5 Things Mark Zuckerberg’s Riches Could Buy the World

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Updated: | Originally published: ;

Correction appended

In a letter to their first-born daughter, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, pledged to donate 99% of their Facebook stock, priced at roughly $45 billion, to philanthropic causes during their lifetime. The couple wrote of their focus on “advancing human potential” and “promoting equality.” With the help of cost estimates from various non profits and aid organisations, TIME has put figures on a few of the things Zuckerberg and Chan could put their money towards to achieve those ends — using the $45 billion figure as the benchmark, though the price of the stock and some of these statistics, will of course fluctuate in coming years:

  • Food for the world’s hungry children for 14 years. The United Nations World Food Programme estimates that it would cost just $3.2 billion per year to feed the 66 million school-age children who go hungry every day.
  • Putting 8 million children through school. According to the Global Partnership for Education, it costs an average of $1.18 per day to educate low and lower middle income children for 13 years from pre-primary through secondary school. That $45 billion could help educate generations of kids.
  • 9 billion mosquito nets. In 2015, 438, 000 people died of malaria, according to UNICEF and the World Health Organization, most of them young children. UNICEF has estimated that roughly 150 million Insecticide-Treated Nets are needed to protect populations vulnerable to malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the CDC foundation estimates that it costs just $5 to purchase an insecticide treated bed net.
  • 6.4 million wells for safe drinking water. Some 1.8 billion people around the world use a drinking-water source contaminated by feces, according to the World Health Organization, and an estimated 842,000 people die each year from diarrhea from drinking contaminated water, unsafe sanitation, and inability to wash their hands because water is in short supply. To address this, Zuckerberg and his wife could start by building wells. According to Water Wells for Africa, a non-profit organization that builds wells with safe drinking water in African countries such as Malawi and Mozambique, the average cost to build a well that serves 2,000 people is $7,000, a cost of just $3.50 per person.
  • About two weeks’ worth of global infrastructure funding. It’s not the sexiest area of philanthropy, but the World Bank estimates that the world needs between $1 and $1.5 trillion additional dollars every year to invest in infrastructure like roads, bridges, and airports, if the World Bank is going to reach its goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s $45 billion would be a drop in the bucket towards that total, but hey – it’s a start.
  • Correction: This article originally miscalculated the number of children whose education could be funded by a $45 billion gift. It is 8 million.

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