Water & Sanitation

Poor sanitation is responsible for a broad range of health problems: diarrhea, respiratory tract infections, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A, dysentery, and Guinea worm disease. The lack of adequate sanitation at schools throughout the developing world keeps many children, especially girls, from completing basic education. Almost half the population in the developing world, 2.5 billion people, lacks access to basic sanitation.1 This is the world’s least reported humanitarian disaster. Sanitation is crucial to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality.

Quick Facts

  • 2.5 billion people (37% of the world) live without adequate sanitation.1
  • 1 in 6 people lack access to safe drinking water.1
  • Diarrhea is responsible for 1.5 million deaths every year, mostly among under-five children living in developing countries.2
  • Studies show that improved sanitation reduces diarrhea death rates by a third.2
  • People suffering from waterborne diseases occupy more than half of the world’s hospital beds.3
  • Every US$1 invested in improved sanitation, translates into an average return of US$9.2
  1. UNICEF and World Health Organization, Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation – 2012 Update, 2012
  2. World Health Organization, 10 Facts on Sanitation
  3. UNDP, 2006. Human Development Report: beyond scarcity: power, poverty and the global water crisis.
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