How can the safety of drinking water be monitored globally? What definitions would be meaningful and assist decision-makers in the process of improving the drinking water situation in the world? What research and development efforts are needed to come up with a rapid, reliable and cost-effective way of measuring water quality indicators locally and reporting on them at the global level? To address these questions, the JMP commissioned a Task Force on Water Quality Monitoring which met in 2010 and 2013.
Integration in multitopic surveys
Since the decision in 2000 to adopt a method based on nationally representative household surveys, the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) has explored options to report on the quality of drinking water supplies.
The JMP has been collaborating with various large scale household surveys programmes and has developed a standardised module for direct testing of drinking water quality in close collaboration with the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) programme. To date over ten countries have integrated water quality testing in household surveys, a cost-effective way to collect representative data on water quality. Tools that are part of the MICS support package include the Water Quality Testing Questionnaire and Manual for Water Quality Testing. The module has been adapted for use in the Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) in Ethiopia and preparations are underway for surveys in several other countries.
Survey results are currently available for the following countries:
- Bangladesh MICS 2009, MICS 2013,
- Nepal MICS 2013
- Pakistan Sindh MICS 2014
- Ghana GLSS 2012-2013
- Congo MICS 2014 (key findings)
Between 2002 and 2008 the rapid assessment of drinking water quality (RADWQ) project was implemented in a number of pilot countries where the quality of drinking water from improved sources was evaluated. The RADWQ studies provided important evidence for informing the future SDG targets and indicators.
RADWQ pilot country reports:
Aside from the cost associated with dedicated teams to conduct the survey, one of the key challenges with that RADWQ approach was that in many countries there is no complete sampling frame for water supplies, making it challenging to draw a robust representative sample. In June 2012, the JMP convened an expert meeting to review sampling issues and review the RADWQ Method Handbook.