Safely managed sanitation is a focus of the SDGs and central to stunting reduction and early childhood survival, both identified by the World Bank's Human Capital Index as critical for humans to develop their full potential. In 2015, 4.5 billion people lacked access to safely managed sanitation.

A group of 53 sanitation and hygiene promotion practitioners met in Bangladesh from 29 to 31 January 2008 to mark the start of the International Year of Sanitation (IYS) by sharing and learning from their peers.