We’re building a new UNICEF.org.
As we swap out old for new, pages will be in transition. Thanks for your patience – please keep coming back to see the improvements.

Press centre

International Year of Sanitation 2008

© UNICEF/ HQ99-0958/Jim Holmes
EAST TIMOR: A woman bathes her girl toddler at an outdoor pump in a destroyed neighbourhood of Dili, capital of East Timor, a little more than a week after the arrival of the INTERFET peacekeeping forces.
1 January 2008 - 2.6 billion people - nearly half of humanity – do not have access to a clean and safe toilet. Those who make up this shocking total live in towns and crowded rural environments, and are confronted by squalor, including human faeces, flies, and other disease-carrying agents, on a daily basis. Without a household water tap and washing facilities, they struggle to keep themselves and their children clean.

Human excreta is the essence of the sanitation challenge. Without adequate sanitation facilities to safely contain and dispose of human faeces, a community, especially its women and children, are put at risk and it’s people locked in an endless cycle of poverty.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) recognise that sustainable access to improved sanitation is fundamental to human rights, health and dignity. MDG 7, aims to halve the proportion of the world’s population without sustainable access to improved sanitation by 2015. At the current rate, the world will not reach the 2015 target until 2026. Resources needed to tackle the global sanitation crisis have not been forthcoming because sanitation is hard to talk about and often considered a dirty word, but the reality is poor sanitation is deadly. Inadequate water and sanitation often results in:

• widespread damage to human health and child survival;
• social misery especially for women, the elderly and infirm;
• depressed economic productivity and human development;
• pollution to the living environment and water resources, soil and food.

To put the global community on track to reach the sanitation target, the General Assembly (GA) declared 2008 the International Year of Sanitation (IYS). The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) is the lead coordinating body for IYS, working in close collaboration with the UN-Water Task Force on Sanitation, which consists of UNICEF, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB), State Governments, NGOs, the private sector and academia.

IYS is expected to position the issue of sanitation more prominently on the global agenda by raising it’s profile with politicians, civil society, the general public and the media. IYS will focus on the need to take immediate, effective action in order to boost the rate at which access to sanitation is achieved and to meet the MDG target.

Related Press Releases and News Notes:

1 January 2008 - UNICEF welcomes International Year of Sanitation 2008

6 December 2007 - Netherlands donates US $41 million for safe water and Sanitation in Kenya

13 November, 2007 - In Latin America 103 million people are lacking access to basic sanitation

23 July 2007 - UNICEF provides water quality testing equipment to the Liberian government

20 July 2007 - Water and sanitation to be provided to thousands of displaced children in Eastern Chad

7 May 2007 - Addressing the global sanitation crisis

 22 March 2007 - UNICEF highlights water scarcity on World Water Day



Related links

New enhanced search