Improved but Not Necessarily Safe: Water Access and the Millennium Development Goals

In early 2012 the United Nations announced that the drinking water target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) had been reached in 2010: in two decades, and five years ahead of schedule, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water had been halved (World Health Organization (WHO)/ United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) 2012a). Whilst this undoubtedly represents a major achievement, fundamental concerns regarding the monitoring of safe water have been gaining prominence (Harmon 2012). The measure used to assess progress towards the MDG target is use of an improved source; these are water sources that were considered likely to provide safe drinking water (Table 1). Consequently, this approach is an assessment of specific types of water sources, rather than the quality of the water they provide. Improved sources do not always supply safe water due to  Global Water: Issues and Insights the presence of microbial or chemical contamination.

Improved but Not Necessarily Safe: Water Access and the Millennium Development Goals. R. Bain, J. Wright, H. Yang, S. Gundry, S. Pedley, J. Bartram. 2014. In Global Water: Issues and Insights, pp. 89–94. Canberra, Australia: Australian National University Press. Available at: http://press.anu.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/whole.pdf#page=97.