How can the human rights to water and sanitation create resilience to pandemics such as COVID19?

Webinar on 10th December 2020, 15:00-16:30 CET

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On this important day to celebrate Human Rights, this webinar will highlight the link between the human rights to water and sanitation, and our resilience to disease, especially for vulnerable people.

The current global emergency has laid bare some of the weaknesses in our current legal systems, at national and local authority levels, highlighting the need for strengthening of water and sanitation service supplies to strengthen human rights.  Services that are barely adequate under normal circumstances, can quickly become a liability when trying to prevent the spread of disease through maintaining hygienic conditions, handwashing, cleanliness, and proper disposal of faecal waste products. The awful truth is that the poor and the vulnerable typically suffer the most, and especially in countries without the ability to react quickly to emergency conditions.

It is therefore incredibly important that each State takes a critical look at it’s current water governance framework and tests it’s resilience to such emergencies. Human Right 2 Water has developed a legal methodology, with testing already underway in 25 countries[1], framing it around the human rights to water and sanitation, to assess this resilience.

Encouragement of water and sanitation suppliers to increase standards associated with realising these rights, will also support greater resilience to future contagious diseases and other natural disasters, not only for the vulnerable groups that may be overlooked. These checks can also provide a sustainable contribution to the well-being and dignity of a higher percentage of the population when operating under normal circumstances.

The Resilience to Pandemics Tool, developed by Human Right 2 Water in response to the current global crisis, is introduced in this session. It presents a collection of current data on how these countries have integrated the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation (HRWS) into laws that could limit of spread of contagious disease. The goal is to provide governments with a short-list of key laws to be introduced as quickly as possible to protect lives and provide long term protection and resilience against contagious disease.

In this webinar, we first examine the connection between human rights to water and sanitation and the protection of vulnerable people especially during emergencies. We then plan to share some of the initial findings from this research, looking at trends and good practices, and discuss case studies from Costa Rica and Kenya to demonstrate the usefulness of this approach. We have invited water authority experts from these two countries, along with legal experts from the same regions, to discuss how the strengthening of these human rights can create a long term positive impact, not only on the right to water and sanitation, but also for the right to health.

[1] White & Case, international law firm, have provided the majority of the support for this testing