Progress on drinking water and sanitation - Special focus on sanitation

 WHOThis report found on the World Health Organisation site has been brought out by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, that tracks the progress on target 10 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which is "To halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation".

2008 being the International Year of Sanitation, the report highlights the importance of sanitation, as being the crucial stepping stone to health , which offers:


  • The opportunity to save the lives of 1.5 million children every year who would otherwise succumb to diarrhoeal and other diseases
  • To gender equity by protecting women's dignity
  • To economic development and as investments in sanitation protect investments in other social sectors such as education and health and bring measurable economic returns.

The data in the report shows that the world is not on track to meet the MDG Sanitation target and that at the current rate of progress, by 2015, the target will be missed by over 700 million people. The report however, indicates that the demand for sanitation facilities is improving and that the future outlook is positive. Some other key figures from the report on the sanitation status are:

  • 2.5 billion people (38% of the world's population) still lack access to improved sanitation, including 1.2 billion who have no facilities at all. The progress is particularly poor in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia (including India).
  • The practice of open defecation, which is the riskiest sanitation practice of all, is decreasing, but still being practised by 1.2 billion people (18% of the world's population). Almost two thirds of those who practice open defecation live in southern Asia
  • 7 out of 10 people without improved sanitation live in rural areas.

In case of drinking water supply, the report states that the world is on track to meet the MDG target, but here too, regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, which are home to 1/3 rd of the world's population, are struggling to stay on track. Some key figures from the report on the drinking water status are:

  • The number of people without improved drinking water has now dropped to below one billion.
  • More than half of the global population now benefits from piped water reaching their homes.
  • 8 out of 10 people without improved sources of drinking water live in rural areas. South Asia continues to have a high population using unimproved water sources.
  • Collecting water is predominantly a woman's responsibility

Download the report from below: