The toilet is a reality in our lives, without which we, who have access to the internet to be publishing or reading this text, nor can we imagine living without. However, for many people, this reality is just a dream that could help save many lives in regions of extreme poverty. And one of Bill Gates’s humanitarian missions is to try to change that.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control, 88 percent of deaths from diarrheal diseases are attributable to lack of clean water and adequate hygiene and sanitation. Waste accumulates where they should not, bringing these complications that are the second largest cause of deaths for children over 5 years, overcoming diseases such as AIDS and malaria.
As these regions often have very little water and the power grid is also scarce, Bill Gates has pitched the challenge by injecting millions of dollars into cheap initiatives that allow the traditional toilet to be replaced with an alternative that does not rely on these two elements. In addition to operating without water and external electricity, it is also necessary that the cost of operation is less than 5 cents per day.
The challenge began in 2011 and has made progress since then. The winner that year was a private project that uses solar energy to decompose the waste to produce hydrogen, which in turn can also be used for power generation. Other projects, as the Business Insider notes, included a vase that burns waste with ultraviolet light and another that turns faeces into what the developers called “organic charcoal,” which can be used as fuel or fertilizer.
The projects developed through this initiative are already giving their first results, although still experimental. Diverse prototypes of independent water toilets are already being tested in poor areas of India and Africa. One such project is the nanomembrane deprived, which received $ 710,000 from the foundation maintained by Gates and his wife Melinda, who may have its operation understood in more depth in the video below.
Another investment involved more than $ 10 million, split between two scientists at Duke University in the United States and the university itself to establish a new division for the development of sanitation technologies for the application of multidisciplinary surveys in new toilets.