Background Gradient

Colombia

Colombia is an Andean country located in the north of South America with coasts in the Pacific Ocean and in the Caribbean Sea and large reserves of fresh water. Its great heterogeneity in climates, terrain, altitudes and cultures creates challenges in the provision of water and sanitation.

A rich source of information for measuring the current state of access to water and sanitation are household surveys. Throughout Latin America and the Carribean, household surveys provide us with representative data of the countries' population, validated by statistical institutes, which allow cross-checking with other social statistics such as area, income, and gender breakdowns.

This page relies heavily on Colombia's 2020 Large Integrated Household Survey, which surveyed 57,265 representative households. The 2020 Large Integrated Household Survey does not collect water and sanitation data according to WHO / UNICEF standards, which makes it difficult to obtain timely information on the matter. Specifically, Colombia does not distinguish between piped water to the home and the field or between types of improved and non-improved latrines.

For more information on why OLAS uses household surveys, click here.

Data sources:
Methodology:

Progress Towards Measuring SDG 6

Sociodemography

Access to water and sanitation in Colombia varies greatly between urban and rural areas. In general, households in urban areas of the country have better access to water and sanitation from improved sources. 23% of Colombian people live in rural areas.

The sociodemographic differences in Colombia can be seen in terms of income. Using the 2020 Large Integrated Household Survey we can observe that when dividing households by quintiles of per capita income, the income of the highest quintile in Colombia is 17,5 times that of the lowest quintile.

Average monthly household income by quintile (in local currency 2020)

Population

Urbanization rate

Rural

Urban

Water access

Water access

Most of the people in Colombia live in urban areas where they have better access to water than those in rural areas. Because the GEIH does not distinguish between piped water to the home and the land, we do not know what percentage of the people have access to water in the home. In turn, according to the GEIH, while in urban areas 95% of households have access to piped drinking water, in rural areas this proportion is 55%.

Split data by:

Water Access Data by Quintile and Access Area

The above sankey diagram shows water access data broken down by location of water access (urban/rural), income quintile and type of water access. When hovering over the diagram, the number displayed shows the ratio of respondents that fit into the category on the right that come from the category on the left.

Sanitation Access

Sanitation Access

Access to improved sanitation in Colombia is high in urban areas, where 93% of households are connected to sanitary sewers and an additional 5% use septic tanks. However, in rural areas there are still significant gaps. Only 12% are connected to sewerage and 63% of rural households use septic tanks. Hence, a large percentage use latrines and 13% of the rural population do not have any sanitary facilities.

Split data by:

Sanitation Data by Quintile and Access Area

The above sankey diagram shows sanitation access data broken down by community, income quintile and type of facility. When hovering over the diagram, the number displayed shows the ratio of respondents that fit into the category on the right that come from the category on the left.

Water Resources

Water Resources

Water Availability

The water supply in Colombia is abundant, totaling 2,023 km3/year, of which 1,214 km3/year correspond to the available water supply (OHD). This available water supply is not evenly distributed throughout the national territory: Amazon (35.1%), Orinoco (31.4%), Pacific (12.8%), Magdalena-Cauca (12.5%) and Caribbean (8.2%). Sectoral water demand is distributed among economic sectors as follows: agriculture (43.1%), energy (24.3%), livestock (8.2%), fish farming (8.1%), domestic (7.4%) and industry, mining, hydrocarbons, services and construction, which total 8.9%.

Water Stress

Colombia is classified as a country with lowwater stress. In the National Water Study (ENA) 2018 it was found that under average hydrological conditions of the 316 Hydrographic Subzones (SZH) identified in the country: 49 SZH have vulnerability of high - very high shortage, with pressures due to use (high population density); 60 SZH with medium vulnerability; 131 SZH with low vulnerability, 73 SZH with very low vulnerability and the remaining 3 SZH do not have information.

Wastewater Treatment

By 2019, Colombia’s wastewater treatment percentage was estimated at 48.56% (latest available data). However, the reporting of information related to this indicator presents drawbacks related to the reporting of information, due to the fact that of the 712 Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP) registered in the Unified Public Services Information System (SUI) only 273 WWTP reported information for the year 2019, despite this the reported data represents more than 95% of the volume of wastewater treated in the country.

Water and Sanitation Management

Water and Sanitation Management

Institutional Framework

The institutional structure of the water and sanitation sector in Colombia is based on the separation of roles between: i) the National Government, responsible for the formulation of sectoral policy, regulation and control and oversight, and ii) the municipalities, responsible for ensuring the efficient provision of services. The competencies of regulation and control exercised by the National Government are assigned to different entities.

Regulatory Framework

The Political Constitution of Colombia of 1991 established the State’s regulatory authority for public services. This is materialized through the issuance of Law 142 of 1994, which establishes the regime of domiciliary public utilities, the competence of municipalities, departments and the nation for the provision of public water and sanitation services, and the instruments of state intervention in these.

Among other related regulations are:

  • Decree No. 1898 of 2016
  • CONPES Document No. 3810 of 2014

Development Programs and Plans

Colombia has several plans and programs aimed at guaranteeing universal access to water and sanitation services, among which are:

Other related MVCT plans include:

  • Guajira Azul Program
  • Water to the Countryside
  • Intradomiciliary Connections Program
  • Water Culture
  • Departmental Water Plans
  • Rural Program
  • All for the Pacific
  • Sanitation and Wastewater Management