Yu W, Wardrop NA, Bain RE, Lin Y, Zhang C, Wright JA. A Global Perspective on Drinking-Water and Sanitation Classification: An Evaluation of Census Content. PLoS One. 2016 Mar 17;11(3):e0151645. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151645.
Following the recent expiry of the United Nations’ 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), new international development agenda covering 2030 water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) targets have been proposed, which imply new demands on data sources for monitoring relevant progress. This study evaluates drinking-water and sanitation classification systems from national census questionnaire content, based upon the most recent international policy changes, to examine national population census’s ability to capture drinking-water and sanitation availability, safety, accessibility, and sustainability. In total, 247 censuses from 83 low income and lower-middle income countries were assessed using a scoring system, intended to assess harmonised water supply and sanitation classification systems for each census relative to the typology needed to monitor the proposed post-2015 indicators of WASH targets. The results signal a lack of international harmonisation and standardisation in census categorisation systems, especially concerning safety, accessibility, and sustainability of services in current census content. This suggests further refinements and harmonisation of future census content may be necessary to reflect ambitions for post-2015 monitoring.