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Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. A Handbook for Parliamentarians

Parliaments and parliamentarians play a critical role in ensuring accountable, participatory, transparent governance which is necessary for inclusive and sustainable development. However, this critical role faces numerous challenges.

This handbook aims to provide parliamentarians with information and inspiration, to help them deliver on their responsibilities to ensure effective water and sanitation services for the constituents and communities they serve.

This handbook has been prepared in response to requests by SWA partners to provide support to parliamentarians, in order to contribute to their understanding of the legal, political, and programmatic implications of realizing the human rights to water and sanitation and achieving the related Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

The Handbook is available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Communication Toolkit

SWA has put together a communication toolkit, including animated case study videos, key messages, for partners and other stakeholders to use. The toolkit is available in English, French and Spanish.


Main highlights from the handbook

Parliamentarians have several key roles and functions, which fall into four main areas. All of these roles can help promote and protect the human rights to water and sanitation and realize the ambitions of SDG 6. These key roles are:

Representing constituents and communities

One of the parliamentarians’ most significant roles is to engage with their constituents and communities. In the context of water, sanitation, and hygiene, understanding communities’ service needs is crucial, to enable effective legislation, resource allocation, and advocacy within parliamentary processes.


Parliamentarians are responsible for drafting, reviewing, and passing legislation. This role is key to ensuring that laws further the realization of the human rights to water and sanitation, and that they contribute to the implementation of the SDGs.

Oversight of the executive

Parliamentarians work to monitor and oversee the work of the executive branch of government and to ensure that they comply with international, regional, and national legislation, policies, and commitments relating to water and sanitation service provision.

Approving and monitoring national budgets

Parliamentarians’ role in authorizing and monitoring budgets is one of the most important and powerful tools in their arsenal, as ensuring that resources are available to comply with legislation and regulations and implement policies and plans is critical to realizing the human rights to water and sanitation and achieving the SDGs.

Using parliamentary structures and tools

This handbook explores how parliamentarians can use several parliamentary structures and tools to draw attention to the importance of water and sanitation services. These will vary by country, but they include parliamentary committees, public inquiries and hearings, parliamentary motions and debates, written or oral parliamentary questions, and multi-stakeholder initiatives that promote water and sanitation.

Human Rights to Water and Sanitation: A Handbook for Parliamentarian