Changing the way we change the world

Statistics on Sanitation Failures

This is an ongoing compilation of statistics that shows that failure rates for toilets and sanitation promotion campaigns are still high after decades of intervention. They are organized alphabetically by region, then by country, with the statistics starting with the most recent. See here for water point failures.



  • 45% of toilets in public schools need extensive repair or replacement (UNICEF, 2012).


  • Nationally, 56% of the toilets in public schools need extensive repairs. While 42% of schools report providing soap for handwashing, soap was found in only 17% of schools (UNICEF, 2012).
  • In 2010 World Bank study, 89.5% of sample households owned or shared a latrine that safely confined feces, but only 44% of those were clean (Hanchett et al, 2011).


  • Nationally, only 60% of the boys’ toilets, 70% of the girls’ toilets and 70% of the water supply schemes in public schools are functional (UNICEF, 2012).


  • In areas where community-led total sanitation (CLTS) methods were used to promote latrine use, only about 15% of households with a latrine use the toilet regularly, while the rest keep going to the bush for defecation (WSP, 2012).
  • In two communities where an NGO had provided free latrines (not requiring any cost–sharing by households), one third (33%) of all the latrines observed were broken up and abandoned, just three years after construction (Mukherjee, 2001).


  • World’s biggest eco-toilet scheme fails: The dry toilets in Inner Mongolia’s Daxing eco-community have been quietly replaced after three years of bad smells, health problems and maggots (The Guardian, 2012).


  • In Bihar, a common practice once the pit was full was to revert to the practice of open defecation. The percentage of the population going back to open defecation was close to 90% (an educated guess as there is no monitoring of latrine usage) (Tremolet & Binder, 2013).
  • The Total Sanitation Campaign was intended to be a community-led, people-centered, demand-driven and incentive-based program to address India’s rural sanitation crisis. But outcomes were remarkably poor. 2011 census data showed 31% sanitation coverage, far from the 68% reported by the Government. “The decade has witnessed progress slowing down and the number of rural households without latrines increasing by 8.3 million.” (Hueso & Bell, 2013).
  • Analysis of data from 14,591 schools shows 8.4% of schools have no toilet facility, and 35.1% of schools have facilities but the toilet is not usable (ASER Centre, 2012).
  • Although 90% of schools had toilets, 50% of schools had nonfunctional toilets. This was a decline from 2007 when 25% of school toilets were found nonfunctional (UNICEF, 2012).
  • 6% of schools have toilets and 89% have urinals; however, in 20% of schools the toilets are not functioning. (UNICEF, 2010).
  • An estimated 50% of subsidized toilets remain unused or are being used for purposes other than sanitation (WSP, 2007).


  • In public schools across the country, 27% of the toilets need extensive repair or replacement (UNICEF, 2012).


  • A study of Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) effectiveness showed while all but one of the communities studied had achieved open-defecation free (ODF) status, there was evidence of fairly widespread non-compliance in the form of now-hidden open defecation (WaterAid 2009).
  • In the 1980s four wastewater treatment plants were built in Kathmandu Valley, but they are still not functioning well because of poor operation and maintenance (Tuladhar, B., Shrestha, P., Shrestha, R., 2008).


  • In public schools nationally, 43% of the toilets need extensive repair or replacement (UNICEF, 2012).

South America


  • In Loreto Region, it is estimated that 85% of latrines are considered unusable (Calderon, 2004).

Sub-Saharan Africa


  • Of the 11 communities that were confirmed [open defecation free (ODF)] previously, only four were currently ODF (a slippage rate of 63%) (TetraTech, 2015).
  • In urban areas across 7 ONEWASH project towns, the proportion of people with access to “improved” sanitation facilities was 57%, but the proportion of people accessing “clean, private, safe” sanitation facilities was only 19%.  In the rural areas, improved sanitation coverage was 14%, but 0% of people accessed clean, private, safe sanitation facilities (Adank, M., Defere, E. & Butterworth, J.A., 2015).

Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Uganda:

  • In a study commissioned by Plan, nearly 5000 households in 116 villages were re-assessed according to the original open defecation free (ODF) verification criteria. If all five criteria below are applied, the overall slippage rate across the study was 92%. In all countries each household was expected to have:
    • A functioning latrine with a superstructure
    • A means of keeping flies from the pit
    • Absence of excreta in the vicinity of the house
    • Hand washing facilities with water and soap or soap-substitute such as ash
    • Evidence that the latrine and hand washing facilities were being used (FH Designs, 2013)


  • Post implementation monitoring showed that 59% of Malagasy homes do not use latrines, and 67% of households lack handwashing facilities. (WaterAid, 2015).
  • Only 43% of villages that had been declared ODF are now considered by the community as ODF, while only 25% of all villages were ODF at the time of the survey [75% failure] (UNICEF & WaterAid, 2014).
  • An ODF verification survey of 1,829 villages declared ODF found slippage of 21% (377 villages) (WSSCC, 2014).


  • Post implementation monitoring showed that 8% of homes do not use latrines, and 8% of households lack handwashing facilities. (WaterAid, 2015).
  • Sanitation nonfunctionality rates are around 37% (WaterAid, 2011).

South Africa

  • An informal survey of toilets at schools that fall within four of the National Health Insurance pilot districts found that at all 17 schools the toilets were in a shocking condition (AllAfrica, 2013).


  • Post implementation monitoring showed that 85% of homes do not use latrines, and 38% of households lack handwashing facilities. (WaterAid, 2015).


  • While all studied latrines were functional, most latrines were improperly constructed: 57% of the toilets had deep cracks. About 75% of the toilets were deemed to be in bad condition based on their cleanliness and condition of the walls and floors (Kwangware et al, 2014).

West Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

  • In 1994 the African Development Bank financed a sewage treatment plant in Daloa to treat wastewater from the regional hospital complex. A follow-up review in 2002 (Maiga et al, 2002) noted that the plant was no longer operational. It had been left to fall into disuse and vegetation had invaded and covered the ruins of its basins and dams (UNEP, 2015).


  • In a study in rural areas, 60% of new latrines (0-2 years) are being used (Rodgers, 2007).

7 Responses

  1. david Slick, Sr.

    I have the same question as Deryk. We are planning a large clean water system in Nicaragua (Villa el Carmen) and would like to know what pitfalls we should be aware of. Our Rotary club, of Ormond Beach , Fl. has been active in this community for over eight years, but this is the first water project.

    David Slick, Sr.

    1. David – for common failures and ideas for preventing them, please see the “Guidelines for Resolution of Problems with Water Systems” available here

      For lessons specific to Central America, please see “Six Factors for Improving Rural Water Services in Central America”, available here:

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