Water sanitation hygiene

Urgent call to action on sanitation

A renewed effort to drive progress on sanitation as the 2015 target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approaches, was announced by United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson on behalf of the UNSG. The call to action on sanitation aims to focus on improving hygiene, changing social norms, better managing human waste and waste-water, and by 2025, completely eliminating the practice of open defecation, which perpetuates the cycle of disease and entrenched poverty.

WHO underscores the objectives of the campaign and also highlights the need to go beyond ending open defecation to ensure universal access to sanitation. WHO is taking a leadership role in the post-2015 development agenda and also strengthening its activities in waste-water and excreta management and reuse.

fact buffet


4.5 billionOnly 4.5 billion have access to toilets or latrines, leaving 2.5 billion, mostly in rural areas, without proper sanitation.

Tackle global sanitation crisis


90%An estimated 90% of wastewater in developing countries is discharged untreated or partially treated.

Wastewater report [pdf 302kb]

Open defecation

1.1 billion1.1 billion people still defecate in the open.

Progress on sanitation and drinking-water