NYT critique - Article in New York Times: Bill Gates Can’t Build a Toilet
(1 viewing) (1) Guest
  • Page:
  • 1
  • 2

TOPIC: NYT critique - Article in New York Times: Bill Gates Can’t Build a Toilet

NYT critique - Article in New York Times: Bill Gates Can’t Build a Toilet 21 Aug 2013 02:12 #5370

  • christoph
  • CONTACT
  • Moderator
  • Sanitary engineer with base in Brazil and Peru, doing consultancy in other countries of LA
  • Posts: 203
  • Likes received: 79
  • Karma: 16
Note by moderator: previous related discussion on the BMGF grants was in this thread:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/139-in...attle-in-august-2012

+++++++++++++++++

Hi,
today I came across an interesting talk of Carl Hensman. I would like to share it with you.



He talks about some results of the reinvent the toilet approaches and the idea behind it. I find it very clear it´s about 20 min even though it says 30 min.

Just a slight critic to the Gates foundation and to Carl. If you do a talk which might be interesting for the Susana comunity..... why don´t you announce it after putting it up? I did at least miss it.

Yours
Christoph
Last Edit: 25 Mar 2014 10:29 by muench.

Re: an interesting talk should be advertised (BlueTech Forum 2012 - Re-Inventing Sanitation for the Bottom of the Pyramid Market, Carl Hensman) 21 Aug 2013 14:41 #5383

  • CarlHensman
  • CONTACT
  • Posts: 8
  • Likes received: 18
  • Karma: 0
Christoph:

Thank you for your kind words on the presentation, especially as it one of the first that I gave after joining the Foundation. I appreciate that you would like notice of this type of web posting, unfortunately when going to a conference or meeting we typically do not have control over the posting of presentations. I believe that all of us in the Gates WSH Team make the assumption that any of our presentations will be posted, but it is up to the meeting organizers where and when they will be posted. As a result, we really couldn't tell you if something does get posted or not. Often we only know about them when good folks, such as yourself, send the links to us.

Cheers

Carl
The following user(s) like this post: muench

Re: an interesting talk should be advertised (BlueTech Forum 2012 - Re-Inventing Sanitation for the Bottom of the Pyramid Market, Carl Hensman) 21 Aug 2013 17:29 #5385

  • christoph
  • CONTACT
  • Moderator
  • Sanitary engineer with base in Brazil and Peru, doing consultancy in other countries of LA
  • Posts: 203
  • Likes received: 79
  • Karma: 16
Carl,
Thanks for the clarification...makes a lot of sense. I suggest that you have a specific look when you did a presentation which might be specifically interesting, after some time. I´m well aware that you are forced to repeat almost the same presentation in various occasions … but from time to time it might be good to put up a reference presentation …it helps us (viewers) to understand better the thinking of the organization… and therefore hopefully leads to better focused proposals as well.
So if you have a nice update on the view of the foundation towards sanitation (I realized a stronger look on institutional settings).. you are most welcome.

yours
Christoph
Last Edit: 21 Aug 2013 17:48 by christoph.

BBC Horizon on Sanitation and Human Waste 27 Oct 2013 22:35 #6167

  • madeleine
  • CONTACT
  • Sanitation is dignity and life. Through living and working 15 years in (Mozambique) where Cholera is endemic, the importance of sanitation became evident, furthermore it is clear that sanitation is more than an infrastructure
  • Posts: 76
  • Likes received: 58
  • Karma: 4
Dear all
Do not miss BBC Horizon on Sanitation and HUman Waste . Good stuff !
Cheers
Madeleine

+++++++++
www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/n3cstp17

Human Waste
Image for Human Waste
DURATION: 30 MINUTES
In this episode of 'Horizons', Adam Shaw is in New York City catching up with Dr. Doulaye Kone, senior program officer for sanitation technology with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We tackle the issue of sanitation 2.5 billion people, including a billion children - do not have access to a clean, safe toilet, according to the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council. New technologies are needed to deal with our growing human waste issue, a source of both disease and potential nutrients.
Madeleine Fogde
Program Director SIANI
Senior Project Manager at SEI
Tel +46 (0)8 6747652
Fax + 46 (0)8 6747020
Cell + 46 737078576
SKYPE mfogde71811
Kräftriket 2B
SE-10691 Stockholm
www.siani.se
www.ecosanres.org
www.sei-international.org
Last Edit: 28 Oct 2013 08:32 by muench.
The following user(s) like this post: Doreen

BBC World News Horizon: Episode on Human Waste 01 Nov 2013 05:52 #6236

  • Doreen
  • CONTACT
  • Moderator
  • Posts: 116
  • Likes received: 42
  • Karma: 11
Featured User
Nov 2013
Dear Colleagues,

A very interesting episode (Part 1, 2 and 3)on BBC about Human Waste where Doulaye Kone from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is interviewed.

Please find the link here: www.bbc.com/specialfeatures/horizonsbusi...episode/human-waste/

Some information from the website about the episode

++++

Toilet trouble

In the past few years travelling for the BBC World News series, Horizons, I have travelled to nearly 30 countries and interviewed world famous business and technology leaders such as Jimmy Wales, who founded Wikipedia; Bill Ford, the chairman of Ford and great grandson of Henry Ford; and Nobel Prize winner Harry Kroto who discovered a new form of Carbon. But amongst all the famous names who have appeared on the programme, there is one man who sticks in my mind more than any other and you won’t have heard of him, and probably have not heard of his work.

Dr Doulaye Kone is the Gates Foundation’s senior program officer for sanitation. He grew up in rural Ivory Coast and is now spearheading new efforts to reinvent the toilet.

It’s difficult interviewing someone about toilets. We just don’t have the language to discuss it. Kone talked of faecal sludge and I talked of poo – neither seemed to stroke the right note; his language seemed stuck in the world of the laboratory and mine was stuck in the world of the nursery. We lacked the words to discuss it without sniggering or sounding overly technical.

This lack of the proper words isn’t a minor issue. Partly because we can’t discuss it, we don’t give this issue the attention it deserves and it certainly deserves greater attention.

Across the globe, two and half billion people, including one billion children, do not have access to a clean, safe toilet. According to the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation every 20 seconds, that’s 1.5 million preventable deaths each year.

Doulaye sticks in my mind not just because of the work he is doing but why he is doing it. He grew up in a small African village where a shocking number of his own siblings and close family died as a result of poor sanitation. His neighbours believed the deaths were down to some black magic and they were ostracised. But Doulaye was a clever child and was given a rare place at a boarding school. As a result he left home and was fed well at school and went on to secondary school and university, where he was determined to learn about the kind of sanitation engineering that could prevent the deaths like those in his close family.

It was that mission and journey that brought us together to discuss how to change the way the world poos.

The flush toilet that so many millions of us use is deceptively complex. To make it work, we need a huge infrastructure of power stations, distributed water supplies, pumping stations, sewage works, and treatment facilities. When we flush the loo, we are calling on the coordinated efforts of thousands of people and millions of pounds of infrastructure investments. Those kinds of resources are just not available in many parts of the world.

One answer to this problem would be to build the infrastructure needed in as many places as possible. It would cost billions and probably would never happen. So the other option is to develop toilets which don’t need that kind of investment. It’s about developing appropriate toilet technology for the millions who currently don’t have access to it.

That’s what Doulaye and the Gates Foundation is doing. Our programme on sanitation doesn’t just look at toilets but how to use human waste; how to use it as a resource to be exploited as opposed to a waste product to be disposed of.

Dealing with human waste is one of the most important public health objectives on the planet. Today two-fifths of the world’s population still have nowhere to go to the toilet except on open ground. It’s a problem that needs to be tackled and this is one of our most important programmes in highlighting the issue and its possible solutions.

+++++

Best regards

Doreen
Doreen Mbalo
Programme Advisor
GIZ Water Sector Reform Programme
Nairobi, Kenya
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Administrator and Member of SuSanA (www.susana.org)

Re: BBC World News Horizon: Episode on Human Waste - Ostara struvite 01 Nov 2013 11:43 #6239

  • muench
  • CONTACT
  • Moderator
  • Freelance consultant (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer)
  • Posts: 692
  • Likes received: 223
  • Karma: 19
Thanks for bringing this to our attention. For me personally, I liked Part 3 the most:
www.bbc.com/specialfeatures/horizonsbusi...d=p01k87qd&tab=1

It's called from waste to worth.

For those people interested in struvite, I recommend you watch the 12 minute clip. It shows in detail how the Canadian company Ostara is producing struvite at a large scale at Canadian wastewater treatment plants.
(as far as I know this is not funded or supported by the BMGF, so not sure why this example was picked and embedded in the interview with Doulaye Kone).

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant
Frankfurt, Germany
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Twitter: @EvMuench
Website: www.ostella.de
Member of SuSanA (www.susana.org)

NYT critique - Article in New York Times: Bill Gates Can’t Build a Toilet 21 Nov 2013 03:08 #6474

  • isis
  • CONTACT
  • Posts: 7
  • Likes received: 2
  • Karma: 0

Re: NYT critique 21 Nov 2013 08:52 #6477

  • Florian
  • CONTACT
  • Posts: 203
  • Likes received: 68
  • Karma: 16
Featured User
Jan 2014
Interesting, thanks for posting!

The trouble is that the Gates Foundation has treated the quest to find the proper solution as it would a cutting-edge project at Microsoft: lots of bells and whistles, sky-high budgets and engineers in elite institutions experimenting with the newest technologies, thousands of miles away from their clients.

This pretty much sums up my own uneasyness towards many of the BMGF funded projects.

However, in my opinion, the article still misses the main point with its conclusion:

If we embrace these low-tech toilets, we’ll be on the right track to getting 2.5 billion people one step closer to a safe, clean, comfortable and affordable toilet of their own.

I think it's not about low or high-tech, it's not about tech at all, as we have enough of that already. The real questions is how to get 2.5 billion people actually install all this tech (low or high) in their house and use it and take care of it.


To be fair, we are talking here about the Reinvent the Toilet Programme, BMGF's most high profile programme in sanitation. However, BMGF is doing other things in sanitation that are much more addressing valid points I think, such as their work on fecal sludge management or on service delivery models.
Florian Klingel
Water and Sanitation Specialist at Skat Consulting Ltd.
Last Edit: 21 Nov 2013 09:13 by Florian.
The following user(s) like this post: muench, joeturner

Re: NYT critique 21 Nov 2013 09:43 #6479

  • joeturner
  • CONTACT
  • I am a shit philosopher, thinking about how we think about sanitation. I think our main paradigms in WASH may be wrong.
  • Posts: 266
  • Likes received: 44
  • Karma: 12
I suppose on one level we should be pleased that someone is prepared to invest money in research into santiation at a pretty basic level. It is hard to see who would have done that if the Gates Foundation had not.

I just think they've missed a trick by not making enough of these projects about sanitation systems rather than toilets. Hence one can invent all kinds of toilets in a laboratory which have little real chance of seeing the light as a mass form of sanitation.

It seems to be a rather like randomly attempting a range of wild approaches with the ambition that one of them might, at some point, find something out that is useful.
I don't work for anyone, I am a philosopher interested to think about how we think about WASH and sanitation. All thoughts are mine alone, I am responsible for any errors.

Previously trained and worked as a Soil Scientist and worked on projects composting sewage sludge.
Last Edit: 21 Nov 2013 09:44 by joeturner.

Re: NYT critique 21 Nov 2013 10:12 #6480

  • muench
  • CONTACT
  • Moderator
  • Freelance consultant (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer)
  • Posts: 692
  • Likes received: 223
  • Karma: 19
Dear Isis,

No need to shoot the messenger, this is a very good article in the New York Times. I probably would have written it in much the same way...What would have been ideal is if the author had mentioned that all these projects are open for discussion here on the forum...

For example, the two "high tech" ones that were mentioned in the article were discussed here on the forum:

And the two "low tech" examples have also been discussed on the forum recently:

And we have had a very big discussion here on the forum about the merits and demerits of the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge of the BMGF in general:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/139-ge...oilet-challenge-rttc
(with 22,000 views and 47 replies!)

So I think it's definetely a topic that can be (and should be) hotly debated...

I also have my reservations about the "high tech toilets", particular in terms of maintenance issues. But I think the point of these grants is mainly to get top-scientists and engineers to turn their attention to the neglected topic of sanitation in general - where it has never crossed their minds before to do any reserch in this field. And who knows, amongst all the whacky ideas, there could be a real gem somewhere. And/or maybe it really will not benefit the poorest of the poor (who are better served with simple Peepoo bags?), but maybe it will serve the second or third lowest quintile of wealth? Who knows, time will tell.

One thing is for sure: the added media attention that Bill Gates & Co. (and the grants made by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) have managed to generate for solving the sanitation crisis and for using solutions that include resource recovery is pretty amazing and can only help us all.

As the author of the New York Times article said:
Five years ago, if I’d told people I worked on toilets, they would have surely assumed I was a plumber. Now, they exclaim: “Oh! Isn’t Bill Gates into that?


Regards,
Elisabeth

+++++++++++++
P.S. In my role as moderator, I have merged some earlier posts that are related to this topic into this one thread as I think it fits nicely.
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant
Frankfurt, Germany
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Twitter: @EvMuench
Website: www.ostella.de
Member of SuSanA (www.susana.org)
The following user(s) like this post: cecile, KeithBell

Re: NYT critique 21 Nov 2013 11:03 #6481

  • Florian
  • CONTACT
  • Posts: 203
  • Likes received: 68
  • Karma: 16
Featured User
Jan 2014
muench wrote:
One thing is for sure: the added media attention that Bill Gates & Co. (and the grants made by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) have managed to generate for solving the sanitation crisis and for using solutions that include resource recovery is pretty amazing and can only help us all.

As the author of the New York Times article said:
Five years ago, if I’d told people I worked on toilets, they would have surely assumed I was a plumber. Now, they exclaim: “Oh! Isn’t Bill Gates into that?


Agree, as an awarness raising campaing in rich countries, the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge was certainly hugely successful.

My main critiscim is that this programme reinforces the already widespread but plain wrong perception that technology alone can solve the world's sanitation problems.

About BMGF work in general, it would be interesting to see how it's sanitation budget is spent. My guess is that the budget for these research grants to reinvent the toilet is actually rather small compared to BMGF's other sanitation programmes, but that it recieved far more attention by media and ourselves than the other larger programmes.
Florian Klingel
Water and Sanitation Specialist at Skat Consulting Ltd.
Last Edit: 21 Nov 2013 11:04 by Florian.

Re: NYT critique - Article in New York Times: Bill Gates Can’t Build a Toilet 21 Nov 2013 11:04 #6482

  • JKMakowka
  • CONTACT
  • IWRM, WASH and rural development specialist
  • Posts: 422
  • Likes received: 106
  • Karma: 15
Featured User
Sep 2013
While the critic is definitely justified, I do like the fact that the BMGF's Reinvent the Toilet Programme is looking beyond "just" scaling up existing technology.

Florian is right that "upscaling" is what is needed and also that there are plenty of existing solutions, but there is a last missing component which in my opinion is not yet addressed: Having a desirable and affordable solution that "scales up itself" while still taking feces treatment seriously.
In my experience, the only sanitation "solutions" that are increasing in number by actual demand are currently "flush and forget" toilets.

As nice as EcoSan solutions etc. are, they are currently not really desirable for the typical potential user and thus will not get installed without heavy subsidy.

So what we need is a affordable technology product that functions as a EcoSan, but is as desirable as a flush-toilet.

That said, none of the Reinvent the Toilet solutions so far fit that description in every aspect.
Krischan Makowka
Technical Adviser at the Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network (UWASNET)
www.uwasnet.org
Last Edit: 21 Nov 2013 11:11 by JKMakowka.
  • Page:
  • 1
  • 2
Time to create page: 0.64 seconds