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Gates Looks To Develop 'Next-Generation Toilets' For Developing World

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on Tuesday “announced the winners of the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge — an effort to develop ‘next-generation’ toilets that will deliver safe and sustainable sanitation to the 2.5 billion people worldwide who don’t have it,” according to a foundation press release (8/14). “To pass the foundation’s threshold for the world’s next toilet, it must operate without running water, electricity or a septic system, not discharge pollutants, preferably capture energy or other resources, and operate at a cost of five cents a day,” according to the Associated Press (Blankinship,  8/15). “The new commodes are being showcased at a ‘Reinvent the Toilet Fair’ Tuesday and Wednesday in Seattle,” CNN writes, adding, “The foundation also announced a second round of grants totaling some $3.4 million to organizations that are working to innovative latrines” (8/15).

Gates “handed a $100,000 prize to the California Institute of Technology on Tuesday for its work on a self-contained, sun-powered system that recycles water and breaks down human waste into storable energy,” Reuters reports, noting, “Gates is focusing on the need for a new type of toilet as an important part of his foundation’s push to improve health in the developing world” (Rigby, 8/14). “‘Beyond a question of human dignity, this lack of access also endangers people’s lives, creates an economic and a health burden for poor communities, and hurts the environment,’ Gates said,” Agence France-Presse reports, continuing, “Food or water tainted with fecal matter causes intestinal diseases that kill 1.5 million children annually — a figure higher than deaths from AIDS and malaria combined, according to Gates” (8/14).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.