Improving Sanitation

According to the United Nations, as many as 1.1 billion people practice open defecation. Without proper latrines or toilets people must go behind bushes, in open fields, or use plastic bags. The world is also far from meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for sanitation. Globally, improvements in sanitation have only increased to 63 percent, well below the 75 percent MDG target. Achieving this target is tremendously important. And no other single intervention brings greater public health returns.

Inadequate access to improved sanitation facilities, as well as deteriorating infrastructure and poor sanitation behaviors, lead to decreased health and increased environmental contamination. Poor sanitation can have huge economic burdens as well, reducing productivity and tourism and increasing health costs. Safety and dignity are also concerns, especially for women and girls who lose opportunities in education and employment due to a lack of privacy from inadequate sanitation facilities.

USAID is committed to increasing access to sustainable sanitation services through:

  • Creating demand for sanitation services;
  • Promoting good sanitation behaviors;
  • Generating access to latrines and sanitation services; and
  • Institutionalizing good governance, management and maintenance of these systems.

In order to provide sustainable, cost-effective and efficient sanitation services in both urban and rural communities, USAID promotes community-based approaches to improve sanitation, such as community-led total sanitation (CLTS) and sanitation marketing, and fosters partnerships with both the public and private sector.