August 14, 2012 | By Bill Gates
Today I attended the Reinvent the Toilet Fair— a fascinating learning experience and an important step in providing safe sanitation for everyone in the world.
A solar-powered toilet that generates hydrogen and electricity – California Institute of Technology
A year ago, the foundation launched an initiative to tackle the problem of sanitation in the developing world. We called it the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge. In this photo gallery you can learn more about each of the grantees and their sanitation solutions.
This week in Seattle, the foundation is holding a Reinvent the Toilet Fair. Today I awarded prizes to three universities who responded to our challenge a year ago to come up with solutions for capturing and processing human waste and transforming it into useful resources.
The winners included:
- first place to California Institute of Technology in the United States for designing a solar-powered toilet that generates hydrogen and electricity,
- second place to Loughborough University in the United Kingdom for a toilet that produces biological charcoal, minerals, and clean water, and
- third place to University of Toronto in Canada for a toilet that sanitizes feces and urine and recovers resources and clean water.
A special recognition was awarded to Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology) and EOOS for their outstanding design of a toilet user-interface.
Watch this AP video report on the Reinvent the Toilet Fair.
The Ministry of Rural Development has invited the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to partner with it in finding solutions to the sanitation problems in India, where 50 per cent of the country’s 1.1 billion people still practice open defecation.
Jairam Ramesh and Bill Gates, 30 May 2012. Photo: PTI
On the 2nd day of his visit to India, Bill Gates spoke with Rural Development Minister and the Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation Jairam Ramesh. The Minister called for the launch of a global joint initiative to develop low-cost, clean toilets for railways. In India, 11 million passengers commute daily without proper hygienic facilities. Mr. Ramesh also sought help from Gates to pilot sanitation promotion campaigns along the lines of India’s successful Pulse Polio campaign .
An article in Time Magazine highlights the collaboration between the Gates Foundation and Germany in finding innovative solutions for sanitation in developing countries.
The Head of Water, Sanitation & Hygiene department at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Frank Rijsberman, talls about new ideas for using human excrement. “Human waste could be a real gold mine”, he jokes.
In a press conference he told journalists that they didn’t talk politics, but discussed the idea of the “ultimate toilet.”
Bill Gates with Nirj Deva of the European Parliament's development committee
A British Member of the European Parliamentarian (MEP) wants the EU to spend more aid on innovative low-cost sanitation technologies. Nirj Deva MEP and Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament’s development committee launched his call after a meeting with philanthropist Bill Gates.
Following a question from Mr Deva regarding diarrhoeal diseases and possible solutions, Mr Gates told the committee that one of the greatest problems with clean water is contamination because traditional flushing toilet systems are expensive and unachievable.
Mr Gates pointed out that his foundation had funded projects to find innovative solutions to areas that are challenged either by water shortages or by flooding.
After praising Bill and Melinda Gates as “an outstanding example to philanthropists around the world” and the ability of private philanthropy to support innovative solutions, Mr. Deva added:
“One of the specific areas discussed was the high costs of sanitation and particularly flushing toilet facilities. It’s not a sexy subject but it is important that we invest in finding an innovative alternative. This is one area where the EU should improve its funding of innovation and I will seek to make this a priority for development funding in the future.”