WHO publishes report on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene

13 July 2021

Article: 55/2808

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a report presenting estimates on household access to safely managed drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services over the past five years. Also included in the report is an assessment of progress made towards achieving the sixth sustainable development goal, of ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.

In 2020, the WHO found that around one-in-four people globally lacked safely managed drinking water in their homes, and nearly half the world’s population lacked safely managed sanitation. COVID-19 has highlighted the urgent need to ensure everyone can access good hand hygiene, but at the onset of the pandemic three-in-ten people worldwide could not wash their hands with soap and water within their homes.

The report notes some progress towards achieving universal access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. Between 2016 and 2020, the global population with safely managed drinking water at home increased from 70% to 74%, safely managed sanitation services grew from 47% to 54%, and handwashing facilities with soap and water increased from 67% to 71%.

The report highlights that if current trends persist, billions of children and families will be left without critical WASH services, and by 2030: 

  • 1.6 billion people will not have access to safe drinking water at home 
  • 2.8 billion people will not have access to safe sanitation services 
  • 1.9 billion people will not have basic handwashing facilities

Source: WHO, 1 July 2021