Working Paper
Millennium Development Goal 7

An Assessment of Progress With Respect to Water and Sanitation: Legacy, Synergy, Complacency or Policy?

Access to water and sanitation (target 10) is an important ingredient of quality of life. As per WHO-UNICEF assessments, globally, 77 per cent of population had access to water in 1990. This proportion has increased to 83 per cent in 2002, thus, on track to achieve the target of halving the proportion of population without safe access by 2015. However, there is considerable regional disparity in progress which remains significantly low in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Also, the question remains whether increased access is same as sustainable access. In 2002, some 2.6 billion people worldwide did not have access to safe sanitation options. Of these, nearly 2 billion were in the rural areas. While in almost all countries, the proportion of people having access to improved sanitation in 2002 has increased compared to the status in 1990, in 27 countries including India, Nepal, Lao PDR, Namibia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Yemen, two out of three people did not have access to improved sanitation in 2002. While the WHO-UNICEF interim assessment and Millennium Task Force reports also assessed progress with access to water and sanitation, this paper differs from those estimates in a crucial manner. Here, cross-country regression analysis is used to develop models which are then used to forecast the projected proportion of population with access to water and sanitation in 2015 based on current variables. This paper also revisits the relationship between per capita GDP and access to water and sanitation. Further, an attempt is made to explore whether the synergy effect is significant, i.e., are countries that have made a significant progress with one target more likely to make a significant progress with other related targets; and whether and to what extent the achievement or lack of progress on these two targets can impinge on performance in relation to other MDGs or targets.