Where is Chennai in terms of achieving SDG- 6?

— by Sahana Balasubramanian, January 9 2021 —

What are Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)?

In 2015, the member states of United Nations adopted the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, providing the blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and planet, now and into the future. The Agenda has 17 goals, which is an urgent call action for developed and developing nations. They have framed the goals in such a way that they are interconnected and their approach is tackling poverty along with improving health and education that spurs economic growth and working to preserve our natural resources. In this article, we are focussing about status of SDG-6 in Chennai. 

SDG-6 and why we are concerned about it?

SDG-6 is all about water and sanitation. As the global population is ever increasing and the demand for water is also increasing, it is necessary to take immediate action on protecting our limited natural resource “WATER”. Water and Sanitation is seen as important necessity as it influences the GDP of the country, health and diseases, economy and livelihood. During COVID-19, everyone should have realised the importance of clean water because we required clean water to wash our hands with soap and protected ourselves from the virus. It was the important precaution to keep ourselves protected and imagine about the countries, which lacks access to water facility. Its been estimated that in Worldwide, one in three people do not have access to safe drinking water, two out of five people do not have a basic hand washing facility, with soap and water, more than 673 million people still practice open defecation.

Goal 6 | Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Source: UN SDG

Sustainable Development Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Sub goalsTargetsIndicators
6.1universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for allProportion of population using safely managed drinking water services.
6.26.2 By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying social attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situationsProportion of population using (a) safely managed sanitation services
(b) a hand washing facility with soap and water
6.3By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, having the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globallyProportion of wastewater safely treatedProportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality
6.4By 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
Change in water-use efficiency over timeLevel of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources
6.5By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate.Degree of integrated water resources management implementation (0-100)Proportion of transboundary basin area with an operational arrangement for water cooperation
6.6By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakesChange in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time
6.ABy 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 technologiesAmount of water and sanitation related official development assistance that is part of a government coordinated spending plan
6.BSupport and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation managementProportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management


In India, Chennai is one of the fastest growing Metropolitan cities. In 2011, the Corporation has extended the city limit from 176 to 426 The population of the city is 10.9 million. The delivery of protected water supply and sewerage services are being provided by the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB). In Chennai, poor sanitation, combined with irregular water supply, hinders development and claims the lives of people, especially those living in informal settlements, often referred to as “slums” in urban areas. Due to ever-growing population, these challenges are likely to magnify and city will have to share already inadequate and often badly managed resources. The existing urban water distribution and sanitation systems are under-working and unable to cope with growing population. At the same time, newly built systems lack inclusiveness and resilience, as the urban poor tend to be excluded from these services. 

Policies in connection with SDG-6 implemented by Government of India

Our Government has implemented several policies for achieving the SDG. The Central Government has set up Niti Aayog for monitoring India’s performance in achieving the SDG. It also shares best practises among the states, encourages them to stay in track of SDG, maintains dashboard for SDG.

The table below consists of policies and schemes, which have been implemented by GOI and has  relevance to SDG-6. 

Fecal Sludge and Septage Management in Urban AreaAtal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation
Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban Areas)National River Conservation Programme
National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP)Flood Management and Border Areas Programme
Mission for Protection and Empowerment of WomenNational Hydrology Project
National Ganga PlanNational River Conservation Programme
Conservation of Natural Resources and EcosystemsEnvironment Protection, Management and Sustainable Development
Smart Cities MissionGround Water Management and Regulation
National Ganga Plan and Ghat WorksPradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana
Ground Water Management and RegulationDevelopment of Water Resources Information System

SDG-6 snapshots in Chennai

The UN is been maintaining dashboard for tracking the progress of the countries in terms of achieving SDG. Pertaining to SDG-6, in India major challenges remain in terms of achieving the goal but it is in track of achieving the targets. There are many challenges faced in access to clean water, sanitation facilities, freshwater withdrawal, and wastewater treatment. The targets of the SDG-6 that has been achieved with respect to Chennai has been provided below.

Measures to be taken

  • Involving Local communities 
  • Ensuring Financial sustainability
  • Providing water education
  • Adopting traditional technologies and using nature-based solutions
  • Creating and maintain data set from different government departments is essential if the goals need to be attained.
  • Community management of water supply is effective.

Conclusion and Discussion

We cannot achieve SDG-6 just by following suitable pathway and integrating sustainability through social, technological, financial and institutional innovation. The innovation in technological sustainability is shaped by factors like affordability, low maintenance, eco-friendly and implementation with respect to regional and local conditions and availability of resources. The institutional mechanisms stimulate sustainable economic development by offering incentives for business development and employment creation. NGOs and corporate companies can play a facilitator role in promotional activities such as demand creation, mass mobilization/sensitization, capacity building and maintenance of technology rather than building of only infrastructure.


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