Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Sanitation & Hygiene

Photo of a bathroom sign showing the symbols for male and femaleSanitation and hygiene are critical to health, survival, and development. Many countries are challenged in providing adequate sanitation for their entire populations, leaving people at risk for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)-related diseases. Throughout the world, an estimated 2.5 billion people lack basic sanitation (more than 35% of the world's population) 1, 2. Basic sanitation is described as having access to facilities for the safe disposal of human waste (feces and urine), as well as having the ability to maintain hygienic conditions, through services such as garbage collection, industrial/hazardous waste management, and wastewater treatment and disposal.

Without immediate acceleration in progress, the world will not achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal (MDG) sanitation target (i.e., to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to basic sanitation by 2015).


  1. World Health Organization and UNICEF. Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2012 Update. United States: WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation; 2012.
  2. U.S. Census Bureau. International Programs Center: Population Clocks.