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Regional trends towards the MDG sanitation target.

Middle East/North Africa, East Asia/Pacific and Latin America/Caribbean are on track to meet the target of halving the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation. West/Central Africa, Eastern/Southern Africa and CEE/CIS are not on track, and South Asia has made progress – but not enough to reach the target.

Basic sanitation

Basic sanitation

Three regions are on track to meet their MDG targets for basic sanitation: Latin America/Caribbean, East Asia/Pacific and Middle East/North Africa.

The largest gains have been made in South Asia, where access to improved sanitation facilities more than doubled from 17 per cent in 1990 to 37 per cent in 2004, and in East Asia/Pacific, where it rose from 30 per cent to 51 per cent.

These improvements were primarily driven by gains made in India and China. In India, sanitation coverage more than doubled – from 14 per cent in 1990 to 33 per cent in 2004, while in China sanitation coverage increased from 23 per cent to 44 per cent over the same period. But the majority of the people in both of these highly populated countries still remain without access.

The least progress was made in CEE/CIS, where coverage froze at 84 per cent, and in Eastern/Southern Africa – where access improved only slightly, from 35 per cent in 1990 to 38 per cent in 2004, and where with population growth, the absolute number of people without sanitation increased by a third over the same period.

The numbers of children affected by inadequate sanitation vary widely between regions. Of the more than 280 million children under five living in households without access to improved sanitation facilities, almost two thirds live in South Asia (106 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (75 million). Again, these figures compare with negligible numbers of unserved children in the industrialized world and 6 million in CEE/CIS.