This short communication provides insights into water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for homeless people through a scoping study conducted in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It investigates homeless people’s access to WASH through the lens of a rights-based approach.
It demonstrates that the denial of homeless people’s rights to WASH reflects their marginal position in society and an unequal distribution of power and opportunities. The study ultimately suggests a rights-based approach to dealing with the root causes of discrimination and marginalisation rather than just their symptoms.
For the homeless — who not only lack substantive rights, but also the means through which to claim their rights — an integrated rights-based approach to WASH offers the possibility for social inclusion and significant improvements in their living conditions. Given the unique deprivations of homelessness, it is argued that in addressing the lack of access to adequate WASH for homeless people, the immediate goal should be the fulfilment and protection of the right to adequate shelter.