The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced on Tuesday it is to invest millions of dollars in improving sanitation services in poor countries over the next few years.
The foundation is to significantly expand its sanitation programme with a $42m grant scheme to spur innovation in this area and a greater emphasis on encouraging behaviour change in communities. An estimated 2.6 billion people do not have access to safe sanitation and more than 1 billion people are understood to defecate in the open.
In a speech to the AfricaSan 3 conference in Rwanda on Tuesday, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the foundation's global development programme, said: "No innovation in the past 200 years has done more to save lives and improve health than the sanitation revolution triggered by the invention of the toilet. But it did not go far enough. It only reached one-third of the world. What we need are new approaches, new ideas. In short, we need to reinvent the toilet."
The foundation, in partnership with governments, universities, the US development agency, USAid, and the African Development Bank, wants to encourage the development of relevant tools and technologies that will improve basic sanitation, such as waterless toilets that do not rely on sewer connections and hygienic ways to empty pits and process and recycle waste. New ideas must cost no more than $0.05 per person per day and be easy to install, use and maintain. They must also be ideas that are relevant to specific communities and are what people in poor countries want. Read More