Rapid assessment of drinking water quality: a handbook for implementation

Water is a basic human right as recently re-clarified in General Comment 15 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The importance of water for health and development has been reflected in international policy initiatives since the International Decade for Water Supply and Sanitation Development (the 1980s). This was further emphasised by the Millennium Declaration Goal to halve the proportion of the World's population that lacks access to water supply and most recently the identification of water and sanitation as a highest priority issue by the Commission for Sustainable Development. Since the 1960s, WHO has periodically reported on the development of the access to safe drinking-water sources; this is now implemented as a joint programme of work with UNICEF through the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation. In recent reviews and evaluations the need for JMP to progressively address new and emerging priorities has been highlighted. As part of the ongoing plan of work of JMP, a major initiative to more comprehensively take account of water quality issues has been initiated. This handbook has been developed as a resource to support the systematic evaluation of drinking-water quality status at country and local levels. It is hoped that it will be useful to those interested in describing and understanding drinking-water quality status in the context of JMP at national/state levels and on a project basis.