While current figures indicate that access to improved drinking water has increased from 77 per cent to 87 per cent between 1990 and 2008, the real percentage of people with sustainable access to safe drinking water is likely to be significantly lower. This is one of the conclusions of a new report  that the UNICEF/WHO Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) released on 20 December 2011.
If the maximum acceptable time needed to collect water is taken as 30 minutes per round trip, then drinking water coverage in Sub-Saharan Africa drops by eight percentage points, the report says. Similarly, if you include water quality as an indicator, then the 2008 JMP estimates of access to safe drinking water would go down by 16% for Nicaragua, 11% for Ethiopia, 10% for Nigeria and 7% for Tajikistan.
The new report analyses existing JMP statistics in more detail and includes increased disaggregation of water service levels and analyses of trends across countries and regions. It focuses on the three key challenges of equity, safety and sustainability. Disparities in terms of geography, wealth and gender are explored, as well as the role of household water treatment and safe storage in water safety, and the unique threats posed by climate change to the sustainability in rural and urban contexts.
National and global monitoring will require a major evolution, concludes the report, to meet demands for targets and indicators that take equity, safety and sustainability into account.
 WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP), 2011. Drinking water equity, safety and sustainability. (JMP thematic report on drinking water ; 2011). New York, NY, UNICEF ; Geneva, World Health Organization. 62 p. : 40 fig., 2 tab. 23 ref. <Available at: http://www.unicef.org/media/files/JMP_Report_DrinkingWater_2011.pdf>
- Monitoring: new tools meet demand for more transparency in the water sector, E-Source, 05 Dec 2011
- Angelica de Jesus, First consultation on developing post-2015 monitoring indicators, Berlin: Refocusing the monitoring approach, E-Source, 02 Aug 2011
Related web site: WHO / UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation – http://www.wssinfo.org/
Source: UNICEF, 20 Dec 2011