The Human Right to Water and Sanitation: Reflections on Making the System Effective

  • Pedi ObaniEmail author
  • Joyeeta Gupta
Part of the Springer Water book series (SPWA)


The Millenium Development Goal (MDG) on water has been more successful than the MDG on sanitation. Does this have implications for the human right to sanitation? This chapter argues that there are key differences between access to water and sanitation in terms of the legal content of both, the physical infrastructure needed, the costs of the service, cost recovery, and the differences in the preparedness of people to pay for this service which may in some cases make this right an ‘imposed right’. These differences may lead one to argue that in different circumstances it may be more appropriate to talk of a combined right or separate rights, respectively. Given that there are unhygienic alternatives to sanitation services, there may be a need to include another key element into the right to sanitation, namely: to provide people a better knowledge of the need for sanitation services and to explain why this is seen as both a right and a responsibility. This is essential to making the system effective and economically viable, as only if people understand why this right has been created will it be possible to make people pay for it.


Human right to sanitation Sanitation services Millennium development goals 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Integrated Water Systems and GovernanceUNESCO-IHE Institute for Water EducationDelftNetherlands
  2. 2.Faculty of LawUniversity of BeninBeninNigeria
  3. 3.Governance and Inclusive Development, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science ResearchUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamNetherlands

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