MDG 7: ensure environmental sustainability
Target 7C: By 2015, halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
The percentage of the world’s population using improved drinking-water sources increased from 77% to 87% between 1990 and 2008, a rate on track with meeting the global MDG drinking-water target. However, more effort is needed to narrow the gap in coverage between urban and rural areas.
In terms of the sanitation target, however, the world is falling far short. In 2008 2.6 billion people still had no access to a hygienic toilet or safe latrine. Approximately 1.1 billion people were defecating in the open, resulting in high levels of environmental contamination and exposure to the risks of worm infestations (such as hookworm and ascariasis) and microbial infections (such as cholera, shigellosis, salmonellosis, and hepatitis). The situation was most severe in the WHO African Region, where the percentage of the population using improved sanitation facilities only rose from 30% in 1990 to 34% in 2008.
WHO is working with countries and other UN agencies to:
- monitor progress towards the drinking water and sanitation target, through updated and refined estimates in collaboration with UNICEF in the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP);
- report on trends in policy, institutional and finance issues related to sanitation and drinking-water through the UN-Water Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS);
- develop guidelines on quality of drinking-water, safe use of wastewater in agriculture and aquaculture, and management of safe recreational waters;
- provide guidance, capacity strengthening and good practice models to countries. This includes capacity building in over 20 countries to develop water resource management systems to insure the long term sustainability of water resources;
- manage networks of specialized issues including: small community water supply management; for the promotion and dissemination of information on household water treatment and safe storage; and for drinking-water regulators;
- assess needs and ensuring safe drinking water and sanitation to health facilities and vulnerable groups during emergencies and natural disasters.
Progress on sanitation and drinking-water
Safer water, better health: costs, benefits and sustainability of interventions to protect and promote health
UN-Water Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water
- International network to promote household water treatment and safe storage
- WHO water, sanitation, hygiene and health activities