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Bill Gates in search for toilet of the future24th of August 2012
Microsoft co-founder turned global philanthropist Bill Gates has launched his search for a new toilet better suited to developing countries.
The charitable foundation founded by Gates and his wife held a Reinvent the Toilet Fair in Seattle, USA last week and awarded prizes for promising innovations.
"Toilets are extremely important for public health and, when you think of it, even human dignity," Gates said. "The flush toilets we use in the wealthy world are irrelevant, impractical and impossible for 40 per cent of the global population, because they often don't have access to water, and sewers, electricity, and sewage treatment systems."
The Toilet Fair was attended by inventors, designers, investors, partners and others passionate about creating safe, effective, and inexpensive waste management systems.
Universities from Britain, Canada, and the US were awarded prizes in a competition launched a year ago challenging inventors to come up with a better toilet.
Approximately 2.5 billion people worldwide don't have access to safe sanitation systems for handling the basic and vital need to dispose of bodily waste, according to Gates.
Food or water tainted with faecal matter causes intestinal diseases that kill 1.5 million children annually - a figure higher than deaths from AIDS and malaria combined, he added.
"Inventing new toilets is one of the most important things we can do to reduce child deaths and disease and improve people's lives," Gates concluded.
"It is also something that can help wealthier countries conserve fresh water for other important purposes besides flushing."