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Water, Sanitation and Hygiene


© UNICEF/HQ99-0812/Lemoyne
Separate latrines for girls and boys in a UNICEF-supported school in Senegal

According to the latest estimates of the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP), 32 per cent of the world’s population – 2.4 billion people – lacked improved sanitation facilities, and 663 million people still used unimproved drinking water sources in 2015 Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services, coupled with poor hygiene practices, kills and sickens thousands of children every day, and leads to impoverishment and diminished opportunities for thousands more.

Poor sanitation, water and hygiene have many other serious repercussions. Children – and particularly girls – are denied their right to education because their schools lack private and decent sanitation facilities. Women are forced to spend large parts of their day fetching water. Poor farmers and wage earners are less productive due to illness, health systems are overwhelmed and national economies suffer. Without WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), sustainable development is impossible.

UNICEF works in more than 100 countries around the world to improve water supplies and sanitation facilities in schools and communities, and to promote safe hygiene practices. We sponsor a wide range of activities and work with many partners, including families, communities, governments and like-minded organizations. In emergencies we provide urgent relief to communities and nations threatened by disrupted water supplies and disease. All UNICEF WASH programmes were designed to contribute to the Millennium Development Goal for water and sanitation. The goal - to cut in half, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe water - has been achieved globally, but the same target for sanitation has been missed by almost 700 million people.

Country and regional data on water, sanitation and hygiene are available on data.unicef.org. Data document substantial geographic, wealth and rural/urban disparities in WASH access.




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