Combating the ‘toilet challenge’ with science
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The department of biotechnology and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded grants to six teams of scientists and entrepreneurs to build a next-generation toilet.
Poor sanitation contributes to 1.5 million child deaths from diarrhoea each year with a large proportion coming from India, where 615 million people defecate in the open. Even with the existence of toilets, there are millions of tonnes of faecal sludge that is left untreated. The six teams, chosen from 108 applicants, were selected on Saturday to combat the sanitation part of the problem.
The “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge: India” is a an effort to fund Indian researchers to develop innovative, affordable and scalable sanitation technologies. The biotechnology department and the Gates Foundation have invested a combined $2 million, equally split, to support Indian investigators to drive research, development, and production of “next-generation toilets.”
“My team’s long-term aim is to build a community toilet, where the human waste can be collected and then using Black Soldier Fly Larvae, the solid waste can be rid of pathogens retaining only the proteins and fat, which can later work as cost-effective feed for poultry, fish and swine,” said Sudipta Sarkar, an assistant professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, who was one of the grant winners.