Safe drinking Water

AquaFed calculates that at least half of the worldwide population does not have access to safe drinking water. Private water operators are collaborating with the international community to better understand the real needs and allocate/align/ the appropriate resources. 

There are no official statistics on the number of people who have access to water that is really safe. Based on Millennium Development Goals targets, the international community has mainly considered the number of people who have access to ‘improved water sources’. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that 91% of the world’s population had access to an improved drinking-water source. 

But ‘improved sources’ are not necessarily safe:

The WHO acknowledged also that at least 1.8 billion people use a drinking-water source that is contaminated with feces[source].
Even where the source is good, water can be contaminated while being transported or stored, especially in areas where sanitation is inadequate.
Unsafe drinking water services expose individuals to preventable health risks, such as cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio.

Based on recent UN statistics and on data from its members as field practitioners, AquaFed believes that several billions of people representing more than half of the world population are concerned.

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Since its creation, AquaFed has been cooperating with the international community

to improve the assessment of the real needs, particularly in emerging countries where MDG target are not not comparable with those in developed countries.
to accelerate programmes for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals 6  of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with the objective to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.


1/ AquaFed's Estimation of the Needs


AquaFed estimates that today roughly half the people in the world have no assurance that the water that they use is safe and that even more have their human right to safe drinking water unsatisfied.

2/ Advocacy

Since 2007AquaFed has been continuously advocating for more ambitious policies and working on better identification of the needs.


  • In 2007, on World Water Day. AquaFed first called for “significantly increasing the number of projects that connect more households to drinking water networks. Nearly 3 billion people - more than half of the population of the developing world - have to carry water every day. More “access to water and sanitation” projects are necessary worldwide!”


  • In 2008, in a message to  the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. AquaFed reiterated its position: “People expect a better level of access to water than is currently measured to monitor the water MDG. The number of drinking water and sanitation projects worldwide is totally insufficient to meet the needs. A renewed effort is needed urgently.”


  • In 2009, during the opening sessionof the 5th World Water Forum. AquaFed urged publicly for “more ambition to develop access to water & sanitation faster. People expect a better level of access to water than is currently called for through the water and sanitation MDGs. 3 billion people, more than 1 person out of 2 in developing countries, still have no access to tap water”.


  • In 2010, following the resolution of the UN General Assembly that explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation. AquaFed challenged the evaluation of people lacking access to safe drinking water: “these 884 million people do not even have access to the minimal level of access to water that is termed “access to improved water sources” in UN documents. Far more people do not have sustainable access to safe and affordable water.” 


  • In 2011, with an official submission to the preparatory process of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 Summit). AquaFed said: “UNCSD should acknowledge the need for accelerating programs that aim at improving access to drinking water and sanitation both in rural and urban settlements through:
    • recognizing the needs of the billions of people without satisfactory access to drinking water (using the criteria of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation more than half of mankind needs to be targeted);
    • recognizing the urgency to reverse the deterioration of water and sanitation services in urban settings where these programs are outpaced by urban growth;
    • deciding to monitor, both globally and nationally, the quality of water used by people to better identify the current water safety gap”.


  • In 2012, during the 6th World Water Forum. AquaFed contributed to the political process of the 6th World Water Forum and called for “new approaches and new values needed to set the post 2015 goals on access to drinking water”.

3/ Commitments

In the 6th World Water Forum, AquaFed made two major commitments:

  • Increase cooperation with the international community: “Private Water Operators will use their best endeavors to collaborate with international agencies to ensure that real progress and development is made on key water challenges. ...these include accelerating programs to increase access to safe drinking water and sanitation in both rural and urban settlements and to adopt more ambitious post-2015 drinking water and sanitation targets with appropriate monitoring tools.”
  • Providing accurate assessments on safe drinking water needs: “AquaFed will continue its quest in its own right or in collaboration with others to improve and provide accurate information about the needs for improving water and sanitation services, in particular to implement the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation.”

March 14th 2015


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    Attached Ressources

    Corporate documents
    • Press release | 30/09/15 | 10 years AquaFed - Sustainable Development Goals 2015-2030: potential for AquaFed and its members
    • Video | 27/01/14 | Speech on the Right to Water in the European Parliament Committee on Human Rights (DROI/DEV)
    • Video | 27/01/14 | Présentation sur le droit à l'eau au parlement européen
    • 28/06/16 | Brochure on the Performance of Private Water Operators (EN)

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