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Use of Improved Sanitation Facility

Indicator Phrasing

% of households using basic sanitation services
See indicator in other languages

Indicator Phrasing

English: % of households using basic sanitation services

French: % de ménages utilisant une installation d'assainissement améliorée

Portuguese: % de agregados familiares que usam serviços básicos de saneamento

Czech: % domácností využívajících vylepšené typy toalet

What is its purpose?

This indicator assesses the proportion of households using basic sanitation services - one of the most effective measures for preventing diarrhoea and other life-threatening diseases.

How to Collect and Analyse the Required Data

Collect the following data by conducting individual interviews and observations among the representatives of a representative sample of your target households:



Q1: Where do you and your family members defecate?


1) use pit latrine with slab 

2) use ventilated improved pit latrine 

3) use flush or pour toilet (connected to a sewer system or septic tank) 

4) use composting toilet

5) defecate in the open 

6) use pit latrine without slab 

7) use bucket 

8) other - specify: ...........................


(ask the following questions only if the previous response is 1, 2, 3 or 4)


Q2: Can you please show me the latrine?


1) latrine was shown

2) latrine was not shown


Q3 for data collector: Does the latrine show visible signs of being used? (faeces present; anal cleansing material available ...)


1) latrine IS likely to be used

2) latrine is NOT likely to be used


NOTE: Only answers 1-4 (or other pre-approved options) plus data collector's confirmation of the latrine's use (based on observation) counts as "using improved sanitation".


Q4: How many households use this latrine?


1) only the respondent's household

2) two or more households 



To calculate the indicator's value, divide the number of households using an improved sanitation facility which is not shared with other households by the total number of respondents. Multiply the result by 100 to convert it to a percentage.

Disaggregate by

Disaggregate the data by wealth, location, and other relevant criteria.

Important Comments

1) This indicator is just one of several Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) indicators focusing on households' use of improved sanitation services. Their complete list includes: 

  - % of population using safely managed sanitation services (use of an improved sanitation facility which is not shared with other households and where excreta are safely disposed in situ or transported and treated off-site) - European Commission's DEVCO recommends to use a slightly amended version of this indicator: "% of population using safely managed sanitation services, including a hand-washing facility with soap and water" 

  - % of population using basic sanitation services (use of improved facilities which are not shared with other households)

  - % of population using limited sanitation services (use of improved facilities shared between two or more households)

  - % of population using unimproved sanitation services (use of pit latrines without a slab or platform, hanging latrines and bucket latrines)

  - % of population practicing open defecation (disposal of human faeces in fields, forest, bushes, open bodies of water, beaches or other open spaces or with solid waste) - the use of this indicator is also recommended by the European Commission's DEVCO

For details, see WHO/UNICEF's publication below. 


2) People often tend to over-report their positive behaviours and under-report the undesirable behaviours (such as defecating in the open). As much as possible, do not rely only on what people say - always go and observe whether the respondent has a latrine (if s/he said so) and whether the latrine looks used. 


3) Consider also assessing whether the latrine has the following aspects of being an “improved model”:

- solid slab that looks safe to use

- slab hole is covered

- slab is washable and clean

- solid walls that provide adequate privacy

- door that provides adequate privacy

- wire mesh in windows (preventing insects from flying in)


4) USAID/OFDA uses a different version of this indicator: "number of people who report using a latrine the last time they defecated". 

Access Additional Guidance

This guidance was prepared by People in Need ©

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