Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene

Authors: Guy Hutton, Claire Chase

This chapter focuses on the fundamental needs of providing safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) for poor and vulnerable populations. Globally, the use of improved drinking water sources increased from 1990’s 76 percent to 2015’s 91 percent, and four of five people in urban areas use piped water. Unlike water supply which met its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) in 2010, sanitation as of 2015 has failed to meet its MDG target. Data on handwashing practice globally has become more frequently collected and indicates low usage of soap and water after contact with excreta. Health consequences list diarrheal disease, helminth infections, and undernutrition. Effective interventions include water filtration or disinfection, use of sanitation services and handwashing places, but they rely on behavioral change within a community for full adoption. Cash transfer programs, community-driven development programs, and safety-net programs enhance implementation, and cost-effective results show the benefit of targeting poorer households which find themselves at increased health risk due to lack of clean water and sanitation.