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A REPORT CARD ON WATER AND SANITATION: NUMBER 5, SEPTEMBER 2006 View Previous Editions>

More than 1 billion people are without access to improved drinking-water sources.

The chart shows the regional breakdown.

Drinking water

Drinking water

Those children and adults who depend on water from unprotected dug wells, rivers, lakes or streams for drinking are at risk of infection by waterborne diseases if sanitation is poor. Too few enjoy the safety and convenience of having water that has been treated under managed conditions piped into their homes or compounds.

Between the two extremes are sources of drinking water that are more likely to be safe and are referred to as ‘improved’ . Among these are public standpipes, tube wells or boreholes, protected dug wells, protected springs and rainwater.

The most recent estimates by the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP), a programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, indicate that global coverage increased from 78 per cent in 1990 to 83 per cent in 2004, which means that more than 1.2 billion people gained access to improved drinking-water sources over that period. If the current trend continues, the world is on track to meet its MDG target (89 per cent) by 2015, though more than a billion people were without access to improved drinking-water sources in 2004 – and keeping pace with population growth remains a major challenge.