Protecting the right to water
Girl carrying water

Protecting the right to water

Access to safe drinking water and sanitation are established human rights. Yet, halfway through the Water Action Decade, billions of people are still denied them. This year, nations have pledged to drive transformation to a water-secure world, and must now urgently act on their promises.

In this article, UN-Water’s Chair, and Director-General of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO), Gilbert F. Houngbo asks what life would be like without safe drinking water and sanitation. “What would be the consequences? Inconvenience, discomfort, compromised personal hygiene? Would the services your community relies on cope? What about your job? Your children at school? How long before your family got sick?”

Mr Houngbo outlines the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, what they entail, and why taking a rights-based approach to improving water and sanitation, and to sustainable development more broadly, is essential to eradicating extreme poverty in a lasting and equitable way.