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It's a big day for actor Matt Damon and water expert Gary White. Tuesday is World Toilet Day, a day when they try to draw attention to a planetary water and toilet crisis. The two are co-founders of water.org, a non-profit aimed at helping developing countries gain access to clean water and sanitation.
On this planet – more people have a cell phone, than have sanitary bathroom facilities.
Damon recalls when he first learned of this problem.
"I was so just shocked by this," said Damon. "The toilet? Yea, there's the guest room toilet, the toilet in your (bedroom), you know there are toilets everywhere. How can this be? And yet 2.5 billion people lack access to a toilet."
"It's a huge health issue right so you have over three million people dying every year because of water-related diseases," said White. "It robs communities of their future."
For Damon and White, it's not simply a matter of improving communities, but a dedicated mission to save lives. Access to water and toilets are essential, especially for women in developing countries.
"The very first girl that I met – about eight years ago I was in Zambia, and I went on a water collection with her," said Damon. That young girl told Damon she planned to go to Lusaka, a big city in Zambia, to become a nurse.
"She was 14 years old and I remembered, you know, being 14 years old and Ben Affleck and I were going to go to the big city of New York, and we were going to be actors. And I remembered that feeling, and I really connected to this kid," said Damon.
"I realized later that if someone had not sunk a bore well a mile from her, from this hut that she lived in, that her whole life would be about scavenging for water," said Damon.
For women and girls, it is not just about water, it's about toilets - without access to toilets, women face many risks when they relieve themselves at night.
"The girls you know will wait until night time because they don't want to do it in broad daylight. And obviously there are huge security risks that come along with that," said Damon. "As a father of, you know, four girls, I connect very deeply and personally to this issue, and for a whole host of reasons. And so it's not just a life or death issue, it's a quality of life issue."
Like most of you, CNN's Jake Tapper wanted to know how to help, but had a little trouble asking.
TAPPER: Gary, what can people do for national toilet day?
WHITE: Oh, well World Toilet Day is coming up
TAPPER: Oh sorry let me ask it again, it's not national, it's world toilet day
DAMON (laughing): It's WORLD Toilet Day man, this s**t is real!
Go to "toiletday.org" to find out how you can help address this global issue.
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The Lead with Jake Tapper draws not only on Tapper’s deep knowledge of politics and national issues, but also seeks to examine and advance stories across a wide range of topics that demonstrate his own curiosities and interests. Compelling headlines come from around the country and the globe, from politics to money, sports to popular culture, based on news drivers of the day.
The Lead with Jake Tapper airs weekdays at 4 p.m. ET.
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