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Bill Gates: From Microsoft founder to toilet entrepreneur

The creator of Microsoft has decided to invest in a toilet that does not require water or sewer connections, which could revolutionize the market

Bill Gates: From Microsoft founder to toilet entrepreneur

The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, presented his project to face the global sanitation crisis this week at the Reinventented Toilet Expo in Beijing. It is a toilet that does not require water or connections to purification systems, and that transforms human waste into fertilizers, characteristics that facilitate the universalization of the product.

Leer en español: Bill Gates: De fundador de Microsoft a magnate de inodoros

Since 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested more than USD $ 200 million in this project to reinvent the toilets. During the meeting in Beijing, he promised a new investment of USD $ 200 million.

Gates post a video on his Twitter account showing how the product is already being tested in the city of Durban, South Africa, where other toilets that work with solar energy are also being tested. According to him, the idea is that these new toilets are first installed in schools and facilities with community bathrooms. Once the production costs are reduced, the objective is to make this a product for domestic use.

An investment that would save lives and save us money

According to the founder of Microsoft, these toilets could radically reduce the number of deaths due to poor hygiene in the poorest countries. To illustrate this point, Gates showed during the exhibition a jar full of feces to show that human waste without proper sanitary treatment can cause diseases such as diarrhea or cholera, causing about 500,000 deaths per year in children under 5 years of age around the world.

This is worrisome considering that, according to the United Nations, 60% of the world population does not have access to adequate sanitary facilities. In addition, as the international organization explains, around 900 million people around the world must defecate in the open air.

Likewise, as RNN points out, Gates affirmed that annually more than USD $ 200,000 million are spent unnecessarily because of the health costs and the low productivity resulting from the lack of adequate sanitation. Thus, the Gates project aims to save USD $ 233,000 million a year "in costs related to diarrhea, cholera and other diseases caused by poor water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions," as stated by the website Estrategia y Negocios.

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Likewise, according to Guy Hutton, senior advisor on water, sanitation and hygiene at Unicef, "properly managed human waste can be a very attractive investment from the economic point of view due to the health benefits".

He also stated in front of the Gates project that "given the unmet need of 2.3 billion people who still lack basic sanitation, there is a potentially very important market and an economic gain that can be obtained."

This project also seeks to have a positive impact on environmental terms. According to the World Health Organization, there are cities in which more than half of human waste is filtered into the environment due to the lack of adequate treatment. Therefore, the same organization warns that for every dollar invested in sanitation will generate USD $ 5.50 in economic benefits globally.

The initiative also has the support of Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank. During the exhibition, Kim stated that sanitation is one of the priorities of the World Bank and that it plans an alliance with the Gates to achieve the dissemination of its product to the whole world in a safe way.

Likewise, during the meeting, Chinese companies (Clear, CRRC and EcoSan), American companies (Sedron Technologies), Thai (SCG Chemicals) and Indian companies (Eram Scientific Solutions, Ankur Scientific Energy Technologies, Tide Technocrats) presented their technology proposals for the sanitation.

 

LatinAmerican Post | Sofía Carreño

Translated from "Bill Gates, ahora magnate de inodoros"

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