On 2 May 2023 End Water Poverty and our members launched our new report, Claiming Water Rights: Lessons Learnt from Claim Your Water Rights 2020-2022, at the #AllSystemsConnect2023 symposium – a global gathering of over 700 activists and change leaders in water, sanitation, climate change and social justice in the Hague, in the Netherlands. The report documents the power of contextually-sensitive, community-led rights claiming strategies to bring about social justice.
The report, which was written by End Water Poverty’s senior engagement officer Sam Taylor, takes stock of the impressive work done by EWP members over the last two years under the umbrella of our flagship global campaign #ClaimYourWaterRights, which offers mini-grants of up to GBP 5,000 to our members to employ a range of context-specific, community-led strategies for advancing the rights to water and sanitation. The aim of the report is to consider what has worked, where and why to help sharpen our rights claiming strategies.
The campaign began as a way to build knowledge, awareness and confidence in using the international human rights framework at national and subnational levels, while supporting communities directly affected by a lack of water and sanitation to design and deliver advocacy activities that are uniquely adapted to their local or national contexts. And it’s leading to tangible results.
Over three years, we’ve directly funded community-led advocacy campaigns in communities affected by inadequate water and sanitation in 14 countries through 31 mini-grants (with 81% of our funding going directly to our members to support their campaigns). The impact of the campaign at local and national level has been far-reaching: From achieving legal and policy reform in countries like Pakistan and Nigeria; to meaningfully influencing governments’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic; exposing corporate water rights violations; and securing tangible improvements to services and infrastructure in hundreds of communities across the globe. This work is impactful, it’s changing lives.
The report underscores the importance and effectiveness of rights claiming strategies, and highlights the unique contribution that community-led rights claiming adds to the global struggle for water and sanitation rights.
It also affirms the importance of working with others across sectors and being creative about who you partner with – because we’ll never win these battles alone. Building and maintaining strategic partnerships within communities and with advocates strengthens, informs and breathes new life into long-term efforts.
Ultimately, communities are the ones that are making rights real by actively, fearlessly and persistently holding states and corporations accountable.
We will also be launching the report in an online peer-to-peer discussion between members of the #ClaimYourWaterRights campaign in the coming months. Look out for that!
In the meantime, have a look at some of the inspiring quotes from EWP members on their work, the strategies and tactics they have employed and lessons they have learnt below.