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Water sanitation and hygiene in Sub-Saharan Africa: Coverage, risks of diarrheal diseases, and urbanization

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has a rapidly growing urban population, with water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services representing the central needs for this population. Incidentally, this region has the lowest global WASH coverage. Data from the ‘WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water supply, Sanitation and Hygiene’ and the ‘Global Burden of Disease’ study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation were used to assess WASH coverage and related health burden in SSA, its subregions, and rural and urban areas in SSA. WASH coverage in the SSA region appears to be low, but urban coverage is better than that in rural areas; however, there is unequal access to urban WASH and poor urban areas are underserved. In addition, 7.75% (5.99–9.7%) of total deaths due to diarrheal diseases across SSA are attributed to unsafe WASH with a risk factor attribution (RFA) percentage of 95.93% (91.94–98.24%). Therefore, a correlation between WASH coverage and mortality due to diarrheal diseases could be established.There is a lack of data on WASH coverage in poor urban areas, although these areas have high incidence of WASH-related diseases including diarrhea. Disaggregated urban WASH data are needed to better understand the WASH service needs of poor urban areas, which would be helpful in ensuring a more inclusive implementation of WASH services.

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Journal Article
Zerbo A
Castro Delgado R
Arcos González P