844 million people without drinking water, 2.3 billion without a toilet

Protos
17 November 2017
World Toilet Day (19 November) wants to take action for the 2.3 billion people without access to sanitary facilities. To mark the occasion, Glo.be will highlight an article from NGO Protos – a partner of the Belgian Development Cooperation striving for sustainable water use and management.

In July, the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) run by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF published a report on global progress related to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. There is still lots left to do to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) – clean water and sanitation – by the year 2030.

Previous JMP reports have highlighted the progress of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) concerning ‘improved and unimproved’ facilities for drinking water and sanitation. SDG6 strives for a ‘safely managed services’ and is far more ambitious. Households should always have access to clean and sufficient drinking water and to a separate toilet from which excreta are treated and disposed of safely.

Some data from 2015

In 2015, 71% of the worlds' population used safely managed services for drinking water: 5.2 billion people had a drinking water supply located on premises, available when needed and free from contamination. An additional 17% (1.3 billion people) have to make do with a basic service: an improved source of drinking water within 15 minutes’ round trip to collect water. 844 million people do not even have this basic service: it takes them more than half an hour to collect drinking water (263 million people), are required to use a non-improved source such as a well or source used also by animals (423 million) or drink surface water from rivers, lakes or canals (159 million).

Hardly 39% of the world's population can enjoy a safely-managed sanitary service: 2.9 billion people have their own sanitary facilities that they do not have to share with other households. They can be confident that their excreta are treated and disposed of safely. 2.1 billion people (29% of the world's population) use their own sanitary facilities, but only have a basic service: their excreta is neither carried away nor treated. The remaining 32% – 2.3 billion people – are even worse off: they share a toilet with other households, use an unimproved facility (e.g. a hole in the ground) or simply have no facility at all and practise open defecation (892 million people). That makes 337 million less people than in the year 2000, an annual reduction of around 22 million people. That figure declined in all regions, except for sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania.

Hardly 39% of the world's population can enjoy a safely-managed sanitary service: 2.9 billion people have their own sanitary facilities that they do not have to share with other households.

Sanitary block with toilet cubicles.
© Stefanie Buyst

Time to take action

Many developing countries are also at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to hygiene. In the least developed countries only 27% of the population have the possibility to wash their hands with soap and water. In sub-Saharan Africa that is only 15%.

Although hygiene is important in terms of public health, this has never been translated into targets or indicators within the MDGs. From now on, the JMP will be monitoring how many people have basic handwashing facilities at home with soap and water, how many people use limited facilities (lacking soap or water) and how many have no facilities at all.

It is highly ambitious to achieve safely managed services for drinking water throughout the world. The challenge is even greater when it comes to sanitary facilities. 38% of the world's population is connected to a sewer system, but not all sewer lines lead to a wastewater treatment plant. And another 38% of the world's population make use of a sceptic tank or improved latrine.

Too many people lack access to basic services for water, sanitation and hygiene. The majority live in rural areas. High time to get rid of the inequalities!

 

Link to report: https://washdata.org/reports

Article author: NGO Protos. Every year, Protos works together with its partners towards achieving sustainable services for drinking water, toilets and water for agriculture to help approximately 100,000 people in Africa and Latin-America. Protos is a partner of the Belgian Development Cooperation.

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