Water is in crisis/es!

Published on Monday 16 March 2020

Article extracted from the 2020 WATER, SANITATION AND HIYGIENE BAROMETER


LOCKDOWN – Increasing numbers of displaced people, cholera epidemics, impacts of climate change, soaring water stress: SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL assesses the current situation of access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene throughout the world. While inequalities are increasing, Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is still far from being achieved..


Water is life, but water is in crisis. What is the current situation and what can be done? Water is threatened by pollution of all kinds, by scarcity due to its over-consumption and by climate change, which all cause water stress and dangerous tensions between various users.

Today, 2.2 billion people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water and 4.2 billion are without safe access to sanitation. Meanwhile, 80% of wastewater in the world is discharged without any treatment, as is the case in the Mediterranean! Pollution threatens our health.

Of course, there has been progress, but it is far from sufficient and we know that we are not currently on the right track to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2030, particularly regarding water access, and especially in Africa, where the population is set to double in the next 30 years.

“We now know that the number of people without access to safe drinking water has only decreased from 2.3 to 2.2 billion in 17 years. (…) Worse, in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people using water that is probably contaminated increased by 45% between 2000 and 2017”, warns the expert Gérard Payen in his article on the SDGs for this Barometer.

In the first part of this Barometer, you will find figures and articles on access to water and sanitation, on water-related diseases, on the impact of climate change in the Sahel, on large rivers and on institutional and development policies, as well as an “exclusive interview” with the co-presidents of the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar in March 2021: more than an inventory, it is a state of emergency!

This 6th Barometer on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene aims to contribute to ensuring that the Dakar Forum is up to the challenges of a world that is increasingly thirsty! This first Forum in sub-Saharan Africa must represent populations at risk in fragile or crisis-stricken countries and must mobilize actors in the field, humanitarian and development workers, public and private operators.

This Forum must also act as a stimulus and a driver, urging countries and the UN to achieve the SDGs, including Goal 6, which they unanimously adopted. We still have 10 years to achieve universal access to drinking water, which has been considered a Human Right by the UN since July 2010.

This Forum’s theme is “Water Security for Peace and Development”. The real challenge, as we now know, is to take action to ensure that water does not become a factor of conflict and danger for populations and their development! This is the challenge we must take up together.

This Forum must be a Forum of practical responses to urgent needs and a Forum of Hope to achieve the SDGs in 2030, including in crisis situations.


1. Mobilize all the relevant stakeholders to make the 9th World Water Forum a major event that will contribute to putting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Goal 6 back on the right track.

2. Organize a summit between the Heads of State of Sahel countries, which are among the worst affected by lack of drinking water and sanitation, to draw up an action plan that will have a rapid and sustainable impact.

3. Invite local actors and representatives of the most vulnerable communities in Africa to the World Water Forum, so that they can express their difficulties.

4. Organize a conference for field operators, with the objective of boosting complementarity between humanitarian action and development.

5. Advocate for a strong final political declaration at the World Water Forum, prepared at the intergovernmental level by Senegal and France with as many nations as possible, in order to provide practical responses to urgent needs.

the 2020 water, sanitation and Hygiene barometer

2020 water barometer



Header photo from : Vincent Tremeau / SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL