"We are badly off track" to meet the MDG on improvements in sanitation, WHO coordinator for water, sanitation and health Jamie Bartram told journalists in Geneva.
An estimated 1.6 billion people will need access to improved sanitation by 2015 to meet the United Nations' Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on this issue. The UN has declared 2008 to be the International Year of Sanitation to draw attention to the problem.
"At the current trends, and there is no reason to believe these trends will change, we will miss the target by about 700 million people in 2015," mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, he said.
Speaking at the launch of a joint report by the WHO and UNICEF, Bartram said the outlook was more positive for drinking water.
"Progress on the official target for drinking water is on track. We should halve the proportion of the global population without access to improved water sources by 2015," he said.