Sanitation & Hygiene

Photo of a bathroom sign showing the symbols for male and female

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. Throughout the world, an estimated 2.4 billion people lack basic sanitation (more than 32% 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.

The world did 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). Now, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development goal (SDG) is for everyone to have “adequate and equitable” sanitation by 2030 3.

Page last reviewed: June 22, 2017