(CNN) — The number of people worldwide without access to a toilet — no public restroom, no outhouse, no latrine, no smallest room — is a whopping 2.6 billion. That’s four out of ten people.
According to the World Toilet Organization, 2.2 million people, predominantly children, die every year from diarrhea — more than from malaria, from AIDS, from TB. That number dwarfs any casualties related to violent conflict.
These figures are intrinsically related. The underestimation of fecal contamination is staggering, sobering — and unfortunately, silencing.
Singaporean social-entrepreneur Jack Sim founded the non-profit World Toilet Organization (“the other WTO”) in 2001, as a support network for all existing organizations.
It now includes 151 members from 53 countries, which meet once a year to network, discuss sanitation issues and work together toward “eliminating the toilet taboo and delivering sustainable sanitation.”
Goal number one: Making sanitation speakable. “What we don’t discuss, we can’t improve,” insists Sim.
This year, the World Toilet Summit & Expo 2008 was held from November 4-6 in Macau under the theme “Driving Sustainable Sanitation through Market-Based Initiatives.”
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