Water and Sanitation

Assessing Africa's Progress towards the Millenium Development Goal 7C

«Halve the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015»

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From Millenium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals

In September 2000, leaders of 189 countries gathered at the United Nations headquarters and signed the historic Millennium Declaration, in which they committed to achieving a set of eight measurable goals. These Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) ranged from halving extreme poverty and hunger to promoting gender equality and reducing child mortality, by the target date of 2015. Goal 7 includes ensuring access to drinking water and sanitation for all.

As the MDGs era comes to a conclusion with the end of 2015, a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was created, which will carry on the momentum generated by the MDGs and fit into a global development framework beyond 2015. The new Agenda calls on countries to begin efforts to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.


Adequate drinking water source =
A drinking water source which, by the nature of its construction and when properly used, adequately protects the source from outside contamination, particularly faecal matter. Includes piped water into dwelling or to yard; public tap or standpipe; tubewell or borehole; protected dug well; protected spring; and rain water. (corresponds to JMP category improved source of drinking water)

Adequate sanitation facility =
A sanitation facility which hygienically separates human excreta from human contact. Includes flush toilet; piped sewer system; septic tank; flush or pour flush to pit latrine; and composting toilet. (corresponds to JMP category improved sanitation)

Open defecation =
No sanitation facilities. Includes defecation in the bush or field or ditch; excreta deposited on the ground and covered with a layer of earth (cat method); excreta wrapped and thrown into garbage; and defecation into surface water (drainage channel, beach, river, stream or sea). (corresponds to JMP category unimproved sanitation, no facilites)

Progress towards the MDG targets for water and sanitation was assessed as follows:

  • Met target = the 2015 estimate is within 1 % pt of the target value
  • Good progress = the 2015 estimate is greater than two thirds progress towards the target
  • Moderate progress = the 2015 estimate is between a third and two thirds progress towards the target
  • Limited or no progress = the 2015 estimate is lower than the third required
  • Progress unknown = assigned by the map authors in case of incomplete data

Data Source

The original datasets used for the production of the maps are provided by the WHO / UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation and are publicly available at wssinfo.org/data-estimates/tables (water, sanitation, open defecation) and wssinfo.org/handwashing (handwashing).
The JMP strategy was formulated by the WHO and UNICEF in 2009 and addresses the challenges to monitor drinking-water and sanitation access which arose in the run up to the MDG target.

The JMP derives the progress towards the MDG by using estimates from 1990 to 2015. These estimates are based on the following sources:

  • demographic and health surveys;
  • multiple indicator cluster surveys;
  • world health surveys;
  • living standards measurement surveys;
  • population and housing cencuses.

Find out more about the JMP and the data here.

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