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Sanitation & Hygiene

Sanitation 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. Photo of a bathroom sign showing the symbols for male and femaleThroughout 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).

For more information on water, sanitation, and water-related hygiene, visit CDC Healthy Water's Hygiene in Less-Developed Countries, Assessing Access to Water and Sanitation, Global WASH-related Diseases and Global WASH-related Programs pages.

Related Link

The Sphere Project: Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response Includes suggested minimum standards for water, sanitation, and hygiene, as well as for food security, shelter, and health.


  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.
 
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