Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene

Billions of people around the world, most of them living in rural areas, will be unable to access safely managed household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services in 2030 unless the rate of progress quadruples, says this report.

The report Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000 - 2020 was published in July 2021 by WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene that is responsible for monitoring global progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets and indicators relating drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). 

It presents estimates on household access to safely managed drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services over the past five years and assesses progress towards achieving SDG 6 to ‘Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030’. For the first time, the report also presents emerging national data on menstrual health.

In 2020, around 1 in 4 people lacked safely managed drinking water in their homes and nearly half the world’s population lacked safely managed sanitation. The majority of the people (8 out of 10) without basic water services lived in rural areas. Meanwhile, safely managed sanitation services reached 62 per cent of the world’s urban population, but only 44 per cent of its rural population.

COVID-19 has highlighted the urgent need to ensure everyone can access good hand hygiene. At the onset of the pandemic, 3 in 10 people worldwide could not wash their hands with soap and water within their homes.

The report notes some progress towards achieving universal access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. Between 2016 and 2020, the global population with safely managed drinking water at home increased from 70 per cent to 74 per cent; safely managed sanitation services grew from 47 per cent to 54 per cent; and handwashing facilities with soap and water increased from 67 per cent to 71 per cent.

If current trends persist, only 81 per cent of the world’s population will have access to safe drinking water at home in 2030, only 67 per cent will have safe sanitation services and only 78 per cent will have basic handwashing facilities.

To achieve universal access to safely managed drinking water by 2030, the current rate of progress in the Least Developed Countries would need to increase ten-fold. In fragile contexts, where people were twice as likely to lack safe drinking water, it would need to accelerate by a factor of 23.

(UNICEF/ile)

Read the report Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000 - 2020 at UNICEF website

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