Water sanitation hygiene

Fast facts

WHO/UNICEF joint monitoring report 2012

An improved sanitation facility is one that hygienically separates human excreta from human contact.

An improved drinking-water source is one that by the nature of its construction adequately protects the source from outside contamination, in particular from faecal matter.


  • In 2010, 89 per cent of the world’s population, or 6.1 billion people, used improved drinking water sources, exceeding the MDG target (88 per cent); 92 per cent are expected to have access in 2015.
  • Between 1990 and 2010, two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources.
  • Eleven per cent of the global population, or 783 million people, are still without access.
  • In 2015 the WHO/UNICEF JMP projects that 605 million will still not have access.


  • 63 per cent of the global population use toilets and other improved sanitation facilities.
  • By 2015, 67 per cent will have access to improved sanitation facilities (the MDG target is 75 per cent).
  • Since 1990 1.8 billion people gained access to improved sanitation.
  • 2.5 billion people lack improved sanitation, projected be 2.4 billion by 2015.
  • 1.1 billion people (15 per cent of the global population) practice open defecation.
  • 949 million open defecators live in rural areas.

Regions and countries

Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for more than 40% of the global population without access to improved drinking water.

Sub-Saharan Africa is not on track for meeting the drinking water target, but some countries have already met the target: Malawi, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Namibia, and Gambia. Liberia is on track to meet the target.

593 million in China and 251 million in India gained access to improved sanitation since 1990.

China and India account for just under half the global progress on sanitation.


  • with 626 million people who practice open defecation, has more than twice the number of the next 18 countries combined;
  • accounts for 90 per cent of the 692 million people in South Asia who practice open defecation;
  • accounts for 59 per cent of the 1.1 billion people in the world who practice open defecation;
  • has 97 million people without access to improved sources of drinking water, second only to China.


  • accounts for more than 95% of the progress on sanitation in Eastern Asia;
  • has 119 million people without improved drinking water, followed by India (97 million); Nigeria (66 million) and Ethiopia (46 million);
  • has 14 million people who practice open defecation, 8th on the list of the top 10 countries.

Countries that account for almost three-quarters of the people who practice open defecation:

  • India (626 million)
  • Indonesia (63 million)
  • Pakistan (40 million)
  • Ethiopia (38 million)
  • Nigeria (34 million)
  • Sudan (19 million)
  • Nepal (15 million)
  • China (14 million)
  • Niger (12 million)
  • Burkina Faso (9.7 million)
  • Mozambique (9.5 million)
  • Cambodia (8.6 million).

Note: All the information in this report is based on data available up to and including 2010.