Part of a series on the Sustainable Development Goals. Find out more.
  • By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
  • By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations
  • By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally
  • By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
  • By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
  • By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes
  • By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies
  • Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management

Sanitation and water are two basic components that involve everyone on a daily basis. No matter what culture, religion or geographic region, all humans go to some form of bathroom and consume water.

Both are necessary means of survival. It is easy to take both for granted. Access to water and sanitation is quite a luxury in the light of these current global figures:

  • At least 1.8 billion people globally use a source of drinking water that is faecally contaminated.1
  • Water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population and is projected to rise. More than 1.7 billion people are currently living in river basins where water use exceeds recharge.2
  • 2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines.3

There is enough technology and sufficient water supply to provide the world with clean water. However, economic and environmental factors prevent access to more than one billion people.4 Access to wells, rivers, filtration and clean water storage prevents sustainable development. Droughts and other extreme weather particularly hurt the world’s poorest countries, impacting the development of children who are most prone to the lack of clean water and sanitation.

According to the United Nations, ‘each day, nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation‐related diarrhoeal diseases.’5

Other factors directly link to sanitation and water: hunger because of poor farming, malnutrition, disease, poor economy and pollution.

In the cases where water access is miles away, many have to sacrifice time, effort and safety when travelling to collect water. This denies time in the classroom for children and opportunities for paid work. Travelling also puts those who live in areas of conflict at danger.

The question remains: how can water access and technology reach those in need? SDG 6 provides targets and initiatives for the world to follow. The UN's World Toilet Day works to educate the public on the lack of accessible water and sanitation throughout the world. This is a day for action and advocacy, and seeks to educate the public about the 2.4 billion people – particularly women and children – who do not have improved sanitation.

It is important to note the significant work of The Salvation Army in water and sanitation programmes in countries including Angola, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and Zambia. These, along with other programmes around the globe, serve as a model for further work and improvement for access to clean water and sanitation.‐and‐sanitation/

See 1.

3 See 1.

4 See 1.

5 See 1.


What does the Bible teach?
  • In John 4:13‐14, Jesus says: '"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."' Humans need water that is clean and pure: it cleanses; refreshes; is life‐giving; is essential. Salvation with Jesus is the same. It gives eternal life.
  • In John 4:10‐15 we read: "Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”'
  • Isaiah 12:3 says: 'With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.' The very use of this metaphor reminds us that water is deemed an essential part of life. Efforts should be made to provide it universally. May those who do not know the 'joy' of clean water come to have access to it.
What should we pray for?
  • Give thanks for the life‐giving water that Jesus freely gives.
  • The ongoing work of water and sanitation programmes – bringing growth, stability and further projects while ensuring safety, health, growth, development and salvation. Also for the finances of ongoing these projects in areas of need, drought, conflict and natural disaster relief.
  • Those without access to clean water and sanitation around the world – that they may be replenished both spiritually and physically. May the Lord shine upon them.
What can we do?
  • Support The Salvation Army's Watershed project ( Raise money - perhaps by taking the Tap Water Challenge ‐ and find out more about the impact of this work across the world.You will find many resources on the website of The Salvation Army's International Projects Office.
  • Challenge world leaders to improve sanitation in areas where it is needed. Whether it be fresh water supply or better sewage works, urge governments and world leaders to make this issue a higher priority.
Tags: SDG6: Clean Water and Sanitation