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The world is making progress on clean water and sanitation, but is far behind its target to ensure universal access by 2030

SDG Target 6.2 is to: “achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation” by 2030.Where are we today? In

SDG Target 6.2 is to: “achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation” by 2030.

Where are we today? In 2020, just over half (54%) of the world population had access to safely managed sanitation. It is shocking that nearly one-in-two don’t. Around 6% do not have any sanitation facilities at all, and instead have to practice open defecation.

In the chart we see the breakdown of sanitation access globally, and across regions and income groups. We see that in countries at the lowest incomes, less than one-fifth of the population have safe sanitation. Much like safe drinking water, most live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Are we making progress? The world has made progress in the last five years. But again, this has been far too slow albeit slightly faster than our progress on drinking water. In 2015 only 47% of the global population had safe sanitation. That means we’ve seen an increase of seven percentage points over five years.

The gap between where we are now and universal access is still huge. Our progress is far too slow to achieve this by 2030. If progress continues at these rates, we would only reach 68% by 2030. Almost one-third of the world would miss out. If we’re to meet our target we need almost exactly the same acceleration as our progress on drinking water: rates would need to more than triple (increase 3.3-fold) for the coming decade.2