Today, on World Water Day, we celebrate life-giving water and re-focus our efforts to improve water for those in need. Unfortunately, 663 million people still lack access to sanitation and safe water, suffering the effects of cholera, polio and many other preventable maladies. The preventable illnesses are caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites, mostly originating from human waste. A UN report on safe water estimates that half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by people ill due to contaminated water. Surprisingly, diarrhea is the biggest killer, taking an especially large toll on children in developing countries. About 842,000 people (mostly children) die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water.

The World Health Organization estimates that 14-52% (Europe and Africa, respectively) of the world’s population uses water that is at least occasionally contaminated with human excrement.