Establishing Sustainable Development Goals for Household Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene

Establishing Sustainable Development Goals for Household Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene

Establishing Sustainable Development Goal Baselines for Household Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Services

Robert Bain, OrcID, Richard Johnston, Francesco Mitis, Christie Chatterley, and Tom Slaymaker


The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), through the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP), are responsible for global monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets for drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). The SDGs represent a fundamental shift in household WASH monitoring with a new focus on service levels and the incorporation of hygiene.

This article reflects on the process of establishing SDG baselines and the methods used to generate national, regional and global estimates for the new household WASH indicators. The JMP 2017 update drew on over 3000 national data sources, primarily household surveys (n = 1443), censuses (n = 309) and administrative data (n = 1494). Whereas most countries could generate estimates for basic drinking water and basic sanitation, fewer countries could report on basic handwashing facilities, water quality and the disposal of waste from onsite sanitation. Based on data for 96 and 84 countries, respectively, the JMP estimates that globally 2.1 billion (29%) people lacked safely managed drinking water services and 4.5 billion (61%) lacked safely managed sanitation services in 2015.

The expanded JMP inequalities database also finds substantial disparities by wealth and sub-national regions. The SDG baselines for household WASH reveal the scale of the challenge associated with achieving universal safely managed services and the substantial acceleration needed in many countries to achieve even basic services for everyone by 2030. Many countries have begun to localize the global SDG targets and are investing in data collection to address the SDG data gaps, whether through the integration of new elements in household surveys or strengthening collection and reporting of information through administrative and regulatory systems. 


WASH; Sustainable Development Goals; monitoring; equity; drinking water; sanitation; hygiene; handwashing

Water, November 2018, DOI:

Source: MDPI