Improved sanitation

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Improved sanitation is a way of categorizing certain types or levels of sanitation. The term was coined by the Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation of UNICEF and WHO in 2002 to help monitor the progress towards Goal Number 7 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The opposite of "improved sanitation" has been termed "unimproved sanitation" in the JMP definitions.

The Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation has been publishing updates on the global sanitation situation on an annual basis. For example, in 2014, only 40 percent of the world's population had access to improved sanitation, as per the definition given below.[1]


Improved sanitation[edit]

An improved sanitation facility is defined as one that hygienically separates human excreta from human contact.[2] It is not necessarily identical with sustainable sanitation.

To allow for international comparability of estimates for monitoring the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation defines "improved" sanitation as the following kind of toilets:[2]

Unimproved sanitation[edit]

Sanitation facilities that are not considered as "improved" (also called "unimproved") are:

  • Public or shared latrine (meaning a toilet that is used by more than one household)
  • Flush/pour flush to elsewhere (not into a pit, septic tank, or sewer)
  • Pit latrine without slab
  • Bucket latrines
  • Hanging toilet / latrine
  • No facilities / bush / field (open defecation)

Whilst "shared" toilets are not counted as improved sanitation, data about usage of shared toilets is nevertheless report in the annual progress reports of the JMP.[3]


  1. ^ Progress on drinking water and sanitation, 2014 Update. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP). 2014. ISBN 9789241507240. 
  2. ^ a b WHO and UNICEF (2012) Improved and unimproved water and sanitation facilities, WHO, Geneva and UNICEF, New York, accessed on 15 June 2015
  3. ^ WHO and UNICEF Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-water: 2015 Update, WHO, Geneva and UNICEF, New York