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The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have produced many important gains for people around the world, but these improvements have often failed to reach those marginalised or discriminated against. This briefing outlines the relationship between inadequate access to WASH and inequality at global, national and local levels. While the MDG drinking water target is on-track globally, largely due to progress in China and India, much of the developing world remains off-track, and there is a growing disparity between regions. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest number of people without access to safe water. Only 20 countries in the region are on-track to meet the MDG water target . Progress on sanitation has been even slower. Despite the commitments made, the provision of safe toilets has not kept pace with the increase in population. There are actually more people without access to sanitation in the world today than there were in 1990 . At current rates of progress, the sanitation MDG target may not be reached until 2025 , and in 2015 the numbers will remain unacceptably high, with 2.4 billion still lacking access to improved sanitation . There is inequality in WASH provision at the national level too. Figure 1, below, demonstrates the extent to which access to drinking water varies by wealth quintiles and rural/urban location. Market economies prioritise the most advantaged and governments typically focus on providing access to those who are easiest to reach and those with influence the better-off and the politically powerful. Poor and marginalised people usually have least control over water resources, and are frequently last in line, despite the cost of a lack of access and the benefit from improved access being greatest for the poorest people and those in the most vulnerable situations. .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform

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