Published on: 14/12/2016
In Burkina Faso IRC and its partners are looking to break down sector silos in advocating for water and sanitation to catch the attention of government, partners and citizens in new, more powerful ways.
Certain NGOs have been supporting the cause of access to water and sanitation for decades now... and despite progress, 748 million people still lack a safe water source and 2.5 billion lack access to sanitation. In Burkina Faso, access rates are among the lowest in the world. Meanwhile, different NGOs are fighting for other causes: education, health, food security, the environment... and yet, if you think about it, they could all argue that it all starts with water.
At the same time, the discourse for years has focused on the 'poor', the 'impoverished', the 'beneficiaries'... thus compromising the capacity of whole communities to assert themselves and to be instrumental in their own development.
Adopting a 'Human-Rights Based Approach' helps to change attitudes by changing the discourse. No longer do we talk of more or less passive beneficiaries, but of rights holders, who are key players in their own development with the power to claim what is rightly theirs. At the same time, this approach places the Government, as the main duty bearer, before its obligation to protect, respect and uphold the rights of its citizens and to be accountable.
In 2010, the recognition by the UN General Assembly in Resolution 64/292 of the right to water and sanitation provides the essential foundation for taking a human rights based approach for water and sanitation.
This is the context in which, in April 2015, IRC proposed concrete alternatives in its report "Promouvoir l'approche fondée sur les droits humains dans le secteur Eau et Assainissement au Burkina Faso" (Promoting a human rights based approach for water and sanitation in Burkina Faso). The report highlights how the analysis of the situation, the issues and the stakeholders changes when you apply 'human rights lens', particularly in terms of highlighting inequalities and discrimination. This report also proposes that a much wider range of stakeholders should be engaged, not just the usual water and sanitation sector ones, including:
In May 2016, as a first step towards putting these ideas into action, the FAS'EAU Alliance was born. It is a network of stakeholders from different fields, working together for the same cause, the right to water and sanitation. Its members, presented in the table below, will use training, information, debate, monitoring, control and all constructive advocacy means to achieve their objectives.
Members of the FAS'EAU Alliance
NGOs – Water and Sanitation
NGOs – other development sectors
Association des femmes juristes du Burkina Faso (Burkina Faso Association of Women Lawyers)
Commission Nationale du Livre Bleu (National Blue Book Commission)
Secrétariat Permanent des ONG (Permanent Secretariat of NGOs)
Ligue des consommateurs du Burkina (Burkinabe Consumer League)
Mouvement burkinabè des droits de l’homme et des peuples (Burkinabe Human Rights Movement)
Musée de l’Eau (Museum of Water)
In a recent interview by FasoZine, Juste Hermann Nansi, Director of IRC Burkina and Coordinator of the FAS'EAU Alliance details the context in which this Alliance was created and its objectives, and encourages partners to support as it aims by applying a human rights lens to the issues, and by breaking down the partitions between sectors to help the citizens of Burkina Faso to understand their rights and duties to make the right to water and sanitation a reality in their country. The FAS'EAU Alliance is also a member of the International Watershed initiative coordinated by IRC and which promotes people-led monitoring of public action for water and sanitation as a means of achieving SDG6.