A $350 toilet powered by worms may be the ingenious future of sanitation that Bill Gates has been dreaming about..

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  • fppirco
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Re: A $350 toilet powered by worms may be the ingenious future of sanitation that Bill Gates has been dreaming about..

A $350 toilet powered by worms may be the ingenious future of sanitation that Bill Gates has been dreaming about
www.businessinsider.com/bill-gates-found...g6d1gUt2cPbNgf2cIjXw
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Re: Bill Gates toilet design competition

Hi Tore,
Thanks for posting the link to the newspaper article in the Atlanta GA newspaper. It seems to be a well researched article by Christopher Quinn.

I have moved your forum post into this existing thread so that you (and others) can see previous discussions we have had about this initiative by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Our discussions go back to 2013, and even to 2012 in this earlier thread:
forum.susana.org/139-information-about-b...oilet-challenge-rttc

Our discussions always revolved around the issues of high costs and high technical complexity. I think their current market segment that they are targeting are people not connected to a sewer but not the poorest of the society either. Maybe the prime target being lowish to middle class households, schools or public toilets in India (?).

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  • Tore
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Re: Bill Gates toilet design competition

A recent article in the Atlanta GA newspaper about the next phase of the Bill Gates toilet design. It does emphasize that the cost must be low, though I think that $450 for each toilet is high. Hopefully they will recommend a simple and inexpensive toilet. Some of the previous designs that came from the foundation were very technical and not appropriate for developing countries.

Georgia Tech engineers head Gates-fueled mission to tackle sewage
Ga. Tech-led team, funded by Bill Gates, looks to solve 3rd-world sewage problem
Goal is to design cheap, self-contained toilet free of sewer connection.
By Christopher Quinn
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See full article here:
www.ajc.com/news/scientists-sent-people-...bvxfru2GwaAX6BSoIMP/
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Re: Article in New York Times: Bill Gates Can’t Build a Toilet - and After 10 Years few pay-offs from Gates's Grand Challenges

The beauty of being Gates foundation is – (newspaper) noise is not that important.

From my point of view the learning curve of the Gates foundation is very impressive (I can remember very well the conference we had in Delft in 2007 (SYMPOSIUM : SANITATION FOR THE URBAN POOR). This curve is very well above many other organizations and nowadays the doing of the Gates organization is influencing the behavior of other organizations in the sector towards a stronger view to off grid solutions - which is good.

Especially in my favorite area – the institutional setting for non sewer solutions the advances are remarkable. I agree with everyone who says – a lot of money spend on solutions or proposals I would not see successful -but I think much better spend than on centralized sewer solutions which can only serve a handful of people as we have seen always (and still see).

So I would say from what is able to see from outside – a lot of very good potential and good approaches. I do appreciate the work.

Christoph

Disclaimer: I do not and did not receive any money from the Gates foundation
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  • arno
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Re: Article in New York Times: Bill Gates Can’t Build a Toilet - and After 10 Years few pay-offs from Gates's Grand Challenges

Seems most people (especially the press) miss the whole purpose of research funding. The point is to advance the stepping stones of knowledge, understanding and learning. Without that there will never be large scale implementation and sustainable development. And failures are just as important as successes in that process. If one were to examine all the research projects across the world funded by the hundreds of agencies spending bilions of dollars each year, very few of these projects have led to instant upscaling. So when it comes to the sanitation sector, it is the probing and discussion between interested parties for example through this very discussion Forum where learning and further discovery can take place. So keep the questions coming.
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Re: Article in New York Times: Bill Gates Can’t Build a Toilet - and After 10 Years few pay-offs from Gates's Grand Challenges

Is this about grants/money in the WASH sector, or is this about getting people to rethink their sanitation concept and to invest in an upgrade?

What about the other billions that already have a toilet but would still like to upgrade to a high-tech solution? I never see this side of the medal being addressed, we only ever talk about the billions without any sanitary facilities.
Juergen Eichholz
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Toilets in Frankfurt/Main www.facebook.com/ffmtoi
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  • AquaVerde
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Re: Article in New York Times: Bill Gates Can’t Build a Toilet - and After 10 Years few pay-offs from Gates's Grand Challenges

This complains about limited R&D results are soooo „normal“ … :dry:

Because, if you are most of the time looking for survival, most results are very limited and just part of permanent raising campaigns and justifications for further R&D-demands = money. Solution-orientated R&D can not be generated just by supplying more money!

In my educated guessing: real solutions will generate more money for more solution-orientated R&D’s and so one.

And by the way, many decades of global & local socio-economic injustices you can not be overcome just by better toilets & sanitation & capacity building & shaming-blaming (CLTS) and so on…
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Re: Article in New York Times: Bill Gates Can’t Build a Toilet - and After 10 Years few pay-offs from Gates's Grand Challenges

Seems to me that the problem is even more fundamental than that, Cor. Unless there have been parameters set for what would be considered 'success', I can't see how it is possible to say whether the programme has been a success or not.

If success is simply measured by press and the number of projects looking at a range of different ideas, I think it is hard to say it is really a failure. I don't know that anything has ever had the level of press coverage that the Gates projects have had before.
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Re: Article in New York Times: Bill Gates Can’t Build a Toilet - and After 10 Years few pay-offs from Gates's Grand Challenges

Without access to formal evaluation studies it is difficult for outsiders to really know how effective the Gates sanitation programme is - so far the foundation has awarded 220 WASH grants . The website does mention that programme's focus is much broader than just technology alone, as it includes "Urban Sanitation Markets, Building Demand for Sanitation, Policy and Advocacy, and Monitoring and Evaluation".

The Gates Foundation is "maturing" as a sanitation donor, but still has some way to go in terms of transparency and accountability. This despite their intentions in 2011 when the new HQ building arose "with benches, bike racks, an outdoor screen for video art and a viewing pavilion for the public to look in on the inner campus", so that the foundation would "feel transparent to people when they came here".
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Article in New York Times: Bill Gates Can’t Build a Toilet - and After 10 Years few pay-offs from Gates's Grand Challenges

There was an interesting article in the Seattle Times on 20 December 2014 entitled:

After 10 years, few payoffs from Gates’ ‘Grand Challenges’
Despite an investment of $1 billion, none of the projects funded under the Gates Foundation’s “Grand Challenges” banner has yet made a significant contribution to saving lives and improving health in the developing world.


Full article:
seattletimes.com/html/localnews/20252792....VKudQxuSMWx.twitter

It fits into this discussion thread where we had discussed these issues in the past.

I found it interesting that toilets and sanitation was mentioned quite prominently in this article (even though the Grand Challenges grants cover a large range of topics). E.g. here:

When several Gates-funded, high-tech toilets were installed in the Indian city of Raichur last year, at a cost of about $8,000 each, residents refused to use them. Many of the other toilet prototypes funded through Grand Challenges are so complex, with solar panels and combustion chambers, they would never prove practical, said Jason Kass, founder of Toilets for People, a company that sells simple, composting toilets to nonprofits in the developing world.

“If the many failed development projects of the past 60 years have taught us anything, it’s that complicated, imported solutions do not work,” Kass wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed entitled “Bill Gates Can’t Build a Toilet.”

But senior program officer Doulaye Koné said the foundation is looking beyond technology this time. The goal is to mass-produce the toilets to bring the price down, then foster a self-sustaining system in which private companies install and service the units for a small fee.

Those toilets in India mentioned in the article actually link to here:
www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-nationa...s/article4764796.ece

And this surprises me because it is the e-toilets which I thought had been successful overall, see this discussion thread:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/170-pu...cientific-india#3663

Perhaps the non-use was an isolated case.

And there is also this part of the article that mentions toilets:

But five years in, Gates said he could see that it would be at least another decade before even the most promising of those projects paid off.

Not only did he underestimate some of the scientific hurdles, Gates said. He and his team also failed to adequately consider what it would take to implement new technologies in countries where millions of people lack access to basic necessities such as clean water and medical care.

While continuing to support a handful of the “big science” projects, the foundation in 2008 introduced a program of small, highly focused grants called Grand Challenges Explorations.

With headline-grabbing goals like condoms that feel good and waste-to-energy toilets, the explorations initiative has probably garnered more media attention than anything else the giant philanthropy has undertaken.

But none of those projects has yet borne fruit, either.


What I like is that there is no glossing over these facts, the difficulties are openly being acknowlegded. With regards to toilets, some of us may secretly think "told you so!" but in any case, these are long-term efforts and time will tell. One thing it has achieved for sure is to raise the attention that the media is paying to sanitation these days.

Regards,
Elisabeth
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  • AquaVerde
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Re: "PLASMA-toilette"!?

(note by moderator: moved to here from another thread)

Dear Hans,

Thanks for the video.


I found an old comment on the mentioned R&D project "PLASMA-toilette", I am "endorsing" and like to share with you:

Rickland Neal Ungerleider 2 years ago

Bill and Melinda Gates truely are American heros of our time. And this sounds like a super endeavor but, curious to know how much $ will it cost to make one of these Super Toilets. With 45 million pledged for producing these toilets, how many will that make? Do they come with detailed "How to Use" instructions? Hydrogen Fuel Cells need security teams, right? Just playing Devil's Advocate.
Rickland,RS


www.fastcoexist.com/1678292/the-toilet-o...turn-poop-into-power
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  • dorothee.spuhler
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Re: NYT critique - Article in New York Times: Bill Gates Can’t Build a Toilet

Dear Elisabeth and Florian

To deliver a product successfully to its client has always to do with technology. But of course there many other things and at least with the guidelines for the RTTC grants, the technology had to be designed accordingly to the user needs and not the user needs accordingly to the technology product…
However, I think we all agree that there are many other issues to serves these 2.5 bio people and that these people do include different customer segments.

I think the foundation can also learn and is open for suggestions from the community (us :) on how to direct their strategy and there are grants addressing product design as much as technology development (see for instance: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/106-us...tzerland-and-austria) or management issues (forum.susana.org/forum/categories/97-ena...n-dakar-senegal-onas)…

Anyhow, Florian, you asked how much money actually has been spent for the RTTC grants compared to the whole WASH strategy of the foundation…
When we posted an article in SSP last year, we wrote

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) committed more than USD 265 million to the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector during the period 2006 to 2011

(Elisabeth got the number, I do not remember where you find it online anymore).

But I tried to make some additional calculations based (based on the foundations' database which is actually public: www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quic...n%2C%20and%20Hygiene).
Grants in the WASH category, 2013 only: 50 million $ (34 projects).
Total grants grants to be discussed on the forum (not only 2013): 95 bio $ (approx 90 projects)
From them, RTTC: 20 bio $ a (12 projects).
GCE (which are also rather technology focused…): approx 5 bio $ (approx. 60 projects)
The rest (70 bio $) is for only (!) 22 projects in the category “OTHERSs” and most of them (not exclusively) do have another aspect then technology in their main focus.. :)

So let’s hope these efforts contribute to solve the sanitation and water crisis and keep on discussing them and giving them inputs here on the forum :)


Have nice day, Dorothee
WG1 Co-lead
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