Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates thinks that the modern toilet is not good enough because people from developing countries can’t afford to buy it, which leads to poor sanitation and disease.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has challenged universities to design and build a better toilet that generates energy, more hygienic, and don’t require a septic system or running water. The foundation has a budget of $41.5 million toward that end, and a number of proposals have been seen, including toilets powered by microwaves, heat or solar panels.
According to the World Health Organization, “Worldwide, around 1.1 billion people lack access to improved water sources and 2.4 billion have no basic sanitation. Diarrhea due to infection is widespread throughout the developing world. In Southeast Asia and Africa, diarrhea is responsible for as much as 8.5 percent and 7.7 percent of all deaths, respectively.”
Sylvia Mathers Burwell, president of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s global development program, 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.”
The foundation has given eight grants to universities to help them in designing the new toilet. They are expected to come up with prototypes within a year.
Reports say that the toilets are aimed to cost no more than $0.05 per day to maintain. A great idea, we could have lowered the tone by saying this isn’t the first crap invention from Bill Gates, but we won’t go there ;-).