When more people have cellphones than access to toilets
Well, this is depressing: the United Nations announced yesterday that more people on earth have mobile phones than access to toilets.
Let's break down the numbers:
* there are seven billion people on earth
* six billion of them have mobile phones
* 4.5 billion of them have access to toilets or latrines
In other words:
The number of people who can text their friends > the number of people with toilets and access to basic sanitation
In the U.N. news release ahead of World Water Day (which is today), Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson announced yesterday that he is launching a call to action to bring access to basic sanitation to everyone. Around the world, 1.1 billion people still openly defecate in public and Eliasson hopes to eliminate this practice -- which "perpetuates the vicious cycle of disease and entrenched poverty" -- by 2025.
Another statistic from the news release, this one shared by UNICEF's deputy executive director, Martin Mogwanja:
Ending open defecation will help achieve a 36 per cent reduction in diarrhoea -- which is now killing 750,000 children under five every year.
“I am determined to energize action that will lead to results,” Eliasson said in the statement. “I am calling on all actors – government, civil society, business and international organizations – to commit to measurable action and to mobilize the resources to rapidly increase access to basic sanitation."
On a lighter note: you've likely seen this already but Matt Damon, co-founder of water.org, also wants everybody to have access to toilets -- and he's going on a toilet strike until they do.
Jennifer Yang is the Toronto Star’s global health reporter. She previously worked as a general assignment reporter and won a NNA in 2011 for her explanatory piece on the Chilean mining disaster. Follow her on Twitter: @jyangstar