Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates wants the world to take notice of a serious issue that affects nearly half of the population – sanitation, Xinhua has reported.
A new generation of reinvented toilets will become an annual six-billion-dollar global business opportunity by 2030, Gates said on Tuesday at the inauguration of Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing.
The reinvented toilet is a collection of innovative technologies that use different approaches to break down human waste and destroy germs, thus leaving behind clean water and solids that can be used as fertilizer or disposed of safely outdoors without further treatment, Gates said.
"There is a market opportunity to meet the needs of 4.5 billion people worldwide," he said. "More than half of the world's population doesn't have the safe sanitation they need to lead healthy and productive lives."
The initial demand for the reinvented toilet will be in schools, apartment buildings and community toilet facilities, he added.
The Microsoft founder has been significantly investing in finding solutions to the problem for the past seven years. He said his charity had already invested US$200 million on research and development into sanitation technology to bring down the cost of providing clean and safe facilities in developing countries, especially areas without sewers. And, it plans to spend another US$200 million in this regard.
In 2011, Gates Foundation initiated ‘Reinvent The Toilet’ challenge under which it offered grants to get scientists and businesses to take a different approach by inventing toilets that would be cheap to build and use, could consistently get rid of pathogens, would work without being connected to a large system to deal with the waste, and could be widely adopted.
To emphasise his point, Gates brought on stage a beaker of yellowish-brown fluid and put it on a nearby podium. “This is a container of human waste,” he said, as an animation of the teeming multitudes of viruses commonly found in poop played on a screen behind him. “This, we’re going to keep in the jar.”
Gates mentioned that the pathogens it contained could cause diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid – illnesses that kill nearly 500,000 children aged under five every year in places without proper sanitation.
On display during the expo were various hi-tech models, each with a unique approach to break down human waste and destroy germs, leaving behind clean water or solids that can be used as fertilizer or safely disposed outdoors.
Gates said that China's toilet revolution and its action plan for accelerating progress on safe sanitation underscores its potential as a launch market for non-sewered sanitation solutions. "It's notable that three of the partners making announcements here -- Clear, Exosan and CRRC -- are based in China," he said.
On an earlier occasions, Gates showered praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swaach Bharat initiative and the role played by his government in improving sanitation in India.