Monitoring sanitation and wastewater services for the Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include ambitious global targets for drinking water, sanitation and wastewater services. The indicator for SDG target 6.2, ‘use of safely managed sanitation services’ and for SDG target 6.3 ‘wastewater safely treated’, seek to go beyond the toilet to ensure that sanitation services protect public health and the environment. Countries have now begun to address data gaps along the sanitation service chain and to strengthen the monitoring of wastewater treatment and reuse. This includes addressing a major data gap on the management of onsite sanitation services, such as septic tanks and latrines.  

This collection of papers – a collaboration between the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene, UN-Habitat and npj Clean Water – will broadly explore efforts to monitor the full sanitation chain from containment, transport, treatment and final disposal or reuse. Studies examining inequalities in exposure to the impacts of inadequate sanitation and wastewater treatment, focused on vulnerable populations such as those living in refugee or IDP settings, and the specific sanitation and wastewater services needs of women and girls and persons living with disabilities are strongly encouraged. Submissions are equally encouraged from low-, middle- and high-income countries.

npj Clean Water is a new Nature Research journal and is part of the Nature Partner Journal family. The journal is open access, ensuring that all papers in this collection will be freely available, enabling wide readership. See the journal website for information about article processing charges (APC). APCs may be waived or reduced for certain institutional partners, or for papers whose corresponding authors are based in countries classified as low-income or lower-middle-income economies. Nature offers funding and support services for authors to discover and apply for funding to cover APCs. The deadline for submissions is February 1, 2024 and papers will be published on the journal website as soon as they are accepted, and then additionally gathered together on a unique webpage.


Modern urban waste water treatment plant.


  • Rick Johnston

    Group Leader, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health (ECH), WHO/UNICEF

  • Tom Slaymaker

    Sr Statistics & Monitoring Specialist (WASH), UNICEF

  • Graham Alabaster

    Chief, Waste Management and Sanitation, UNHABITAT

  • Andrew Shantz

    Freelance Consultant, World Health Organization

  • Pay Drechsel

    Senior Fellow, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Sri Lanka

  • Alison Parker

    Senior Lecturer, Centre for Water, Environment and Development, Cranfield University, UK

  • Charles Niwagaba

    Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Makerere University, Uganda‎

  • Juliet Willetts

    Research Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures (UTS-ISF), University of Technology Sydney, Australia