Social Indicators Research

, Volume 133, Issue 2, pp 763–786 | Cite as

The Influence of the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Normative Content in Measuring the Level of Service

  • O. Flores Baquero
  • J. Gallego-Ayala
  • R. Giné-Garriga
  • A. Jiménez-Fernández. de Palencia
  • A. Pérez-Foguet


Human Rights to Water and Sanitation (HRWS) have been consolidated as relevant frameworks to measure different levels of services. It is essential to move forward with specific initiatives that interpret the content of these human rights and operationalize them through specific metrics. However, some critical issues emerge in attempting this. Different approaches are proposed in this article to tackle this challenge: (1) utilizing a participatory technique to discuss the relative importance of the normative criteria to define water and sanitation services, (2) defining a short list of key indicators to measure the different dimensions of HRWS, and (3) assessing the impact of different weighting systems in the constructing an aggregated index, which has been proposed as a useful tool to monitor water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) from a rights perspective. Two municipalities (in Mozambique and Nicaragua) were selected as initial case studies. The results suggest that there is a common understanding among the experts about prioritization of the HRWS criteria. Differences in the relative importance given to the HRWS criteria can be explained due to the particularities of the local context. Further, the research suggests that expert opinions may be partially conditioned by targets and indicators proposed at the international level. Although the influence of weighting techniques on aggregated measures and their utilization in the decision-making process are limited, this methodology has a great potential for adapting specific WASH metrics to different regional, national, and/or local contexts taking into account the HRWS normative content.


Composite indicator Human rights WASH Nicaragua Mozambique Sustainable development goals AHP 



The authors would like to thank all families who participated in the study. Further thanks go to ONGAWA–Engineering for Human Development, San Sebastián de Yalí Municipality, Ministry of Health (MINSA), and students from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua (UNAN-León) in Nicaragua, and to the the Municipality of Manhiça, for their valuable contribution during field work, in Mozambique. This study was mainly funded by the Centre de Cooperació per al Desenvolupament (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya) [references 0010–2011, 0014–2012, 0001–2013] and the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo [references 11-CAP2-1562 and 07-CO-068]. We also acknowledge the participation of thirty-seven anonymous experts in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • O. Flores Baquero
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. Gallego-Ayala
    • 3
  • R. Giné-Garriga
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. Jiménez-Fernández. de Palencia
    • 4
  • A. Pérez-Foguet
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Engineering Sciences and Global Development (ESc&GD)Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Barcelona School of Civil Engineering (ETSECCPB)Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Water Regulatory Council of MozambiqueMaputoMozambique
  4. 4.Stockholm International Water InstituteStockholmSweden

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