World Health Organization
The SDGs have brought a new era of ambition and resolve to the global development agenda. WASH is very much part of this new spirit of aspiration, in recognition that globally, over 2 billion people still rely on unsafe water, and 4.2 billion use sanitation facilities that allow their excreta to leak untreated into the environment (1). The WASH targets under SDG 61 set an ambition of no less than universal access to drinking-water, sanitation and hygiene services, emphasizing the need to focus on the vulnerable and those left behind. The targets are unambiguous in calling for the elimination of open defecation, and for ensuring WASH services are affordable. For the first time, global targets and indicators have been established for hygiene. The SDGs also introduce new concepts such as “safely managed” drinking-water and sanitation services and encompass WASH in schools, health care facilities and households. Universal and safely managed services require a coordinated effort by all, with governments in the lead. Evolution of the WASH sector, from an emphasis on infrastructure to a recognition that the ultimate goal is delivery of safely managed WASH services that are sustained over time, has resulted in a new focus on the country systems that help provide universal WASH. National and local governments, development partners, civil society and users are central participants in these systems and can best contribute towards achieving universal coverage when roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, and efforts are aligned. Strong systems ensure sustainability and resilience. They are the best guarantee of services for all.