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Does 91% of the world’s population really have “sustainable access to safe drinking water”?


  • Pedro Martínez-Santos


Halving the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water was a core target of the Millennium Development Goals. This led to an unprecedented effort in the water sector, improving the livelihoods of millions of people. While the goal has officially been accomplished, unsuitable benchmarks have led to overstatement of the results. Indicators overemphasize improved water sources, disregarding the fact that many continue to be contaminated, unreliable or unaffordable. The alleged success needs to be reframed to avoid confusion, prevent investments from being reallocated away from the water sector and obtain more accurate estimates of water access.

Suggested Citation

  • Pedro Martínez-Santos, 2017. "Does 91% of the world’s population really have “sustainable access to safe drinking water”?," International Journal of Water Resources Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(4), pages 514-533, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:cijwxx:v:33:y:2017:i:4:p:514-533
    DOI: 10.1080/07900627.2017.1298517

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. United Nations UN, 2015. "The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015," Working Papers id:7097, eSocialSciences.
    2. United Nations UN, 2015. "The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015," Working Papers id:7222, eSocialSciences.
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