Bill Gates trying to Reinvent the Toilet for Countries without Clean Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 19th, 2012

Week in Review

Our bodily excretions are among the less pleasant things we do as humans.  For there is little dignity while having a bowel movement.  In modern countries we can at least do that behind closed doors.  But in developing countries they have no such luxuries as a closed bathroom door and a flush toilet to sit on.  And a sink with clean water to wash our hands in afterwards.  It’s kept us clean as a people.  And allowed people to work more closely together.  Even filling massive high-rises full of people.  Who can at anytime go to a clean restroom on their floor for a discrete and clean bowel movement.  Something we all take for granted.  Little realizing what a great gift that is (see Bill Gates challenges scientists to reinvent toilet by AP posted 8/15/2012 on The Telegraph).

Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder has challenged scientists to reinvent the lavatory for the 2.5 billion people in the world who have no access to modern sanitation…

The United Nations estimates disease caused by unsafe sanitation results in about half the hospitalisation in the developing world. About 1.5 million children die each year from diarrheal disease.

Scientists believe most of these deaths could be prevented with proper sanitation, along with safe drinking water and improved hygiene…

Flush lavatories waste tons of potable drinking water each year, fail to recapture reusable resources like the potential energy in solid waste and are simply impractical in so many places.

Yes, flush toilets are horrible.  Except, of course, in preventing mass hospitalization and death by diarrheal disease for millions of children.  Which is pretty nice to prevent.  But apart from making the developed world a much healthier place to live and to raise your children, what has the flush toilet done for us?

Yes, building a better toilet for the undeveloped world may help the undeveloped world.  But developing the undeveloped world would help them more.  It would give them flush toilets AND clean drinking water, hospitals, schools, grocery stores, etc.  And you don’t need to be blessed with natural resources to make this happen.  Two of the best places to live, Hong Kong and Singapore, are not blessed with natural resources.  But they have vibrant economies.  And it’s that vibrant free market economy that makes them great places to live.  And, of course, flush toilets.

High-tech toilets are nice.  But there are things better than high-tech toilets.  Like clean drinking water.  And wastewater treatment plants.  They’ve done great things in the developed world.  Even gave us the wealth to help the undeveloped world.  Because our hospitals aren’t full of people dying from diarrheal disease.  Instead they’re living healthy lives and contributing to vibrant economies.

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