Home / News / World /  'Once smelled pit latrine odor,' says Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Know why

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has shared some strange things he has done in his life in a LinkedIn post. The billionaire revealed the bizarre things to mark a post about World Toilet Day, observed on 19 November.

Gates wrote, "I’ve done some weird crap over the years: I drank water from fecal sludge with Jimmy Fallon, shared the stage with a jar of human feces, and smelled pit latrine odor".

He said the antics got a few laughs, but there was a big reason behind it.

The Co-chair at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation added, "My goal has always been to get people to care about an issue that impacts 3.6 billion people: poor sanitation. Thanks to scientists and engineers from around the world, we’re getting closer to new solutions that will prevent disease and illness".

The post also links to a blog post from July 2021, talking about innovations in sanitation projects.


In 2011, the Gates Foundation started the 'Reinvent the Toilet Challenge' wherein it asked researchers "if they could develop safe sanitation solutions that work without relying on sewage systems or running water".

In the decade, scientists and engineers from across the globe developed hundreds of exciting ideas for how to design toilets that safely process human waste with little or no need for water or electricity, the note by Gates mentioned.

The scientists created toilets that convert feces into valuable resources, including fertilizer, clean water, and electricity, Gates said in the blog post.

"Other researchers invented a new system to process fecal sludge from pit latrines, septic tanks, and sewers that turns human waste from entire communities into drinkable water and electricity. These machines, called Omni-processors, can be used to support a fecal sludge treatment plant or complement a waste-water treatment plant. And they require a fraction of the energy, space, and cost that a traditional sewer and wastewater treatment plant require".

According to Gates' blog post, about 3.6 billion people lack toilets or use unsafe sanitation.

Diarrhea and other sanitation-related diseases kill nearly 500,000 children under the age of five every year. And, with an increase in population, the human toll of unsafe sanitation will also go upward.

The United Nations estimates that between now and 2050, the world’s population will grow by two billion people. More than 90 percent of that growth will be concentrated in cities and in developing countries—places that are least likely to have good sanitation.

Therefore, the Gates Foundation belives that solving the sanitation crisis must be given priority.

"To be sure, there are still challenges ahead to bring this innovation...But I’m optimistic about what can be accomplished in the next 10 years and beyond," Gates wrote in 2021.

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