Why do the Sustainable Development Goals matter to WaterAid?

Vero supporting Global Goal six 'Clean water and sanitation.' Madagascar. September 2015.
WaterAid/Ernest Randriarimalala

In 2015 the United Nations agreed on 17 goals to achieve by the year 2030, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (or Global Goals). Their aim? To end extreme poverty around the world.

Each goal tackles one aspect of poverty, from education to food to equal rights. Many are closely interconnected, with progress in one area aiding progress in others. Goal 6, clean water and sanitation, is one such goal that feeds into lots of others.

At WaterAid, we believe that making clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere is key to building a world without poverty.

Here’s what else we could achieve by prioritising Goal 6…

Goal 1 – No poverty

One in nine people around the world have no clean water, whilst one in three have no toilet. We must reduce these numbers to zero, so people are safe and healthy enough to go to school and work.

Communities that are more productive and resilient because of these things can rise out of poverty.

Goal 2 – Zero hunger

Because of undernutrition, around the world 155 million children under five are stunted (shorter than average for their age) and 50 million weigh less than they should. Half of these children are underweight or stunted as a direct result of having no clean water or toilets.

With clean water to drink and decent toilets, children are better nourished and have the chance to live healthier, stronger lives.

Goal 3 – Good health and well-being

In the world’s poorest places, more than one in three hospitals and clinics don’t have clean water, and almost one in five have no decent toilets. Without these basics, diseases spread fast and there’s a higher chance of complications for mothers in labour.

If we achieve Goal 6, not only in health centres but also communities, it will keep people healthy, free of disease and ultimately save lives.

Goal 4 – Quality education

Globally, almost one in three schools don’t have clean water, and even fewer have decent toilets. Millions of children suffer from diseases caused by drinking dirty water and going to the toilet in the open. Girls are particularly hard-hit, missing out on school when they’re on their period.

With clean water and toilets near home and school, children have more time to study and focus on their education – giving them hope for a brighter future.

A group of children supporting Global Goal six 'Clean water and sanitation'. Vakinankaratra region, Madagascar. September 2015.
WaterAid/Ernest Randriarimalala

Goal 5 – Gender equality

Having no clean water or decent toilets affects women more than men. It’s really hard to be on your period with nowhere to keep clean and change safely. In South Asia, around a third of girls miss school every month during their period.

Achieving Goal 6 empowers women and girls to reach their full potential in school and work, improving equality in society.

Goal 8 – Decent work and economic growth

Around the world 263 million people spend more than 30 minutes collecting water every day. This is time which could be spent earning money for their families and communities.

Bringing water closer to work and home frees people’s time, improves crop security for farmers and allows communities to prosper.

Goal 10 – Reduced inequalities

Not having water, toilets or good hygiene – these are problems that affect marginalised communities the most. People who live in poverty, with disabilities, in rural or slum areas are less likely to have these vital services, which makes it harder to break the cycle of poverty.

Achieving Goal 6 ensures that we’re truly changing normal for everyone, everywhere.

Goal 11 – Sustainable cities and communities

By the year 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas. So it’s vital we build long-lasting infrastructure that allows for clean water and the safe management of toilet waste.

Ensuring urban areas have water, toilets and good hygiene creates healthier, cleaner and more sustainable cities.

Goal 13 – Climate action

Climate change will continue to increase the chances of extreme weather and water insecurity. Water resources becoming more fragile will impact people living in rural areas and in extreme poverty the most.

Prioritising Goal 6 means communities have sustainable and long-lasting ways to adapt to climate change with a steady water supply.

Goal 14 – Life below water

Over 80% of all wastewater (water produced by human activities) ends up in the environment without treatment. Not only does this ruin ecosystems, it also contaminates water sources many communities rely on – harming animals and people.

Making sure everyone has permanent waste management systems stops untreated waste ruining the world’s rivers, lakes and oceans.

Goal 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions

By 2030, the world’s population is expected to increase by nearly 1 billion. So managing the earth’s supply of water is more important than ever. Working with other countries and local communities is key to making sure we use water as sustainably as possible.

Reaching Goal 6 improves water security and stops conflict over water sources – promoting peace between countries.

WaterAid’s work on achieving Goal 6

It’s clear that achieving Goal 6 will help many other Sustainable Development Goals succeed, and improve every area of people’s lives. Prioritising clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene creates a ripple effect that gives children a brighter future, women an equal place in society and communities the chance to prosper.

But at the current rate of progress, many countries will fail to reach the 2030 target. In fact, it will be a further 15 years until everyone has clean water.

We’ve already reached millions of people in some of the toughest places in the world. We can’t stop there. By working together and taking urgent action, we can reach everyone, everywhere within a generation – and transform millions more lives for good.

Find out how on our Sustainable Development Goals hub page >


This blog is based on a similar article published by WASHwatch in May 2018. Read the original >