The World Toilet Association says the lack of proper toilet facilities kills almost two million people a year.
Most of these 1.8 million deaths occur in Asia. Inadequate sanitation hits children especially high, with 90 percent of the deaths occurring in children under five.
The United Nations has designated 2008 the Year of the Toilet in an effort to improve sanitation in developing nations.
“The funding needed is not overwhelmingly large, but the return is immense,” said Vanessa Tobin of U.N. children’s agency UNICEF. “Political support is extremely important. Advocacy for this issue is a high priority.”
According to the United Nations, spending $10 billion a year could halve the proportion of people without basic toilet facilities by 2015, and Tobin said this investment would net an estimated $84 billion in savings from improved public health and better living conditions.