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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Targets and Indicators



By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all


Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services



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


Proportion of population using (a) safely managed sanitation services and (b) a hand-washing facility with soap and water



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


Proportion of domestic and industrial wastewater flows safely treated


Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality



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


Change in water-use efficiency over time


Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources



By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate


Degree of integrated water resources management 


Proportion of transboundary basin area with an operational arrangement for water cooperation



By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes


Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time



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


Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan



Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management


Proportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management

Progress and Info

Billions of people still lack access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene, despite improvement in the provision of these basic services. Water scarcity is a growing problem in many parts of the world, and conflicts and climate change are exacerbating the issue. In addition, water pollution is a significant challenge which affects both human health and the environment in many countries. Achieving universal coverage by 2030 will require a 6-fold increase in current global rates of progress on drinking water, a 5-fold increase for sanitation, and an 8-fold increase for hygiene. Boosting infrastructure investment, improving cross-sectoral coordination, and addressing climate change is key to getting SDG6 back on track.

Targets 6.1 and 6.2: Despite progress, 2.2 billion people still lacked safely managed drinking water services, 3.4 billion lacked safely managed sanitation services, and 1.9 billion lacked basic hygiene services in 2022. While the majority live in rural areas, the unserved population is decreasing in rural areas and stagnating or increasing in urban areas. Achieving universal coverage by 2030 will require an increase of 5 to 8 times the current rate.

Target 6.3: An estimated 58% of wastewater generated by households was safely treated in 2022, based on data from 140 countries and territories. Trends for domestic wastewater suggest that little, if any, progress is being made towards the target of halving the proportion of unsafe discharges by 2030.

Target 6.4: Water use efficiency rose from $17.4/m3 in 2015 to $18.9/m3 worldwide in 2020, which represents a 9% efficiency increase. Around 57% of countries presented a water use efficiency equivalent to $20/m3 or less in 2020, compared to 58% in 2015.

Target 6.4: At the global level, water stress remains at a safe level of 18.2% in 2020, but this figure masks vast regional variations and indicates a 1.2% increase from 2015 to 2020. In 2020, water stress levels ranged from high in Southern Asia and Central Asia to critical in Northern Africa. The situation in Western Asia and Northern Africa is particularly concerning since it registered an 18% increase in water stress levels from 2015 to 2020.

Target 6.5: One in two countries still lacks effective frameworks for sustainable water management. A lack of cross-sector coordination over water use, between agriculture, industry, energy production, and household supply, threatens the achievement of several SDGs, including those on food, energy, and life on land. While progress has been made globally since 2015—from 49/100 in 2017 to 54/100 in 2020—the rate of implementation needs to double to achieve the target.

Target 6.5: Data from 2017 and 2020 show that only 32 out of 153 countries that share transboundary rivers, lakes, and aquifers have 90% or more of those waters covered by operational arrangements.

Target 6.6: The extent of surface water bodies, including lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, is rapidly changing across the entire planet, with one in five river basins experiencing high (i.e. above natural) fluctuations in surface water during the last 5 years.

Target 6.a: ODA disbursements to the water sector decreased between 2015 and 2021 from $9.1 billion to $7.8 billion, a decrease of 15%. Total ODA commitments to the water sector have also reduced by 13% from $10.8 billion in 2015 to $9.4 billion in 2021. Commitments peaked at $13 billion in 2017 and have decreased every year since.

Target 6.b: Since 2016, the percentage of countries having procedures for local community participation defined in law or policy has remained high (over 70%) for both rural drinking water and for water resources management. However, the percentage of countries with high levels of participation remains consistently low (under 40%).