, Volume 176, Issue 1-4, pp 561-574
Date: 17 Jul 2010

How safe are the global water coverage figures? Case study from Madhya Pradesh, India

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The World Health Organization (WHO)/United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation was designed to provide reference figures for access in individual countries to safe water. The JMP is based on non-administrative or nongovernment data from national-level surveys such as the Multiple Indicator Clusters Survey (MICS) or Demographic Health Survey. In the 2007 JMP report, India is noted to have water supply coverage of 89% (95% in urban areas and 85% in rural areas) compared to the Government of India estimates of 95%. The central state of Madhya Pradesh is noted by the Government of India to have coverage of 60%. However, the definition of access to safe water currently does not consider the quality or safety of the water being consumed. This paper, therefore, presents results from the application of a statistical tool (random multiple cluster technique—termed Rapid Assessment of Drinking Water Quality [RADWQ]) to Indore Zone in Madhya Pradesh. When results provided by the RADWQ technique are compared to the JMP MICS data, coverage levels reported in the JMP are reduced by up to 40% due to the high risk of microbiological (thermotolerant coliforms) contamination. In Indore Zone, the coverage of safe water reduced from 42% to 25% through the inclusion of the water safety parameters. The study recommends the inclusion of water quality/safety data in reported data under the UNICEF/WHO JMP.