Sustainable Development Goal 6 seeks to ensure the availability of sustainable water and sanitation for everyone, everywhere by the year 2030. This goal aims to ensure access to clean drinking water, hygiene education, and protect water-related ecosystems to avoid unnecessary disease and death, as well as the unnecessary destruction of our natural resources.


BY 2030
  • Ensure access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.
  • End open defecation and provide access to sanitation and hygiene, particularly for women and girls and those in vulnerable circumstances.
  • Improve water quality, wastewater treatment, and safe reuse, which involves reducing pollution, eliminating dumping of hazardous materials, and increasing recycling initiatives around the world.
  • Increase water-use efficiency and ensure freshwater supplies to decrease water scarcity and increase water supply for those suffering from water scarcity.
  • Implement integrated water resources management for the efficient, equitable, and sustainable use of water.
  • Protect and ensure water-related ecosystems, particularly freshwater, including lakes, rivers, groundwater, wetlands, and mountains.
  • Expand water and sanitation support to developing countries, encompassing the expansion of international cooperation and capacity-building support, as well water and sanitation programmes such as water harvesting, desalination, and wastewater treatment.


In July 2022, the annual High Level Political Forum was held to assess the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, to be achieved by 2030. The statistics and data presented in the progress report following the forum provides some of the most up-to-date information regarding Sustainable Development Goal 6, Clean Water and Sanitation.

Access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene is the most basic human need for health and survival yet may be considered a luxury due to these current global figures. Decades of water mismanagement, misuse, and overextraction, coupled with rapid population growth, has drastically increased the demand for water. Progress towards this goal must quadruple if it is to be achieved by 2030.11

Climate change has exacerbated existing challenges and is linked to the degradation of water-related ecosystems, water scarcity, and natural disasters which impact access to clean water. This has impacted access to water in a variety of sectors, including agriculture, industry, and energy sectors. 12 Water scarcity will also lead to an estimated 700 million climate refugees by 2030.13
733 million people live in a region with high and critical levels of water stress . Levels of water stress have increased since 2015, registering highs of over 75% in Southern and Central Asia and have registered a critical water stress level of over 100% in Northern Africa. 16
Despite worrying statistics, during the period of 2015-2020, safely managed drinking water services increased from 70% to 74%. Additionally, the population with access to safely managed sanitation increased by 7% and access to handwashing facilities in the home increased to 71%. However, the rate of this progress must increase in order to achieve universal coverage.17
For 3 billion people worldwide, the quality of water they rely upon is unknown due to lack of monitoring.18 Globally, the rate of implementation of improved water management resources needs to double to ensure sustainable and equitable distribution of water.19
The past few centuries have seen the degradation of wetland ecosystems, with up to 85% of wetland expanse lost.20 Wetlands are fundamental for preserving biodiversity and serve an essential function for those living in areas dependent on wetlands for agriculture and food production.21 Furthermore, wetland ecosystems provide valuable climate change mitigation as they can retain much larger emissions of methane and carbon monoxide than their terrestrial counterparts.22

The World After COVID-19


The Covid-19 Pandemic had a catastrophic effect on progress towards each of the Sustainable Development Goals and Clean Water and Sanitation is no exception. However, what makes SDG 6 unique is its focus on hygiene and sanitation which was an integral focus throughout the course of the pandemic. Covid-19 brought these issues to the forefront, particularly handwashing. Despite a 4% increase between 2015 and 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic 2.3 billion households lacked basic handwashing facilities, over half of which were in the sub-Saharan Africa region.23 The investment in accessible and sustainable hygiene is essential to our response to pandemics now and in the future.


The Salvation Army provides water and utility bill assistance throughout North America to help those in need pay their bills and receive fundamental utilities. One such program in Birmingham, Alabama, the H20 Foundation, which is managed and administered by The Salvation Army provides aid for low-income, disabled, and elderly residents who need assistance paying their water and sewer bills, as well as offering plumbing repair.24 In an area where nearly a quarter of the population lives under the poverty line, this a vital service in providing clean water and sanitation.25



Water is essential for agriculture. Climate change has impacted the scope and frequency of irregular and sometimes destructive weather events, particularly those related to water. For the past 5 years, Kenya has suffered from extreme drought that has doubled the level of food insecurity in the country between 2021 and 2022. 26 Agriculture in the region has been severely impacted, with harvests failing and livestock dying. In response, The Salvation Army has established the “Food for Fees” program in Northern which provides food to schools for students in exchange for lower school fees. This program will serve 9 secondary schools and 50 primary schools and provide nutrition while cutting the financial burden for education on students and their families.27 In addition, where water is not available, The Salvation Army will be addressing that need with their tanker based in Turkana. This case is just one example of how water stress causes a ripple effect which decreases the quality of life for many.



During the pandemic, The International Salvation Army took action and provided emergency services where there was a need, from medical to food assistance. In Bangladesh, our organization distributed 10,000 bottles of hand sanitiser throughout the community, as well as installing handwashing facilities. In vulnerable communities, The Salvation Armu also provided over a thousand hygiene packs to try and minimize the impact of the pandemic.



As an international non-profit organisation, The Salvation Army participates in International Development Programme throughout the 133 countries in which we are present. With the help of the Australian Government, Salvation Army Australia has implemented a food and WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) program in Northern Malawi.28 This programme helps train farmers in Conservation Agriculture, increasing food security and household income for many.


South Africa


Each year, the international community celebrates World Water Day to celebrate water and raise awareness of Sustainable Development Goal 6. To commemorate these celebrations, The Salvation Army in South Africa drilled boreholes for two communities in the province of Mpumalanga. In an area that is increasingly experiencing water stress and relies on agriculture, these boreholes will provide essential, life-giving resources to residents.

Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation. The Global Goals. (2022, March 15). Retrieved October 28, 2022, from
SDG goal 6: Clean water and sanitation. UNICEF DATA. (2021, February 17). Retrieved October 28, 2022, from
Access to drinking water. UNICEF DATA. (2022, October 24). Retrieved October 28, 2022, from
Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation. The Global Goals. (2022, March 15). Retrieved October 28, 2022, from
6World Health Organization. (n.d.). Diarrhoea. World Health Organization. Retrieved November 18, 2022, from
7United Nations Statistics Division. (n.d.). SDG indicators. United Nations. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from
8United Nations. (n.d.). Water and Sanitation - United Nations Sustainable Development. United Nations. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from
9United Nations Statistics Division. (2022, July 7). SDG indicators. United Nations. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from
10 Ibid.
11United Nations. (2022, July). Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from
12 Ibid.
13United Nations Statistics Division. (n.d.). SDG indicators. United Nations. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from
14United Nations. (2022, July). Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from
15defined by the European Environment Agency as “when the demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period or when poor quality restricts its use”. Water stress. European Environment Agency. (2018, November 8). Retrieved October 28, 2022, from
16United Nations. (2022, July). Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from
17 Ibid.
18 Ibid.
19 Ibid.
20 Ibid.
21United Nations. (2022). Extended report - SDG indicators. United Nations. Retrieved November 22, 2022, from
22 Ibid.
23Hygiene and hand washing statistics. UNICEF DATA. (2022, September 6). Retrieved November 21, 2022, from
24H20 Foundation Water Bill Assistance. Salvation Army of Birmingham AL. (2020, April 8). Retrieved November 21, 2022, from,Army%20at%20205.328.2420%20to%20see%20if%20you%20qualify.
25U.S. Census Bureau quickfacts: Birmingham City, Alabama. United States Census Bureau. (2022, September 15). Retrieved November 21, 2022, from
26Kenya territories tackle drought crisis. The Salvation Army International - Kenya Territories Tackle Drought Crisis. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2022, from
27 Ibid.
28Improving access to income and stability through conservation agriculture. Improving Access to Income and Stability through Conservation Agriculture | International Development | The Salvation Army. (n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2022, from