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Last update: Feb 2009

WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme on Water Supply and Sanitation

Since 1990, WHO and UNICEF have teamed up to track progress on global water and sanitation goals through the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP). The JMP monitors trends in coverage; helps build national monitoring capacity in developing countries; develops and harmonizes questionnaires, indicators and definitions to ensure comparability of data over time and among countries; and informs policy makers of the status of the water supply and sanitation sector worldwide through annual publications. The JMP draws guidance from a technical advisory group of leading experts in water supply, sanitation and hygiene, and from institutions involved in data collection and sector monitoring. Further information about the JMP and its methodology can be found at: www.wssinfo.org.

The shift from provider-based to user-based data

Prior to 2000, coverage data were based on information from service providers, such as utilities, ministries and water agencies, rather than on household surveys. The quality of the information varied considerably. Provider based data, for example, often did not include facilities built by households themselves, such as private wells or pit latrines, or even systems installed by local communities. Governments had their own definitions of improved water supply and sanitation, which would change over time. Therefore comparisons could not be made among countries for for the same country over time. The shift in 2000 to the use of household surveys, and the clarification of definitions, provide a more accurate picture by monitoring the type of services and facilities that people actually use. Household surveys are usually conducted by national institutes of statistics, carried out by trained national staff who collect information on a wide range of health and living conditions through face-to-face interviews.


Survey and census data are plotted on a time scale from 1980 to the present (see Country Files). Four graphs for each country show both urban and rural coverage for water and for sanitation. A linear trend line, based on the least-squares method, is drawn through these data points to estimate coverage for 1990 and the latest year for which estimates will be derived.

Definition of Access to Sanitary Means of Excreta Disposal

An improved sanitation facility is defined as one that hygienically separates human excreta from human contact.  To allow for international comparability of estimates, JMP uses the following classification to differentiate between "improved" and "unimproved" types of sanitation facilities.

Key to Sanitation data
Improved Sanitation Facilities Unimproved Sanitation Facilities

Flush or pour-flush to:
- piped sewer system
- septic tank
- pit latrine
Ventilated improved pit latrine (VIP)
Pit latrine with slab
Composting toilet

Flush or pour-flush to elsewhere
Pit latrine without slab or open pit
Hanging toilet or hanging latrine
No facilities or bush or field (open defecation)
Public or shared sanitation facilities