Water rights defenders speak out in #HearingTheUnheardHRWS short film

by | Jun 6, 2023 | News

On 2 May 2023, activists and change leaders gathered for the screening of Hearing the Unheard: Human Rights to Water and Sanitation short film at the #AllSystemsConnect2023 symposium in the Hague, in the Netherlands. The screening and panel discussion that followed, was hosted by End Water Poverty.

The Hearing the Unheard film amplifies the voices of grassroots groups advocating for safe water and sanitation across the globe. It includes a wide array of contributions from water rights defenders that submitted over 114 video testimonies from 54 different groups in 18 countries across Africa, Asia, and the Americas as part of the #HearingTheUnheardHRWS digital campaign. In the film, water rights activists articulate the water and sanitation challenges they face and explain how they are fighting for change.

The screening was followed by an incredible panel consisting of grassroots speakers, water rights defenders and EWP members, including Nathalie Seguin from FANMex and Redes del Agua, Khumbulani Maphosa from the Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR), Kelebogile Khunou from the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI), Gabriel Gustavo Rocha Belloni from Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (ProDESC) and Virginia Roaf, a PhD student at WaterWISER, University of Leeds.

During the panel discussion, the speakers emphasised the need to address structural exclusion and power imbalances in order to advance access to safe water and sanitation. “We don’t leave people behind by accident,” said FANMex’s Nathalie Seguin. “The marginalisation of grassroots groups is structural and to solve it we need structural solutions.”

ProDESC’s Gabriel Rocha highlighted the importance of robust and safe civic spaces for those most affected by a lack of water and sanitation to promote human rights.

“To even out power imbalances, we need to ensure safe and democratic civic spaces, get resources to civil society, and strengthen accountability,” Rocha said. “Where water and sanitation rights have been realised, they have been realised by people – and this was not handed to them, it was fought for.”

Check out the 12-minute film, as well as the testimonies submitted by grassroots groups, on our Youtube channel.

Listen. Share. Amplify.

Watch the film

Watch the testimonies