Water sanitation hygiene

Monitoring drinking-water

A young woman carrying water in a plastic container
UNICEF/Noorani

SDG target 6.1 calls for achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. The indicator used to measure progress is the percentage of the population using “safely managed drinking water services”.SDG target 6.1 calls for achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. The indicator used to measure progress is the percentage of the population using safely managed drinking water services, which is defined as the population using an improved drinking water source (the indicator used for MDG monitoring) which is located on premises, and available when needed, and free of faecal and priority chemical contamination.

In order to meet the criteria for a safely managed drinking water service, people must use an improved source meeting three criteria:

  • it should be accessible on premises,
  • water should be available when needed, and
  • the water supplied should be free from contamination.

If the improved source does not meet any one of these criteria but a round trip to collect water takes 30 minutes or less, then it will be classified as a basic drinking water service. If water collection from an improved source exceeds 30 minutes it will be categorised as a limited service. The JMP also differentiates populations using unimproved sources such as unprotected wells or springs, and populations drinking surface water collected directly from a river, dam, lake, stream or irrigation canal.

The JMP 2017 update estimated that in 2015, 29% of the global population (2.1 billion people) lacked “safely managed drinking water”– meaning water at home, available, and safe. An additional 4.4 billion had a basic water service, but outside the home, not always available, or unsafe. The remaining 0.8 billion either had to walk more than 30 min to collect water from outside the home, used unprotected water sources, or took untreated water from rivers or lakes – sources likely to be contaminated.

Further information

See also