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Sustainable sanitation: The Five Year Drive to 2015

Sustainable sanitation: The Five Year Drive to 2015
© UNICEF Mozambique
On December 20, 2010, the UN General Assembly set aggressive new targets to improve sanitation worldwide.

MAPUTO, Mozambique, 21 June 2011 – With 2.6 billion people – half of the population in developing countries – still without access to a toilet or latrine, sanitation is among the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets lagging farthest behind in implementation. On 20 December 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling upon the UN member states to "redouble efforts to close the sanitation gap". The resolution established a global push, "Sustainable Sanitation: The Five-Year-Drive to 2015", to focus attention on the goal and to mobilize political will, as well as financial and technical resources. The resolution also made history by calling for an end to open defecation, the most dangerous sanitation practice for public health.

Over 1.1 billion people worldwide have no sanitation facilities at all, and practise open defecation. According to UNICEF, inadequate and dirty water, poor sanitation, and improper hygiene are the main causes of diarrhoea, which each year kills at least 1.2 million children under five. The organization says diarrhoeal diseases are mainly excreta-related, therefore it is crucial to protect people from contact with faeces. Improvements in sanitation can achieve a more than 30% reduction in illnesses caused by diarrhoea.

Achievement of the sanitation goal, UNICEF says, will have far-reaching and lasting effects on the health and well-being of millions of people. UNICEF’s own programming around sanitation has largely moved from being a top-down process driven by subsidies to being more community-based and community-driven, looking not only to technological innovation to solve sanitation problems, but to effect social change and individual behaviour change. And the results are already showing in some regions, such as in the three central provinces of Sofala, Manica and Tete in Mozambique.

Today, on June 21, 2011, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, along with UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange, launched “Sustainable sanitation: The Five-Year Drive to 2015”, a push to speed up the progress on the Millennium Development Goal target of improving global sanitation by 2015. UNICEF Mozambique will provide more information from this launch in the near future, along with additional reference materials and other relevant resources related to the global sanitation effort. 

About the UN Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation is an independent body established in March 2004 by the UN Secretary-General to give him advice as well as to galvanize action on water and sanitation issues. Chaired by His Royal Highness the Prince of the Netherlands, the Board is composed of a wide range of dignitaries, technical experts, and individuals with proven experience in providing inspiration, moving the machinery of government, as well as working with the media, the private sector and civil society. See:

For more information, please contact:

Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:  

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:  



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