Getting Wet, Clean, and Healthy: Why Households Matter

The adverse effects of population growth on progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are largely unquestioned.1 WHO and UNICEF identify population growth as a major impediment to progress toward MDG target 7c: “To reduce by half, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation”.2 Although evidence suggests that slower population growth enables faster progress for most MDG targets than does rapid growth, this relation is uncertain for drinking water and sanitation. This uncertainty arises because such services provide the greatest benefits and are most often delivered to individual households, rather than through public wells, public latrines, and other resources that are shared by many households.3 Therefore, number of households is more important than is population.

Getting Wet, Clean, and Healthy: Why Households Matter. J. Bartram, M. Elliott, P. Chuang. 2012. The Lancet 380:9837, pp. 85–86. doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60903-9