6 Ensure environmental sustainability

Where are we?

This indicator monitors access to improved water sources based on the assumption that improved sources are more likely to provide safe water. Unsafe water is the direct cause of many diseases in developing countries.

Despite an improvement in the number of people with access to clean and potable water, significant disparities persist between provinces. Rural and remote areas still suffer from a lack of basic services, in particular safe drinking water, and women still carry the burden of having to walk for miles to reach safe drinking water for their families.

70.6% of the population in 2011 had sustainable access to an improved water source. Just 38 percent of households rate the availability of drinking water as “good” or “very good”. The highest approval ratings are found in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, reaching up to 89 percent in urban areas of Erbil governorate.

Good sanitation is important for urban and rural populations, but the associated health risks are greater in urban areas where it is more difficult to avoid contact with waste. The proportion of urban and rural population with access to improved sanitation and sewerage has improved in the last three years. The current rate is 93.8%, only 2.5 % away from achieving the national goal of 96.3% by 2015.

UNDP's work in Iraq

  • Photo by UNDP Iraq 2013


  • Photo by UNDP Iraq 2011


Targets for MDG7
  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
  2. Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
    • Proportion of land area covered by forest and proportion of species threatened with extinction
    • CO2 emissions, total, per capita and per $1 GDP (PPP)
    • Consumption of ozone-depleting substances
    • Proportion of fish stocks within safe biological limits
    • Proportion of total water resources used
    • Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected
  3. Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
    • Proportion of population using an improved drinking water source
    • Proportion of population using an improved sanitation facility
  4. Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020
    • Proportion of urban population living in slums