Global Health Observatory (GHO)

Use of improved drinking water sources

Situation and trends

The MDG drinking water target, which calls for halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water between 1990 and 2015, was met in 2010, five years ahead of schedule. While this a tremendous achievement, continued efforts are needed. As of 2011, 768 million people still relied on unimproved water sources (surface water from lakes, rivers, dams, or unprotected dug wells or springs) for their drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene.

The proportion of the world’s population with access to improved drinking water sources increased from 76% to 89% globally between 1990 and 2011. While coverage is above 90% in Latin America and the Caribbean, Northern Africa and large parts of Asia, it is only 63 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa. There are also disparities between urban and rural coverage, where an estimated 96% of the urban population globally used an improved water supply source in 2011, compared to 81% of the rural population.

More information on drinking-water sources: