ABSTRACT Sanitation (which includes national public policies for drinking water, sewage services and waste management) is precarious in Brazil and therefore poses a challenge to a range of actors. Poor sanitation impacts public health, education, the environment, and daily life. Globally, it emits increasing greenhouse gases. Universalization of any major public service appears difficult, if not impossible; however, Brazil’s program to universalize access to electricity proves the opposite, as will be shown in this paper. By describing the successful implementation of electricity for everyone, we show that planned public efforts, coordinated with private initiatives and local communities, have worked, and the same can be achieved for the sanitation sector. An overview of all sectors that touch on sanitation and emissions is also provided, highlighting the challenges and possibilities for infrastructure projects.