Improved sanitation facilities (% of population with access)

Definition: Access to improved sanitation facilities refers to the percentage of the population using improved sanitation facilities. Improved sanitation facilities are likely to ensure hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact. They include flush/pour flush (to piped sewer system, septic tank, pit latrine), ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrine, pit latrine with slab, and composting toilet.

Description: The map below shows how Improved sanitation facilities (% of population with access) varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is Andorra, with a value of 100.00. The country with the lowest value in the world is Niger, with a value of 10.90.

Source: WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation (http://www.wssinfo.org/).

See also: Country ranking, Time series comparison

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Development Relevance: Sanitation is fundamental to human development. Many international organizations use hygienic sanitation facilities as a measure for progress in the fight against poverty, disease, and death. Access to proper sanitation is also considered to be a human right, not a privilege, for every man, woman, and child. Sanitation generally refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human urine and feces. Inadequate sanitation is a major cause of disease world-wide and improving sanitation is known to have a significant beneficial impact on people's health. Improved sanitation can reduce diarrheal disease by more than a third, and can significantly lessen the adverse health impacts of other disorders responsible for death and disease among millions of children. Diarrhea and worm infections weaken children and make them more susceptible to malnutrition and opportunistic infections like pneumonia, measles and malaria. Globally, about four-fifths of the urban population uses an improved sanitation facility, compared to about one-half of the rural population. Open defection is still practiced by over one billion people - about 15 per cent of the global population. Open defecation is defined as defecation in fields, forests, bushes, bodies of water or other open spaces. The majority of those practicing open defecation live in rural areas. The combined effects of inadequate sanitation, unsafe water supply and poor personal hygiene are responsible for 88 percent of childhood deaths from diarrhea, and cause over 3,000 child deaths per day. Every year, the failure to tackle these deficits results in severe welfare losses - wasted time, reduced productivity, ill health, impaired learning, environmental degradation and lost opportunities. Fundamental behavior changes are required before the use of improved facilities and services can be integrated into daily life. Many hygiene behaviors and habits are formed in childhood and, therefore, school health and hygiene education programs are an important part of water and sanitation improvements. Most basic sanitation technologies are not expensive to implement. However, those facing the problems of inadequate sanitation are rarely aware of either the origin of their ills, or the true costs of their deficit. As a result, in most of the developing countries those without sanitation are hard to convince of the need to invest scarce resources in sanitation facilities, or of the critical importance of changing long-held habits and unhygienic behaviors. Consequently, the people's representatives - overnments and elected political leaders - rarely give sanitation or hygiene improvements the priority that is needed in order to tackle the massive sanitation deficit faced by the developing world. Children bear the brunt of sanitation-related impacts - their health, nutrition, growth, education, self-respect, and life opportunities suffers as a result of inadequate sanitation. Without improved sanitation, many of the current generation of children in developing countries are unlikely to develop to their full potential. Countries that don't take urgent action to redress sanitation deficiencies will find their future development and prosperity impaired.

Limitations and Exceptions: For indicators that are from household surveys, the year refers to the survey year. For more information, consult the original sources. Estimates are generated through analysis of survey data and linear regression of data points. Coverage estimates are updated every two years. The data are derived by the Joint Monitoring Programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) based on national censuses and nationally representative household surveys. The coverage rates for sanitation are based on information from service users on the facilities their households actually use rather than on information from service providers, which may include nonfunctioning systems.

Statistical Concept and Methodology: Data on access to sanitation are produced by the Joint Monitoring Programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) based on national censuses and nationally representative household surveys. The coverage rates for water and sanitation are based on information from service users on the facilities their households actually use rather than on information from service providers, which may include nonfunctioning systems. While the estimates are based on use, the Joint Monitoring Programme reports use as access, because access is the term used in the Millennium Development Goal target for drinking water and sanitation. For MDG monitoring, an improved sanitation facility is defined as one that hygienically separates human excreta from human contact. Improved sanitation facilities range from simple but protected pit latrines to flush toilets with a sewerage connection. To be effective, facilities must be correctly constructed and properly maintained.

Aggregation method: Weighted average

Periodicity: Annual