Global Health Observatory (GHO) data

Use of basic and safely managed drinking water services

Situation and trends

TSafely managed drinking water services, the indicator for SDG target 6.1, builds on the MDG indicator of “use of improved drinking water sources”, adding aspects of the quality of the drinking water service. If a household uses an improved source that is readily accessible close to home (i.e., a round trip to collect water, including queuing, takes 30 minutes or less), it will be categorized as at least a ‘basic’ service. In order to meet the threshold for a ‘safely managed’ service, the improved source must meet three conditions:

  • the source should be located on premises (within the dwelling, yard or plot),
  • water should be available when needed, and
  • water supplied should be free from faecal and priority chemical contamination.

Household surveys and censuses provide information on the types of drinking water sources used and whether sources are located on premises. ‘Improved’ sources are those that are potentially capable of delivering safe water by nature of their design and construction. These include piped water into the dwelling, yard or plot; public taps or standpipes; boreholes or tubewells; protected dug wells; protected springs; packaged water; delivered water and rainwater. Unimproved sources include unprotected dug wells and unprotected springs.

Contaminated drinking water is responsible for substantial mortality and morbidity from water-borne diseases, such as diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio. Contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause 502 000 diarrhoeal deaths each year.