According to Leonard Hessling’s research on the “Water and the Arab Uprisings – The Human Right to Water and Sanitation in Post-Transition Egypt”:
“Access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation should stand at the beginning of the list of changes. It is the most basic and essential need for survival and constitutes the precondition for the realisation of all further freedoms and liberties demanded during the uprisings. This “key right” should therefore be addressed with the highest priority if the growing water and sanitation crisis is to be confronted.
The task of integrating the legal human rights framework falls upon the government through its ministries, which have already begun to restructure what many experts consider to be an inadequate institutional setup. Related shortcomings such as the lack of information, transparency and participation need to be confronted and a spirit of accountability should be integrated, because “accountability to citizens and users of water services will be key for allowing countries to act when opportunities arise and to pass reforms that lead to real improvements in water resources and services.”
Integrating the human rights-based approach to development is the duty of international organisations, donors and development agencies, which should be inclined to incorporate the framework and principles they formally already have adhered to following upon the concerted UN efforts to mainstream human rights in all agency work.
The challenge for development cooperation and water and sanitation experts remains in the aspiration of the human rights framework as an integral cornerstone to their work. Scepticism towards the framework as a concept emanating from an alien legal sphere needs to be overcome … Furthermore, international agencies need to live up to the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and overcome the issues arising from the lack of coordination.”
Habi disagrees with Leonard that the government has already begun to restructure an inadequate institutional setup, as for Habi the reform during the last decade has only exacerbated problems, despite massive investments. We think the main reason behind this inadequate reform is the skepticism of the international organizations and donors towards human rights, as Leonard notes.
In his research Leonard raises a number of important points on this, and we think more research on the duty of the Egyptian government and the donors to respect their human right to water is needed, to investigate where the accountability relation between government and citizens was broken.
You can find a copy of Leonard Hessling’s research here:
Hessling – Right to Water in Egypt