Water sanitation hygiene

Kolkata's fishermen and farmers reuse what’s flushed down the toilet

22 MARCH 2017 – Most people don’t think about what happens to their excreta when they flush the toilet or pour water down the latrine. But, for fisherman and farmers in Kolkata, India, excreta provides a natural fertilizer for their crops, food for their fish and an income to provide for their families. "The challenge now is ensuring wastewater is treated and reused safely", says Payden, sanitation engineer at WHO South-East Asia Regional Office.

World Water Day 2017: Why waste water

Safe treatment and use of wastewater is fundamental to protecting public health.
Join the global campaign for World Water Day on 22nd March by downloading a sharing campaign materials and organising an event to highlight SDG 6.3 “…halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increase recycling and safe re­use by 2030.”
Learn more from WHO factsheets videos and tools on wastewater and health.

Guidelines for drinking-water quality, fourth edition incorporating the first addendum

WHO’s Guidelines for drinking-water quality (GDWQ) form an authoritative basis for the setting of national regulations and standards for water safety in support of public health.
This first addendum updates the fourth edition of the GDWQ to reflect new evidence and to provide additional explanations to support better understanding and application of the guidance.

Background documents for the development of the Guidelines for drinking-water quality

Water poured from a bottle into a glass
Shuttersrock.com/Science photo

WHO has recently published new or revised background documents for selected chemical hazards in drinking-water, which inform the development of the recently published first addendum to the fourth edition of the WHO’s Guidelines for drinking-water quality.
These chemicals include: barium; bentazone; chlorine dioxide, chlorate and chlorite; dichlorvos; dicofol; diquat; lead; MCPA; nitrate and nitrite; and perchlorate.

Water quality and health - Review of turbidity

Two glasses: one of clear water and the other one of turbid water
Shutterstock.com/Alena Brozova

Intended for regulators and operators of drinking-water supplies, this technical brief provides information on the uses and significance of turbidity in source water and drinking-water.
Information is provided on the implications of turbidity for water safety at each step of the water supply chain, alongside practical guidance on the measurement and monitoring of turbidity in source water and drinking-water.

Preparation of SDG baselines

The 2030 SDG agenda was agreed in 2015 by 193 Member States, and includes an ambitious dedicated Goal 6 for water and sanitation. Eleven indicators are being developed to monitor progress towards the eight SDG 6 targets, and data are being collected to produce baseline estimates. The WHO/UNICEF JMP will produce global monitoring reports for targets 6.1 and 6.2 on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene while WHO with UN-Habitat will monitor target 6.3 on wastewater. The GLAAS initiative will monitor the two ‘Means of Implementation’ indicators 6a and 6b.
See individual pages to learn about contributing data for SDG monitoring.

Protecting surface water for health

Protecting surface water for health provides a structured approach to the assessment and management of drinking-water quality related risks in surface-water catchments. The publication will support the development and application of water safety planning where source-water protection is a key element in the provision of safe drinking-water. Protecting surface water for health embraces the concept put forward by Goal 6 of the SDGs to “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”, recognizing that the protection of water quality and water-related ecosystems contributes to public health protection.

Quantitative microbial risk assessment

This publication synthesizes the current knowledge on Quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) to facilitates its application in the practice of water supply, water reuse and water recreation to support the management of risks associated with faecal pathogens in the water-related context. Guidance is provided to support the successful of QMRA with key aspects including : the role of interaction between risk managers and risk assessors ; interpretation of scientific data including uncertainty ; and interpretation of quantitative results. Many examples including six full case studies are described.

About us

WHO works on aspects of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) where the health burden is high and where evidence-based interventions could make a major difference.

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