Water Sanitation Health

International Year of Sanitation 2008


The Challenge

Official statistics from WHO and UNICEF suggest that about 3.8 billion people (60%) in 2004 have access to "improved" sanitation globally. The regions with the lowest coverage are sub-Saharan Africa (37%), Southern Asia (38%) and Eastern Asia (45%). Underlying issues that contribute to the challenging situation include lack of political will, inadequate financial resources, weak institutional frameworks, neglect of consumer preferences, and cultural beliefs.

To reach the MDG target on sanitation, the global coverage should be at least 75% by 2015. This would mean an additional 1.6 billion people would have to be provided with sanitation systems. Meeting the MDG target would avert 391 million cases of diarrhoea per year . Health gains from sanitation are incorporated in existing which shows that every US dollar invested in sanitation would give a return of about US$9.

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