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WaterAid and equality and non-discrimination

Access to safe drinking water and sanitation are internationally recognised as human rights. We believe no-one should be living without these basic services. WaterAid embraces the principles of equality and non-discrimination to ensure universal access to water and sanitation for all.

Poverty and social exclusion are closely linked. The poorest people are often the most socially excluded and are rarely consulted or involved in decisions about WASH policy and programmes. The situation is often made worse by discrimination, stigma and existing inequalities that occur at all levels, including:

  • Spatial inequalities such as those experienced by communities in remote and inaccessible rural areas, and slum-dwellers in urban and peri-urban areas.
  • Group-related inequalities that vary across countries such as those based on ethnicity, race, nationality, language, religion and caste.
  • Individual-related inequalities that are relevant in every country of the globe, such as those based on sex/gender, age, disability and health conditions that impose constraints on access to water and sanitation. For instance:
    • An estimated one billion people living with a disability.1
    • 740 million people who are aged 60 and over.2
    • An estimated 35 million people living with HIV.3
    • The lives of women and girls are particularly compromised by poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). In addition to meeting women and girl’s specific needs - such as menstrual hygiene management - WASH is also essential for their social and economic development, contributing towards gender equality and the realisation of their rights.

Reducing inequalities in WASH provision is an essential part of achieving universal access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030.

1World Health Organization (WHO) (2011) World report on global disability
2OHCHR (2011) Human rights of older persons: summary of the report of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly
3UNAIDS (2014) Fact sheet 2014, global statistics