Group of experts revise WHO guidelines on small drinking-water supplies


On 27 November–1 December 2017, the Republic of Moldova hosted a WHO working group meeting that brought together international experts and researchers from 8 countries to revise the WHO guidelines for small drinking-water supplies. Small drinking-water supplies are typically water supplies that serve areas beyond the reach of municipal services.

WHO headquarters and WHO/Europe jointly conducted the meeting. This was the first global water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) meeting to take place in the eastern part of Europe.

The group of experts was tasked with reviewing and revising the 1997 “Guidelines for drinking-water quality. Volume 3: Surveillance and control of community supplies”.

The revised guidelines will be presented in 2 parts:

  1. the Guidelines will support decision-makers in developing policies, regulations and associated strategies to achieve sustainable access to safe drinking-water in small water supplies; and
  2. the Field Guide will support field staff in preparing, carrying out and communicating the outcomes from drinking-water surveillance activities, and to take follow-up action.

The revised guidelines will continue to address community-managed water supplies, but will also address professionally and privately managed supplies.

Republic of Moldova addressing small drinking-water supplies to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The meeting was also an opportunity to recognize the efforts of the Republic of Moldova in managing small drinking-water supplies and implementing the Protocol on Water and Health. The Protocol is an international legal agreement linking sustainable water management and the prevention, control and reduction of water-related diseases in Europe.

“We see the importance of small drinking-water supplies in the era of the SDGs. Assuring access to water and sanitation for all is a common target to achieve,” stressed Boris Gîlca, Secretary General of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection of the Republic of Moldova, during the meeting.

In the workshop, the Republic of Moldova presented its experience in enforcing the national legal framework on small-scale drinking-water supply systems, and in implementing the Protocol. Under the Protocol, the Republic of Moldova plays a leading role in promoting and mobilizing action on WASH in health-care facilities and schools – a key priority of SDG 6 – particularly in rural areas.

The country is successfully implementing the national targets (recently revised) under the Protocol. These are already aligned with SDG 6 on providing safely managed water supply services for all, including in rural areas.

Experts and researchers had an opportunity to see first-hand the country’s significant improvements in addressing small drinking-water supplies. They visited the district of Orhei to learn about the recent improvements achieved in delivering safe drinking-water supplies to the communities there.