Course 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
Access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene is the most basic human need for health and well-being. Billions of people will lack access to these basic services in 2030 unless progress quadruples. Demand for water is rising owing to rapid population growth, urbanization and increasing water needs from agriculture, industry, and energy sectors.
Decades of misuse, poor management, overextraction of groundwater and contamination of freshwater supplies have exacerbated water stress. In addition, countries are facing growing challenges linked to degraded water-related ecosystems, water scarcity caused by climate change, underinvestment in water and sanitation and insufficient cooperation on transboundary waters.
To reach universal access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030, the current rates of progress would need to increase fourfold. Achieving these targets would save 829,000 people annually, who die from diseases directly attributable to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene practices.
Facts and Figure
Goal 6 Target
Facts and Figure
- In 2020, 74 per cent of the global population had access to safely managed drinking water services, up from 70 per cent in 2015. Still, two billion people live without safely managed drinking water services, including 1.2 billion people lacking even a basic level of service, in 2020.
- Between 2015 and 2020, the population with safely managed sanitation increased from 47 per cent to 54 per cent and the population with access to handwashing facilities with soap and water in the home increased from 67 per cent to 71 per cent. Rates of progress for these basic services would need to quadruple for universal coverage to be reached by 2030.
- At the current rates of progress, 1.6 billion people will lack safely managed drinking water, 2.8 billion people will lack safely managed sanitation, and 1.9 billion people will lack basic hand hygiene facilities in 2030.
- Eight out of 10 people who lack even basic drinking water service live in rural areas, and about half of them live in least developed countries (LDCs).
- Water use efficiency worldwide rose from $17.4 per cubic metre in 2015 to $19.4 per cubic metre in 2019, a 12 per cent efficiency increase.
- Assessment of rivers, lakes and aquifers in 97 countries in 2020 shows that 60 per cent of water bodies have good water quality. For at least 3 billion people, the quality of the water they rely upon is unknown owing to a lack of monitoring.
- From 2015 to 2020, the population practising open defecation decreased by a third, from 739 million people to 494 million. The world is on track to eliminate open defecation by 2030.
- Over the past 300 years, over 85 per cent of the planet’s wetlands have been lost, mainly through drainage and land conversion, with many remaining wetland areas degraded. Since 1970, 81 per cent of species dependent on inland wetlands have declined faster than those relying on other biomes, and an increasing number of these species are facing extinction.
- Across the world, water stress levels remained safe at 18.6 per cent in 2019. However, Southern Asia and Central Asia registered high levels of water stress at over 75 per cent, whereas Northern Africa registered a critical water stress level of over 100 per cent. Since 2015, water stress levels have increased significantly in Western Asia and Northern Africa.
- Data from 2017 and 2020 suggest only 32 countries have 90 per cent or more of their transboundary waters covered by cross-border cooperative arrangements.
Goal 6 Target