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A REPORT CARD ON WATER AND SANITATION: NUMBER 5, SEPTEMBER 2006 View Previous Editions>

About 2.6 billion people are without access to improved sanitation facilities.

The chart shows the regional breakdown.

Sanitation

Sanitation

Some 2.6 billion people worldwide – two in five – do not have access to improved sanitation, and about 2 billion of these people live in rural areas. Barely more than one third of the population uses adequate sanitation facilities in West/Central Africa (36 per cent), South Asia (37 per cent) and Eastern/Southern Africa (38 per cent).

Improved’ sanitation facilities  are those that reduce the chances of people coming into contact with human excreta and are likely to be more sanitary than unimproved facilities. These include toilets that flush waste into a piped sewer, septic tank or pit, as well as dry pit latrines constructed with a cover. Such facilities are only considered to be improved if they are private rather than shared with other households.

Global sanitation coverage increased from 49 per cent in 1990 to 59 per cent in 2004, and about 1.2 billion people gained access to improved sanitation facilities over that period. Yet the world is not making sufficient progress to meet the MDG sanitation target. To do so, the rate of improvement over the past 15 years would have to double between now and 2015. If current trends continue, there will be 2.4 billion people, partly as a result of population growth, without basic sanitation in 2015.