution of water sources, which is not possible using these platforms. State control and regulation when the private sector is involved is necessary too. Both mechanisms are sensitive to non-discrimination and equity issues but more attention should be paid to methods and data if there is a wish to avoid perpetuation of some forms of discrimination.

However, these shortcomings are few. Furthermore, they could be addressed by building on existing monitoring mechanisms and taking into account relevant literature proposals as suggested in the article. Broadly speaking, HRWS could be measured once every 2 years if deficiencies are finally overcome.

A way forward for research in this area could be to apply this kind of analysis at different scales, looking for the implications for monitoring systems both at national and local levels. Finally, as a limitation of the article, analysing cross-cutting and general indicators together for HR could be debatable since policies could differ from drinking water to sanitation subsectors.

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