The proportion of the world’s population using improved
sanitation facilities increased from 54 per cent in 1990 to
61 per cent in 2008 – a rate of increase that is not nearly
fast enough to meet the MDG sanitation target by 2015.
There is, moreover, a vast disparity in the use of improved
sanitation between urban areas (68 per cent) and rural
areas (40 per cent) in developing countries.1
The incidence of open defecation, the riskiest sanitation
practice, declined from 25 per cent in 1990 to 17 per cent in
2008 – but that still leaves 1.1 billion people practising open
defecation. South Asia accounts for almost two thirds of the
global population practising open defecation.
Equity remains elusive in this sector, and progress for the
poorest is lagging. In several countries – including Benin,
Burkina Faso, India and Nepal – 95 per cent or more of the
poorest people practise open defecation, and progress in
sanitation coverage for the poorest 40 per cent has been
minimal since 1995.
Sub-Saharan Africa has made the least progress: Only
31 per cent of the population uses improved sanitation
facilities. The richest 20 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa
are five times more likely to use improved facilities than
the poorest 20 per cent.
1 Improved sanitation facilities include facilities with sewer connections, septic system connections,
pour-flush latrines, ventilated improved pit latrines, pit latrines with a slab or covered pit.