Think poop is funny? Well, it’s DEADLY SERIOUS. Here are the unsavory facts about poor sanitation infrastructure, according to the Gates Foundation: 2.6 billion lack access to safe toilets. Food and water that's come in contact with waste leads to 2.5 billion cases of diarrhea in children each year, and 1.5 million of them die as a result. People with diseases connected to poor sanitation fill half of the hospital beds in the developing world. So the Gates Foundation is trying to polish this turd by developing the next generation of toilet.
If you watch the video above (which you should! It's funny!), you'll find that the Gates Foundation is taking a cheeky approach to publicizing its new campaign to design "Toilet 2.0." But they're serious about this effort, too. The foundation is putting $41.5 million into developing better toilet technology to turn human waste into energy, fertilizer, and clean water.
The foundation's approach is to fund scientists working to develop better models for sanitation, get those ideas to a place where they can be spread far and wide, and advocate for better sanitation policies. Some of the ideas the foundation is funding are far out there: one idea is to build pit latrines with biodegradable bricks that will help the entire thing decompose once it's filled. Another is to change poop into "fortified fertilizer pellets." Another involves incorporate fly traps into latrines to keep poop-loving flies from spreading diseases. But if we described your toilet as “a ceramic bowl that flushes waste into communal receptacles using water,” it might sound weird too.