Water is one of the most important resources of human life. Our bodies consist of around 60% water, and health authorities recommend the individual intake of water to be around eight 8-ounce glasses per day. 

Our health is dependent on uncontaminated water, so much that the United Nations (UN) has made clean drinking water and sanitation the 6th priority on its sustainable development goal list, and one that it hopes every country will abide by.

Based on data compiled from the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WHO UNICEF JMP), only one Arab country seemingly ranked 100% in both drinking water and sanitation.

WHO/UNICEF JMP update their data every other year and below are two lists with latest ranks of Arab countries, as well as charts based on the quality of drinking water and sanitation.

The Arab countries are ranked by "safely managed" drinking water, from lowest to highest:

7. Lebanon - 48%

6. Morocco - 69%

5. Oman - 86%

4. Tunisia - 93%

3. Jordan - 93%

2. Bahrain - 99%

1. Kuwait - 100%

Due to limited availability of information, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia and the UAE only show a percentage based on "basic" drinking water.

Based on the JMP database, below is a chart that demonstrates a more detailed look at how drinking water quality is broken down within each country:

  • Dark Blue is the highest quality, considered "safely managed" drinking water, which means it is available when required and the water is free from faecal and priority chemical contamination. 
  • Light Blue is considered water from an improved source.
  • Light Yellow is drinking water from an improved source in which the collection time requires more than 30 minutes to attain.
  • Dark Yellow to orange is drinking water from unprotected sources.

Drinking water is not the only point of importance in water management systems, sanitation is also critical. 

It represents how countries manage waste, basically... how toilet waste is handled...

Based on the same report, below are the Arab countries ranked by safely managed sanitation methods from highest to lowest:

  1. Kuwait - 100%
  2. UAE - 93%
  3. Saudi Arabia - 85%
  4. Jordan - 77%
  5. Tunisia - 73% 
  6. Egypt - 61%
  7. Morroco - 38%
  8. Iraq - 32% 
  9. Libya - 26%
  10. Lebanon - 20%

Due to limited availability of information, Bahrain, Oman, and Syria only show percentages for basic sanitation.

Below is a chart that represents a breakdown of sanitation quality:

  • Dark Green generally represents the use of improved facilities in which waste is safely disposed of or transported and treated off-site.
  • Light Green represents a use of improved facilities. 
  • Light Yellow represents the use of improved facilities but that are shared between two or more households.
  • Dark Yellow to Orange represents the use of open unimproved sanitation to open defecation. 

Apart from a few exceptions, most of the Arab countries in the region were able to meet the goals defined by the United Nations.

Moving forward, they will work with the international organisation to implement the requirements of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).