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| Last Updated:: 12/09/2018


The Facts about Sanitation at Global Level       


  • In 2015, 68% of the world’s population had access to improved sanitation facilities including flush toilets and covered latrines, compared with 54% in 1990.


  • An estimated 2.4 billion people, or one third of the world’s population, lack access to an improved sanitation facility, and 13% practise open defecation.Among the world’s regions, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia continue to have the lowest sanitation coverage (WHO/UNICEF, 2015).


  • Nearly one third of the current global population has gained access to an improved sanitation facility since 1990, a total of 2.1 billion people.2.4 billion people still do not have basic sanitation facilities such as toilets or latrines.


  • Of these, 946 million still defecate in the open, for example in street gutters, behind bushes or into open bodies of water.


  • The proportion of people practising open defecation globally has fallen almost by half, from 24%to 13%.


  • At least 10% of the world’s population is thought to consume food irrigated by wastewater.


  • Poor sanitation is linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio.


  • Inadequate sanitation is estimated to cause 280 000 diarrhoeal deaths annually and is a major factor in several neglected tropical diseases, including intestinal worms, schistosomiasis, and trachoma. Poor sanitation also contributes to malnutrition.


  • 39 per cent of the global population (2.9 billion people) used a safely managed sanitation service; that is, excreta safely disposed of in situ or treted off-site.


  • Estimates for safely managed sanitation were available for 84 countries (representing 48 per cent of the global population), and for five out of eight SDG regions4.


  • Two out of five people using safely managed sanitation services (1.2 billion) lived in rural areas.


  • 27 per cent of the global population(1.9 billion people) used private sanitation facilities connected to sewers from which wastewater was treated.


  • 13 per cent of the global population (0.9 billion people) used toilets or latrines where excreta were disposed of in situ.


  • Available data were insufficient to make a global estimate of the proportion of population using septic tanks and latrines from which excreta are emptied and treated off-site.


  • 68 per cent of the global population (5.0 billion people) used at least a basic sanitation service.


  • 2.3 billion people still lacked even a basic sanitation service.


  • 600 million people used a limited sanitation service; that is, improved facilities shared with other households.


  • 892 million people worldwide still practised open defecation.



Source: World Health Organization, Report Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene


Lack of sanitation facilities forces people to defecate in the open, in rivers or near areas where children play or food is prepared. This increases the risk of transmitting disease. The Ganges river in India has 1.1 million liters of raw sewage dumped into it every minute, a starling figure considering that one gram of faeces many contain 10 million viruses, one million bacteria. 1000 parasite cysts and 100 worm eggs.  
  An estimated 2.6 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation globally. If the current trend continues, by 2015 there will be 2.7 billion people without access to basic sanitation. The regions with the lowest coverage are sub-Saharan Africa (30%) southern Asia (36%) and Oceania (53%). Underlying issues that add to the challenge in many countries include a weak infrastructure an inadequate human resource base and scarce resources to improve the situation. Infrastructure an inadequate human resource base and scarce resources to improve the situation.
Examples of diseases transmitted through water contaminated by human waste include diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and hepatitis A. In Africa, 115 people die every hour from diseases linked to poor sanitation, poor hygiene and contaminate water.  
  Health-care facilities need proper sanitation and must practice good hygiene to control infection. Worldwide, between 5% and 30% of patients develop one or more avoidable infections during stays in health-care facilities.
Each year more than 200 million people are affected by drought, floods, tropical storms, earthquakes, forest fires, and other hazards. Sanitation is an essential component in emergency response and rehabilitation efforts to stem the spread of disease rebuild basic services in communities and help people return to normal daily activities.  
  Studies show that improved sanitation reduces diarrhea death rates by a third. Diarrhea is a major killer and largely preventable: it is responsible for 1.5 million deaths every year, mostly among under-five children living in developing countries.
Adequate sanitation encourages children to be at school, particularly girls. Access to latrines raises school attendance rates for children; an increase in girl’s enrolment can be attributed to the provision of separate, sanitary facilities.  
  Hygiene education and promotion of hand washing are simple, cost effective measures that can reduce diarrhea cases by up to 45%. Even when ideal sanitation is not available, instituting good hygiene practices in communities will lead to better health. Proper hygiene goes hand in hand with the use of improved facilities to prevent disease.
The economic benefits of sanitation are persuasive. Every US$1 invested in improved sanitation, translates into an average return of US$9. Those benefits are experienced specifically by poor children and in the disadvantaged communities that need them most.  
  The Millennium Development Goals target 75% global sanitation coverage by 2015. The cost to reach this milestone is estimated at US$14 billion annually through the period. Among other health gains, sanitation is estimated to reduce diarrhea cases by 391 million worldwide each year.






  • Open defecation is when people have no choice but to defecate outside onto the ground, and in full view of other people.
  • 1 billion people are forced to practice open defecation around the world.
  • Open defecation is unthinkable in 85% of the world. The only option in the other 15%
  • It causes cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, diarrhea, worm infestation,reduced physical growth, impaired cognitive function and under nutrition.
  • It is one of the clearest indications of the global sanitation crisis.
  • Every day children drink water that has mixed with their neighbors’ faeces.
  • Diarrhoea is the third biggest killer of children under-five years old in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Teenage girls leave school when they start menstruating because they have no privacy.
  • A child dies every 2.5 minutes.
  • This year, it will infect 44 million pregnant women with worms.
  • Every minute 1.1 million liters of human excrement enters the river Ganges.
  • Lack of access of sanitation, including the practice of open defection, costs the world’s poorest countries $260 billion a year.
  • Women face the daily threat of sexual violence.
  • Access to sanitation is critical for human development.