The Global Goals

At the UN Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a set of 17 Global Goals also known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 169 targets set by the Goals set out new development priorities for all countries to end extreme poverty by 2030. The 2030 Agenda redefines how the global community will work together to address poverty and improve living standards, while ensuring development is sustainable. It represents a renewed global partnership for development. It is made up of four elements:

  • A declaration
  • The 17 Global Goals (made up of targets and indicators to measure progress)
  • Their means of implementation (a multi-stakeholder “mutual accountability” mechanism responsible for ensuring the Global Goals can achieve transformative results)
  • A framework for follow up and review

Global Goal 6

Over 663 million people still do not have access to clean water and 2.4 billion1 do not have access to sanitation. Diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation is the biggest killer of under-fives worldwide, claiming the lives of 1,400 children  every single day. These are fundamental human rights and without them people are unable to take the first step out of poverty. Global Goal 6 seeks to address this critical gap, by ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Targets within Goal 6:

  • 6.1By 2030 achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.
  • 6.2 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 By 2030 improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimising release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.
  • 6.4 By 2030 substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors, ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity, and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.
  • 6.5 By 2030 implement integrated water resource management at all levels, including through trans-boundary cooperation as appropriate.
  • 6.6 By 2030 protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.
  • 6.a 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 Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management.

Bangladesh Context and Sustainable Development Goals

The Joint Monitoring Progress report of 2017 jointly issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF open defecation in Bangladesh to be at 0%, a tremendous achievement for a country where the same rate stood at 34% on 1990. However, Bangladesh failed to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of population without access to improved sanitation by the deadline of 2015. Much of the population1, mostly concentrated in hard-to-reach geographical areas or amongst socio-economically vulnerable populations, are still using poor sanitation.

Alongside, across the country, from villages to small towns and big cities are heading towards another sanitation crisis because of huge volumes of untreated faecal sludge being released into the environment. Faecal waste ends up in septic or pits that are usually cleaned up by manual sweepers, who end up dumping the waste in open water bodies, thus reintroducing faeces into the environment.

Furthermore, public sanitation facilities in Bangladesh are terrible. If we consider Dhaka as an example, the capital used to have less than 50 toilets to serve a population of 5.5 million  on the streets. Women and girls, as well as people with disabilities, suffer the most and are often forced to completely forego any means of relieving themselves while on the road. Another often neglected issue is that of menstruation, and making sure that women and girls, whether at home, in school or in the workplace, have access to toilets and sanitary materials so they can manage their periods with dignity. These are challenges that threaten to reverse Bangladesh’s progress on many levels.

A global report on health status of 188 countries based on the health related Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) indicators found Bangladesh to be one of the poorest performing countries in South Asia, lagged by only Nepal and Afghanistan . This report clearly shows that no country can make sustainable progress on the global health goals without addressing the critical components of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

Bangladesh can create an example to be the next revolution in sanitation in Bangladesh. The state has made a number of commitments on Sanitation in SACOSAN VI and the 7th Five Year Plan. An 11- member High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) was launched by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the President of the World Bank Group Jim Young Kim in April, 2016 to mobilise urgent action towards SDG 6 and related targets, to which Sheikh Hasina, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, was nominated.

The action plan proposed by the Government of Bangladesh considering SDG 6 includes the following outcomes and targets:

  • Bangladesh would ensure access to safe, adequate and equitable water supply for all with a target of improving water supply coverage to 100% both (in urban and rural area) by 2020;
  • Bangladesh would ensure 90% hygienic sanitation coverage, with special attention to physically challenged and socially excluded population, by 2030.
  • Ensuring safe yield from ground water sources of water and their preservation and conservation by 2020 through appropriate actions (The Water Act is already in place) and continuous monitoring up to 2030;
  • Percentage of population using a handwashing facility with water and soap, disaggregated by location (home, school, health center).

However, there are a number of challenges to achieving Goal 6 which must be acknowledged and prepared for:

  • While the Millennium Development Goals dealt more with straightforward issue of expanding access, the SDGs bring in issues of equity, quality and sustainability which will require more nuanced, integrated and multi-sectoral ways of working.
  • The ‘Leave No One Behind’ theme of the SDGs requires going beyond broad-brush interventions that raise beneficiary count, to focusing on hard-to-reach areas and populations, which will require innovative, context-specific technology and programmatic solutions.
  • Protecting water sources and introducing sustainable management of groundwater and surface water will be a priority given Bangladesh’s extreme reliance on limited groundwater sources.
  • Hygiene is perhaps the most lagging area of WASH, and there is evidence of widespread poor practice. Determining effective ways to improve behaviour will be a key challenge of the SDG era.
  • Issue of integration with the national planning process is a big concern. Monitoring progress on Goal 6 will require devising appropriate indicator, coordinating among the stakeholders and establishing a feedback mechanism to review the decision and control measures through coordination with concern ministries, including Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives, etc.

WaterAid Bangladesh and the Global Goals

Water Aid Bangladesh has designed its Country Program Strategy (2016-2021) in line with SD Goal 6, which is guiding WaterAid Bangladesh role in changing landscape -


Global Goal 6 is an essential component of an integrated approach to tackling poverty, hunger, health and inequality.

Successful realisation of Goal 6 will support progress across many of the other goals, particularly on nutrition, child health, education and gender equality.

WaterAid alongside other organisations and civil society groups, has been calling for a globally agreed goal dedicated to WASH since 2012.

The inclusion of Goal 6 is a major milestone in ending WASH poverty and transforming lives.

Working in some of the most remote areas in the country, and with excluded groups such as tea garden workers and ethnic populations,

WaterAid Bangladesh brought safe water services to almost 300,000 people in the past year, and hygienic sanitation services to nearly 400,000 people.

Adequate and equitable sanitation: The prevalence of unimproved latrines, lack of faecal sludge management and absence of public sanitation facilities threaten people’s health and dignity, particularly in heard to reach areas and for disadvantaged groups and individuals.

WASH in institutions: Lack of inclusive facilities and improved hygiene measures in schools and community clinics affects the educational attainment of students, and can place staff and patients in healthcare facilities at risk of disease outbreaks.

Water safety and quality: These are a concern due to arsenic contamination, microbiological contamination and salinity amongst other reasons. Surface water is contaminated due to chemical and industrial pollutions and sanitation seepage, while groundwater is heavily over-extracted leading to a falling water table.

Hygiene: Lack of improved hygiene behavior compromises the quality of both water and sanitation services, with little initiative yet being taken to monitor and implement the National Hygiene Promotion Strategy

WASH as a human right: Bangladesh recognises the human rights to WASH, this is yet to be ratified nationally, and duty bearers from the national to the local level lack of awareness of the implications of this this for hard to reach areas, groups and individuals.

Capacity building of the local government and civil society: Need more capacity at the local government level for delivering quality services to grassroots communities in many cases.

Currently (as of November 2017), WaterAid is working in 21 sub-districts, four cities (Dhaka, Sylhet, Khulna and Chittagong) and four municipal towns.

For Goal 6, WaterAid will measure its performance based on the SDG indicators proposed by JMP in their SDG baseline report of 2017.

Alongside its programmatic activities, WaterAid Bangladesh is also looking to support sectoral efforts at monitoring Global Goal targets through strengthening and enhancing existing sector meetings and forums, such as the Sanitation and Water for All High (SWA) Level Meeting, and SACOSAN. WaterAid Bangladesh is actively involved with these forums along with in country forums like Bangladesh Water Integrity Network (BAWIN), End Water Poverty (EWP), Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council Bangladesh (WSSCC-B), Bangladesh WASH Alliance (BWA), Fresh Water Action Network South Asia-Bangladesh (FANSA-BD), NGO Forum, etc. Collaborative efforts are taken to through engaging with these networks to influence the government institutes at the national level such as Water Resources Planning Organization (WARPO), Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE), Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) and Local Government Institutions (LGIs).
Integration and implementation of the Global Goals at a national level can only be delivered with active participation from government, civil society and private sector stakeholders. WaterAid is playing a key role in supporting and working with governments as leading expert partners in the monitoring and delivery of WASH access. Besides, WaterAid is also working with civil society organisations, sector platforms and networks, different academic institutes and government to ensure participatory discussions on Goal 6 from the earliest stages of the Global Goals national implementation process. Goal 6 cannot be achieved through only effort of the government or single authority. It should be a combined effort of government, civil society and grassroots communities – only then can Bangladesh achieve the critical milestone of Leave No One Behind.