What is Claim Your Water Rights?

Claim Your Water Rights is a global public pressure campaign that aims to mobilise communities and civil society to demand their rights to water and sanitation from governments.

Is this campaign applicable to all water and sanitation related issues worldwide?

The inclusive nature of Claim Your Water Rights allows members to advocate on a range of different human rights issues related to water and sanitation – whether it’s disconnections, sanitation workers’ rights, climate justice or resisting privatisation. This means members can adapt their campaign approach to their local or national context while working in global solidarity under one banner. 

What about sanitation?

We use the term ‘water rights’ as shorthand for ‘the human rights to water and sanitation’. Many members focus on water-related issues, others give equal priority to sanitation. The Indian Institute of Youth & Development for example organised rights awareness training for an Adivasi community in Koraput, Odisha. Following the training, the community filed a complaint to the National Scheduled Tribes Commission about concerning a lack of toilets. A subsequent report showed that the money allocated for toilets had been spent despite no construction work taking place. When the commission received the complaint, the government immediately started constructing toilets.

Similarly, Center for Law & Justice (CLJ) used Claim Your Water Rights to advance their campaign for the safety, dignity and wellbeing of sanitation workers in Pakistan. In June 2020 the Punjab Assembly passed an historic resolution recognising sanitation workers as “frontline heroes in the fight against COVID-19”. The Pakistan Supreme Court then ordered provincial and federal governments to provide safety kits to workers.

What about water permit rights?

In some countries the term ‘water rights’ commonly refers to water permits or water use licensing rights. Water permits are often more easily obtained by industries, corporations and large agricultural users. In naming our campaign ‘Claim Your Water Rights’, we foreground the water rights of marginalised groups.

How can civil society support rights claiming?

Our members’ campaign tactics encompass community mobilisation, media influencing, government engagement, research, data documentation, protest, litigation and lodging complaints to national human rights institutions.

Claim Your Water Rights gives members autonomy to create proactive, flexible, localised campaign strategies. This diversity of approach is central to the success of the campaign, and members employ a wide range of collaborative, coercive, confrontational and persuasive approaches to bring about change. We create opportunities for members to learn and exchange effective strategies in different civic spaces, providing links to human rights defenders networks and available emergency funds.

What is End Water Poverty's role?

We fund civil society members to conduct grassroots or national campaigns.

We also share information; publish members’ articles on our website; amplify members’ work through mainstream, independent and social media; organise webinars, workshops and exchanges with expert inputs; make joint policy submissions to international UN monitoring mechanisms and special procedures; platform members at regional and global events, and connect members with intersectional human rights advocates to sharpen their strategies and to strengthen solidarity.

End Water Poverty also convenes bi-monthly Claim Your Water Rights task team calls where coalition members from different regions exchange strategies, lessons and solidarity. The task team also offers guidance to the Secretariat, providing varied perspectives on local rights claiming realities as well as feedback on campaign documents and resources to hold the Secretariat accountable to strengthen the campaign and to offer equitable support to members.

Are there tangible examples of the campaign advancing people's rights to water and sanitation?

Yes! Over the past few years our members have achieved remarkable results, including legal reform, influencing governments’ COVID-19 responses, infrastructure improvements and numerous communities successfully claiming their rights in multiple countries.

Claim Your Water Rights’ success stems from the creativity, versatility, determination and resilience of our members. We documented our initial advocacy achievements in our 2019-20 Progress Report; celebrated the second anniversary of Claim Your Water Rights by gathering members’ campaign highlights into one very colourful Twitter mega-thread. Our most recent progress report (2020-2022) can be read here. To mark International Human Rights Day and the third anniversary the campaign we will publish a country-by-country report collating achievements and analysis from each member who has participated in the Claim Your Water Rights campaign.

What next?

The next phase of the campaign will build on the lessons and experiences so far, focusing on peer-to-peer exchanges to foreground the experience and expertise of grassroots human rights advocates. In 2022-23 we will co-design, facilitate and promote learning exchanges with members on: water, climate justice and extractive industries; using the media; and collaborating with national human rights institutions. There will be further exchanges in 2023-24 on a range of different topics.

Any more questions? Please contact [email protected].