Access to clean water and proper sanitation can be life giving or life taking. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 specifically commits to ensuring availability and sustainable management of sanitation and water for all by 2030. This includes a commitment to ending open defecation and achieving access to adequate sanitation and hygiene.
Consult more resources on water and sanitation here and here.
Poor sanitation can lead to a multitude of health problems including but not limited to diarrhea, respiratory tract infections, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A, dysentery, and Guinea worm disease. However, inadequate sanitation is not solely a health problem. It also undermines human dignity and as a result has serious implications for education, income, and women’s empowerment and security. This means that achieving water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) targets in the SDGs is crucial for overall progress.
Gender inequalities combined with social and biological requirements make the lack of access to water, sanitation and good hygiene even more pressing for women and girls. Urgent action on WASH, which includes menstrual hygiene management is required to reduce gender inequalities, promote gender justice, and respect for the dignity and health of women and girls worldwide.
Key facts on water and sanitation
- 785 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have access to clean water close to home.
- 2 billion people in the world – almost one in four – do not have a decent toilet of their own.
- Women and girls spend 200 million hours every day collecting water. This is time that could otherwise be spent in school, working, or caring for their family. The lack of water and sanitation locks women in a cycle of poverty.
- Around 310,000 children under five die every year from diarrhea diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That’s around 800 children a day; one child death every two minutes.
- 31% of schools don’t have clean water and 34% don’t have clean toilets. This has gendered impacts, resulting in more girls than boys missing school due to lack of proper sanitation facilities needed while menstruating. 
- In low income countries, 45% of healthcare facilities do not have basic water services, and in sub-Saharan Africa 77% do not have basic sanitation services. This has gendered impacts, putting mothers and newborns at significant risk.