Water and sanitation (hygiene) are daily elements of every human life. Virtually everything requires a mix of water, needless to say, water is a source of life. Ensuring clean water supply and quality sanitation are basic needs for society, in terms of getting running water to homes, and business facilities for consumption and application. The same also applies to quality sanitation, as with this in place a lot of communicable diseases will not find their way into the human host. In the beginning, it never uses to be so, with less population and habitation, water as a resource used to be managed, and with a much smaller number of people, waste and environmental degradation were minimal. Since obviously, the rate of human growth and applicable needs cannot be truncated, then the need to protect the planet through collective and corporative effort is required. The 2030 sustainable development goal no 6 (SDGs) is one agenda the United Nations in its efforts using to tackle this challenge of clean water and sanitation.
The agenda is part of the ambitious and transformative goals adopted at the 2021 United Nations conference in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, which are embedded in the three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social, and environmental). Agenda goal no 6 (clean water and sanitation), aims at ensuring adequate and sustainable control management of water and sanitation for everyone. The plan is quite simple and clear, addressing drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene for society, protecting the water-related ecosystem, water usage efficiency, water scarcity, and management globally. It's worth adding here that agenda (SDG) no 6 is of core importance to all the 2030 agenda, they intertwine in targets and indicator levels.
According to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022, the world’s water-related ecosystems are being degraded at an alarming rate, and over 85% of the planet’s wetlands have disappeared due to this alarming rate (Nations, 2022). These challenges are caused by climate change, underinvestment in water sanitation plus not enough cooperation on transboundary waters globally. Other effects are decades of misusing water as a resource, poor control management of facility supply by stakeholders, and over-extraction of groundwater. The UN records show that about three billion people in the world cannot boast of having quality water due to improper monitoring control systems, 733 million plus people are living in countries/regions where there is high stress of water supply, and only one-quarter of countries in the world have 90% of their transboundary water covered by operational arrangement (Nations, 2022).
However, despite the enormous challenges faced; progress has also been recorded globally on SDG agenda no 6. Between the years 2015 to 2020, the number of people who opted for safely managed drinking water moved from 70% to 74%, and the same occurrence was for safely managed sanitation moving from 47% to 54%, in addition, the population with access to handwashing facility especially during Covid-19 saw an increase from 67% to 71%. Water area assessment during this period for ninety-seven countries showed 60% in terms of good quality (Nations, 2022). But more can still be done globally to increase the pace if the universal coverage (goal) will be actualized by 2030. Global nations will have to toughen up their regulations and commitments on a higher scale towards this agenda, as other agendas.
What are those targets that require four times increase in the pace of progress by 2030 (Nations, 2022), they include,
(a) achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for everyone.
(b) access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for everyone and end open defecation, with special concern for women and girls in vulnerable situations.
(c) improve quality water supply by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing the discharge of hazardous chemicals and materials, decreasing the proportion of untreated wastewater, and substantially increasing the recycling process for safe reuse.
(d) increase the efficiency of water use across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and quality frequent freshwater supply to manage scarcity and alleviate suffering.
(e) implementation and integration of water resources management at all cooperation levels.
(f) protect and restore water-related ecosystems, which include, mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers, and lakes.
(g) expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to emerging countries in water and sanitation schemes.
In achieving these targets and actualizing their indicators, six critical component levels will have to be employed as recommended by United Nations University for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) (Guppy, 2017). The first will be capacity, world countries should acquire the will and strength to manage their targeted affairs and developmental objectives. Institutions and formulated policies both SDG no 6 and those of respective nations should complement each other in actions, the action plan should be logical to enable a stress-free implementation and enforcement. Another aspect of this measure that is not first looked into before setting out plans is the omission in ascertaining finance system towards achieving these targets, it will be recommended that countries should weigh the cost required and benefits of realizing each target in goal no 6 with relevance to inclusiveness and green economy. The next will be Gender, policies at the regional and national level should be formulated in such a manner that it addresses water-related needs and women's empowerment in terms of inclusion and decision-making.
Furthermore, risk reduction and resilience, the need for robust mechanisms in mitigating water-related disasters, protecting communities, and aiding recovery after the occurrence of a water-related disaster. In conclusion, Integrity should be clarified, for society to experience progress and prosperity in this dimension, the need for accountability and trust should be of serious concern. In ensuring adequate and sustainable management control of clean water supply and sanitation, global society needs to fight the monster called corruption, and enable collaborative share will in matching application, transparency, and practices in water-related policies.