In 2015 the UN created 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for countries to follow to end extreme poverty globally by 2030. Goal 6 aims to ensure everyone has sustainably managed safe water and sanitation.

Goal 6 – and within it specific targets on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) – shows that world leaders understand the importance of making these essentials normal for the world's most marginalised people. 

Despite progress, 844 million people still don’t have clean water close to home, and 2.3 billion don’t have a decent toilet. It’s costing lives, and preventing families, communities and countries from reaching their full potential.

This crisis is a denial of people’s human rights to water and sanitation. Governments aren’t doing enough, and we need to hold them to account and make sure they deliver on their promise. Watch our animation to find out why Goal 6 is key to ending extreme poverty:

Regional focus

Progress on the SDG 6 targets differs according to the challenges faced by each region. The dangers of not washing hands pose a huge public health threat to Southern Africa, which is why the regional team are focused on prioritising hygiene.

Students wash their hands at the newly installed taps and handwashing station at Mahubo 14 Primary School in Eduardo Mondlane, Boane District, Mozambique. WaterAid/Sam James

Our approach

The hard work to put the SDGs into action has already begun. We are working with political leaders to make sure the systems and resources are in place that will help countries reach their goals. We are helping governments at all levels to develop plans and policies that will enable them to reach everyone with lasting services. We are supporting communities to demand the services they are entitled to, and making sure nobody forgets the promises made.

To meet the challenge and make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere, it will take sustained and coordinated efforts by the whole global community. We will continue improving how we work together to reach interconnected goals, and pushing for urgent and effective action because we know that change needs to happen now. We will keep supporting the most marginalised people to know and demand their rights to water and sanitation. And we will track progress so people can hold their governments to account and ensure their rights are met with sustainable services that last long beyond 2030.

To find out more about the Sustainable Development Goals and the vital role of clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene in an integrated approach to tackling poverty, hunger, health and inequality, download our Global Goals toolkit >

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