Bill Gates backs China's toilet revolution

Sergio Conner
November 8, 2018

"20 billion Shigella bacteria, and 100,000 parasitic worm eggs".

We hope Bill Gates washed his hands following his speech Tuesday at the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing.

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

Poor sanitation kills half a million children under five annually and costs the globe more than US$200 billion (S$275 billion) a year in healthcare and lost income, said the foundation.

Gates noted that the production of these toilets is in its initial phase, and that it will be at least a decade before reinvented toilets reach the masses in the poorest areas.

The Microsoft co-founder and co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation made a plea for the safe disposal of human waste during his keynote at the event in Beijing. He added, "And I definitely never thought that Melinda would have to tell me to stop talking about toilets and faecal sludge at the dinner table".

Gates was at the three-day event to support Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his "toilet revolution", which has become a priority across the country. So these toilets internalize the sewage treatment process and turn human waste into drinking water, agricultural fertilizer, or even energy-one proposed design turns human waste into hydrogen and then stores it in hydrogen fuel cells.

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According to Gates, "There is much more than one jar's worth in the environment and these pathogens cause diseases like diarrhea, cholera, and typhoid that kills almost 500,000 children under the age of five annually".

The World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the African Development Bank also announced at the expo commitments with the potential to unlock 2.5 billion USA dollars in financing for sanitation projects that provide people in all parts of a city, including the poorest neighborhoods, with safely managed sanitation services.

"In rich countries we have sewers that take clean water in, flush some of the dirty water out, in nearly all cases there's a treatment plant", he said.

"It's no longer a question of if we can reinvent the toilet and other sanitation systems".

"China has an opportunity to launch a new category of innovated non-sewered sanitation solutions that will benefit millions of people worldwide".

The world's two largest economies have been engaged in a tit-for-tat trade war over tariffs for much of the year.

Mr Gates said it would be a mistake for the U.S. to cut aid.

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