The main point of this article is that the efforts by the United Nations to provide clean drinking water for everyone in the world are not going as well as they seem to be. The article argues that the way that the UN set up its goals made it look like more was being done to help people than was actually the case.
The article mentions that, in the spring of 2012, the UN celebrated success in halving the number of people without access to clean water. This goal was only supposed to be achieved by 2015. This seemed like a great accomplishment.
However, the article goes on to say that the UN was only measuring the number of people who had access to “improved” water supplies. It was not actually measuring the quality of the water. A study showed that water from the “improved” supplies was not always actually pure.
The UN was not going around testing the water. Instead, they were looking at the nature of the source. They were counting people who had access to “improved” water supplies (things like protected wells, pipes, and boreholes) rather than “unimproved” sources like streams or unprotected wells. The problem was that sometimes the improved sources had impure water. This would happen, for example, because they had not been well-maintained and had lost their ability to protect the water from contamination.
Thus, the main point of the article is that the UN efforts have not been as effective as they appear to be.