The SDG Roundtable: SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation

The SDG Roundtable: SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation

Recall the last time you visited the washroom in your home. Once you open the shower water may start sprinkling on to your body. Aside from that, whenever you are thirsty you may run to the water jar in your own kitchen,  and have pure clean water fill your glass. However, the eye-popping fact is that presently in the world more people appear to have a mobile phone than a lavatory.

Sustainable Development 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. As the UN explains, there is sufficient freshwater on the planet to serve the whole population. Then, it is a matter about the poor infrastructure, investment and planning that has led to the inadequacy of water supply ,sanitation and hygiene facilities among the global community. Though access to clean water is a basic human need, unfortunately millions of poor souls die from diseases associated with improper sanitation and hygiene facilities. The UN has defined 8 targets and 11 indicators for SDG 6. Targets specify the goals, and indicators represent the metrics by which the world aims to track whether these targets are achieved. The 8 targets are as follows:

  • Ensure safe and  affordable drinking water
  • End open defecation and provide access to sanitation and hygiene
  • Improve water quality, wastewater and treatment and safe use
  • Increase water-use efficiency and ensure freshwater supplies
  • Implement integrated water resources management
  • Protect and restore water-related ecosystems
  • Expand water and sanitation support to developing countries
  • Expand water and sanitation support to developing countries

The global status and the progress made so far as indicated on is quite significant. Accordingly, 74% of the world’s population use safe drinking water and 54% of the population has access to safe sanitation services. When it comes to hygiene 71% of the global community have access to basic hand washing facilities. Wastewater management on a global scale shows that 56% of the world’s household wastewater is safely treated. 72% of the world’s monitored water bodies have good ambient water quality. Moreover 19$/m3 is the ratio of dollar value added to the volume of water used at the global level. The implementation of integrated water resources management(iWRM) at the global level is at a degree of 54%. Although it appears that substantial progress has been made in increasing access to clean drinking water and sanitation, lots of people still lack basic water and sanitary facilities. 

Currently in a situation where the whole world is caught up to its neck by a dangerous pandemic, the importance of sanitation, hygiene and adequate access to clean water is very much felt. We all are aware that hand washing is one of the effective precautions we all can take to stay away from the virus. Yet, we must also reflect upon the masses who still  lack safe water and sanitation. Nearly three billion people do not have access to even basic hand-washing facilities at home.

Considering the present local scenario as demonstrated on, 93% of the population in Sri Lanka use a safely managed drinking water service. Sanitary facilities at home are in a condition where 98% of the local population use a safely managed sanitation service. Moreover 6$/m3 is the value added from the use of water by people and the economy in Sri Lanka. The degree of implementation of integrated water resources management(IWRM) in Sri Lanka is reported to be at a degree of 47%. An amount of 148 m$ was disbursed to Sri Lanka in 2019 as water-and-sanitation-related official development assistance. The IWA-Water and Development Congress & Exhibition in Colombo, Sri Lanka, was held from 1st to 5th December 2019, to discuss on solutions and innovations needed to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals water and sanitation goal, SDG 6 by 2030.

As the saying by W.H Auden goes, “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”, we as tiny individuals can also contribute to implement Goal 6. It all starts from the little things like remembering to close a tap while washing dishes and taking showers.

– Rtr. Ashmini Karunarathne

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