By 2015 2.4 billion people will still lack access to proper sanitation – that’s one-third of the world’s population. In a new joint report by the WHO and UNICEF, Progress on sanitation and drinking-water 2013 update, we learn that MDG 7.C will not be met and in fact will be missed by 8%. There has been an improvement in sanitation coverage since 1990, however. Two-thirds of the world’s population gained access to proper sanitation since 1990. East Asia has seen the largest increase in sanitation rates since that time. Sanitation coverage has increased from 27% since 1990 to 67% in 2011. Still there are 45 countries that have less than 50% sanitation coverage including most of sub-Saharan Africa and India.
Based on numbers in the report open defecation has decreased to 15% worldwide since 1990 and many countries have made significant strides to decrease the open defecation rate including Vietnam and Cambodia, as examples. Vietnam decreased their open defecation rate by 37%. Now only 3% of Vietnam’s population practices open defecation. Cambodia, as another example, lowered its open defecation rate from 84% to 58% within an 11 year span (1990 – 2011).
“There is an urgent need to ensure all the necessary pieces are in place – political commitment, funding, leadership – so the world can accelerate progress and reach the Millennium Development Goal sanitation target” said Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director for Public Health and Environment. “The world can turn around and transform the lives of millions that still do not have access to basic sanitation. The rewards would be immense for health, ending poverty at its source, and well-being.”
According to the report “urban dwellers make up three-quarters of those with access to piped water supplies at home. Rural communities comprise 83% of the global population without access to improved drinking water source and 71 per cent of those living without sanitation.”
Read the full report at www.who.int/water_sanitation_health.