Sanitation encompasses the facilities, behaviors, and services that safely prevent human contact with excreta.
Why Sanitation Matters
Improving sanitation can have a significant impact on health, the economy, and personal security and dignity, especially for women and girls. Investments in sanitation reduce healthcare costs and boost productivity, as time available for work and school increases.
Poor sanitation increases the risk of diarrheal disease and undernutrition. It also prevents people from productive activities such as work and school, either due to illness or time spent searching for private, safe locations to defecate. 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.
Given the human and economic costs of poor sanitation coverage, effective, equitable, and sustainable sanitation solutions are cornerstones of USAID’s Water and Development Strategy (2013-2018) that specifically targets bringing sustainable, improved sanitation services to 6 million people by 2018.
Recognizing that sanitation is more than just toilets, USAID focuses on the entire sanitation service chain, from excreta capture to its treatment and disposal. Through a systematic approach that also considers behaviors, institutional development, and commercial orientation, the Agency is striving for at-scale improvements. Sanitation is closely linked to issues of safe drinking water and hygiene, and USAID’s programs and funding for sanitation activities are bundled together as water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).