COVID-19 highlights lack of access to safe water globally

30th July 2021

Web p5 covid 19 hilights credit gettyimages 1211034854

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Natural resources



Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.

Three in 10 people globally could not wash their hands with soap and water within their homes at the onset of the pandemic, and around a quarter lacked access to safe household drinking water. Nearly half also lack safely managed sanitation services, and “billions of children and families” will continue to be left without life-saving access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services in 2030 unless SDG 6 progress quadruples.

The report does highlight reasons for optimism: between 2016 and 2020, the population with safely managed drinking water at home increased from 70% to 74%. Safely managed sanitation services grew from 47% to 54%, and handwashing facilities with soap and water increased from 67% to 71%. Last year, for the first time, more people used improved on-site sanitation – such as pit latrines and septic tanks, which can effectively contain and treat waste – than sewer connections.

However, the report also notes vast inequalities, with vulnerable children and families suffering the most.

To achieve universal access to safely managed drinking water by 2030, the current rate of progress in the least developed countries would need to increase 10-fold.

Read the full report at

Image credit: GettyImages

Transform articles

National climate plans could see fossil fuel demand peak by 2025

Demand for fossil fuels will peak by 2025 if all national net-zero pledges are implemented in full and on time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast.

15th October 2021

Read more

The Green Homes Grant is set to deliver only a fraction of the jobs and improvements intended, leading to calls for more involvement from local authorities in future schemes.

23rd September 2021

Read more

COVID-19 recovery packages have largely focused on protecting, rather than transforming, existing industries, and have been a “lost opportunity” for speeding up the global energy transition.

23rd September 2021

Read more

Half of the world's 40 largest listed oil and gas companies will have to slash their production by at least 50% by the 2030s to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement, new analysis has found.

9th September 2021

Read more

None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.

30th July 2021

Read more

The UK’s pipeline for renewable energy projects could mitigate 90% of job losses caused by COVID-19 and help deliver the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. That is according to a recent report from consultancy EY-Parthenon, which outlines how the UK’s £108bn “visible pipeline” of investible renewable energy projects could create 625,000 jobs.

30th July 2021

Read more

The oil and gas industry is set to burn through its allocated carbon budget 13 years early unless decisive action is taken immediately, new analysis has found.

22nd July 2021

Read more

The UK will no longer use unabated coal to generate electricity from October 2024, one year earlier than originally planned, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced.

2nd July 2021

Read more

The UK government is not on track to deliver on its promise to improve the environment within a generation and is failing to stem the tide of biodiversity loss, a damning new report from MPs has revealed.

1st July 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert