Still 2.5 billion without a basic toilet

As government ministers from around the globe meet in Washington DC on Friday 11 April, we’re calling on them to strengthen their commitment to improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene for those who are most in need.

11 Apr 2014

80 ministers representing around 50 developing and donor countries, including the UK Secretary of State for Development Justine Greening, will meet ahead of the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings in Washington DC at the Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting. The meeting will be opened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

New data released ahead of this meeting shows the massive and growing inequalities in access to safe water and toilets around the world.

  • 748 million people around the world remain without safe water, according to an excerpt from the latest report of the World Health Organisation and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) on Water Supply and Sanitation, using 2012 data. Nearly half of these people, 325 million, live in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Some 2.5 billion people do not have access to proper sanitation, a number that has remained unchanged for over a decade as the world’s population increases. About 1 billion of these people practice open defecation.
  • Nearly 525,000 children died of diarrhoeal illnesses linked to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene in 2012. That’s one child every minute, or 1,400 a day.
  • Though sub-Saharan Africa is not meeting targets on safe water, there is progress: JMP data shows on average 30,000 people in Africa were reached every day for 12 years starting from 2000.
  • Though progress has been made on eliminating open defecation, this is mostly in urban areas. An estimated 90% of people practicing open defecation live in rural areas.
  • The UN Millennium Development Goal on sanitation, to halve the proportion of people living without it by 2015, is so behind that it cannot be met in time.
  • Though the UN Millennium Development Goal to halve the proportion of people without safe water has been met, many parts of sub-Saharan Africa remain seriously off-track in their progress towards this goal.

“Safe water, improved toilets and latrines, and proper handwashing with soap are all it takes to stop a child dying every minute in this global health crisis, which is completely preventable. WaterAid is calling for ministers to step up their commitments to provide these basic human rights to transform the lives of people living in poverty – in particular women and girls – and to allow them to live healthy, prosperous lives,” said Barbara Frost, WaterAid Chief Executive.

“This High Level Meeting is an opportunity to set the course for achieving universal access to water and sanitation by 2030. For the first time in the history of international development policy, we are seeing recognition that sanitation is not only an outcome of development. It is a critical driver for poverty eradication. No country, no city, no village can achieve acceptable standards of public health without sanitation. Without sanitation, water and access to public hygiene practice, we cannot meet the goal to eradicate global poverty,” said Henry Northover, Global Head of Policy for WaterAid.

WaterAid has made its own commitments as a founding partner in the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership. The partnership includes more than 90 developing country governments, donors, civil society organisations and other development partners.

Our commitments include:

  • A new organisational strategy for 2015-2020 to catalyse maximum change for our vision of reaching everyone, everywhere by 2030 with safe water and sanitation, with a focus on sector strengthening.
  • To align our programmes behind nationally driven strategies to achieve universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene.
  • To strengthen commitment to open and transparent monitoring of progress in water and sanitation through our WASHwatch website.

The Sanitation and Water for All partnership 2014 progress update on commitments made at the 2012 High Level Meeting can be found here: >