Handwashing with soap in India

Sanitation and Hygiene

Sanitation is more than just toilets, it encompasses the facilities, behaviors, and services that prevent diseases caused by contact with human waste. Hygiene refers to behaviors that can improve cleanliness and lead to good health.

Why it Matters

Globally, one in three people lack a hygienic toilet in their homes. Sanitation and hygiene are critical for health, economic growth, personal security, and dignity, especially for women and girls. Investments in sanitation reduce health care costs and boost productivity, as time available for work and school increases. Every day, thousands of children around the world die from diarrheal disease caused by inadequate sanitation. And yet globally, more people have access to a mobile phone than a toilet. Insufficient access to sanitation is estimated to have cost the global economy more than $220 billion in 2015.

USAID’s Approach

USAID helps partner countries reach the poor and underserved to end open defecation, gain first-time or improved access to basic sanitation services, move progressively toward safely managed services, and create hygiene behavior change that lasts. USAID’s sanitation objectives include:

  • Reducing the number of people practicing open defecation
  • Increasing the number of people with access to basic sanitation facilities
  • Improving the affordability and availability of sanitation products and services
  • Increasing the amount of fecal waste effectively captured and treated on-site, or collected, transported, and treated offsite
  • Improving the ability of educational and health systems to manage sanitation and hygiene facilities in institutions
  • Increasing the number of people with safely managed sanitation services.
  • Increasing handwashing with soap at critical times
  • Increasing the rate of safe management of household drinking water  

Closing the global sanitation and hygiene gap are key objectives of the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy and USAID’s Water and Development Plan. In support of the water strategy, USAID seeks to provide 8 million people with sustainable access to sanitation services by 2022.

As a result of USAID programs, communities around the world are benefiting from access to improved water and sanitation services, and promotion of key hygiene behaviors.