Bill Gates wants to reinvent the toilet

12th of August 2011
Bill Gates wants to reinvent the toilet

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is spending $43 million in a bid to reinvent the toilet.

The billionaire philanthropist's foundation wants to provide better sanitation to the developing world by creating waterless, hygienic toilets that place no reliance on sewer systems.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Global Development Programme, said: "No innovation in the past 200 years has done more to save lives and improve health than the sanitation revolution triggered by invention of the toilet. But it did not go far enough. It only reached one-third of the world. What we need are new approaches."

Almost 40 per cent of the world's population - 2.6 billion people - lack a safe, reliable toilet and more than a billion have to defecate in the open. Experts say these are major contributing factors to the 1.5 million diarrhoeal-related child deaths each year.

And it is claimed that the vast majority of these deaths could be prevented through the provision of proper sanitation and safe drinking water.

Burwell is calling upon donors, governments, the private sector and NGOs to address the challenge of reinventing the toilet. The Foundation is keen to find innovative systems that can capture and store waste and turn it into reusable energy, fresh water and fertiliser to aid local communities.

The eventual solution should cost no more than 5 cents (3p) per person per day and be simple to install and maintain.


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