MDG 7: ensure environmental sustainability

Target 7C: By 2015, halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation

Updated September 2013

A hand holding clean water
WHO/Jim Holmes
Improved drinking water

By the end of 2011, 89% of the world population used an improved drinking-water source, and 55% had a piped supply on premises. This left an estimated 768 million people without improved sources for drinking water, of whom 185 million relied on surface water for their daily needs.

Improved sanitation

Some 2.4 billion people – one-third of the world’s population – will remain without access to improved sanitation in 2015, according to a joint WHO/UNICEF report "Progress on sanitation and drinking-water".

The "2013 update", warns that, at the current rate of progress, the 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving the proportion of the 1990 population without sanitation will be missed by 8% – or half a billion people.

WHO activities

WHO is working with countries and other UN agencies to:

  • monitor progress towards the drinking water and sanitation target, through updated and refined estimates in collaboration with UNICEF in the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP);
  • report on trends in policy, institutional and finance issues related to sanitation and drinking-water through the UN-Water Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS);
  • develop guidelines on quality of drinking-water, safe use of wastewater in agriculture and aquaculture, and management of safe recreational waters;
  • provide guidance, capacity strengthening and good practice models to countries on drinking-water supply risk management, water resource management systems, and safe re-use of wastewater;
  • manage networks of specialized issues including: small community water supply management; for the promotion and dissemination of information on household water treatment and safe storage; and for drinking-water regulators;
  • assess needs and ensuring safe drinking water and sanitation to health facilities and vulnerable groups during emergencies and natural disasters.
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