SDG6 commits us to ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, including an end to open defecation, by 2030. Technology will play a pivotal role in achieving this ambitious goal, not just in terms of engineering technology in the delivery and maintenance of water and sanitation facilities and systems (such as taps, toilets and pipework), but also in the more extensive use of ICTs in helping us to manage water itself – the resource on which sanitation and hygiene depend.
Good governance, based on reliable information gathered by and shared through ICTs, is essential to manage uncertainty and reduce the risks of overexploitation and pollution of water resources and to extend and maintain sanitation systems that are proven to massively reduce the spread of disease. Without an integrated, data-driven approach to water and sanitation that takes account of the needs of the whole economy and protects the environment, we risk jeopardizing the success of the SDGs as a whole.
Mapping and forecasting
Governments and water utility companies need to be able to accurately assess the state of their finite water resources, so they can meet current demand and make plans to meet future growth in demand.
In the case of sanitation, ICTs can be used to change behaviour and spark community-led change. In Kenya, the Ministry of Health has implemented an online, real-time monitoring system of maps and reports to show national progress towards the goal of communities becoming ‘open defecation-free’. The public nature of the system helps participating communities to contextualize the changes they are implementing and serves as inspiration to other communities just beginning the journey. We are learning from this to replicate similar in Ghana.