Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation

Yemen is facing a severe water crisis with some projections indicating that the capital, Sana’a, could run out of water within the next 10 years. In the meantime, only 22 per cent of rural and 46 per cent of urban populations are connected to even partially functioning public water networks. Less than 55 per cent of the population has access to safe drinking water.

With regard to sanitation, access is as low or even lower in Yemen than in many sub-Saharan African countries. Potentially life-threatening diseases such as malaria continue to spread and, in 2018, Yemen was subject to the largest outbreak of cholera in modern history.

Realizing universal access to safe and affordable drinking water by 2030 demands investment in infrastructure and sanitation facilities to ensure that proper hygiene is possible in even the most remote households. Protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems such as forests, mountains, wetlands and wadis – as well as rehabilitation of land terraces – is essential if the country is to mitigate water scarcity. International cooperation is also needed to encourage water efficiency and support treatment technologies in the long-coastal areas of Yemen.

Facts and figures

5.2 billion

71 percent of the global population, 5.2 billion people, had safely-managed drinking water in 2015, but 844 million people still lacked even basic drinking water.

2.9 billion

39 percent of the global population, 2.9 billion people, had safe sanitation in 2015, but 2.3 billion people still lacked basic sanitation. 892 million people practiced open defecation.


80 percent of wastewater goes into waterways without adequate treatment.

2 billion

Water stress affects more than 2 billion people, with this figure projected to increase.


80 percent of countries have laid the foundations for integrated water resources management.


The world has lost 70 percent of its natural wetlands over the last century.

  • By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all

  • By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations

  • By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally

  • By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity

  • By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate

  • By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes

  • By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies

  • Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management
Goals in action
SDG 1 SDG 2 SDG 3 SDG 4 SDG 5 SDG 6 SDG 8 SDG 10 SDG 11 SDG 13 SDG 15 SDG 16

Nothing left for a rainy day as millions of Yemenis suffer

On Saturday, 2 April at 7:00 pm, Yemen began a two-month truce agreed to by the parties of the conflict and brokered by the Special Envoy for Yemen,…

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SDG 1 SDG 2 SDG 3 SDG 4 SDG 5 SDG 6 SDG 8 SDG 13 SDG 17

The Power of Partnership: Scaling up for Recovery and Resilience in Yemen

Against all daunting conditions, the World Bank – through funding from its International Development Association (IDA) – has worked with UNDP Yemen…

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Arduous Journey for Water

In villages across Yemen, people struggle with the daily task of fetching water – something that almost always falls to women and children, who set…

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