About Instituto Água e Saneamento

We are a nonprofit civil organization with the mission of combining efforts to guarantee universal access to water and sanitation in Brazil, particularly by increasing access to sewage treatment services

Through research, mobilization and coordination of different actors from the social, public and private spheres, the IAS works to put water and sanitation at the forefront of discussions on human rights, climate crisis, inequality reduction, and the provision of environmental services for society.

Therefore, the IAS seeks to remain a dynamic and regenerative organization, which evolves and grows organically. Our actions are based on three transversal strategies:

  • Increasing access to water and sanitation all over Brazil through coordination and networking.
  • Organizing, creating and disseminating knowledge of water and sanitation.
  • Fostering debate and dialogue about positive agendas and contributing to the design of solutions for all areas of water and sanitation.

The areas of Water and Sanitation in which the IAS operates are Human Law, Public Policy, Public Services Management, and Solutions Adapted to Local Conditions.

The size of the problem

In the 21st century millions of Brazilians still lack access to water and sanitation!

Understanding the extent of the issue, the complexity of its management, and the scale of the services provided is essential for establishing a new way of thinking about water and sanitation in Brazil.

To facilitate access to and improve the quality of existing information, the IAS collects, organizes and systematizes a large volume of water and sewage data in Brazil from numerous sources. These databases, analyses, references, documents and laws are made available on our website, with the aim of supporting the work of technical experts, public policy makers, the press and civil society organizations that work with water and sanitation or other related topics.

A bottom-up approach to water security

The municipality is the federative entity capable of integrating public policies addressing water and sanitation, health, the environment, and civil defense. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to expand the municipal government’s capacity to formulate agreements and institutional arrangements, ensure legal clarity, and facilitate social control to increase water security and the resilience of cities and communities from the bottom up.

By researching innovation in public management and water and sanitation data, the IAS is putting together a repertoire of existing solutions to increase access to water security in vulnerable places, such as poor neighborhoods in the outskirts of cities, small municipalities and rural communities.

Keeping an eye on the role of municipal governments, the IAS promotes coordination between civil society actors, political leaders, technical experts, companies and governments, in order to compile and disseminate this positive agenda.


Human rights to water and sanitation

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the human right to water and sanitation, with Brazil among the signatories to this resolution.

Five years later, the UN passed another resolution recognizing sanitation and access to water “as distinct but related” human rights. From then on, these rights were referred to in the plural as “Human Rights to Water and Sanitation”. and the fight for universal access to water and sanitation gained considerable legal and institutional momentum. .

The way one deals with water and sanitation is closely tied to cultural and territorial aspects. Sewage solutions can and should incorporate local and community alternatives for integrated water management and a circular economy. For all these reasons, the IAS argues that water and sanitation services cannot be seen merely as a business, but they must be designed in a manner that responds to the specific needs of each community and municipality, always respecting human and environmental diversity.

Against this backdrop, Private Social Investments (PSIs) must consider both the institutional complexity and the scale of the problem. The IAS therefore is dedicated to untying knots and bringing issues forward, with the primary goal of contributing to concrete policies that translate into gains of scale in the provision of sewage treatment services, ensuring that more and more people have access to this fundamental right. PSIs also build relationships that enable exchanges with and influence the various structures and levels of government responsible for providing public services related to the water security agenda.


Climate crisis

As extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, turn the increase in the planet’s average temperature predicted by scientists into a reality, the need for sanitation to guarantee the water security of the world’s population has become even more urgent.

There is no climate justice without access to water, sewage treatment and drainage, and solid waste management. Integrated and circular public sanitation policies also help to mitigate the impacts of pollution and help cities and communities to adapt to the extreme weather events predicted by the global scientific community.