Latrine Coverage

Latrine Coverage

Slums in Kampala have very poor latrine coverage, a condition that increases the prevalence of cholera, dysentery, worms, and many other diarrhea diseases. We conduct ‘Sanitation Pushes’, innovative and inclusive campaigns to increase latrine coverage and sanitation measures in our villages.  WOOSH plans to solve this challenge through:

  • Conducting pre-campaign and post-campaign household surveys to determine the increase in coverage for each sanitation improvement, and follows up with households to help finish the longer projects such as latrine construction.
  • WOOSH will work with our community Village Health Teams to create ‘model households’. The Village Health Teams demonstrate all the sanitation improvements at their own homes, including tippy taps, latrines, plate stands, drainage systems for cooking areas, and rubbish pits.
  • WOOSH will work gather teams of high school and university students, local government officials, Uganda Village Project staff, and the community Village Health Teams for the Sanitation Campaign. Each team will works in one neighborhood of the village, going house-to-house during the sanitation campaign and making improvements to the homes it visits.
  • Over the week-long Sanitation Push, the community becomes excited and motivated to make sanitation improvements to their homes, and learns how to build the sanitation improvements from the teams made up of their neighbors and friends. The cumulative effect is the spread of sanitation improvements throughout the community and a major increase in sanitation coverage over the course of just a few days of hard work.

Why WOOSH Advocates for Latrine Coverage

Why We Need Toilets

For health: Without safely managed sanitation, people often have no choice but to use unimproved toilets, sometimes shared with many families, or to practise open defecation. For the millions of people who have been forced to flee their homes, there are often barriers to accessing sanitation and water services while in transit or in temporary camps. Wherever sanitation systems are inadequate, untreated human waste gets out into the environment and spreads diseases.

For children: 297,000 children under five are estimated to die each year from diarrhoea because of unsafe drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene.10 Diarrhoeal diseases also undermine children’s physical and cognitive development, mainly due to chronic malnutrition caused in part by repeated bouts of severe diarrhoea and vomiting. Many children regularly miss school due to poor health caused by inadequate sanitation or lack of sanitation facilities at school, particularly adolescent girls during their menstrual period.

For safety and dignity: Finding a place to urinate or defecate outside, often waiting until the cover of darkness, can leave women and girls vulnerable to abuse and sexual assault. In many countries, girls miss classes during menstruation due to lack of proper sanitation facilities at schools.

For productivity: Sanitation-related poor health has severe effects on businesses through absenteeism, reduced concentration, exhaustion, and decreased productivity. Where untreated wastewater is used to irrigate fields, there are substantial health risks for workers along the food production chain.11,12

For the environment: Beyond the community, the lack of effective waste disposal or sewerage systems can contaminate ecosystems which in turn impacts on livelihoods and contributes to disease pandemics.

Facts and Figures

  • 4.2 billion people live without safely managed sanitation – more than half the global population. (WHO/UNICEF 2019)·
  • 673 million people still practise open defecation worldwide. (WHO/UNICEF 2019)·
  • Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with faeces. (WHO 2019)·
  • Inadequate sanitation is estimated to cause 432,000 diarrhoeal deaths every year and is a major factor in diseases such as intestinal worms, trachoma and schistosomiasis. (WHO 2019)·
  • Approximately 1.5 billion people worldwide are infected with soil transmitted helminths, which could be completely prevented with sanitation. (Soil-transmitted helminth infections).
  • 297,000 children under five are estimated to die each year from diarrhoea as a result of unsafe drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene. (WHO 2019)
  • Children under the age of five living in countries affected by protracted conflict are, on average, 5 nearly 20 times more likely to die from diarrhoeal diseases caused by a lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene than by direct violence. (UNICEF 2019)·
  • One third of all primary schools lack basic sanitation and hygiene services, affecting the education of millions of school children, particularly girls managing menstruation. (UN 2019)·
  • 1.5 billion people use health care facilities with no sanitation services. (WHO/UNICEF 2019)·
  • The 70.8 million people who have been forced to flee their home as a result of war and persecution regularly face barriers to accessing safe sanitation and water services. (UNESCO 2019 and UNHCR 2019)25,26·
  • Only 17% of refugees have access to safely managed sanitation where they live. This is well behind the global average where 45% of the global population have access to safely managed sanitation at home. (UNHCR 2019 and WHO/UNICEF 2019)27,28·
  • The wealthier generally receive high levels of WASH services at (often very) low cost, whereas the poor pay a much higher price for a service of similar or lesser quality. (UNESCO 2019)29·
  • Loss of productivity to water- and sanitation-related diseases costs many countries up to 5% of GDP. (WHO 2012)3022
  • For every $1 invested in basic sanitation in urban areas, an average of $2.5 is returned in saved medical costs and increased productivity. In rural areas, an average of $5 is returned for every $1 invested. (Hutton 2015)31·
  • As the global sanitation workforce increases, sanitation workers should be protected from occupational exposure, such as to injury, asphyxiation and pathogens, through adequate health and safety measures. (WHO 2018)32


Human Rights and Sanitation

Recognized as a distinct right by the UN General Assembly in 2015, the human right to sanitation entitles everyone to have physical and affordable access to sanitation, in all spheres of life, that is safe, hygienic, secure, and socially and culturally acceptable and that provides privacy and ensures dignity.

International human rights law obliges states to work towards achieving universal access to water and sanitation for all, without discrimination, while prioritizing those most in need.