Current status + progress
Universal access to adequate sanitation is a fundamental need and human right. Securing access for all would go a long way in reducing illness and death, especially among children. “Safely managed” sanitation services represent a higher service level that takes into account the final disposal of excreta, in addition to the “basic” service level which requires an improved sanitation facility (such as flush toilets or latrine with a slab) not shared with other households.
Between 2000 and 2020, the global population increased by 1.7 billion people, but 2.4 billion people gained access to safely managed sanitation services, i.e. a basic facility where excreta are disposed in situ or treated off-site. Still, in 2020 3.6 billion people lacked safely managed services, of which approximately half (1.9 billion) had basic services. Among the 1.7 billion people lacking even basic services, 580 million shared improved sanitation facilities with other households, counted as “limited” services and 616 million used “unimproved” facilities. The data reveal pronounced disparities, with two thirds of people who still lacked even basic services lived in rural areas. Nearly half of them lived in sub-Saharan Africa.
Despite encouraging progress on sanitation, much unfinished business remains and large disparities in access still exist in 2020. Almost all developed countries have achieved universal access, but sanitation coverage varies widely in developing countries. In 2020, 62 countries had achieved universal (>99 per cent) access to basic services, including eight countries that had achieved universal access to safely managed services. Yet, in 48 countries, less than half of the population had safely managed services.
Notes on the data
WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene
Since 1990, WHO and UNICEF have tracked progress on global water and sanitation goals through the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP). The JMP monitors trends in coverage; helps build national monitoring capacity in developing countries; develops and harmonises questionnaires, indicators and definitions to ensure comparability of data over time and among countries; and informs policymakers of the status of the water supply and sanitation sector through annual publications. The JMP draws guidance from a technical advisory group of leading experts in water supply, sanitation and hygiene, and from institutions involved in data collection and sector monitoring. Further information about the JMP and its methodology can be found at the JMP website.
The JMP estimates for WASH in schools are based on information collected through national Education Management Information Systems (EMIS), censuses and surveys, as well as secondary sources (e.g. UNESCO UIS) in the absence of primary data. Data are harmonized to the extent possible based on the indicator definitions for ‘basic’ service. Further details on indicators, data sources and methods for WASH in schools estimates can be found at the JMP website, including recommended core questions to support harmonized monitoring: Core questions and indicators for monitoring WASH in schools in the SDGs.
Definitions of basic WASH services in schools
Schools with an improved drinking water source with water available at the time of the questionnaire or survey are classified as having ‘basic’ service. Schools without water available, but with an improved source are classified as having ‘limited’ service, and those with unimproved or no water source are classified as having ‘no service’.
Schools with improved sanitation facilities which are single-sex and usable at the time of the survey or questionnaire are classified as having ‘basic’ service. The term ‘usable’ refers to toilets or latrines that are accessible to students (doors are unlocked or a key is available at all times), functional (the toilet is not broken, the toilet hole is not blocked, and water is available for flush/pour-flush toilets), and private (there are closable doors that lock from the inside and no large gaps in the structure). Those using improved sanitation facilities which are either not single-sex or not usable are classified as having ‘limited’ service. However, pre-primary schools without single-sex toilets may still be considered to have ‘basic’ sanitation service if the toilets are usable. Schools with unimproved or no toilets are classified as having ‘no service’.
Schools with handwashing facilities with water and soap available at the time of the questionnaire or survey are considered to have ‘basic’ service. Those with handwashing facilities that have water available at the time of the questionnaire or survey, but no soap, are considered to have ‘limited’ service, while schools with no facilities or no water available for handwashing are classified as having ‘no service’.