Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all

Clean water is a basic human need, and one that should be easily accessible to all. There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. However, due to poor infrastructure, investment and planning, every year millions of people — most of them children — die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.

The charts below summarise progress towards improved water and sanitation access. More details on Water Access, Resources and Sanitation can be found at our full entry here.

Target 6.1

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

In the charts below we present data on the share of the total population with access to a safely managed, basic, limited, unimproved and surface water source; and the difference in access between urban and rural populations.

A 'safely managed' drinking water source is one located on premises, available when needed and free from contamination. Measurement of this metric across all countries on this metric is currently not available; we therefore also provide data on basic drinking water sources. 'At least basic' drinking water represents an improved source within 30 minutes’ round trip to collect water; 'limited' constitutes an improved water source more than a 30 minute round-trip away; 'unimproved' is one that by the nature of its construction does not adequately protect the source from outside contamination; and 'surface' is that from surface water sources.

An improved drinking water source includes piped water on premises (piped household water connection located inside the user’s dwelling, plot or yard), and other improved drinking water sources (public taps or standpipes, tube wells or boreholes, protected dug wells, protected springs, and rainwater collection).

Target 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.

Safely managed sanitation facilities are crucial for sufficient hygiene standards, the prevention of disease, and health and nutritional outcomes. The charts below show the share of the total population using safely managed sanitation, 'at least basic', limited, unimproved and open defecation; this comparison between urban and rural areas; the total number of people using such sanitation facilities.

A safely managed sanitation service is one that excreta is safely disposed of in situ or treated off-site; 'at least basic' are improved sanitation facilities not shared with other households; 'limited' are improved facilities shared with other households; 'unimproved' are facilities without a flush/pour flush (to piped sewer system, septic tank, pit latrine), ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrine, pit latrine with slab, or composting toilet. Open defecation refers to defecation in the open, such as in fields, forest, bushes, open bodies of water, on beaches, in other open spaces or disposed of with solid waste.

Basic handwashing facilities are defined as a device to contain, transport or regulate the flow of water to facilitate handwashing with soap and water in the household.

Target 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.

Water-efficient economies are those which achieve a high gross domestic product (GDP) per unit of freshwater withdrawal. In the chart below we see trends in water productivity which is measured as a country's total GDP, measured in constant 2010 US$ divided by total freshwater withdrawals in cubic metres.

Water scarcity or stress is typically defined basic on the total quantity of freshwater withdrawals as a share of international resources. This includes water withdrawn from agricultural, industrial and domestic uses. The chart below shows levels of water stress by country, based on the following categories: < 10% is low stress; 10-20% is low-to-medium; 20-40% medium-to-high; 40-80% high; >80% extremely high.

Target 6.5

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

Many of our environmental systems - including our water, land, food, air and ecosystems - strongly interact and impact on one another. Developing integrated plans for all components of these systems is therefore crucial. The chart below shows the status of national development and implementation of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) plans across the world.

Target 6.a

By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes.

The chart below shows the levels of total official development assistance (ODA) and other financial flows which are allocated to water and sanitation-related development.