Podcasts, discussions and interviews on working with human rights at local level

#MRR talk brings together practitioners so we can all learn about the practical use of human rights to advance water and sanitation services. Every second month, we speak about a dedicated topic in an interactive podcast – see the recordings below. Every other month, we organise an open hour, where you can tune in live to discuss with your peers and a panel of experts waiting for you.

Episode 6: Working on the long game

Understanding and addressing root causes for the lack of services in informal settlements

It is estimated that informal settlements are home to more than one billion people in cities across the world. These marginalised communities lack all types of adequate services, including water and sanitation, housing, education, and health. Exclusion from the more regular and formal structures of cities is political. Informal settlements often go uncounted, face the threat of forced eviction, and are denied adequate services.

With our guests Jacqueline Cuyler (she/her) and Benazir Omotto (she/her), we will explore the multi-faceted nature of this marginalisation: Its reasons, its human rights implications, and what it means for organisations working on WASH in informal settlements.

Episode 6, 29 November, 10am CET

Our guests:
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Jacqueline Cuyler (she/her) is the operating director and co-founder of 1to1 Agency of Engagement which focusses on technical support to informal communities in South Africa. Jacqueline has experience working in many varied forms of design, construction and communication throughout Southern Africa, including work in the mining towns of North Western Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as support for urban upgrading for youth violence prevention projects in Kinshasa.
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Benazir Omotto Douglas (she/her) is the Acting Managing Trustee of Umande Trust in Kenya, a rights-based organisation working in informal urban settlements to alleviate inequalities of access to different resources, including water, sanitation, other human rights, as well as expanding access to information and political power. She has a background in Environmental Planning and Management and is also a member of the programmatic communication platform where she undertakes climate change advocacy.

Episode 5: A healthy environment as a human right - what difference does it make?

Recently, countries recognised the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. In this MRR talk, we explored the relevance of this human right for the WASH sector. Our guests Sushmita Mandal and Maria Sapatu-Kennar shared their knowledge on the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation, and the role of civil society in finding solutions. We talked about the use of local knowledge to understand and possibly address effects of climate change and environmental degradation. Moderator Hannah Neumeyer shed light on the legal aspects of a healthy environment as a human right.

Listen to the recording of MRR talk episode 5 to find out more:

Our guests:
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Sushmita Mandal (she/her) is an applied researcher and manager with two decades of experience of working on environment, conservation, and human rights based approaches and development issues. She is a Senior Research Fellow for water, food and ecosystems at SEI Asia.

Maria Sapatu-Kennar_Headshot

Maria Sapatu-Kennar (she/her) is a Samoan consultant running Eco Current Consultancy since 2019. She has over 13 years of working experience in the environment, fisheries and climate change space, is a former staff of the Government of Samoa-Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Conservation International and Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme.

Episode 4: UN resolutions and what's in it for you

Episode 4 of MRR talk focussed on the use of United Nations (UN) resolutions on the human rights to water and sanitation by civil society organisations. Tseguereda Abraham and Hannah Neumeyer explored the topic and were joined by guests from CSOs around the world.
Our guests:
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Tseguereda Abraham is currently Head of Advocacy and System Strengthening in WaterAid Ethiopia and in that role was also based in Sierra Leone and Rwanda. From August 2022, she will be the Senior WASH Manager – Governance, Rights and Accountability in WaterAid UK. She has experience applying a multitude of rights-based and other advocacy tools in the WASH sector and beyond and at local and global level.

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Hannah Neumeyer. She leads the Make Rights Real consortium and is the Head of Human Rights at WASH United. A lawyer by training, she has worked on the application of economic, social and cultural rights in development cooperation for many years – both on human rights protection and on how human rights can be used to realise services for all.

Episode 3: Your questions answered

For episode 3 of MRRtalk, we wanted to know which questions you need answered to enable you to more effectively motivate officials, to demand more action or to push for change. Thank you for sharing your questions. Listen to the recording of MRRtalk episode 3 to get answers to your questions.

Our guests:

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Mohamad Mova Al’Afghani is Director of the Center for Regulation, Policy and Governance (CRPG), Indonesia. He obtained his PhD in Water Law from the University of Dundee, UK. As regulatory consultant, Mova provides advice to various government institutions, UN agencies, development agencies and development banks. He also works with civil society on environment and natural resources issues, especially relating to water, dangerous chemicals and mining governance.

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Hannah Neumeyer. She leads the Make Rights Real consortium and is the Head of Human Rights at WASH United. A lawyer by training, she has worked on the application of economic, social and cultural rights in development cooperation for many years – both on human rights protection and on how human rights can be used to realise services for all.

Episode 2: Spotlight on strategies

Have you ever thought that human rights might be too confrontational for you to use? Or that civil society needs to confront government more? Or both? There is of course no single right answer to these questions. The right strategy depends on the context, the people and the organisations involved.

In #MRRtalk episode 2 “Spotlight on strategies”, we explored the different strategies civil society organisations use to push government institutions to realise water and sanitation services for all.

Our guests:

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Partha Sarathi Kuntal, Programme Coordinator, WASH SDG Programme at DORP in Bangladesh. He will share experiences with constructively engaging local government officials, combined with community based monitoring.
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Alana Potter, incoming International Coordinator of End Water Poverty. Based in South Africa, she will share stories of legal activism spanning from community mobilisation to protest and strategic litigation.

PLUS // Interviews with detailed information on specific strategies

Using monitoring tools in support of working with human rights, with Sabiha Siddique, Simavi

Legal activism as strategy to push government to realise water and sanitation services for all, with Alana Potter, EWP

The #ClaimYourWaterRights campaign, with Sam Taylor, EWP

Episode 1: Get ready for human rights work

Just about everyone knows water and sanitation are human rights. And most people working in civil society organisations think these rights are somehow important to their work. But many wonder how they can work with human rights in practice.

Listen to #MRRtalk episode 1 to hear about practical steps civil society organisations have taken to work with human rights, and how this helped them to achieve impact.

Our guests:

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Bikash Kumar Pati, Programme Coordinator at WaterAid India. In this Make Rights Real talk, he explains the story of JEETA, the Joint Endeavour for Emancipation Training and Action for Women. JEETA works with marginalised communities in rural Odisha, India.

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Malesi Shivaji is the CEO of KEWASNET, the Kenyan network of WASH sector civil society organisations. As an advocate and civil society leader, he has seen first hand how civil society organisations have changed to get ready for human rights work.

PLUS // Interviews with additional information

How to get ready for human rights work, with Malesi Shivaji, KEWASNET

Support (local) government to address systemic challenges to the realisation of water and sanitation services for all, with Anupama Rout, JEETA

Next Open hour: 15 December

Voice your opinion. Ask your question. Listen in.

In “MRR talk: Open hour”, a panel of renowned experts on working with rights is there to engage with you – and you can exchange with your peers too.

Meet our experts:

Sareen Malik, Executive Secretary, African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW).

Lajana Manandhar, Regional Coordinator Freshwater Action Network South-Asia (FANSA) and Executive Director, Lumanti. 

Mohamad Mova Al’Afghani, Director, Center for Regulation, Policy and Governance (CRPG).

Alana Potter, International Coordinator, End Water Poverty (EWP).

Malesi Shivaji, CEO, Kenya Water and Sanitation Civil Society Network (KEWASNET).

Tseguereda Abraham, Senior WaSH Manager Governance, Rights and Accountability WaterAid UK (WaterAid UK).
Bikash Kumar Pati, Technical Specialist Water at WaterAid India (WaterAid India).

Hannah Neumeyer, Coordinator, Make Rights Real consortium (MRR).

Laura van de Lande, Manager, Make Rights Real consortium (MRR).

The Make Rights Real talk format

Each Make Rights Real talk takes one hour and has two parts: In a podcast-like discussion, speakers from civil society organisations share their insights of working with human rights in the WASH sector. In the following call-in part, listeners can share experiences or ask questions. The first part is recorded and available for download as a podcast.

We currently have these talks planned:

Have an idea for a topic? Get in touch!

United Nations resolutions on the human rights to water and sanitation

Use this map to see how many resolutions your country has supported at the UN – and more!
Countries recognise and define the human rights to water and sanitation in UN resolutions. This map shows all 15 UN resolutions on the rights adopted since 2010 – and which countries explicitly supported them.