Let’s be honest — internet fights get a lot of attention (cc: Drake and Meek Mill). On Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, it’s clear that mostly everyone on the internet loves a little bit of shit-talking in the comments section of a public post to shake up their day. Let’s apply that term in its most literal sense: shit-talking as in literally talking about shit. Surprisingly, in the last year, talking about clean water, open defecation, and hygienic facilities have gotten the same kind of attention. The dialogue about sanitation has created urgency for the issue of sanitation across the globe.

The Global Citizen Festival 2015 hosted in Central Park, NYC focuses on raising awareness for development concerns across the world. Tickets for this festival are earned by actively writing to congressmen and women, writing an email, or using social media to bring attention to a specific cause. How effective is this in bringing awareness to development issues? Very. Considering that celebrities from all genres of music attend this festival, the incentive to obtain tickets to this sensation concert is huge. This creates a huge social media push for citizens all around the world to share their thoughts on critical issues facing the global community today. The overarching theme of this year’s Global Citizen Festival was global poverty and girls education. However, due to the fact that both of these goals are inherently connected to success in sanitation, Jim Yong Kim and Big Bird (yes, from Sesame Street) took center stage to address this critical issue.


During the creation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 1990s, sanitation and clean water were not on the agenda. This was partly because of a conversation about sanitation wasn’t comfortable. At the time, sanitation cost the world $260 billion a year. Fast forward 25 years to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) where Goal 6 is focused on acknowledging clean water and improving sanitation around the world. When Jim Yong Kim and Big Bird addressed the crowd at Global Citizen Festival to say that the World Bank plans to give $15 billion to fund sanitation — $4 billion of which had already been dispensed — they highlighted a fundamental aspect of development.

Chatter about sanitation has penetrated social media. Celebrities like Matt Damon have brought sanitation to the forefront of the conversation about development. Check out his toilet strike here (hyperlink to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQCqNop3CIg). Multiple NGOs have thrown away the taboo surrounding sanitation and instead, framed it as a critical point in the need to change the way that development looks. Using social media to talk about this key issue is creating serious waves in the development world.

It’s time to finish the job. With the help of organizations like Global Citizen, the dialogue about development issues such as sanitation are gaining serious momentum. Today, 1,400 children under the age of five die each day from diarrhea as a result of unsafe water and unhygienic sanitation. 25 years ago, the United Nations almost turned a blind eye to sanitation due to the fact that it simply wasn’t talked about. NGOs, celebrities, politicians, and citizens of the world are now charged with a loaded task — talk more shit.