According to a recent U.N. report, six of the world’s seven billion people have mobile phones, but only 4.5 billion people have a toilet.
The statistic has prompted the U.N. to start a global campaign to improve sanitation for the 2.5 billion people who do not have access to proper bathrooms.
Jan Eliasson, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General, said the statistic points to a “silent disaster” that explains the extreme poverty in some areas of the world.
During a press conference, she said that the issue must be addressed, especially if they want to meet their goal of halving the amount of people without access to sanitation by 2015.
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Eliasson said their sanitation goal is lagging far behind.
“It goes to the heart of ensuring good health, a clean environment and fundamental dignity for billions of people,” she said.
The group said by 2025, they hope to eliminate open defecation, an act that quickly spreads diseases.
While open defecation has decreased by 271 million since 1990, it is still done by 1.1 billion people, or 15 percent of the population.
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The act is one of the main reasons people contract diarrhea, resulting in the death of more than 750,000 children under age five every year.
Eliasson also pointed out that 22 countries make up more than 80 percent of open defecation in the world.
Included in the list are: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo, Niger, Sudan and South Sudan.
At the current rate, we will reach the sanitation goal by 2075 instead of 2015.
It is not just a sanitary issue, either, as the world economy is affected by improper disposing of bodily waste. Every year, the global economic gains from investing in sanitation and clean water is $260 billion. But poor sanitation costs countries between .5 percent and 7.2 percent of their GDP.