Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
The sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)

Clean Water & Sanitation

Aims to “Ensure access to water and sanitation for all”.

Let's learn a little more about SDG 6.

  • Targets 8 Targets
  • Campaigns 5 Campaigns
  • Pledges 4100 Pledges
  • Actions Uploaded 4238 Actions Taken
  • Reading Material 10 Reading Material
  • Quiz 6 Quiz
  • Overview
  • Facts & Figures
  • Targets

Why Is It Important To Ensure Access to Water & Sanitation For All?

Water is an essential building block of life. Approximately 70% of our blue planet is made up of water, as is 60% of our body. Water is invaluable to our health, food, culture, environment, and cities. However, Earth’s water is a finite resource. Less than 3% of this is freshwater, while the rest is saltwater found in oceans and seas. Further, most of the freshwater is frozen in glaciers, ice caps, or in deep underground aquifers. Only less than 1% of Earth’s water is freshwater that is easily accessible for fulfilling our needs.

Access to water, sanitation and hygiene is a basic human right. Water is essential for health, poverty reduction, food security, peace and human rights, ecosystems and education. However, countries are increasingly facing growing challenges pertaining to water scarcity, water pollution, degraded ecosystems and lack of cooperation over transboundary water resources. Further, the demand for water has outpaced growth in population, and half of the world population is already experiencing severe water scarcity at least one month every year.

By managing our water sustainably, we can better manage our production of food and energy and contribute to decent work and economic growth. Moreover, we can preserve our water ecosystems, their biodiversity, and take action on climate change.

Water availability is becoming less predictable in many places. In some regions, droughts are exacer...

Water availability is becoming less predictable in many places. In some regions, droughts are exacerbating water scarcity and thereby negatively impacting people’s health and productivity and threatening sustainable development and biodiversity worldwide. Ensuring that everyone has access to sustainable water and sanitation services is a critical climate change mitigation strategy for the years ahead. Without better infrastructure and management, millions of people will continue to die every year from water-related diseases such as malaria and diarrhoea, and there will be further losses in biodiversity and ecosystem resilience, undermining prosperity and efforts towards a more sustainable future.


President Ikeda shares why it is critical to ensure all people have access to hygienic and safe water. He says, “....Large numbers of women and children are compelled to travel long distances to collect water, often having to endure long hours carrying heavy loads. Many people develop diseases as a result of consuming unhygienic water, leading to the deaths of great numbers of children each year. In this regard, providing access to safe water goes beyond issues such as poverty and income disparity. Ensuring that all people can live in dignity—no longer having to fear for their health or worry about the unnecessary burden of fetching their own water—is a core concern in the pursuit of basic human rights.” He further shares that access to safe water is “....the basis for protecting the life, livelihood and dignity of all.”


What Progress Has Been Made So Far In Terms of Ensuring Access to Water & Sanitation For All?

  • Rise in the proportion of the global population using safely managed drinking water between 2000 and 2017, from 61% to 71%. Particularly in regions like Central and Southern Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. 
  • Overall, 90% of the world’s population have at least basic drinking water services.
  • Proportion of the global population who use safely managed sanitation services increased from 28% in 2000 to 45% in 2017. Eastern and South-Eastern Asia have made the fastest progress. An additional 30% of the global population started using basic sanitation services.

How Can I As An Individual Apply Sustainable Human Behaviour To Achieve These Targets For SDG 4 To Help Achieve The Goal Of Quality Education?

  • Consciously turn off water taps when not in use / after each use.
  • Use chemical-free cleaners that use natural cleaning agents for household cleaning purposes; this would reduce release of household toxins into sewers and local water bodies.
  • Promote rainwater harvesting practices in our local communities where we reside.
  • Re-use wastewater such as from the air conditioner and RO water for cleaning purposes.
  • Read up about the water footprint of the everyday products we consume and make responsible and conscious decisions on our consumption habits and choices.  
  • Avoid wastage of water by only consuming such quantities which are required for use.
  • Spread awareness about the importance of water conservation on as many forums as possible, either on social media or on physical interactions.
  • Spread awareness and education to children, youth and all people about the harmful effects of water wastage.
  • Be mindful of unsafe WASH services (water, sanitation and hygiene) – ensure consumption of safe water, practice safe sanitation and hygiene for yourself and others. 
  • Practice proper use of washroom – be it public / at home
  • Wash your hands before and after eating anything. 
  • Educate others about the importance of frequently washing hands.
  • Ensure a proper waste disposal system is installed in your toilet / workplace / institute which disposes-off toilet waste in a proper way.
  • Educate young girls about and provide support to women for proper menstrual hygiene.
  • When going on a holiday to a beach or a mountain, do not throw any garbage in the water streams.
  • Do not throw away half consumed water bottles. Make sure the entire bottle of water is consumed.
  • Spread awareness among the poor on the importance of having a proper defecation system at home.

Did You Know These Facts About SDG 6 – Clean Water & Sanitation?

  • 1 in

    1 in 4 health care facilities lacks basic water services

  • 3 in

    3 in 10 people lack access to safely managed drinking water services and 6 in 10 people lack access to safely managed sanitation facilities.

  • 892 Million

    At least 892 million people continue to practice open defecation.

  • 3 Billion

    3 billion people worldwide lack basic hand washing facilities at home - the most effective method for Covid-19 prevention.

  • 80%

    Women and girls are responsible for water collection in 80 percent of households without access to water on premises.

  • 90%

    Between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of the global population using an improved drinking water source has increased from 76 percent to 90 percent.

  • 40%

    Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of the global population and is projected to rise. Over 1.7 billion people are currently living in river basins where water use exceeds recharge.

  • 700 Million

    Water scarcity could displace 700 million people by 2030.

  • 2.4 Billion

    2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines.

  • 80%

    More than 80 percent of wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into rivers or sea without any pollution removal.

  • 1000

    Each day, nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrheal diseases.

  • 70%

    Approximately 70 percent of all water abstracted from rivers, lakes and aquifers is used for irrigation.
    Floods and other water-related disasters account for 70 percent of all deaths related to natural disasters.

Targets For SDG 6 – Clean Water & Sanitation Set By The United Nations

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

    Target 6.1
  • 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.

    Target 6.2
  • 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.

    Target 6.3
  • 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.

    Target 6.4
  • By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate.

    Target 6.5
  • By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.

    Target 6.6
  • 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.

    Target 6.A
  • Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management.

    Target 6.B

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