SWA & the SDGs

The benefits of access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) cannot be underestimated. Satisfying the physical need for a safe drinking water source is the most immediate advantage of gaining access. But safe water is only the tip of the iceberg, as it can only be fully realized when there is also access to adequate sanitation and good hygiene practices. Access to water, sanitation and hygiene are interconnected – and are also essential for attaining other development goals, including the elimination of poverty and hunger, reduction of inequalities and good health and well-being. Access to sanitation and water also has profound wider socio-economic impacts, particularly for women and girls.

That WASH targets are enshrined in a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal – SDG 6 – is testament to its fundamental role in sustainable development. WASH will be critical to the wider success or failure of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; nearly every one of the other goals rely in some way on WASH. Critically, the United Nations General Assembly recognizes access to safe water and sanitation as human rights, and these rights inform the SDG targets on WASH.

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In order to achieve universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene, and consequently the wider SDG Agenda, an adequate enabling environment and strong systems must be in place at country level.

Through our joint work, SWA serves as a platform for partners to assess their national processes and institutions – and how they can be strengthened to improve outcomes and reach the SDGs. SWA promotes country-led, coordinated, multi-stakeholder efforts to strengthen national WASH sector planning, budgeting, investment and accountability so that money is invested where needed and in a way that is most effective, and will lead to the elimination of inequalities in access to water and sanitation. 

Evidence shows that when countries have effective country-led WASH processes which begin to yield stronger and more sustainable services, they attract further investment from both domestic and external sources. This leads to a ‘virtuous cycle’, increasing capacity and investor confidence, and therefore more sector finance – accelerating WASH coverage even further. 

SWA partners, led by the government, bring together the analysis, the tools, the dialogue, the shared experiences, and adequate funding, to build an effective sector that will facilitate the achievement of the SDGs.

Current situation


The world is not on track to achieve the global SDG 6 targets by 2030 at the current rate of progress. Globally, 2.3 billion people still lack even a basic sanitation service and 844 million people still lack even a basic drinking water service. Every day, thousands of children die from unsafe water, lack of basic sanitation and poor hygiene. Many adults suffer from waterborne disease and ill-health, making them less economically productive and straining already weak health systems. Women and girls who trek miles for drinking water miss out on productive work or school education. For those children who do attend school, it is estimated that over 400 million school days are lost each year due to water-related illness. Read more…

Source: JMP

Monitoring, follow-up & review


The success or failure of the SDGs will depend, in large part, upon effective monitoring. Well-crafted indicators and high-quality data will give governments and their development partners the information they need to target resources, policies, and programmes effectively. It will also mean progress can be tracked over time, so that effective course corrections can be applied if needed. SWA creates a space for partners to discuss the conclusions of SDG monitoring processes, and provides opportunities for learning and exchange.

National diagnoses and monitoring activities implemented by SWA partners include national information management systems, joint sector reviews and annual performance reviews. At global level, several diagnoses and monitoring tools are also available for the water, sanitation and hygiene targets of the SDGs, including:

  • WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) 
    The JMP was established in 1990 to provide regular global reports on drinking-water and sanitation coverage – to facilitate sector planning and management, to support countries in their efforts to improve their monitoring systems, and to provide information for advocacy. For the Sustainable Development Goals, the JMP uses its 25 years of experience, and focuses on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (SDG targets 6.1 and 6.2).
  • The WASH SDGs Costing Tool
    The WASH SDG Costing Tool is an Excel-based cost model, used to estimate the costs of achieving the SDG WASH targets. The model is applied on an individual country basis and then the results are aggregated to yield regional and global totals or averages, weighted by country population size. 
  • WASH Bottleneck Analysis Tool (WASH BAT)
    The WASH BAT online tool enables the development of costed and prioritized plans to remove the bottlenecks that constrains progress in the WASH sector. It analyzes the complex interplay of institutional structures and processes that determine how effectively human, material and financial inputs are turned into sustainable access to drinking-water supply and sanitation. It is a rational, evidence-based approach to formulating an investment strategy, based on multiple-sector aims of efficiency, equity and sustainability.


Other monitoring and analysis tools can be found on the Tools Portal.