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Access to Drinking Water

Indicator Phrasing

number or % of the target households using basic drinking water services
See indicator in other languages

Indicator Phrasing

English: number or % of the target households using basic drinking water services

French: nombre ou % de ménages utilisant de l'eau potable provenant d'une source sûre

Portuguese: número ou % de agregados familiares-alvo que usam serviços básicos de água para beber

Czech: počet nebo % domácností používajících pitnou vodu z bezpečného zdroje

What is its purpose?

Waterborne diseases are among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality among children. The indicator therefore assesses the proportion of the target households using drinking water from an improved source whose distance is not more than 30 minutes for a roundtrip including queuing.

How to Collect and Analyse the Required Data

Collect the following data by conducting individual interviews with a representative sample of the main household members responsible for water collection:



Q1: What is your household's main source of drinking water during this season?

A1: _

1) tube well or borehole 

2) protected shallow well 

3) harvested rainwater 

4) piped water/public tap 

5) protected spring 

6) surface water source (river, stream, pond, puddles, unprotected spring) 

7) unprotected/ open shallow well

8) cart with small tank/drum

9) tanker-truck

10) other: ................................

NOTE: Only options 1 – 5 count as “safe water sources”.


Q2: Is water from this source usually accessible every day?

A2: yes/ no


Q3: How long does it usually take you to get to the water source, collect the water and bring it back home?

A3: _

1) 30 minutes or less

2) more than 30 minutes


Repeat Q1 - Q3 for the remaining seasons. For example, if a country has a dry and rainy season, Q1 - Q3 will ask about accessing water during the dry season and the following questions will ask about accessing water during the rainy season. 



To calculate the number of households that use "basic drinking water services", count the number of households that access water from safe sources (in all seasons, all days) and the collection time is not more than 30 minutes for a roundtrip including queuing. 


To calculate the indicator's value in percentages, divide the number of households that use "basic drinking water services" by the total number of surveyed households. Multiply the result by 100 to convert it to a percentage. 

Disaggregate by

Disaggregate the data by wealth, location and other relevant criteria.

Important Comments

1) This indicator is just one of several Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) indicators focusing on households' use of drinking water services. Their complete list includes: 

  - % of population using safely managed drinking water services (drinking water from an improved water source which is located on premises, available when needed and free of faecal and priority contamination) - this indicator is recommended by the European Commission's DEVCO

  - % of population using basic drinking water services (drinking water from an improved source provided collection time is not more than 30 minutes for a roundtrip including queuing)

  - % of population using limited drinking water services (drinking water from an improved source where collection time exceeds over 30 minutes for a roundtrip to collect water, including queuing)

  - % of population using unimproved drinking water services (drinking water from an unprotected dug well or unprotected spring)

  - % of population using surface water (drinking water directly from a river, dam, lake, pond, stream, canal or irrigation channel)

For details, see WHO/UNICEF's publication below. 


2) In some regions, water sources are prone to significant seasonal differences (e.g. dry/rainy season). Therefore, your assessment must collect data separately for each of the main seasons. At the same time, the baseline and endline data must be collected in the same period of a year; otherwise it is very likely that they will not be comparable.


3) People might use more than one source of drinking water. If this topic is important to your project, add a question asking "Is there any additional source of drinking water used by your household? If so, which one?"


4) Always be very clear on what kind of water you are asking about - water for drinking can have a different source from water for washing.


5) Ensure that the data collectors are able to differentiate between the different types of water sources (based on an interview only).


6) Consider assessing the gender dimension of access to water by including an additional answer Who usually goes to this source to fetch the water for this household? Answer options can include: 1) adult woman (age 15 or older); 2) adult man (age 15 or older); 3) female child (under 15 years old); 4) male child (under 15 years old); other - specify: .................................


7) USAID uses a similar version of this indicator: "number of households collecting all water for drinking, cooking and hygiene from improved water sources". 

Access Additional Guidance

This guidance was prepared by People in Need ©

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