United NationsDepartment 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 safely managed sanitation services, including 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 wastewater 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 implementation (0-100)


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 throughout the world still lack access to safely managed water and sanitation services and basic handwashing facilities at home, which are critical to preventing spreading the spread of COVID-19. Immediate action to improve Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for All (WASH) is critical to preventing infection and containing its spread.

In 2017, only 71 per cent of the global population used safely managed drinking water and just 45 per cent used safely managed sanitation services, leaving 2.2 billion persons without safely managed drinking water, including 785 million without even basic drinking water, and 4.2 billion without safely managed sanitation. Of those, 673 million persons still practised open defecation.

In 2016, one in four health-care facilities throughout the world lacked basic water services, and one in five had no sanitation services.

In 2017, 3 billion persons lacked soap and water at home. In 2016, 47 per cent of schools worldwide lacked handwashing facilities with available soap and water, and 40 per cent of health-care facilities were not equipped to practise hand hygiene at points of care.

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.

In 2017, Central and Southern Asia and Northern Africa registered very high water stress – defined as the ratio of fresh water withdrawn to total renewable freshwater resources – of more than 70 per cent, followed by Western Asia and Eastern Asia, with high water stress of 54 per cent and 46 per cent, respectively.

In 2018, 60 per cent 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.

According to data from 67 countries, the average percentage of national transboundary basins covered by an operational arrangement was 59 per cent in the period 2017–2018. Only 17 countries reported that all of their transboundary basins were covered by such arrangements. ·

Globally, in 2018, slightly more than 2.1 per cent of land was covered by freshwater bodies, although unevenly distributed, ranging from 3.5 per cent in developed countries to only 1.4 per cent in developing countries and 1.2 per cent and 1 per cent in least developed countries and small island developing States, respectively. The adverse effects of climate change can decrease the extent of freshwater bodies, thereby worsening ecosystems and livelihoods.

ODA disbursements to the water sector increased to $9 billion, or 6 per cent, in 2018, following a decrease in such disbursements in 2017. However, ODA commitments fell by 9 per cent in 2018. Because countries have signalled a funding gap of 61 per cent between what is needed to achieve national drinking water and sanitation targets and available funding, increasing donor commitments to the water sector will remain crucial to make progress towards Goal 6.

Source: Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, Report of the Secretary-General, https://undocs.org/en/E/2020/57