Urban homelessness and the right to water and sanitation: experiences from India's cities

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Improving access to water and sanitation for vulnerable groups has been a significant development priority in recent decades and this has been coupled with calls for water and sanitation to be recognised as fundamental human rights. However, to date there has been very limited attention on the right to water and sanitation for homeless people, despite their high vulnerability to a range of water and sanitation insecurities. Drawing on empirical data from the Indian cities of Delhi and Bangalore, this paper examines homelessness and the right to water and sanitation. It highlights the everyday practices and experiences of homeless people in their efforts to access water and sanitation, and sheds light on some of the factors that contribute to their water and sanitation insecurity. It concludes that addressing the human right to water and sanitation for homeless people will require going beyond a technical and sector approach, to the more challenging task of tackling the complex factors that create and sustain their vulnerability and marginality in urban spaces.

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