Sanitation for Millions

Project description

Programme title: Sanitärversorgung für Millionen
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global
Overall term: 2016 to 2019


Sanitation is a human right, as affirmed by United Nations Resolution 64/292. The German Federal Government has been particularly proactive on this issue, and has made a commitment to provide at least 30 million people with improved access to sanitation. However, sanitation is still a taboo subject; some 2.4 billion people around the globe did not have access to decent sanitation in 2015.

A lack of access to clean water and sanitation is a major barrier to overcoming poverty, which in turn is a key driver of migration. The refugee crisis is compounding the situation: even refugee camps are often unable to provide adequate sanitation. The vast majority of refugees, more than 80 per cent, live outside refugee camps in host communities, often only with inadequate sanitation that is in many cases unhygienic and a risk to health. The resulting tension can exacerbate conflicts.

The Sanitation for Millions initiative was launched to increase the impact and visibility of German development cooperation (DC) in sanitation. It places Sustainable Development Goal 6 of Agenda 2030 (ensure access to water and sanitation for all), with its particular challenges for donors, clearly on the political agenda.


Access to sanitation and the hygiene situation has improved, especially in countries accepting refugees and countries with internal displacement.


The Sanitation for Millions initiative combines measures to improve hygiene behaviour with the provision and sustainable operation of decent sanitation infrastructure. Due to current refugee flows, the global programme is currently working in the main host countries and countries with significant internal displacement in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.
To become effective as quickly as possible, the programme works directly with schools, community buildings, civil society actors and the local private sector. Close coordination with bilateral DC measures means that work in the partner countries can begin quickly at municipal level.

Existing sanitation infrastructure in schools is to be repaired, or new sanitation systems installed. Students and teachers are to be made aware of hygiene practices. In addition, sanitary facilities are to be repaired in public facilities, principally in mosques, marketplaces and health centres in host communities.

The aim of improving sanitation and hygiene is to prevent conflict in host communities. Employment opportunities are to be created, and preparations are to be made for rehabilitating the infrastructure in the countries from which people have fled. Women and girls in particular will benefit from improved sanitation and hygiene in schools, community buildings and households.

The programme also includes host populations in the measures. By improving basic public services and private living conditions, it contributes towards social and political cohesion in the communities. As having no or inadequate access to sanitation affects poorer groups within the population as well as refugees, both groups will benefit from the programme. The proportion of people with disabilities among those who have fled is even higher than commonly seen in developing countries, so particular attention is to be paid to providing barrier-free access.


Particularly women and girls are beneficiaries from improved sanitation and hygiene at schools, local institutions and at home. 700 students at five schools in Pakistan, for example: sanitary facilities offer them protected space as well as dignity and security during their menstruation; they can attend school without hindrances during their period. In Jordan, Pakistan and Uganda, the project measures have improved the sanitation infrastructure at schools and given a healthy and hygienic learning environment to 37,000 students. Apart from refugees, many poor people do not have sufficient access to sanitation. The project is aiming to help both these groups.