Technology billionaire Bill Gates spent hundreds of millions of dollars to develop water-free toilets, helping ensure the health of thousands of Indians.
After leaving the position of Microsoft CEO, billionaire Bill Gates made a lot of contributions to the development of poor countries, including efforts to create new toilets.The 'Tiger' toilet , now in use in India, is the latest of his research.
'Tiger' toilets have been in use since 2015 in many families and schools across India. Although the outside look is no different from a normal toilet, it saves excessively by not needing much water, nor does it cause odor. Feces are treated with tiger worms (Eisenia fetida) , a worm that feeds on faeces.
An Indian citizen standing next to the Tiger toilet.(Photo: Business Insider).
'Their natural habitat is in cow dung or horse manure , ' said Ajeet Oak, director of the toilet production company.
Thanks to the worms below, new toilets do not need to flush water, so there is no need to flush down the drain. Worms are cultured underneath septic tanks, which feed on water, carbon dioxide and waste. Worm waste has fewer toxic substances than human feces.
Water released by worms when absorbed into the soil will be filtered naturally, so there is no need for further treatment.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, founded by billionaire Bill Gates, donated $ 4.8 million to London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to perfect the technology. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) also supports US $ 170,000 for toilet testing in India, Myanmar and Uganda.
Currently, more than 4,000 new toilets are installed in India.
"There are many people who have never had toilets," Mr. Oak said. Before the Tiger toilet was installed, these people would go to the toilet in the field.
Tiger worms contained under the toilet will process manure and release organic fertilizer, which can be used as fertilizer.(Photo: Bear Valley Ventures).
At Beijing's Restoration Restoration exhibition in November 2018, Bill Gates said he was willing to spend another $ 200 million to develop new technologies for toilets without sewers, thus help make deployment easier in poor countries.
'We estimate that by 2030, this project will be worth up to $ 6 billion per year'.
Each Tiger toilet costs about 350 USD (8.1 million VND). Its advantage is that there is no need to have a flushing system or connect to the drain. When the user goes heavy, the feces will be discharged into the worm vault, the amount of water used to discharge is less than that of a normal toilet.
Tiger worms can remove up to 99% of the bacteria in the feces, and release organic fertilizer, water and CO 2 . Feces of worms can be used as fertilizer. Worm treatment is much better than conventional septic tanks.
Due to the fairly clean treatment, the Tiger toilet does not cause much odor, also less attractive to flies and mosquitoes than conventional toilets.
'People like this type of toilet more than regular toilet. Because worms decompose most of their faeces, this type of toilet is less likely to smell, has fewer flies , 'USAID commented in 2015.
Billionaire Bill Gates held a bottle of human feces at a new toilet exhibition in Beijing, November 2018.(Photo: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation).
The first Tiger toilets were installed for more than 5 years, but so far have not been replaced, adding worms. This only needs to be done within 8-10 years. This replacement is also very simple.
In developing countries, many people may be at risk of health when there is no toilet. According to figures from the World Health Organization, diarrhea causes 525,000 children to die each year. The world lost about 223 billion dollars each year to solve the problems caused by sanitation.
A study published in India in 2016 showed that women who go to the bathroom outdoors are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted than those with toilets. Therefore, a safe, discreet toilet for people in this country will be more urgent than an iPhone, a computer or any technology product.
In India, the World Bank data shows that up to 40% of people go heavy outdoors. The Indian government aims to have no more people going to the toilet this year, but that goal will be very difficult to implement when most people do not have toilets, or have but do not use it.
Lixil Group, which owns sanitary equipment brands, bathrooms like American Standard or Grohe, also intends to replicate the Tiger toilet model. This will help the new type of toilet to be more widely deployed, giving millions of people the opportunity to go to the toilet in a clean, safe way.
For Bill Gates himself, he thinks the importance of a new toilet is not inferior to personal computers or smartphones.
'This is a completely new product , ' Bill Gates said.