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Bill Gates is celebrating… the toilet. Here’s why

·2-min read
Bill Gates holding a jar of human faeces at the Beijing 2018 Reinvented Toilet Expo.
Bill Gates wants you to know sanitation is a very important issue affecting half the world's population. (Source: GatesNotes)

If you have a toilet in your home, count yourself lucky; it’s a luxury that half the world’s population, or 3.6 billion people, don’t have, according to Bill Gates.

The world’s fifth-richest man and philanthropist wants to draw your attention to what he describes as a fatal health crisis (that isn’t COVID-19).

“Living without a toilet is more than an inconvenience. It’s dangerous. Unsafe sanitation means contaminated water, soil, and food. It causes illness and death,” Gates wrote in his latest blog post.

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“The COVID-19 pandemic has... served as a powerful reminder of the urgent work households and cities must do to contain and treat deadly pathogens.

“But this sanitation crisis can be solved.”

Between now and 2050, the world will accommodate for 2 billion more people – but a massive proportion of these humans will live in developing countries unlikely to have decent sanitation, he said.

Gates has campaigned for a decade through his foundation's ‘Reinvent the Toilet’ project to improve sanitation in this area that doesn’t rely on sewage systems or running water.

In his efforts to bring attention to this issue, he gave a speech while holding a jar of poo; drank water made from faeces; and even tricked Jimmy Fallon into doing the same.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates (R) talks next to a container (L) with human feces during the
Microsoft founder Bill Gates talks next to a container with human feces during the "reinvented toilet expo" in Beijing on November 6, 2018. (Photo credit: NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)

Over the years, he’s seen hundreds of new ideas from scientists and engineers for toilet designs that include turning poo into resources like fertiliser, electricity, and clean water.

Meanwhile, "ingenious" processors have created new systems that actually “turns human waste from entire communities into drinkable water and electricity”.

Many of these projects are also several times more cost, energy and space efficient than traditional sewer and wastewater treatment plants, Gates said.

But there’s more to do, he added.

“To be sure, there are still challenges ahead to bring these innovations to market so that they can transform the lives of the billions of people who need them,” Gates wrote.

“But I’m optimistic about what can be accomplished in the next 10 years and beyond.”

WATCH BELOW: How Bill Gates makes and spends his millions

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