Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all

Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all

Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in. There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. But due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, every year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation, and hygiene.

Water scarcity, poor water quality, and inadequate sanitation negatively impact food security, livelihood choices and educational opportunities for poor families across the world. Drought afflicts some of the world's poorest countries, worsening hunger, and malnutrition.

By 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water.



SDG 6 Clean Water

The SDG Targets

6.1 By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all

6.2 By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations

6.3 By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally

6.4 By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity, and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity

6.5 By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate

6.6 By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes

6.a By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water and sanitation related activities and programs, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies

6.b Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management


A growing number of countries are confronting water stress, which now affects more than 2 billion people worldwide

Holistic management of the water cycle means taking into account the level of "water stress", calculated as the ratio of total freshwater withdrawn by all major sectors to the total renewable freshwater resources in a particular country or region. Currently, water stress affects more than 2 billion people around the globe, a figure that is projected to rise. Water stress affects countries on every continent, which hinders the sustainability of natural resources, as well as economic and social development. While many regions are below the 25 percent threshold that marks the beginning stages of physical water stress, huge differences are found within and among countries. In 2011, 41 countries experienced water stress, an increase from 36 countries in 1998. Of these, 10 countries-on the Arabian Peninsula and in Central Asia and Northern Africa-withdrew more than 100 percent of their renewable freshwater resources.

Over 90 percent of people worldwide use improved drinking water sources, but not all sources are safely managed

In 2015, 6.6 billion people, or 91 percent of the global population, used an improved drinking water source compared to 82 percent in 2000. An estimated 663 million people in 2015 were still using unimproved sources or surface water. While coverage was around 90 percent or more in all regions except sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania, widespread inequalities persist within and among countries. Moreover, not all improved water sources are safely managed. In 2012, for example, it was estimated that at least 1.8 billion people were exposed to drinking water contaminated with fecal matter.

Inadequate sanitation facilities are still a reality for one-third of the global population

Between 2000 and 2015, the proportion of the global population using improved sanitation increased from 59 percent to 68 percent. This means that 4.9 billion people globally were using an improved sanitation facility in 2015. However, 2.4 billion did not; among them were 946 million people without any facilities at all, who continued to practice open defecation. The unsafe management of fecal waste and wastewater continues to pose a major risk to public health and the environment.

Plans for the integrated management of water resources are underway in countries in every region, with varying progress on implementation

A key aspect of sustainable water management is the implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), a follow-up to the 2002 Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. In 2012, 65 percent of the 130 countries that responded to an IWRM survey question reported that management plans were in place at the national level, though full implementation varies across regions.



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