Millennium Development Goal 7, Target 7c, calls on countries to: "Halve, by 2015, the proportion of (1990) population without sustainable access to safe drinking-water and basic sanitation".

Refining the definitions: an ongoing process and the ladder concept

The JMP is always looking for ways to improve monitoring of access to drinking-water and sanitation. In its 2008 report, the JMP developed a new way of presenting the access figures, by disaggregating and refining the data on drinking-water and sanitation and reflecting them in "ladder" format. This allows the JMP to report on a more nuanced picture of access that goes beyond the improved/unimproved dichotomy.

Learn more about the drinking-water and sanitation ladders. Below are the updated ladders from 2015 update report JMP estimates 

Improved sanitation facilities
For MDG monitoring, an improved sanitation facility is defined as one that hygienically separates human excreta from human contact.

Improved drinking-water source
An improved drinking-water source is defined as one that, by nature of its construction or through active intervention, is protected from outside contamination, in particular from contamination with faecal matter.

© Claudia Dewald

To allow for international comparability of estimates, the JMP uses a classification to differentiate between "improved" and "unimproved" drinking-water sources as well as sanitation.