Current status + progress
Universal access to safe drinking water is a fundamental need and human right. Securing access for all would go a long way in reducing illness and death, especially among children. “Safely managed” drinking water services represent an ambitious new rung on the ladder used to track progress on drinking water. Since 2000, 2 billion people have gained access to safely managed services (i.e., accessible on-premises, available when needed, and free from contamination). In 2020, 5.8 billion people used safely managed services and a further 2 billion people used basic services ( improved sources within 30 minutes per round trip to collect water).
However, 771 million people still lacked even a basic level of service, including 282 who used a “limited” water service (improved source from which water collection exceeds 30 minutes), 367 million who used unimproved sources and 122 million who still collected drinking water directly from rivers, lakes, and other surface water sources. The data reveal pronounced disparities, with the poorest and those living in rural areas least likely to use a basic service. In most countries, the burden of water collection continues to fall mainly to women and girls.
Notes on the data
WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene
Since 1990, WHO and UNICEF have tracked progress on global water and sanitation goals through the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP). The JMP monitors trends in coverage; helps build national monitoring capacity in developing countries; develops and harmonises questionnaires, indicators and definitions to ensure comparability of data over time and among countries; and informs policymakers of the status of the water supply and sanitation sector through annual publications. The JMP draws guidance from a technical advisory group of leading experts in water supply, sanitation and hygiene, and from institutions involved in data collection and sector monitoring. Further information about the JMP and its methodology can be found at the JMP website.
The JMP estimates for WASH in schools are based on information collected through national Education Management Information Systems (EMIS), censuses and surveys, as well as secondary sources (e.g. UNESCO UIS) in the absence of primary data. Data are harmonized to the extent possible based on the indicator definitions for ‘basic’ service. Further details on indicators, data sources and methods for WASH in schools estimates can be found at the JMP website, including recommended core questions to support harmonized monitoring: Core questions and indicators for monitoring WASH in schools in the SDGs.
Definitions of basic WASH services in schools
Schools with an improved drinking water source with water available at the time of the questionnaire or survey are classified as having ‘basic’ service. Schools without water available, but with an improved source are classified as having ‘limited’ service, and those with unimproved or no water source are classified as having ‘no service’.
Schools with improved sanitation facilities which are single-sex and usable at the time of the survey or questionnaire are classified as having ‘basic’ service. The term ‘usable’ refers to toilets or latrines that are accessible to students (doors are unlocked or a key is available at all times), functional (the toilet is not broken, the toilet hole is not blocked, and water is available for flush/pour-flush toilets), and private (there are closable doors that lock from the inside and no large gaps in the structure). Those using improved sanitation facilities which are either not single-sex or not usable are classified as having ‘limited’ service. However, pre-primary schools without single-sex toilets may still be considered to have ‘basic’ sanitation service if the toilets are usable. Schools with unimproved or no toilets are classified as having ‘no service’.
Schools with handwashing facilities with water and soap available at the time of the questionnaire or survey are considered to have ‘basic’ service. Those with handwashing facilities that have water available at the time of the questionnaire or survey, but no soap, are considered to have ‘limited’ service, while schools with no facilities or no water available for handwashing are classified as having ‘no service’.