Actor Matt Damon Goes on Toilet Strike for World Water Crisis, Watch Video and Take Action

Caption: Co-founder of, Matt Damon, held a press conference to make an enormous announcement: until every person in the world has access to clean water and a toilet, he’s on strike. But not from acting…  For more on how you can, ahem, help by striking or supporting Matt, visit


The Problem

  • 3.4 Million people die each year from water related diseases (WHO 2008)
  • Every 21 seconds a child dies from water-related disease (UNICEF and WHO 2009)
  • Nearly  all deaths, 99%, occur in the developing world (WHO 2008)
  • 780 million people lack access to clean water (WHO/UNICEF update 2012)
  • Women spend 200 million hours a day collecting water (estimated from combined WHO/UNICEF update 2010)
  • The majority of illness is caused by fecal matter (WHO 2002)
  • More people have a mobile than a toilet (Estimated with data from: WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation. (2010). Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-Water, 2010 Update; International Telecommunication Union (ITU). (2011). The World in 2011 ICT Facts and Figures; United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). (2011). State of World Population 2011, People and possibilities in a world of 7 billion.)
  • 443 million school days are lost each year by children who are unable to attend school due to illnesses and/or collecting water (United Nations Development Report 2006)
  • Lack of sanitation is the world’s biggest cause of infection  (Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (2008)
  • This crisis impedes U.S. foreign policy goals
  • By 2025, the proportion of the world’s population living in water-stressed countries is set to increase to by two thirds leading to intensified water-related conflicts in those areas
  • Absolute water scarcity already affects more than 500 million people in more than 30 countries. Addressing water scarcity, which can create discontent and desperation, can help prevent violence
  • Water For the World funding is a mere 350 million

The Solution

  • Sustainable water and sanitation solutions
  • On average $1 invested in water and sanitation provides  an economic return of  $3-34 (WHO 2004)
  • On average, every US dollar invested in water and sanitation provides an economic return of eight US dollars (UNDP 2006)
  • Local partners
  • Demand-driven projects
  • Appropriate technology
  • Integration of health and hygiene education
  • Rigorous measuring and monitoring
  • Activate the power of the market through the use of the Water Credit Initiative


  • We are committed to universal access to safe water and adequate sanitation in our lifetime
  • Operational in 8 countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Bangladesh, India, Honduras, Haiti
  • Pioneer of WaterCredit
  • Current year budget of 11 million
  • 32 full time staff
  • Programs are funded through grants, loans, a combination of grants and loans and microfinance tools
  • Institutional funders include PepsiCo Foundation, Caterpillar Foundation, MasterCard Foundation, Skoll Foundation


About WaterCredit

  • WaterCredit provides affordable credit for water and sanitation improvements
  • Leverages microfinance as a distribution channel and a platform for overcoming market failures
  • Nearly 65,000 loans made
  • 378,000 people directly benefited
  • 24 WaterCredit partners in 4 countries
  • Average loan size $142
  • Over 85% of the WaterCredit clients are women
  • Repayment rate is 97%
  • $9.2 million in WaterCredit loans made photos and videos are licensed as Creative Commons, non-commerical, with attribution. Feel free to use photos, stories, and videos for your class, paper, or media opportunity.

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