In June 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation awarded eight universities grants of approximately $400,000 to leverage, in one year, advances in science and technology to create a waterless, hygienic toilet that is safe and affordable for people in the developing world. One year later, the Gates Foundation is hosting the Reinvent the Toilet Fair to showcase the work of these teams.
Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands was asked to give speech at the Awards Ceremony. The Prince of Orange as he is more properly known, is Chair of the UN Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation. As such "I do spend a good deal of time advocating for more toilets. So, it is exciting to get a close-up look at all the state-of-the-art toilets here. I know that they can make a big contribution in solving the sanitation crisis", the Prince said.
Toilets are obviously not sexy, but access to proper toilets for the entire world population is a human right. "There is also an economic side. Healthcare is becoming prohibitively expensive. Curative healthcare is ten times more expensive than preventive healthcare. By shifting dollars from curative to preventative health, sanitation is extremely cost effective public health intervention", the Prince said.
"Solving the sanitation crisis is not just a technological challenge. Education, demand creation, cultural perceptions, advocacy, supply chains and public policy must all be grappled with. Some call these "soft" issues, but they are no less real. Sanitation solutions will be very different for rural and urban communities, for dry or tropical ecosystems, and for democratic or centralized states."
"These winning toilets are a real achievement and a tremendous advance. They deserve investment and widespread distribution. Carried out with careful attention to context", Willem-Alexander stated before touring the winning designs with Bill Gates at the Microsoft campus in Seattle. © HJ; Source: © RVD; Pictures provided by Gatesfoundation; The full speech: click here