India & Gates Foundation to Invest $ 2 mn to Develop Next Generation Toilet

The Indian Ministry of Science and Technology and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation  have announced that they will invest $2 mn to support innovative projects to develop a “Next Generation Toilet”

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in collaboration with India’s Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) is calling for proposals as part of Grand Challenges India to reinvent the toilet. The Department of Biotechnology and the Gates Foundation will each invest $1 mnto support Indian investigators to drive research, development, and production of the toilet.

In 2011, the Gates Foundation launched the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge – a program created to design toilets that capture and process human waste without piped water, sewer or electrical connections, and transform waste into useful resources, such as energy and water, at an affordable price. This India toilet challenge is the second effort targeted to a specific country and is a testament to the research and development capabilities in India.

Unidentified people bath at Sulabh Sauchalaya, a public toilet run by Sulabh International which works to promote environmental sanitation on 14 March 2013 in Patna, India.
Unidentified people bath at Sulabh Sauchalaya, a public toilet run by Sulabh International which works to promote environmental sanitation. Image credit: rupa / Shutterstock.com

That there are more mobile phones in India than toilets sounds cliched now. But it is still very much a reality. Worldwide, 2.5 billion people lack access to safe sanitation, causing serious health problems, and in some cases, death. Food and water tainted with fecal matter result in 1.5 million child deaths every year.

“Open defecation and poor sanitation are India’s shame,” said K VijayRaghavan, secretary of the the Department of Biotechnology.

The Gates Foundation has funded 16 research institutions across Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America as part of the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge.

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