Access to food, safe water, sanitation, hygiene, safety, and peace is the most basic human need for human health and well-being. We have ample safe drinking water to serve the whole of humanity but billions of people will lack access to these basic services in 2030 unless progress multiplies and awareness happens. Decades of misuse, poor management, over-extraction of groundwater, and contamination of freshwater supplies, demand for water is rising owing to rapid population growth, urbanization, and increasing water needs from the agriculture, industry, and energy sectors have worsened water stress. Not only this, countries are facing growing challenges linked to degraded water-related ecosystems, water scarcity caused by climate change, and underinvestment in water and sanitation. Half the world’s population is already experiencing severe water scarcity at least one month a year.
The United Nations General Assembly in 2015 established 17 Sustainable Development Goals, one of which is “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” The official phrase for this goal is “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”
The UN has defined 8 Targets for SDG 6 and everyone can help to make sure that we meet the Global Goals.
- In 2020, 74 percent of the global population had access to safely managed drinking water services, up from 70 percent in 2015. Still, two billion people live without safely managed drinking water services, including 1.2 billion people lacking even a basic level of service, in 2020.
- Between 2015 and 2020, the population with safely managed sanitation increased from 47 percent to 54 percent and the population with access to handwashing facilities with soap and water in the home increased from 67 percent to 71 percent. Rates of progress for these basic services would need to quadruple for universal coverage to be reached by 2030.
- At the current rates of progress, 1.6 billion people will lack safely managed drinking water, 2.8 billion people will lack safely managed sanitation, and 1.9 billion people will lack basic hand hygiene facilities in 2030.
- Eight out of 10 people who lack even basic drinking water services live in rural areas, and about half of them live in the least developed countries (LDCs).
- Water use efficiency worldwide rose from $17.4 per cubic meter in 2015 to $19.4 per cubic meter in 2019, a 12 percent efficiency increase.
- Assessment of rivers, lakes, and aquifers in 97 countries in 2020 shows that 60 percent of water bodies have good water quality. For at least 3 billion people, the quality of the water they rely upon is unknown owing to a lack of monitoring.
- From 2015 to 2020, the population practicing open defecation decreased by a third, from 739 million people to 494 million. The world is on track to eliminate open defecation by 2030.
- Over the past 300 years, over 85 percent of the planet’s wetlands have been lost, mainly through drainage and land conversion, with many remaining wetland areas degraded. Since 1970, 81 percent of species dependent on inland wetlands have declined faster than those relying on other biomes, and an increasing number of these species are facing extinction.
- Across the world, water stress levels remained safe at 18.6 percent in 2019. However, Southern Asia and Central Asia registered high levels of water stress at over 75 percent, whereas Northern Africa registered a critical water stress level of over 100 percent. Since 2015, water stress levels have increased significantly in Western Asia and Northern Africa.
- Data from 2017 and 2020 suggest only 32 countries have 90 percent or more of their transboundary waters covered by cross-border cooperative arrangements.
The 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has highlighted the importance of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in protecting human health. At the same time, this pandemic has exposed basic and fundamental weaknesses in our global systems and highlighted the need to respond with urgency and determination. Talking about SDG Goal 6, which demonstrates about access to clean water and sanitation to all is affected badly by this novel virus. Today the world is being asked to wash hands multiple times a day, wash and sanitize every object brought from outside, sanitize all public places, and transport at a certain interval in a day. Water consumption, as well as wastewater generation all across the globe, have increased manifold. Already many countries in South and South-East Asia are suffering from a water crisis and do not have access to safe drinking water and sanitation. A huge amount of water is being used for handwashing all across the globe and thereby posing a serious threat to the available freshwater which is available in limited quantity. As per Sustainable Development Goals Report (2019), 2 out of 5 people worldwide do not have a basic handwashing facility with soap and water at home and by 2030, 700 million could be displaced by intense water scarcity. This is scary and this requires a good amount of effort to overcome.
What Can We do to Solve This:
We should stop dumping chemicals and waste into the environment, invest in sanitation, and raise awareness on best hygienic practices. We should protect the natural resources and avoid water pollution. We should restore ecosystems to secure access to safe water.