Bill Gates backs toilet revolution

Blanche Robertson
November 8, 2018

He showed the audience a jar of human excrement and explained that such a standard amount of feces contains 200 trillion rotaviruses 20 billion bacteria Shigella and 100 000 eggs of parasitic worms.

Gates, and the expo itself, remained focused on the need - driven by present and future water shortages and a lack of infrastructure in many parts of the world - for toilets that process human waste without the need for water-fed sewers.

'The current toilet simply sends the waste away in the water, whereas these toilets don't have the sewer, ' Gates said.

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, on Tuesday, unveiled a futuristic toilet that uses chemicals to turn human waste into fertilizer.

Gates also said his and Melinda's foundation would be pledging a further 200 million Dollars to encourage more companies to get involved with developing an affordable toilet of the future. The event, according to the New York Times, was aimed at allowing brands to "showcase their takes on the simple bathroom fixture. And I certainly couldn't think Melinda will have to ask me to refrain from talking about toilets and faecal sludge at the dinner table", he said.

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It is the first time Gates" foundation has addressed an event in China, where President Xi Jinping is promoting a three-year "toilet revolution' to build or upgrade 64,000 public toilets by 2020 to help boost tourism and economic growth.

"It's no longer a question of if we can reinvent the toilet and other sanitation systems", Gates told the BBC. "These and other pathogens cause diseases like diarrhea, cholera, and typhoid that kill almost 500,000 children under the age of 5 every year", Gates explained.

"Durban is a good place to run these tests because the city is growing fast and many people there don't have a modern sanitation, which means that, even if they have access to a toilet, the waste can get into the environment and make people sick", he said. "It's a question of how quickly this new category of off-grid solutions will scale". The results of human activity will be processed in it yourself.

"Human waste that is properly handled can be a very economically attractive investment due to the health benefits", said Guy Hutton, a senior adviser for water, sanitation and hygiene with Unicef in NY, in an interview.

The Gates Foundation hopes to instal reinvented toilets in schools and apartment buildings until they become cheap enough for individual families to afford.

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