- Lack of access to safely managed drinking water.
- Lack of safely managed sanitation services.
The Assembly recognised the right of every human being to have access to sufficient water for personal and domestic uses (between 50 and 100 litres of water per person per day), which must be safe, acceptable and affordable; (water costs should not exceed 3% of household income), and physically accessible (the water source has to be within 1,000 metres of the home and collection time should not exceed 30 minutes).
Of the 4.5 billion people who do not have safely managed sanitation, 2.3 billion still do not have basic sanitation services. This includes 600 million people who share a toilet or latrine with other households, and 892 million people – mostly in rural areas – who defecate in the open. Due to population growth, open defecation is increasing in sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania.
Basic services mean having a protected drinking water source that takes less than thirty minutes to collect water from, using an improved toilet or latrine that does not have to be shared with other households, and having handwashing facilities with soap and water in the home.
844 million people lack even a basic drinking-water service, including 159 million people who are dependent on surface water. Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with faeces.
Contaminated water and poor sanitation are linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio. Absent, inadequate, or inappropriately managed water and sanitation services expose individuals to preventable health risks. This is particularly the case in health care facilities where both patients and staff are placed at additional risk of infection and disease when water, sanitation, and hygiene services are lacking. Globally, 15% of patients develop an infection during a hospital stay, with the proportion much greater in low-income countries.
Yet, diarrhoea is largely preventable. Where water is not readily available, people may decide handwashing is not a priority, thereby adding to the likelihood of diarrhoea and other diseases. In many parts of the world, insects that live or breed in water carry and transmit diseases such as dengue fever. Some of these insects, known as vectors, breed in clean, rather than dirty water, and household drinking water containers can serve as breeding grounds. The simple intervention of covering water storage containers can reduce vector breeding and may also reduce faecal contamination of water at the household level.