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Water, Sanitation, Hygiene

Every year, some 2 million people die from diarrheal diseases. Much of this disease burden is caused by contaminated drinking water and inadequate sanitation. Although the vital role of safe water and sanitation in maintaining health has been recognized for centuries, many families—especially those in the developing world—still lack adequate services. Increasing coverage is a key development priority.


The Millennium Development Goals targets include halving the number of people without sustainable access to safe water and basic sanitation by the year 2015. Having safe drinking water is usually defined as having an “improved” water supply— that is, a water supply that is protected from contamination by pathogens and other illness causing contaminants. Given the known importance of water, sanitation, and hygiene, a key question is which interventions in these areas work best to bring about sustainable improvements in health.


Analytical work at the Bank has included a meta-analysis of water, sanitation and hygiene interventions; several toolkits on school sanitation, rural water supply and sanitation (WSS), and gender issues in WSS; and papers and studies on sanitation and hygiene promotion issues. More recently, cost benefit analysis of different interventions is being carried out in country environmental analyses (CEAs). In addition, lending projects in the WSS sector are incorporating sanitation and hygiene considerations, including the recent use of environmental health indicators (such as reduction in diarrheal incidences, handwashing practice etc).

 Analytical Studies, Research and Toolkits

Project Reports

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Last updated: 2010-08-17

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