Although the obligations of States to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights to water and sanitation extend to all persons without discrimination, national policy and practice regarding the progressive realisation of those rights has had a tendency to be limited, wholly or mostly, to the implementation of projects aimed at improving access within formal households. In most societies, however, many groups and individuals rely on places beyond the scope of the household to live and enjoy their rights, including their rights to water and sanitation.
Different definitions can be adopted for spheres of life beyond the household, particularly when looking at relevant global gaps in the access to water and sanitation. These spheres may include spaces where people live and that are different conventional households (streets, prisons, dormitories, refugee camps); places where people work; places where people habitually spend time (public spaces, schools, places of worship); and places where people go occasionally and might spend significant time (stores, public transit hubs, health care facilities, government offices, other public buildings, parks, mass gatherings, restaurants, public buildings). All those spheres of life require attention in relation to the enjoyment of the human rights to water and sanitation, but they constitute a heterogeneous landscape, differing substantially in terms of needs and appropriate approaches.