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Reinventing the Toilet

Bill and Melinda Gates want to harness the power of our excrement. About 2.5 billion people use unsafe toilets or defecate in the open.

Poor sanitation causes severe diarrhea, which kills 1.5 million children each year.

Smart investments in sanitation can reduce disease, increase family incomes, keep girls in school, help preserve the environment, and enhance human dignity.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sponsored a fair in which universities and other research facilities competed to reinvent the toilet.

The California Institute of Technology in the United States received the $100,000 first prize for designing a solar-powered toilet that generates hydrogen and electricity.

Loughborough University in the United Kingdom won the $60,000 second place prize for a toilet that produces biological charcoal, minerals, and clean water.

University of Toronto in Canada won the third place prize of $40,000 for a toilet that sanitizes feces and urine and recovers resources and clean water. Special recognition and $40,000 went to Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology) and EOOS for their outstanding design of a toilet user interface.

Other projects featured at the fair include better ways to empty latrines, user-centered designs for public toilet facilities, and insect-based latrines that decompose feces faster.

Eighty percent of human waste finds its way directly into streams and rivers, which contaminates fresh water for drinking and bathing. “Off-the-grid” toilets like Caltech’s invention can recover the resources from feces, eventually leading to 100 percent waste processing, the foundation claims.

The Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WSH) initiative is part of the foundation’s Global Development Program, which addresses issues such as agricultural development and financial services—problems that affect the world’s poorest people but do not receive adequate attention.

WSH has committed more than $370 million to this area, with a focus on developing sustainable sanitation services that work for everyone, including the poor.

Source
Gates Foundation

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