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Overflowing cities The State of the World’s Toilets 2016

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Human beings are now largely an urban species: for the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population (54%, or 3.9 billion people) lives in towns, cities and megacities. By 2050, that’s expected to rise to two-thirds. Many new urbanites, and particularly the poorest, are not moving into gleaming apartment blocks or regenerated post-industrial areas. They are arriving – or being born into – overcrowded, rapidly expanding slums. Economic growth is usually driven by urbanisation, and all industrialised countries already have a mostly urban population. This means that nearly all the current urban population growth is happening in developing countries. UN Habitat estimates that more than one-third of the developing world’s urban population – over 863 million people – live in slums. Often, city planning and infrastructure building have been unable to keep pace.

More often than not, these neighbourhoods have no safe, private toilets or clean water sources. The logistics, not to mention the politics, of trying to bring sanitation into an established slum can be extremely problematic. Worldwide, it is estimated that almost one-fifth of all urbanites – over 700 million people – live without a decent toilet.
Last year, all UN member states committed to the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which included in Goal 6 the target to ensure everyone everywhere has access to basic toilets by 2030.

In this year’s State of the World’s Toilets, WaterAid looks at some of the world’s worst countries for urban sanitation, and some of the jobs that are created when the challenge is addressed head-on. With only 14 years to achieve the UN goals, there’s no time to waste.

The briefing is also available in French, Spanish and Portuguese on the WaterAid website

Date: 12 December 2016