With 87% of the world’s population or approximately 5.9 billion people using safe drinking water sources, the world is on track to meet or even exceed the drinking-water target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to the new WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) report Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water –2010 Update Report.
However, with almost 39% of the world’s population or over 2.6 billion people living without improved sanitation facilities, the report also points out that much more needs to be done to come close to the sanitation MDG target. If the current trend continues unchanged, the international community will miss the 2015 sanitation MDG by almost one billion people.
The good news is that open defecation is on the decline worldwide, with a global decrease from 25% in 1990 to 17% in 2008, representing a decrease of 168 million people practicing open defecation since 1990. However, this practice is still widely spread in Southern Asia, where an estimated 44% of the population defecate in the open.
Joint Monitoring Programme report
The JMP report presents the current status and trends in 209 countries or territories towards reaching the drinking-water and sanitation MDG target, along with an assessment as to what these trends reveal.
"We all recognize the vital importance of water and sanitation to human health and well-being and their role as an engine of development. The question now lies in how to accelerate progress towards achieving the MDG targets and most importantly how to leap a step further to ultimately achieve the vision of universal access", said Dr Maria Neira, WHO's Director for the Department of Public Health and Environment.
This report provides the clearest picture to date of the current use of improved sanitation facilities and improved sources of drinking-water throughout the world. The report is aimed to be used by policy-makers, donors, governmental and nongovernmental agencies to decide what needs to be done and where to focus their efforts to achieve these goals.
"We need to not only focus on reaching the water and sanitation MDG targets but also on achieving them with equity, ensuring that the most vulnerable groups and those hard to reach share in the successes achieved elsewhere," said Dr Tessa Wardlaw, UNICEF’s Chief of Statistics and Monitoring.
The report can be read at