Improved water source

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Number of people without access to an improved water source, 2020

An improved water source (or improved drinking-water source or improved water supply) is a term used to categorize certain types or levels of water supply for monitoring purposes. It is defined as a type of water source that, by nature of its construction or through active intervention, is likely to be protected from outside contamination, in particular from contamination with fecal matter.[1]

The term was coined by the Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation of UNICEF and WHO in 2002 to help monitor the progress towards Goal Number 7 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The opposite of "improved water source" has been termed "unimproved water source" in the JMP definitions.

World map for SDG 6 Indicator 6.1.1 in 2020: "Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services".

The same terms are used to monitor progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Target 6.1, Indicator 6.1.1) from 2015 onwards.[2] Here, they are a component of the definition for "safely managed drinking water service".


During SDG period (2015 to 2030)[edit]

Indicator 6.1.1 of SDG 6 is "Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services". The term "safely managed drinking water services" is defined as: "Drinking water from an improved water source that is located on premises, available when needed and free from fecal and priority chemical contamination".[2]

In 2017, the JMP defined a new term: "basic water service". This is defined as the drinking water coming from an improved source, and provided the collection time is not more than 30 minutes for a round trip. A lower level of service is now called "limited water service" which is the same as basic service but the collection time is longer than 30 minutes.[2]

Service levels are defined as (from lowest to highest): Surface water, unimproved, limited, basic, safely managed.[2]

JMP Drinking water ladder
Safely Managed
Surface Water

During MDG period (2000 until 2015)[edit]

To allow for international comparability of estimates for monitoring the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the World Health Organization/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation defines "improved" drinking water sources as follows:

Water sources that are not considered as "improved" are:

Washing utensils and vegetables
  • Unprotected dug wells[3]
  • Unprotected springs[3]
  • Vendor provided water[3]
  • Cart with small tank/drum[3]
  • Bottled water, if the secondary source used by the household for cooking and personal hygiene is unimproved[3]
  • Tanker-truck[3]
  • Surface water[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "WHO / UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation". JMP website, WHO - UNICEF. Geneva, New York. June 10, 2012. Archived from the original on June 6, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d "Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. 2017 update and SDG baselines". Geneva: World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). 2017. p. 8.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Improved and unimproved water sources and sanitation facilities". JMP website, WHO - UNICEF. Archived from the original on October 3, 2015. Retrieved June 10, 2012.