The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced the launch of their new sanitation strategy and US$ 42 million in new sanitation grants at the 2011 AfricaSan 3 conference in Kigali, Rwanda on 19 July 2011.
“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”, said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the foundation’s Global Development Program. “But it did not go far enough. It only reached one-third of the world. What we need are new approaches. New ideas. In short, we need to reinvent the toilet”.
The new sanitation grants include US$ 3 million for eight university winners of the Reinventing the Toilet Challenge, US$ 8.5 million for USAID’s WASH for Life initiative, US$ 12 million to the African Water Facility for sanitation pilot projects, US$ 10 million to the Water Services Trust Fund and German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) for a project in Kenya and US$ 8 million to the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education.
The foundation and its partners are working to develop new tools and technologies that address every aspect of sanitation—from the development of waterless, hygienic toilets that do not rely on sewer connections to pit emptying to waste processing and recycling. Many of the solutions being developed involve cutting-edge technology that could turn human waste into fuel to power local communities, fertilizer to improve crops, or even safe drinking water.
Sanitation solutions should be affordable, the foundation stresses.
Sanitation services must cost no more than 5 cents per person per day and be easy to install, use, and maintain. The foundation’s strategy involves gathering evidence to determine what people want and measuring what really works. It includes stimulating demand for improved sanitation in both rural and urban communities through education and raising awareness. It also involves advocacy efforts to engage governments and other public and private partners to prioritize sanitation policies that address this urgent issue.
The foundation has so far committed US$ 265 million to the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene component of its Global Development Program. While the foundation has been making grants in the sector for five years, the new strategy represents a shift to an increased focus on sanitation.
View the foundation’s new promotional video “Let’s reinvent the toilet”
Read the full press release (Gates Foundation, 19 July 2011)