ABOUT 2.3 billion of the 7 billion people on Earth lack a basic toilet, a slight improvement from last year, data from Unicef and the World Health Organisation (WHO) show.
The number of people without toilets was down 8% as the number lacking safe water fell to 650 million from 748 million in 2014, according to the joint monitoring programme update issued Tuesday.
Much of the improvements are due to progress in India and China. But “very little has changed for the world’s poorest people,” the agencies said.
Swathes of Africa remain a challenge as “at present rates of progress, it would take 300 years for everyone in sub-Saharan Africa to get access to a sanitary toilet,” according to the update.
Almost 700 million in Africa don’t have a basic toilet and at least 200 million defecate outdoors.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and its largest economy, “has actually shown worsening trends with decreasing access and increasing open defecation,” according to the update.
India more than doubled the proportion of people using improved sanitation, from 18% to 40%, since monitoring began in 1990. Yet at least 560 million in India “still practice open defecation, more than half the global total of 949 million,” the Unicef-WHO findings showed.
Next month, the UN International Financing for Development Conference will meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to discuss how to finance new sustainable development goals ahead of a New York gathering in September.
Diseases from dirty water and poor sanitation cause the deaths of about 1,400 children a day, according to WaterAid, an international group that seeks to ensure safe water supplies.
The UN’s Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council estimates that 2.1 billion people have gained access to an improved sanitation facilities since 1990.