Global sanitation progress

From Challenge to Change: Global Sanitation Progress Report

In the relentless battle against open defecation (OD), the global community has made remarkable strides in improving sanitation access. These advancements underscore the significance of collaborative efforts to combat the dire consequences of inadequate sanitation. We will explore the profound advancements made in global sanitation progress, providing insights into the transformative shift in sanitation statistics and underscoring the ongoing need for unwavering support to solidify and expand these achievements.

The global landscape of sanitation access has undergone profound transformation, fueled by the unwavering dedication of governments, international organizations, and local communities. Recent data highlights the remarkable progress achieved:

Reduction in Open Defecation: Between 2000 and 2017, the prevalence of open defecation worldwide witnessed a remarkable decline. The number of individuals practicing open defecation plummeted from a staggering 1.3 billion to approximately 670 million.[1] This translates to a commendable reduction from 20% to 9% of the world’s population engaging in open defecation, marking a significant milestone in the journey toward universal sanitation.[2]

South Asia Progress: The UNICEF South Asia Progress Report for 2018–2021 showcases a substantial decrease in open defecation prevalence. The proportion of people practicing open defecation dropped significantly from 65% to a more promising 34% across the region. Notable reductions have been witnessed in countries such as India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan, with all of them achieving reductions exceeding 30% since 1990.[3]

Safely Managed Sanitation Services: The global population accessing safely managed sanitation services increased from 28% in 2000 to a heartening 45% in 2017. This striking achievement signifies a substantial shift toward improved sanitation practices worldwide. The most substantial progress occurred in regions such as Latin America and the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, and East and South-East Asia. Between 2000 and 2017, an astounding 2.1 billion people across the globe gained access to at least basic sanitation services, while the population deprived of these fundamental services decreased from 2.7 billion to 2 billion.[4]

Celebrating Achievements and Recognizing Ongoing Challenges

These statistics paint a vivid picture of the tangible progress achieved in the battle against open defecation and inadequate sanitation. They showcase the transformative power of concerted efforts, highlighting that change is indeed attainable, even in the face of formidable challenges. However, it is paramount to acknowledge that the voyage toward comprehensive global sanitation remains a work in progress.[5]

While these achievements are laudable, it is crucial to recognize that disparities in sanitation access persist. Inequities in access to sanitation services often hinge on factors such as economic status, geographic location, and deeply ingrained social norms. This means that specific populations, particularly in remote and underserved regions, still lack access to basic sanitation facilities.[6]

The Importance of Sustaining Progress: Avoiding Regression

As we celebrate the progress made, it is essential to recognize that sanitation gains can be delicate. Economic downturns, conflicts, natural disasters, and public health crises, like the recent COVID-19 pandemic, can disrupt sanitation infrastructure and impede progress. Therefore, it is not enough to rest on our laurels; we must work collectively to safeguard and expand these gains.

Our exploration of the fight against open defecation has demonstrated the incredible impact of compassion and collective action. The statistics we’ve examined tell a story of progress and transformation. Still, they also remind us that our mission is far from complete.

Empower change through sanitation and make a profound impact on the lives of those less fortunate. Your $540 donation can provide a family with a modern outdoor toilet, ensuring their well-being, privacy, and dignity. By partnering with GFA World, you’re embodying the love and care that Christ taught us to share with the world. Join us today and be a beacon of hope through proper sanitation, knowing that your support is changing lives and offering hope where it’s needed most.

Let’s remember that our journey towards comprehensive global sanitation continues. By maintaining our commitment to sanitation efforts, advocating for equitable access to sanitation services, and fostering behavior change within communities, we can collectively advance toward a world where open defecation becomes a relic of the past. Together, we can continue making strides towards a world free from the scourge of open defecation, where every individual enjoys the dignity and health benefits of proper sanitation. Your support and involvement are crucial in this journey, as we aim to leave no one behind in the pursuit of clean and safe sanitation for all.

Learn more about water scarcity in South Asia

[1] “Open defecation nearly halved since 2000 but is still practiced by 670 million,” World Bank Blogs, November 19, 2019,
[2] “Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, 2000-2017,” UNICEF, June 17, 2019,
[3]   UNICEF South Asia. “2018 – 2021 Progress Report – Stop Open Defecation.” 2021 PROGRESS REPORT. Accessed October 10, 2023.
[4] “Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, 2000-2017 – UNICEF DATA,” UNICEF, June 17, 2019,
[5] “Sanitation,” World Health Organization, October 3, 2023,
[6] “Global WASH Fast Facts,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 31, 2022,