Matt Damon, co-founder of development aid foundation Water.org, is continuing to use bathroom humor to call attention to the need for safe drinking water and sanitation for millions of people across the globe.
Last month, the actor starred in a YouTube video of a mock press conference to promote the nonprofit. In it, he announced that he would not make use of a bathroom “until everybody has access to clean water and sanitation.” The three-minute video was designed to bring attention to the 2.5 billion people who have no toilets or decent sanitation. “More people have cellphones than toilets,” said Damon. Since then, such actors as Jessica Biel and Jason Bateman have joined the "strike" on the website strikewithme.org.
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Damon is now narrating a new PSA released for today’s World Water Day, the U.N.-sponsored day to raise awareness of the importance of fresh water and its sustainable maintenance. In the two-and-a-half-minute video animated with stick figures, first-world inhabitants drink bottled “Fifi” drinking water (a not-so-subtle slap at Fiji Water) while Damon tells the tale of the 780 million people globally who lack access to clean water due to lack of sanitation. “Quick, what invention saved the most lives in human history? The answer is the can, the john, the porcelain throne, the bog, the foreign office, the Thomas crapper. That’s right, the toilet,” says Damon. “Whatever you choose to call it, the toilet not only provides a tranquil escape from nagging bosses, spouses and children, it’s also a fast and sanitary way to dispose of waste separate from the water we drink and bathe in.”
For most of the world though, toilets are still a luxury. “One billion people, about 20 percent of the world’s population, defecate in the open. In rural areas the number jumps to one in three and it’s not because they’re free spirits or enjoy a gentle breeze on the backside," says Damon in the PSA.
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That lack of toilets takes a catastrophic toll. “Without toilets, human waste and bacteria seep into the water supply which makes people sick, especially kids,” says Damon. “Half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients with water related diseases such as diarrhea and intestinal infection. These disease kill 10,000 people a day, nearly all of whom are in the developing world … and yes, death by diarrhea is as pleasant as it sounds.”
The spot ends with a plea to donate to Water.org. According to the site, a gift of $25 can get someone safe water for life. “Would it kill you to donate a few bucks — and maybe light a match?” says Damon at the end of the PSA.