New statistics reveal scale of challenge ahead to bring water and toilets to all by 2030

Posted by
Christine LaRocque
13 July 2017
Water, Toilets

Figures released today  by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene (JMP)  reveal the scale of the challenge ahead to bring universal access to water and sanitation by 2030.

WaterAid’s analysis has found that, at the current rate of progress, some countries including Kenya, Myanmar and Nigeria will never reach a day when everyone has at least a basic toilet because changes in demographics, including rapid urbanization, are outpacing how quickly the country is providing sanitation to its people.

The same gloomy outlook applies for delivering access to water for all in Pakistan and Papua New Guinea, when current rates of progress toward at least a community supply of clean water – known as a ‘basic’ supply – are examined.

Worldwide, the latest statistics show that 839 million people – or around 11% of the global population – do not have access to clean water. This number has risen from the previous 663 million figure, largely because the 264 million who have to spend over half an hour in their round-trip to collect clean water are now deemed to only have a “limited” water service.

And 2.3 billion still do not have a decent toilet – around one in three of the world’s population.

World leaders in 2015 committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including Goal 6, which aims to make sure by 2030 that every household in the world has its own tap and toilet delivering safe water and safe sanitation – a standard known as “safely managed”. This is a new level of ambition, building on the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals.

WaterAid’s analysis of figures released by the Joint Monitoring Programme — a body set up by Unicef and the World Health Organization to collate data on water and sanitation coverage — shows Burkina Faso, Uganda, and Niger will only deliver a community source of clean water within a 30-minute round trip to everyone by 2112, 2118 and 2119 respectively – a standard known as a “basic” service. Currently there is no data available to show how many are currently enjoying a household level, or “safely managed,” service in those countries.

And the picture for sanitation is even worse with projections showing that on the current rate of progress everyone in Uganda will have basic sanitation services by 2342 and Ghana will take 400 years. In other countries such as Kenya, the provision of sanitation is failing to keep up with demographic changes, meaning that the day will never come when the whole population has even basic sanitation services.

Earlier definitions of access to clean water required only that a person would be deemed to have clean water if they had access to a water source that was built to protect the water from contamination, such as a pump or a covered well. With this new set of definitions, the United Nations has set the vision higher – for every household to have its own water source available when needed, and which is regularly tested to make sure it is safe. Toilets will need to be private and part of a system that makes sure they are regularly emptied, as with an effective sewage system or latrine emptying scheme.

WaterAid is fully behind the vision and ambition of the United Nations to ensure that everyone achieves the human right of safe water and toilets. However, WaterAid cautions that achieving this standard of coverage will require a revolution in approach from decision-makers at grassroots level right through national governments and up to international organisations such as the United Nations and World Bank.

Top ten worst countries in the world for at least basic sanitation:

  1. Ethiopia
  2. Chad
  3. Madagascar
  4. South Sudan
  5. Eritrea
  6. Niger
  7. Benin
  8. Togo
  9. Ghana
  10. Sierra Leone

Top ten worst countries in the world for at least basic access to water:

  1. Eritrea
  2. Papua New Guinea
  3. Uganda
  4. Ethiopia
  5. Democratic Republic of the Congo
  6. Somalia
  7. Angola
  8. Chad
  9. Niger
  10. Mozambique