Water management is one of the most challenging Goals on the 2030 Agenda. As the UN Economic and Security Council reports, “achieving universal access to even basic sanitation service by 2030 would require a doubling in the current annual rate of progress.”
Water scarcity afflicts many of the world's poorest countries and the situation is expected to worsen due to environmental and population-related causes. Steps to improving infrastructure and water management are critical to achieving water available to all. The specific targets for the coming decade include:
- Achieving universal access to clean drinking water and sanitation, in particular, ending practices of open defecation and illegal dumping of industrial waste into water supplies.
- Protecting and improving environmental water quality, including freshwater ecosystems, rivers, lakes, and also our oceans.
- Increasing water-use efficiency, recycling, and management, especially in the use of wastewater in industrial settings.
- Supporting cooperation on water management issues on both the international and community levels, focusing in particular on working across borders.
- Increasing capacity, especially in the management of and investment in public works projects to improve infrastructure and development.
The stories below highlight a few of the many solutions to providing clean water and sanitation to all. We learn about how Moroccans are leveraging technology and partnerships with NGOs to address water shortages. With the help of Dar Si Hmad, local villagers are collecting up to 5,000 gallons of water a day by harvesting fog. Technological solutions also helped rural communities in Uganda that suffered from a lack of sanitary water. In Cape Town, collective action in dramatically reducing water use helped the city avoid a “day zero” when it was going to shut off the water to residents.
Explore this collection to learn more, ranging from environmental and social justice campaigns to combat the effects of inadequate sanitation, to companies using natural processes and bio-mimicry to recreate wetlands.
Click here for more stories in the Solutions Story Tracker on clean water and sanitation.
- Review the water cycle, then, research and explain the ways in which human activity is reducing the availability of fresh water worldwide. Define terms like “salinization” and explain how agricultural activity, erosion, and runoff reduce the availability of fresh water.
- What is meant by the term “water stress?” How does water stress, in turn, relate to the poverty cycle on the individual level, and to developmental and security issues on the national level?
- Research and explain the challenges that the privatization of water resources poses to water security worldwide. What do the business practices of Coca Cola and Nestle teach us about the risks of privatization of vital resources?
- What does the UNICEF WASH program stand for? Explain the ways in which clean water and sanitation are public health as well as education issues. Consider what roles school play.
- Create a diagram that illustrates the ways in which Goal 6 direct effects the targets of at least 5 of the other goals.
- Choose an Issue Area or Success Factor related to Goal 6 and explain its significance. Create your own collection of at least 4 stories from the Solutions Story Tracker that provide evidence to support your choices.
- According to the UN, “worsening water quality and pathogenic, organic and salinity pollution in the world’s freshwater bodies, emanating from a variety of sources, including a lack of properly managed sanitation, and industrial and agricultural run-off, are widespread and of growing concern (United Nations Environment Programme, 2016). Intensification of food production is also a leading cause of water quality degradation.” Refer to the full report: here.
- Improving clean water and sanitation will improve health, prevent disease and improve child mortality rates, as well as decrease hunger through better crop yields. Access to water is fundamental to sustainable development since a community cannot be healthy if its members are not. You can refer to this article by the World Resources Institute to learn more about the world’s most water-stressed countries and how this serves as a cause for concern. Here, an article from The Guardian gives an overview of the water crisis amid the conflict in Yemen in 2017. Encourage students to do research into various global issues of water-stress, groups can present their findings to one another.
- Students may wish to consider the operations of Coca Cola in the US state of Michigan as a concern of water privatization as juxtaposed alongside the water crisis in the city of Flint, as well as concerns over the ubiquity of Coke products in water scare areas. Proposals to change water laws in the country of Ireland also serve as a useful case study. Answers and projects will vary by student.
- For more on WASH, click here.
- Answers will vary by student.
- See more on creating collections, as well as more on Success Factors.