Water Sanitation Health

Sanitation challenge

Turning commitment into reality


World Health Organization; UN-Water

Publication details

Number of pages: 32
Publication date: 2004
Languages: English
ISBN: 92 4 159162 5


The provision of sanitation is a key development intervention – without it, ill-health dominates a life without dignity. Simply having access to sanitation increases health, well-being and economic productivity. Inadequate sanitation impacts individuals, households, communities and countries. Despite its importance, achieving real gains in sanitation coverage has been slow. Scaling up and increasing the effectiveness of investments in sanitation need to be accelerated to meet the ambitious targets agreed at Johannesburg.

In response to global demand, this document summarises the key thinking about how these targets can be met. It suggests actions that can be taken at different levels and by different actors to change the pace of sanitation improvement. Achieving the internationally agreed targets for sanitation and hygiene poses a significant challenge to the global community and can only be accomplished if action is taken now. Low-cost, appropriate technologies are available. Effective programme management approaches have been developed. Political will and concerted actions by all stakeholders can improve the lives of millions of people in the immediate future.

This document describes the following key areas where action can be taken today to translate global commitments on sanitation and hygiene into reality:

  • Making political commitments
  • Legislation and regulations
  • Building capacity to make a difference
  • Getting sanitation and hygiene right
  • Mobilising financial resources
  • Paying attention to gender and equity
  • Supporting small-scale entrepreneurs
  • Focusing on youth and using education
  • Taking responsibility for the environment
  • Monitoring progress
  • Making information flow and strengthening partnerships