Everybody poops ....
Ask any two-year-old if you’re embarrassed; she can tell you all about it. Mamas poop; papas poop; bears poop, elephants poop, zebras poop. Everybody poops.
In the affluent world that’s not only something we don’t talk about much, it’s something we take for granted, but sadly for the majority of the world’s human inhabitants the simple issue of decent sanitation remains a profound, sometimes life-threatening challenge. That became all too clear in Haiti this year when its already inadequate sanitation system was overwhelmed by the emergency conditions in the aftermath of the Jan. 2010 earthquake. Over the past year, more than 250,000 became ill with cholera which spread quickly in the makeshift tent communities people sheltered in after the destruction of their homes. More than 4,600 have died so far (March 10 figures), and unfortunately the cholera crisis in Haiti shows no signs of abating.
Today on international Water Day, as the world considers the problem of providing clean drinking water for all its people (1 billion lack access to safe water sources), the related problem of adequate sanitation is equally vital to remember. (The recent World Poopin’ Day used social media to highlight the global problem of sanitation and break down some politeness barriers that discourages urgency on this issue.)
We don’t like to talk about poop. That’s understandable. I know it’s not polite, but we have little choice but to have this conversation when 2.6 billion people lack a safe and efficient way to deal with their waste. Some facts to remember:
• Each year, diarrhea kills more young children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
• The world loses 70,000 classrooms of kindergartners every year due to diarrhea.
• Lack of sanitation is the world’s biggest cause of infection.
So next time you flush your toilet and casually set in motion a vast, dependable system of sanitation and water purifying and recycling, ponder a moment the plight of two out of five people on the earth who have never had the opportunity to take sanitation for granted. Everybody poops and everybody can contribute to a future where that reality can be addressed sustainably and safely.