We’re constantly told that the reason there are no jobs is because we need more innovation. Well, we’ve been creative when it comes to computers, smart phones and ipads–now it’s time to redesign something we all take for granted: The toilet.
Bill Gates invented the home computer AND the ipad, and now his foundation is redesigning the WC. But not for us: they’re pledging millions of dollars in order to create a cheap and sanitary toilet for developing African countries, where over 2 billion people don’t have access to a safe place to go to the bathroom. In Yahoo News, Karin Zeitvogel quotes Gates Foundation spokesman Frank Rijsberman as saying that only a fraction of Africans, even in large cities, are "connected to sewers with a flush toilet. In cities, people use ‘flying toilets.’ They go on a plastic bag and then throw it in the street, which is not only gross but kids walk around and play, and come into contact with the poop and can develop chronic diarrhea, which kills more children under the age of five than HIV/AIDS and malaria."
Another example of a country in need of sanitary toilet facilities is Haiti, where by the end of last month 5,500 people had died from a cholera epidemic that Rijsberman says was caused by "improperly disposed-of waste" from a UN peacekeepers’ base. But countries like Africa are also short of water, so the flush toilet used in the West is not a viable solution. Zeitvogel quotes Rijsberman as saying, "We need to reinvent the toilet. We need to come up with new technology that doesn’t put waste into drinking water, doesn’t flush it down a very expensive pipe to a waste water treatment plant where we spend lots of money to remove the poop."
He wants to invent a toilet that will recycle the "poop" into reusable energy and fertilizer–probably by microwaving it, to remove germs. He says, "We have to learn to not think of poop as a nuisance and waste but as a resource that could be recycled at a cost of a few cents a day."
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