Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water: 2015 Update and MDG Assessment

Organization(s): UNICEF, WHO
Year: 2015
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In 2000 the Member States of the United Nations signed the Millennium Declaration, which later gave rise to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Goal 7, to ensure environmental sustainability, included a target that challenged the global community to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. The WHO/UNICEF Joint
Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP), which began monitoring the sector in 1990, has provided regular estimates of progress towards the MDG targets, tracking changes over the 25 years to 2015.

In 1990, global coverage of the use of improved drinking water sources and sanitation facilities stood at 76 per cent and 54 per cent, with respective MDG targets of 88 per cent and 77 per cent by 2015. The challenges were huge, as the global figures hid vast disparities in coverage between countries, many of which were battling poverty, instability and rapid population growth.

The JMP has monitored the changes in national, regional and global coverage, establishing a large and robust database and presenting analysis not only of the indicators detailed in the original framework for the MDGs, but also many other parameters. The analysis has helped shed light on the nature of progress and the extent to which the ambition and vision of the MDGs have been achieved. It has also helped to identify future priorities to be addressed in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

Despite significant progress in water and sanitation, much still remains to be done. This report shows how the world has changed since 1990. It provides an assessment of progress towards the MDG target, and insight into the remaining challenges.The report goes on to examine trends over the MDG period
by region and by level of service. It pays particular attention to the numbers of people who have gained the highest level of service in drinking water supply – piped water on premises – and those with no service at all, who use surface water for drinking and practise open defecation.

In order to understand the nature of progress, it is important to look carefully at the way improvements
in water and sanitation have benefited different socio economic groups. This report sheds light on equality gaps between urban and rural dwellers, and between the richest and poorest segments of the population. It presents several new ways to visualize progress on extending service to the poor, designed to reveal the nature of inequalities and give the reader insight into the great challenge that still exists in ensuring that progress reaches everyone.

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