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. We speak about a dedicated topic in an interactive podcast – see the recordings below. We also organise open hours; where you can tune in live to discuss with your peers and a panel of experts waiting for you.

Financially supported by the Federal Foreign Office

NEW // Recording Episode 9: It's tangible

Assessing achievements of HRWS based programs

During this talk, we will discuss monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) approaches for assessing progress on the HRWS in WASH programs. We will answer questions such as: how do you measure the impact of implementing the MRR approach? How do you know when there has been a shift in mindset? And how can you know if these changes are due to your program?

Measuring the effect of using human rights in programs is complex (compared to, for instance, the construction of water points or toilets) – and therefore not straightforward.

Our guests Diana Gonzalez Botero and Sabiha Siddique will explain that there are, however, clever ways to monitor and track the outcomes of human rights-based WASH programs that aim to change the mindset of stakeholders and achieve long-lasting change.

Live 20 April, 10am CET

Our guest:

Sabiha Siddique (1)

Sabiha Siddique (she/her) is monitoring and learning specialist at Simavi, in Bangladesh

DG photo (1)

Diana Gonzalez Botero (she/her) is Senior Research Consultant at UTS Institute For Sustainable Futures, in Australia

Episode 8: A perfect match

How to combine human rights and system strengthening approaches

To date, systems strengthening and human rights-based approaches mostly exist alongside each other. Often the language of human rights or systems is used loosely by practitioners and researchers alike, without the accompanying depth of knowledge on the nuances of each area.

This MRR talk explored these two concepts and our guest speakers have used practical examples to showcase how human rights can – and should be – part of system strengthening approaches.

Listen to the recording of MRR talk episode 8 to find out more:

Live 20 April, 10am CET

Our guest:

Tseguereda Abraham (she/her) is a Senior WASH Manager– Governance, Rights and Accountability at WaterAid UK. Tseguereda provides in-depth thought leadership and strategic advice on governance, rights and accountability in WASH, framed within a system strengthening approach . Her background is in sociology with an MA in Development Studies. Tseguereda worked as Head of Advocacy and System Strengthening and policy advisor in WASH, livelihood and nutrition sectors in Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda. She currently provides coordinated targeted technical support to countries and regions on governance, rights and accountability in WASH and contributes to learning across the organisation and beyond.
Ceaser Kimbugwe (he/him) is the Head of Programmes at WaterAid Uganda. Ceaser is a programme development specialist with a Masters’ degree in Environment and Natural Resources management. Ceaser has 14 years of experience in the civil society space engaging and providing technical assistance to government entities across different social development sectors, including forestry, climate change, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). For the past five years, Ceaser has been leading the Sustainability WASH programme in Uganda implemented by WaterAid in three other countries – Ethiopia, Cambodia and Pakistan where a systems approach has been applied to improve WASH service delivery and sustainability. He specialises in facilitating multi-stakeholder policy processes that require integrated systems thinking to bring about lasting change.

Episode 7: Where human rights and finance meet

Understanding the human rights implications for the financing of water and sanitation

This MRR talk will shed light on how governments and other stakeholders can integrate the human rights principle of ‘maximum available resources’ into their financing strategies to increase the availability of resources for water, sanitation and hygiene, particularly for the poorest and most marginalised individuals and groups.

Our guests Virginia Roaf and Khumbulani Maphosa explain why is it important to understand the human rights principle, ‘maximum available resources’, and how this can be used in practice. They will also address opportunities for civil society organisations to get involved with advocacy on understanding and promoting this human rights principle.

Listen to the recording of MRR talk episode 7 to find out more:

Live 20 April, 10am CET

Our guest:

Virginia Roaf (she/her) works as a senior advisor on human rights, finance and governance with the global multi-stakeholder partnership Sanitation and Water for All. She has been working with different partners to understand and implement the human rights to water and sanitation since 2002. Virginia is also currently studying for a PhD at the University of Leeds, focussing on local authorities and political decision-making in delivering sanitation in informal settlements.
Khumbulani Maphosa Picture 03
Khumbulani Maphosa (he/him) is the Director of Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) an organization advancing the protection and promotion of human rights through an integrated RAIL (Rights, Accountability, and Integrated Livelihoods) Approach and nonviolent action strategies. He has over 15 years of experience in human rights- based approaches to social and economic rights especially right to water, sanitation and environment. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Development Studies.

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.

Listen to the recording of MRR talk episode 6 to find out more:

Episode 6, 29 November, 10am CET

Our guests:
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.

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:

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:

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.


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:


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.


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:

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.
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:


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.

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: tbc

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. What’s on the Open Hour agenda? That’s up to you! Share challenges and questions you have on using human rights in your work on water & sanitation. Together, we’ll find an answer.

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.

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.