Owner of Microsoft, Bill Gates wants to look at ways on how he could innovate the only invention that anyone would consider as the dirtiest – the toilet.
This Tuesday, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, launched a new program focus on reinventing the toilet. The foundation claims to grant the project $42 million so that they could find new ways on improving the sanitation in the third countries.
Ever since the first introduction of the toilet to the world, millions of lives has been save since it lessens the waterborne diseases such as cholera and severe diarrhea cause by unhealthy sanitation.
Frank Rijsberman, director of the foundation’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene initiative, says the innovation of the toilet has save more lives than any other health devices since the start of the history of health. Up to now, there are no such devices that could rival the use of toilet.
According to the World Health Organization, there are around 40 percent of people worldwide, which does not have sanitary toilets. On top of that about 1 billion still practiced open defecation. Food and water exposed with human waste would mean 1.5 million deaths of children every year.
The new grants aim to renovate affordable latrines, promote sanitation in communities and find a new idea on capturing and storing waste, processing it into energy, fertilizer and even turning urine into fresh water.
Foundation co-chairwoman Melinda Gates says that it is not a popular topic. However, if they are not going to do anything about it then the lives of millions would not improve. Sewers cannot be built around the world, so they need a way to, properly, dispose human waste.
To achieve the foundation’s goal, they are collaborating with some of the best scientist around the world so that they could improve sanitation. These could be by means of an improved toilet, and new uses for human waste.
In one of the projects, a team from Stanford University got a proposal of building a system in Nairobi that would transform human waste into a charcoal used.
Another team from Switzerland wants to create a functioning model of a toilet that turns urine into pure and clean water.
Executive director of Water 1st International, Marla Smith-Nilson believes that the real challenge is not within the innovation of the toilet, but to convince people to use the toilet and hand washing are necessary.