Filling the Superdome

Because there is no infrastructure to flush away yesterday’s meal, more than 80% of sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated, polluting rivers, lakes and coastal areas.

This untreated sewage would entirely fill the Superdome in less than three days. That’s a pretty impressively large pile of poo.

This massive amount of feces would be 30 stories high, and cover the span of 642 feet – hundreds of millions of gallons. So what?

The majority of the illness in the world is caused by fecal matter. To put it in perspective, just one gram of feces is home to 10 million viruses, 1 million bacteria, 1,000 parasites, and 100 worm eggs.

Kids, moms, and dads in the developing world without a toilet consume an average of 10 grams of fecal matter a day. For kids, this is too often detrimental. Diarrhea is the second biggest killer for kids under five, globally. And it’s completely preventable.

In most developed nations, we take our toilets for granted. But if we can shake off our amnesia, we can remember that only a little more than 100 years ago, New York, London and Paris were centers of infectious disease. Child death rates were as high then as they are now in much of Sub-Saharan Africa. It was sweeping reforms in sanitation infrastructure and safe water that, together, enabled human progress to leap forward.