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  • I want to talk to you today about toilets.

  • In rich countries you just take the toilet for granted.

  • It's magical that there is a sewer system bringing water in,

  • taking away the waste and it all gets cleaned up in a processing plant.

  • However, for the poorest two and a half billion in the world,

  • they don't have this.

  • It's unaffordable.

  • We can't build that for everyone in the world.

  • For some of the poorest, their toilet may look like this:

  • a pit latrine.

  • The waste here is not processed.

  • It's still going to get out into the community.

  • They smell terrible!

  • But everybody should have great sanitation.

  • A toilet in their house that is comfortable and doesn't smell awful.

  • Not only does a toilet make your life comfortable,

  • getting rid of that waste is key to human health.

  • It's unprocessed waste that causes most of the diarrheal diseases.

  • It ends up with lots of kids being malnourished.

  • So how do we solve this?

  • Well some scientists that I work with

  • said that we should challenge the world

  • to come up with a way of taking the waste and processing it locally.

  • We call this the program to reinvent the toilet.

  • Several reinvented toilets are being tested right now in Durban, South Africa.

  • Durban's a good place to run these tests

  • because the city is growing fast,

  • and many people there don't have modern sanitation

  • which means that even if they have access to a toilet,

  • the waste can get into the environment and make people sick.

  • A typical toilet needs water,

  • but many of the new approaches don't require any water at all.

  • Some of them don't need electricity either.

  • Others run on solar power.

  • All of them remove the pathogens from the waste.

  • And most importantly,

  • they don't have to be connected to the city sewer system.

  • I'm optimistic that eventually we'll find approaches

  • that make great sanitation available to everyone.

I want to talk to you today about toilets.

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