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WHO/UNICEF: new report on WASH in households

New data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNESCO) shows continuing stark inequalities in access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), with a heavy burden falling on women and girls.

Women fetching water in Ethiopia, seen from behind.

The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) 2023 update report, Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2022: Special focus on gender, compiles data on global progress towards achieving universal access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). It also provides an in-depth analysis of gender inequalities between and within countries, revealing the unique risks that women and girls face from inadequate access to safe WASH.

Key facts from the new report:

  • Water: In 2022, 2.2 billion still lacked safely managed drinking water, including 115 million people drinking surface water.
  • Sanitation: In 2022, 3.5 billion people still lacked safely managed sanitation, including 419 million who practised open defecation.
  • Hygiene: In 2022, 2 billion still lacked basic hygiene services, including 653 million with no facility at all.
  • Menstrual health: Adolescent girls and women living in rural areas are more likely to use reusable materials, or no materials at all, to manage menstruation.
  • Gender: 1.8 billion people still do not have drinking water on-premises, and in two out of three households, women are primarily responsible for water collection.
  • Fragile contexts: The 1.9 billion people living in fragile contexts are twice as likely to lack safely managed drinking water and basic hygiene and 1.5 times as likely to lack safely managed sanitation services.

To speed up and increase progress towards solving these and other WASH-related challenges, WHO and UNICEF are calling for:

  • Increased investment in WASH programmes and policies, particularly in regions and communities with limited access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene.
  • Integrated gender considerations in WASH programmes and policies, including data collection and analysis, to inform targeted interventions that address the specific needs of women, men, girls, and boys.
  • Promote sustainable water management practices and address water scarcity through collaborative efforts between governments, non-governmental organizations and international organizations.
  • Increase awareness and promote behaviour change around the importance of proper sanitation and hygiene practices, particularly in marginalized communities.

Explore the full report here

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