Basic sanitation means protecting the health of the communities, and consists of sewage collection and treatment, urban cleaning, solid waste management and pest control, as well as control of any type of pathological agent. Drinking water supply and rainwater management also fit into basic sanitation activities.
Basic sanitation services can be rendered by government-owned companies, such as SABESP in São Paulo and CEDAE in Rio de Janeiro, or on a concession basis, by private companies, such as Aegea Saneamento and its subsidiaries: Prolagos, in Rio de Janeiro, Águas Guariroba, in Mato Grosso do Sul, Águas do Mirante, in São Paulo and Nascentes do Xingu, with its 17 concessionaires in Mato Grosso.
The service provided by sanitation companies is deemed essential, and is important for the health of the entire society and for the environment. The lack of basic sanitation services, together with social, economic and cultural factors, is a factor driving the appearance of enteric parasitic infections, with children being the group that is most susceptible to infectious diseases. In Brazil, diseases stemming from the lack of basic sanitation are ranked among the main public health and environmental problems.
Basic sanitation is a right ensured by the Federal Constitution and defined by Law No. 11445/2007 as the set of services, infrastructure and operating facilities for water supply, sewage treatment, urban cleaning and drainage, solid waste management and rainwater management.