GENEVA, June 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
A new report by the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) reveals it has helped seven million people across 13 countries bring an end to open defecation.
The GSF's latest Progress Report details how its financial support for nationally-led programmes has helped seven million people in over 20,500 communities become open-defecation free, improved toilets for 4.2 million people and seen eight million people gain access to hand-washing facilities.
The Progress Report highlights cumulative results as of the end of 2014.
"These results prove that we are moving closer to our vision of a world where everybody has sustained sanitation and hygiene, supported by safe water," said Chris Williams, Executive Director, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC). "This is a crucial step towards achieving better health, reducing poverty and ensuring environmental sustainability for the most marginalized people in the world."
Established by WSSCC, the GSF funds large-scale behaviour change activities to help poor people in the world's hardest-to-reach areas attain safe sanitation and adopt good hygiene practices. The community-led, government-backed activities support existing national efforts, uniting a diverse group of stakeholders to address deficiencies in access to sanitation and hygiene.
2.5 billion people - 40% of the global population - lack access to decent sanitation, with a billion of these practising open defecation. Diarrheal disease, largely caused by poor sanitation and hygiene, is a leading cause of malnutrition, stunting and child mortality, claiming the lives of nearly 600,000 under-5 every year. Inadequate facilities also affect education and economic productivity and impact the dignity and personal safety of women and girls.
In 2014 alone, the GSF reported an almost 90% increase in the number of people living open-defecation free (ODF) in the target regions of 13 countries across Africa and Asia. GSF also supported a 55% increase in the number of people gaining access to improved toilets in those same areas.
One of the few funds for government-led, donor-funded sanitation and hygiene programmes, the GSF is a pooled financing mechanism designed to accelerate access to sanitation for hundreds of millions of people over the next 15 years.
The UN has identified global funds as important tools for enabling member countries to achieve national development targets, including sanitation and hygiene goals. The governments of Australia, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have contributed to the GSF.
SOURCE Global Sanitation Fund (GSF)/WSSCC