Monday, January 26, 2009

Shit Kills

Bill McKibben on Ross George's The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters:

... while there are places on earth where there is simply a lack of drinking water, far more often it's clean water that's in short supply. And what's making it dirty? You guessed it.

In the last decade, diarrhea has killed more people than died in all the conflicts since the end of World War II. Diarrhea kills a child every fifteen seconds. And 90 percent of it is caused by fecally contaminated food and water. Add in your cholera, your typhus, your hookworm (a billion humans), your ringworm (another billion), your tapeworm, your scabies, your schistosomiasis and shigellosis. There are other costs: since most African schools lack decent bathrooms, onethird of adolescent girls drop out when they begin to menstruate. In Tanzania, India, and Bangladesh, school enrollment went up 15 percent when decent latrines were built.

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