SUTTON, S., 2008. The risks of a technology-based MDG indicator for rural water supply. IN: Jones, H. (ed). Access to sanitation and safe water - Global partnerships and local actions: Proceedings of the 33rd WEDC International Conference, Accra, Ghana, 7-11 April 2008, pp. 500-505.
The MDG indicator for access to safe water equates technology with water quality based largely on designed
rather than observed capacity to block routes of faecal contamination. This is a useful driver for
donor and government investment in rural water supply, but breeds donor dependency as generally accepted
technologies are unaffordable to consumers. Sparse data on water quality suggest a need for greater data
collection and more objective assessment of the real improvements being achieved for the donor-dependent
investments being made, which are leading to very slow rates of progress. Broadening technology options to
include progressively improved household access and water treatment may increase rates of progress, and
cost-effectiveness and improve the lot of many more consumers without jeopardising water quality.