Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

More than 40 per cent of the world’s population do not have access to sufficient quantities of clean water, and water stress is set to worsen in many parts of the world.

In many places the quality of available water is already dramatically poor. It is estimated that the drinking water used by more than 1.8 billion people is contaminated by pathogens. One third of people around the world, having no access to hygienic toilets, are forced to make do with buckets, unhygienic latrines or to relieve themselves in the open. The situation is further compounded by the fact that about three quarters of the wastewater we produce is discharged untreated into rivers or the sea. All this has serious impacts, for instance on agriculture, which needs sufficient quantities of water to produce food. Poor hygiene is responsible for a great many diseases – which can often be fatal for children – while untreated wastewater pollutes natural water resources.

What must be done?

Everybody must have access to safe drinking water and to hygienic toilets or latrines. Water management must be improved in many countries, meaning that there must be a reliable, equitable and affordable supply of safe drinking water, and that water losses from leaky pipes must be stopped. All wastewater must be collected and treated.

If we are to ensure an adequate supply of safe water in the long term, we must ensure that we use water resources sustainably. That means that ecosystems that are important for the water balance, including forests, wetlands and rivers, must be protected or restored.

Facts and figures

  • While in 1998, a total of 36 countries suffered water stress, this figure had risen to 41 by 2011.
  • Worldwide about 10 per cent of people have no access to safe drinking water .
  • Around 950 million people around the world have no access to toilets and have to relieve themselves in the open.
  • About 5,000 children under the age of five die every day of diseases caused by contaminated water, including diarrhoea and cholera.
  • Worldwide more than 80 per cent of wastewater is discharged untreated into the natural environment.

6.1 Access to drinking water

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

6.2 Sanitation and hygiene

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 Improve water quality

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 Reduce water consumption

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 Sustainable water management

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

6.6 Protect waters and wetlands

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

6.a Support water-related projects in developing countries

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

6.b Strenghten participation of local communities

Strenghten participation of local communities

“A very essential solution to issue of access to clean water in India is generating awareness among people regarding wastage and storage of potable water. Innovative practices at local level such as water reuse through grey water treatment facilities and rain water harvesting should be explored.”

Source: Alumni interview

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