Water sanitation hygiene

Water supply, sanitation and hygiene development

Safe and sufficient drinking-water, along with adequate sanitation and hygiene have implications across all Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – from eradicating poverty and hunger, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating infectious diseases, to ensuring environmental sustainability. Much progress has been achieved over the past decade:

  • 2.3 billion people gained access to improved drinking-water between 1990–2012.
  • The number of children dying from diarrhoeal diseases, which are strongly associated with poor water, inadequate sanitation and hygiene, have steadily fallen over the two last decades from approximately 1.5million deaths in 1990 to just above 600 000 in 2012.

As the world turns its attention to the formulation of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) much remains to be done particularly to reduce inequalities across populations:

  • 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation.
  • 1 billion people practice open defecation, nine out of ten in rural areas.
  • 748 million people lack access to improved drinking-water and it is estimated that 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking-water that is faecally contaminated.
  • Hundreds of millions of people have no access to soap and water to wash their hands, preventing a basic act that would empower them to block the spread of disease.


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