Sustainable Development Goal 6

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Sustainable Development Goal 6
Sustainable Development Goal 6.png
Mission statement"Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all"
Commercial?No
Type of projectNon-Profit
Locationinternational
OwnerSupported by United Nation & Owned by the community
FounderUnited Nations
Established2015
Websitesdgs.un.org

Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6 or Global Goal 6) is about "clean water and sanitation for all". It is one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, the official wording is: "Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all."[1] The goal has eight targets to be achieved by 2030. Progress toward the targets will be measured by using eleven indicators.[2]

The six "outcome-oriented targets" include: Safe and affordable drinking water; end open defecation and provide access to sanitation, and hygiene, improve water quality, wastewater treatment and safe reuse, increase water-use efficiency and ensure freshwater supplies, implement IWRM, protect and restore water-related ecosystems. The two "means of achieving" targets are to expand water and sanitation support to developing countries, and to support local engagement in water and sanitation management.[3]

In 2017, 2.2 billion people lacked safely managed drinking water and 4.2 billion people lacked safely managed sanitation.[4] Three billion people worldwide lack basic hand-washing facilities at home.[4] Two in five healthcare facilities world-wide have no soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub (2016).[4] The COVID-19 pandemic has made this goal increasingly important.[5] However this pandemic could affect the ability of water utilities to meet this goal by increasing losses on revenues that would otherwise be used to make investments.[6]

SDG 6 is closely linked with other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For example, progress in SDG 6 will improve health SDG3 and improve school attendance, both of which contribute to alleviating poverty. In April 2020, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said: “Today, Sustainable Development Goal 6 is badly off track" and it “is hindering progress on the 2030 Agenda, the realization of human rights and the achievement of peace and security around the world".[7]

Background[edit]

Families collecting water from a water well in Niger

The United Nations (UN) has determined that access to clean water and sanitation facilities is a basic human right.[8] However few countries have included a human right to water in enforceable legislation. Over 2 billion people in the world lack access to water that is free of health risks.[9] By 2017, eighty countries provided access to clean water for more than 99% of their population.[10] From 2000 to 2017, the global population that lacked access to clean water decreased from nearly 20% to roughly 10%.[9]

Ending open defecation will require the provision of toilets and sanitation for 2.6 billion people as well as behavior change of the population.[11] To meet SDG targets for sanitation by 2030, nearly one-third of countries will need to accelerate progress to end open defecation, including Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Pakistan.[12] This will require cooperation between governments, civil society and the private sector.[13]

Safe drinking water and hygienic toilets protect people from disease and enable societies to be more productive economically. Attending school and work without disruption supports education and employment. Therefore, toilets at school and the workplace are included in the second target ("achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all"). Equitable sanitation and hygiene solutions address the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations, such as the elderly or people with disabilities.

In June 2019, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization released their 138-page report "Progress on household drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene 2000-2017: special focus on inequalities."[9] The report said that in 2017, 5.3 billion people—representing 71% of the population of the world—used a "safely managed drinking-water service—one that is "located on premises, available when needed, and free from contamination".[9] By 2017, 6.8 billion people—representing 90% of the world's population—used "at least a basic service", which included "an improved drinking-water source within a round trip of 30 minutes to collect water".[9] However, in 2017, there were still 785 million people who lacked "even a basic drinking-water service, including 144 million people who [were] dependent on surface water."[9] The report said that approximately 2 billion people used a "drinking water source contaminated with feces".[9] The report warned that diseases, including "diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio" are transmitted by contaminated water, which cause about 485, 000 diarrhoeal deaths each year.[9] It cautioned that 50% of the global population will be "living in water-stressed areas" by 2025.[9] As of 2017, 22% of health care facilities in the least developed countries had no water service, with similar numbers lacking sanitation and waste management services.[9]

A review of SDG progress by the UN in 2020 found that "increasing donor commitments to the water sector will remain crucial to make progress towards Goal 6".[5] This is why the UN has put in place a unifying initiative that improves support to countries known as SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework.[14]

Targets, indicators and progress[edit]

World map for Indicator 6.1.1 in 2015: Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services[15]
World map for Indicator 6.2.1a in 2015: Share of population using safely managed sanitation facilities[15]
World map for Indicator 6.2.1b in 2017: "Share of the population with basic handwashing facilities on premises"[15]

SDG 6 has eight targets. Six of them are to be achieved by the year 2030, one by the year 2020, and one has no target year.[16] Each of the targets also has one or two indicators which will be used to measure progress. In total there are 11 indicators to monitor progress for SDG6.[17] The main data sources for the SDG 6 targets and indicators come from the Integrated Monitoring Initiative for SDG 6 coordinated by UN-Water.[18] Each government must decide how to incorporate them into national planning processes, policies and strategies based on national realities, capacities, levels of development and priorities.[18]

The six "outcome-oriented targets" include: Safe and affordable drinking water; end open defecation and provide access to sanitation, and hygiene, improve water quality, wastewater treatment and safe reuse, increase water-use efficiency and ensure freshwater supplies, implement IWRM, protect and restore water-related ecosystems. The two "means of achieving" targets are to expand water and sanitation support to developing countries, and to support local engagement in water and sanitation management.[3]

The first three targets relate to drinking water supply, sanitation services, and wastewater treatment and reuse.[16]

An SDG 6 Baseline Report in 2018 found that less than 50 percent of countries have comparable baseline estimates for most SDG 6 global indicators.[18]: 31  One reason is that many SDG 6 global indicators are new, and most have only limited time series, making it difficult to determine rates of progress.[18]: 31 

Target 6.1: Safe and affordable drinking water[edit]

The full title of Target 6.1 is: "By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all".[2]

This target has one indicator: Indicator 6.1.1 is the "Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services".[15]

The definition of "safely managed drinking water service" is: "Drinking water from an improved water source that is located on premises, available when needed and free from fecal and priority chemical contamination."[11]: 8  Between 2000 and 2015, the percentage of the global population using safely managed drinking water services has increased from 61 to 71 percent. But this remained unchanged in 2017. In total, 785 million people around the world still lacked basic drinking water services.[19]

In 2017, only 71 percent of the global population used safely managed drinking water. This means that 2.2 billion persons were still without safely managed drinking water in 2017.[5]

Compared to 2017, 74% of the world's population will have access to safely managed drinking water in 2020. This is an improvement over the past, but 2 billion people still do not have access to safely managed drinking water, especially in rural areas and the least developed countries. In 2020, 771 million people still lack access to even basic drinking water services. 8 out of 10 of these people live in rural areas, and nearly half live in the least developed countries; none of the SDG regions are currently expected to have universal coverage by 2030, and in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people lacking access to safe managed drinking water has increased by more than 40% since 2000. At the current rate of progress, the global target of universal access to safely managed drinking water by 2030 would need to be quadrupled.[20]

Target 6.2: End open defecation and provide access to sanitation and hygiene[edit]

The full title of Target 6.2 is: "By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations."[2]

This target has one indicator: Indicator 6.2.1 is the "Proportion of population using (a) safely managed sanitation services and (b) a hand-washing facility with soap and water".[21]

The definition of "safely managed sanitation" service is: "Use of improved facilities that are not shared with other households and where excreta are safely disposed of in situ or transported and treated offsite."[11]: 8  Improved sanitation facilities are those designed to hygienically separate excreta from human contact.[11]: 6 

Targets 6.1 and 6.2 are usually reported on together because they are both part of the WASH sector and have the same custodian agency, the Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP).[11]

The statistic in the 2017 baseline estimate by the Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) is that 4.5 billion people currently do not have safely managed sanitation.[11]

Unimproved sanitation example: pit latrine without slab in Lusaka, Zambia

Globally, the proportion of the population using safely managed sanitation services increased from 28 percent in 2000 to 45 percent in 2017. Latin America and the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, and East and Southeast Asia recorded the largest increase. In total, there are still 701 million people around the world who still had to practice open defecation in 2017.[19] This number had reduced in 2020 to 673 million persons who practised open defecation.[5]

As of 2017, two-thirds of countries lacked baseline estimates for SDG indicators on hand washing, safely managed drinking water, and sanitation services.[22]

In 2017, about 60 percent of people worldwide have basic hand-washing facilities with soap and water at home. However, within the least developed countries, only 38 percent had such facilities, translating to about 3 billion people still without basic handwashing facilities at home.[19]

In 2020, a report by the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development found that "Billions of people throughout the world still lack access to safely managed water and sanitation services and basic handwashing facilities at home, which are critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19".[5] However, this same pandemic has most likely caused a reduction in access to safely managed sanitation.[23]

Target 6.3: Improve water quality, wastewater treatment, and safe reuse[edit]

Target 6.3 is formulated as "By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally".[2] This is also a sanitation-related target, as wastewater treatment is part of sanitation.

The target has two indicators:[21]

  • Indicator 6.3.1: Proportion of domestic and industrial wastewater flows safely treated
  • Indicator 6.3.2: Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality

The current status for Indicator 6.3.2 is that: "Preliminary estimates from 79 mostly high- and higher-middle income countries in 2019 suggest that, in about one quarter of the countries, less than half of all household wastewater flows were treated safely."[5]

Preserving natural sources of water is very important to achieve universal access to safe and affordable drinking water.

A man selling drinking water

Target 6.4: Increase water-use efficiency and ensure freshwater supplies[edit]

Target 6.4 is formulated as "By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity."[2]

This target has two indicators:[21]

  • Indicator 6.4.1: Change in water-use efficiency over time
  • Indicator 6.4.2: Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources

The current situation regarding water stress was summarized as follows: "In 2017, Central and Southern Asia and Northern Africa registered very high water stress – defined as the ratio of freshwater withdrawn to total renewable freshwater resources – of more than 70 percent". This is followed by Western Asia and Eastern Asia, with high water stress of 54 percent and 46 percent, respectively.[5]

Target 6.5: Implement IWRM[edit]

Target 6.5 is formulated as: "By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate."[2]

The two indicators include:[21]

  • Indicator 6.5.1 Degree of integrated water resources management
  • Indicator 6.5.2 Proportion of transboundary basin area with an operational arrangement for water cooperation

A review in 2020 stated that: "In 2018, 60 percent of 172 countries reported very low, low and medium-low levels of implementation of integrated water resources management and were unlikely to meet the implementation target by 2030."[5]

The same review stated that: "According to data from 67 countries, the average percentage of national transboundary basins covered by an operational arrangement was 59 percent in the period 2017–2018. Only 17 countries reported that all of their transboundary basins were covered by such arrangements."[5]

Target 6.6: Protect and restore water-related ecosystems[edit]

Target 6.6 is: "By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes."[2]

It has one indicator: Indicator 6.6.1 is the "Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time".[21]

It is expected that the adverse effects of climate change can decrease the extent of freshwater bodies, thereby worsening ecosystems and livelihoods.[5]

Target 6.a: Expand water and sanitation support to developing countries[edit]

Target 6.a is: "By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling, and reuse technologies."[2]

It has one indicator: Indicator 6.a.1 is the "Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan".[21]

In 2015, global ODA allocations to the water sector totalled us $8.6 billion, including ensuring basic water supply and sanitation, and improving agricultural water resources and hydropower. However,80% of countries fail to meet water and sanitation targets because of insufficient funding [6].

SDG 6 is not going well because of poor policy implementation, staff shortages, inadequate funding, and the limited impact of aid money when consistent long-term investments are not put into place.[24] Technological innovation and more effective management are the foundations for advancing SDG 6 in the context of aid funding shortfalls.Therefore, reducing capital expenditure can save a lot of costs. For rural areas in developing countries, it is necessary to use appropriate materials, optimize procurement and eliminate middlemen[7].

In 2019, a document by the UN found that: "Following several years of steady increases and after reaching $9 billion in 2016, official development assistance (ODA) disbursements to the water sector declined by 2 percent from 2016 to 2017. However, ODA commitments to the water sector jumped by 36 percent between 2016 and 2017, indicating a renewed focus by donors on the sector."[25]

One year later in April 2020 it was stated that "ODA disbursements to the water sector increased to $9 billion, or 6 per cent, in 2018, following a decrease in such disbursements in 2017".[5]

Over 2 billion people lack properly managed drinking water. An additional 1.6 billion are subjects of poor sanitation. If the status quo persists, the world will not have enough water to meet demand by 2030 hence making it impossible to meet SDG 6- safe drinking water and sanitation for all.  Climate change is also making the situation of water availability worse as it negatively impacts on world water systems through increased incidents of drought, floods, and rainfall unreliability. To overcome the problem of water crisis, the Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP) collaborates with several countries to make water available to its citizen. In 2020, GWSP collaborated with the Dominican Republic in the province of Espaillat to renovate and adopt innovative ways of water collection and treatment where the water treatment system has been dysfunctional since 2004. This has improved sanitation, hygiene, and availability of clean drinking water.

Target 6.b: Support local engagement in water and sanitation management[edit]

Target 6.b is: "Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management."[2]

It has one indicator: Indicator 6.b.1 is the "Proportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management".[21]

Custodian agencies[edit]

Custodian agencies are in charge of reporting on the following indicators:[11][18]

Challenges[edit]

Impact of COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the urban poor living in the slums with little or no access to clean water.[26] [27]The pandemic has shown the importance of sanitation, hygiene and adequate access to clean water to prevent diseases. According to the World Health Organization, handwashing is one of the most effective actions one can take to reduce the spread of pathogens and prevent infections, including the COVID-19 virus.[28]

The world is being asked to wash hands multiple times in a day, wash and sanitize every object brought from outside, and sanitize all public transport at a certain interval in a day.[29] The water consumption, as well as the wastewater generation all across the globe, has now increased manifold. The UN-Habitat is working with partners to facilitate access to running water and hand washing in informal settlements.[28] With the increased exploitation of water resources in 2020 its reported that by 2030 700 million people might be displaced by water scarcity.[30]

Supply and demand-sided challenges[edit]

Clean water and sanitation are not only affected by macro-environmental trends but they are also affected by large-scale industrial targets and water consumption habits.[31] As developing nations in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-South-East Asia become more affluent, these countries have unique challenges to recycle and protect water ecosystems. At the establishment of Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, the previous MDGs had left 663 million needing improved water access.[32]

In 2019, GLAAS report (UN-Water Global Analysis And Assessment Of Sanitation And Drinking-Water) found that only 6 of 101 countries were fully equipped with financial and human resources to tackle cleaning and sanitizing water supplies within their own countries.[33] Less than 15% of countries are adequately meeting the goal of properly funding clean water and sanitation efforts within their own countries. This funding shortfall affects other areas relating to SDG 6 and its progress indicators. For example, while clean drinking water efforts have been funded relatively well, sanitation, waste-water management, and hygiene areas have stalled in their progress towards 2030.[34]

Much of the focus in the next decade is on Sub-Saharan African countries that will likely not meet their targets if growing funding is not secure within the next decade. For example in two countries in North-Eastern Africa where utilities taxes are higher than their surrounding regions, public utilities are still not able to keep up with the regular demand for water.[35] In further complicating the issue, multi-level governance remains an important factor in efficiently directing funds to where they are needed. Sustainable water management practices are only possible if there is a local solution for Sub-Saharan Africa that integrates existing water management techniques and practices.[36]

Monitoring[edit]

High-level progress reports for all the SDGs are published in the form of reports by the United Nations Secretary General. The most recent one is from April 2020.[5] The report before that was from May 2019.[25]

Additionally, updates and progress can also be found on the SDG website which is managed by the United Nations.[4]

Monitoring national-level progress of SDG 6 through internationally agreed indicators has been the focus of intense scrutiny and considerable resourcing by international organizations and national governments. Indicators for SDG 6 are monitored and reported on at an international level by United Nations (UN) custodian agencies under the UN-Water managed Integrated Monitoring Initiative for SDG 6 (IMI), although national data and results will form the basis of all monitoring and reporting.[37]

In many cases, surrogate indicators will have to be used to measure progress (or the lack of it). Thus, implementation of the SDGs implies continuous monitoring and periodic evaluation to check whether the direction and pace of development are right.[38] Robust indicators will do two things: enable the SDG targets to act as a management tool to help countries and the global community create evidence-based implementation strategies and allocate resources accordingly; and act as a report card to measure SDG progress.[37]

Links with other SDGs[edit]

Sustainable Development Goals

The SDGs are highly interdependent. Therefore, the provision of clean water and sanitation for all is a precursor to achieving many of the other SDGs.[39] WASH experts have stated that without progress on Goal 6, the other goals and targets cannot be achieved.[40][41]

For example, sanitation improvements can lead to more jobs (SDG 8) which would also lead to economic growth.[42] SDG 6 progress improves health (SDG 3) and social justice (SDG 16).[43] Recovering the resources embedded in excreta and wastewater (like nutrients, water, and energy) contributes to achieving SDG 12 (sustainable consumption and production) and SDG 2 (end hunger). Ensuring adequate sanitation and wastewater management along the entire value chain in cities contributes to SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and SDG 1 (no poverty).[42]

Sanitation systems with a resource recovery and reuse focus are getting increased attention.[44] They can contribute to achieving at least fourteen of the SDGs, especially in an urban context.[42]

Organizations[edit]

The Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) has made it its mission to help achieve Targets 6.2 and 6.3.[45][46] Global organizations such as Oxfam, UNICEF, WaterAid and many small NGOs as well as universities, research centers, private enterprises, government-owned entities etc. are all part of SuSanA and are dedicated to achieving SDG 6.[47]

US Based Organizations[edit]

In the US there are over three thousand tax-exempt organizations working on issues related to UN SDG 6, according to data filed with the Internal Revenue Service –IRS and aggregated by X4Impact.[48] X4Impact, with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation,[49] Hewlett Foundation,[50] and Giving Tech Labs, created a free online interactive tool Clean Water and Sanitation in the US.[51]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  51. ^ "X4Impact - X4i.org - Clean Water and Sanitation in the US - Report". X4impact. Retrieved 2022-05-09.

External links[edit]

The offline app allows you to download all of Wikipedia's medical articles in an app to access them when you have no Internet.
Wikipedia's health care articles can be viewed offline with the Medical Wikipedia app.