Untreated and unsafe: solving the urban sanitation crisis in the Global South

Cities must ensure universal access to safe, reliable and affordable sanitation so that all urban residents can lead productive, healthy and thriving lives. Globally, the number of urban residents who lack safely managed sanitation has increased from 1.9 billion in 2000 to 2.3 billion in 2015, costing $223 billion a year in health costs and lost productivity and wages. When households cannot afford safe sanitation services, they often resort to unsafe practices, putting the entire city at risk. This paper presents new sanitation data from 15 cities in the global south that shows almost two-thirds of sewage and human waste is unsafely managed, with access to safe sanitation lowest in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.