Dry Flush ToiletsDry flush toilets is a term that likely conjures up images of unsanitary, foul-smelling contraptions. But, in reality, they are quite the opposite. Revolutionary and effective, they have even caught the eyes of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a promising solution to the life-threatening sanitation-related diseases, such as cholera and diarrhea. These diseases are faced by the 2.4 billion people around the world who still lack access to clean running water.

How do Dry Flush Toilets Work?

Multiple companies have developed dry flush toilets. Perhaps the most notable development is Cranfield University’s Nano Membrane Toilet.

First developed in 2014, the toilet “flushes” by using a waterless rotating scraping mechanism that separates solid waste from liquid waste. Nanofibers, arranged in bunches inside the chamber, then help to condense the water vapor generated by the urine. They condense it into a tube that eventually flows to a tank externally connected to the toilet. By then the water will have been thoroughly filtered and, as a result, is then suitable for everyday use.

Solid waste, on the other hand, is transported into a combustor. This converts them into energy and ash, via a mechanical screw. The energy then powers the toilet’s future “flushes.” The energy can also charge electronics.

Award-Winning Functionality

Dry flush toilets are designed for daily usage. It can accommodate up to ten individuals daily. The toilets are manufactured at the cost of $2,500 per unit. They can last for up to ten years. The product is still undergoing product and product implementation testing. Researchers have reported promising results from their first phase testing in 2014. They conducted the phase in Ghana. According to their survey, “people seemed very open to most of the concepts around the toilet.”

Since the beginning of its development, the ingenious invention has received an accolade of prestigious awards including the Kiran and Pallavi Patel Grand Innovation Award as well as the Excellence in the Field of Environmental Technology Research from the CleanEquity Monaco.


The most prominent challenge facing the implementation of dry flush toilets in developing countries is likely scalability. Communities that choose to implement the contraption would have to have a team of specially-trained technicians to safely maintain the toilets.

Another question is regarding how the toilets would be distributed. Currently, the best path is to rent them to households at either a monthly or weekly rate. This is an approach that companies with similar products employ, such as Loowatt’s waterless toilet. Renting these other products has reflected great success.

In addition, the team is working to make the toilet more affordable, with a goal of a final cost of five cents per person per day.

Another anticipated challenge to dry flush toilets is overcoming cultural barriers. While most Africans prefer Western-style seat toilets, squat toilets are far more common and desirable in Asia.

An Innovation to Aid Impoverished Communities

Conclusively, although still emerging from the prototype phase, dry flush toilets very much so have the potential to change millions of lives within a short period of time from implementation. By ensuring that every individual on this planet has reliable access to a flushing toilet, millions of bases of water-borne diseases can be avoided each year.

– Linda Yan
Photo: Flickr

Gates Plans to Eradicate Malaria

Bill Gates is currently the second richest person in the world, with a net worth of $95 billion. But he also has a reputation for humanitarianism. As one of the world’s leading philanthropists, Gates is widely considered to be the most prominent humanitarian public figure. Together, he and his wife established The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a private, charitable foundation that globally combats poverty and enhances healthcare. Now, Gates plans to eradicate malaria by 2040.

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite, commonly transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes. While malaria occurs in roughly 100 countries, it is most common in tropical and subtropical regions. To this end, the disease is common in regions of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Upon contracting malaria, a person will exhibit symptoms resembling the flu. And if left untreated, malaria can be fatal. However, this is largely preventable.

According to the World Health Organization, there were 207 million cases of malaria reported in 2012. Approximately 627,000 of these cases resulted in death. Significantly, roughly 90 percent of these estimated deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa and 77 percent in children under 5 years of age. Given these statistics, the mortality rate of malaria is incredibly slight, at around 0.003 percent. Therefore, malaria does not have to result in death and, moreover, may be prevented entirely. And as Gates plans to eradicate malaria, this possibility may soon become reality.

What’s the Plan?

At the Malaria Summit London 2018, the Gates Foundation pledged to invest $1 billion through 2023 to end malaria. To date, the Gates Foundation has committed $1.6 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Additionally, it has committed almost $2 billion in grants to eradicate the disease. At the summit, Gates states, “It’s a disease that is preventable, treatable and ultimately beatable, but progress against malaria is not inevitable. We hope today marks a turning point against the disease.”

Malaria is not a mystery anymore. Cures and vaccinations already exist to combat the disease. There is a solution, it simply needs funding. Between 2000 and 2012, malaria incidence rates declined 25 percent globally. By establishing protocol, proper resources can render malaria a manageable issue. While this is no small order, Gates plans to eradicate malaria and has the capability to fund it. Undoubtedly, this will leave an indelible, positive mark on the fight for better healthcare and war against global poverty.

Lacy Rab
Photo: Flickr

Malaria Box May Hold the Key to Defeating Malaria
In order to jump-start research on drug treatments, the Gates Foundation, the Medicines for Malaria Venture and GlaxoSmithKline put together a “Malaria Box” in 2012. The Malaria Box is a collection of 400 different compounds that are known to combat malaria in some way.

More specifically, 200 of the compounds are supposed to act like drugs and would directly be used in developing more effective oral drug treatment. The other 200 act more like biological probes that, if applied correctly in malaria research, could allow researchers to make important observations about the behavior of malaria.

Malaria is a widespread disease to which nearly half the world population is at risk. There were about 214 million cases in 2015, resulting in 438,000 deaths. Of this group, young children were particularly susceptible.

More effective drug treatments for malaria are imperative. Current treatments involve prescribing many drugs to be taken over a number of days. Sometimes patients are not able to receive the full treatment of drugs. Not only does this lead to continuing infection, but an incomplete treatment also contributes to the rise of multi-drug resistant malaria. The fact that malaria parasites continue to evolve poses an obstacle to developing drugs that will consistently work in the future.

The Malaria Box was given as part of a grant to 17 research projects in order to accelerate malaria research. After a few years, these research teams yielded positive results in the battle against malaria. Some researchers have tried to identify weak points to attack in the malaria parasite. For example, Dr. Jacquin Niles of MIT is trying to isolate genes particularly susceptible to attack by conducting tests on genetically modified parasites.

Dr. Jake Baum of the Imperial College of London is studying compounds that could block malaria transmission. He is researching whether molecular compounds that do not remain in the bloodstream for as long as other anti-malaria drugs can still effectively combat malaria.

After the success of the Malaria Box, other projects to distribute sets of compounds have been started. The ReFRAME library at the California Institute for Biomedical Research contains more than 10,000 compounds that are known to combat various diseases. Giving researchers access to these sets of compounds provides them with a strong and focused starting point from which to conduct their studies.

Edmond Kim

Photo: Flickr

Diseases Gates Foundation
According to a journal published in the Gastroenterology Section of the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, enteric and diarrheal diseases are the leading causes of death in young children under five years old. Of this age group, diarrhea occurs approximately 2.5 billion times each year resulting in the fatality of nearly 15 percent. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aspires to eliminate enteric and diarrheal diseases by 2030, including typhoid in children under five by 2035. The World Health Organization (WHO) also reports that diarrheal related illnesses are the leading cause of malnutrition for children under five.

The Gates Foundation is committed to serving and advocating the lives of the world’s poor by improving health care, education and other areas that could dramatically impact the quality of life for billions. The foundation’s goal for this initiative is “We believe that all children — no matter where they live — should not suffer or die from enteric (gastrointestinal) and diarrheal infections.”

Understanding the development of children across the world can help prevent and reverse the issues of growth stunting caused by environmental enteric dysfunctionalities in young children under five. Improving socioeconomic conditions is a crucial component for the Gates Foundation to reduce these illnesses. Children will have better access to health care and treatment, and the improvement in the accessibility of clean and sanitized water and hygiene will help to significantly reduce the likelihood of occurrence.

The Gates Foundation is primarily focused on providing safe, effective and affordable vaccines to children in vulnerable countries where these illnesses are more prevalent. The Gates Foundation also invests in quality research aimed at improving case management and delivering treatment for children in medically vulnerable countries.

Currently, there are safe and effective vaccines available for rotavirus and cholera. WHO recommended that these vaccinations be included in national immunizations. Affordable treatments such as oral rehydration solutions, zinc supplements and antibiotics to treat dysentery could also prevent enteric and diarrheal diseases in young children. Breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life, personal and household hygiene improvements, access to safe and reliable drinking water and improved sanitation help reduce the development of gastrointestinal infections.

Gastrointestinal research is a growing field of study and is beneficial in understanding neurocognitive development and how to support physical growth. Promising opportunities have been made possible through research on gut microbiome, immune system and gut barrier to test and further the development of inventions that seek to prevent and reverse growth stunting.

Although advancements in research are occurring, not nearly enough political attention, adequate funding and thorough research go toward the alleviation of enteric and diarrheal diseases. This is partially due to the fact that the impact of these fatal illnesses has largely gone unnoticed in the international community.

Additionally, the lack of critical information on the pathogens and the environmental factors that cause theses pathogens limit proactive progress toward eliminating these devastating gastrointestinal illnesses.

The good news is that action and awareness can yield a more positive result in fighting against these diseases and essentially lower the number of lives they take.

Haylee M. Gardner

Photo: Flickr

Donations from billionaires
According to the Brookings Institute, in some developing nations the help of the richest billionaire in the country would be enough to drastically reduce poverty. This model is based on the respective billionaire donating at least half of their fortune.

For example, the generosity of just one billionaire would probably be enough to boost the economy of the tiny African country of Swaziland. If this model were applied in Swaziland, Colombia and Georgia, poverty within these struggling countries would be nearly eradicated.

It is worth noting that this ideology would not work in the same way in every country. While the poverty rate will always fall with donations from billionaires, the amount would vary. Some countries in Africa may be harder to impact significantly due to “the depth of poverty” and high prices on the continent.

The Brookings Institute model not only looks at potential donations from the richest billionaire in a country, but in places with multiple billionaires they could collaborate and work together to reduce poverty. The more donations from billionaires that are received, the more people who will rise above the global poverty line.

Bill Gates’ Giving Pledge, which encourages billionaires to give away much of their earnings to charity, follows a similar model. Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg also pledged to donate 99 percent of his income to poverty reducing efforts and other charitable campaigns.

In addition to donating, billionaires may also be wise to invest in poor nations, as a boost in the economy of the country would likely cause a major increase in the number of consumers of foreign goods and services. Stronger economies result in an increased number of markets.

If billionaires around the world chip in to boost their local economies, the global wealth gap will decrease as the amount of consumption.

Carrie Robinson

Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in Bihar
Bihar is one of the poorest states in India as approximately 55 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. There is an overwhelming need for quality health care facilities and workers in this region. In the past ten years, the World Bank Group and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have made great strides toward the improvement of healthcare in Bihar.

The World Bank’s collaboration with the Bihar Government led to an increase in the accountability and accessibility of healthcare from 2005 to 2008. By 2008, the number of outpatients visiting a government hospital grew from 39 per month to almost 4,500. The number of babies delivered in healthcare facilities also increased from some 100,000 to 780,000.

Bihar’s infant and maternal mortality rates are higher than India’s national average. According to the Sample Registration Survey in India conducted in 2013, 208 women per 100,000 died during childbirth. Furthermore, 28 out of every 1,000 newborns die within their first month of life.

Most of these deaths are preventable if basic care is provided to women and newborns during and immediately following childbirth. Unfortunately, the infrastructure of healthcare in Bihar falls short in nearly all required categories, including the number of health assistants and nurses.

According to the Huffington Post, there are not enough nurses in Bihar to allow for lengthy off-site training to prepare nurses for treatment of postpartum hemorrhage or premature births while also keeping health facilities adequately staffed.

In order to improve maternal health and newborn care, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation along with the Bihar Government launched a Mobile Nurse Mentoring Program called AMANAT.

Through AMANAT, nurses in public health facilities are mentored on-site by mobile nurse mentors, who ensure that basic standards of care are provided for pregnant women and newborns.

The program has greatly improved healthcare in Bihar for women and children before and after deliveries since its implementation in 2012. A few of these improvements include:

  • The administration of the correct use of oxytocin to induce labor has increased from 9 percent to 59 percent.
  • The use of sterile instruments by nurses during deliveries has increased from 13 percent to 43 percent.
  • The implementation of mothers breastfeeding has increased from 49 percent to 72 percent.

The number of stillbirths declined from 19 to 12 per 1,000 live births due to improvements in basic care practices. AMANAT was implemented in 160 public health facilities across Bihar and is expected to be administered in 240 over the course of this year.

There is a long way to go in creating a stable system of healthcare in Bihar. However, these crucial improvements made by the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Bihar’s Government have saved and will continue to save countless maternal and newborn lives.

Kristyn Rohrer

Photo: World Bank

Global gender data gapThe Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced in May that it will donate $80 million to reduce the global gender data gap. This donation will contribute to meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Current data collection standards do not adequately record women’s economic and social information in developing countries.

According to a press release by the organization, “a lack of comprehensive, current information about women and girls, especially in developing countries, hinders efforts to advance gender equality.” In order to achieve the health, educational and social proposals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, world entities need access to accurate information about women everywhere. Closing the global gender data gap would provide that information.

The New York Times reports that standards for collecting data are gender-biased. These standards also fail to account for the complexity of women’s global situations. For example, many traditional surveys do not count female-led households in the same way as male-led households. They do not fairly count women who are homemakers or caretakers. Surveyors might end an interview after documenting “homemaker” as a woman’s primary activity, even if she has other economic occupations.

According to the same New York Times article, surveyors only collect about 30 percent of women’s economic activity. On the other hand, surveyors collect 75 percent of men’s activity. Statistics like this compelled the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to improve data collection methods. Entities such as the United Nations Foundation and the U. S. Department of State have also joined them.

The funding will support the creation of effective training techniques and improved tools for people who work with data. Tools like the Population Council’s Girl Roster Toolkit can provide those who collect and analyze data with holistic perspectives about issues girls suffer from globally and how they must properly document them. The Girl Roster also connects the world’s neediest young women with services in their areas.

In order to keep governments and politicians accountable to use the new and improved data, organizations like Avenir Health’s Track20 will help governments connect with women worldwide in order to give women access to family planning services.

The good news is that data gaps are already closing for women. According to the New York Times, the number of mothers dying during childbirth has dropped more than 40 percent worldwide. Similar statistics show much progress, but others show the need for more work to completely close the global gender data gap.

With the help of sponsors like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the work of data analysts and cooperative governments, the world can continue to give women everywhere the chances they need to live whole and happy lives.

Addie Pazzynski

Photo: Flickr

FC Barcelona, Global Citizen, Gates Foundation Unite to Combat Poverty
Although athletics are intended to be competitive, they have a unique way of bringing people together; a shared love for that game or passion for a team unites people across the globe. The most universally uniting sport, however, must be soccer.

Almost every kid ever participated in peewee soccer – remember the oranges at halftime? The game is played all over the world, professionally, collegiately and friendly. The international phenomenon is a simple concept (kick ball, score goal), perhaps one of the main reasons for its timeless universal success.

Soccer is global, and as one of the greatest teams in professional soccer, F.C. Barcelona is globally recognized for its international fan base and crazy-talented players, like Lionel Messi. Barcelona, however, is not solely praised for its talent on the field. The team is also receiving well-deserved credit for its efforts to end global poverty.

The F.C. Barcelona Foundation was founded in 1994 and gives Barcelona the opportunity to give back globally. All projects developed by the organization are centered on sports and promote quality education and positive values. The efforts of the organization benefit children and adolescents of Catalonia and the world.

The recently announced partnership between the F.C. Barcelona Foundation, Global Citizen and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will empower people to take action to end extreme global poverty.

These three major powerhouses will surely make a profound difference in many lives and raise awareness about the realities of poverty. The partnership will work in alignment with the United Nations Development Goals to eradicate poverty by 2030.

Sports have the unique ability to unite people from all walks of life. Mix that with advocacy and activism – a real game-changer. Together, Barcelona, Global Citizen and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation unite to change the world and encourage others to play hard against poverty.

Barcelona just scored a stellar goal.

Sarah Sheppard

Sources: Global Citizen, FC Barcelona
Photo: FCFoundation

gates_foundationThrough innovation and funding, Kenyan bitcoin startup Bitsoko promises to revamp the way commerce is conducted in bustling markets in Nairobi and cities across Africa. The company has invented a digital wallet that employs blockchain technology to allow a smoother, cheaper transfer of funds between individuals.

Used in Bitcoin, blockchain technology saves and encrypts transaction records that allow for safe, speedy monetary transactions at a low cost.

This form of technology expands access to financial services for merchants and their customers. For sellers, such programming allows them to view and track customer payments while aggregating this data to produce complete financial and stock records, customer invoices and receipts, financial statements, and tax returns.

The acceleration of blockchain technology will also make transferring funds between individuals cheaper, encouraging mobile commerce.

Developments such as this will provide an alternative to inconvenient, slow transactions using cash or credit cards and will follow at the heels of the economic boom occurring in Africa. Such technology will foster economic growth and pair customers with suitable goods and services in a more efficient way.

According to Allan Juma, co-founder of Bitsoko, the brand hopes to be a leader in mobile finances, noting how “the financial structure in Kenya and throughout Africa has changed rapidly since the birth of mobile money by M-Pesa. We believe that this will only continue to grow”.

The company has recently attracted attention from international investors and organizations as well. It was recently awarded $100,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the Global Challenges Explorations, an initiative providing support to groups working toward solutions to global problems.

Programs such as this one provide an incentive for entrepreneurs who have experienced societal challenges to develop efficient, sustainable strategies for improvement.

With its GCE funding, Bitsoko plans on expanding its access internationally, bringing mobile banking services to Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Sierra Leone in a project co-founder Daniel Bloch has named “Enable Universal Acceptance of Mobile Money Payments”.

Bringing this technology to new countries will spur economic growth and technological innovation that has been heating up Africa in recent years. With increased transactional accessibility, sellers can expect to create a larger, more diverse consumer base and enhanced output.

Partnerships between international organizations such as the Gates Foundation and local businesses can lead to far-reaching global solutions that empower entrepreneurs and their communities.

Jenny Wheeler

Sources: Disrupt Africa, Grand Challenges in Global Health, Bitsoko
Photo: Coin Telegraph

The Islamic Development Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have teamed up to launch a new $2.5 billion sharia-compliant fund targeting extreme poverty in the Middle East. By partnering with the world’s richest charitable institution, the IDB hopes to successfully combat poverty in the Islamic world.

Although the Middle East is home to some of the richest countries worldwide, it also includes some of the world’s poorest, such as Burkina Faso and Chad. Additionally, some countries show a combination of extreme wealth and poverty, such as Egypt and Indonesia. Others are known simply for their extreme violence, like Yemen and Syria.

Without the assistance of a strong partner, regions like these would normally have a much harder time bringing in grants and skills into their territories. Key players hope that the various connections established through the partnership will prove to be even more effective than the partnership itself.

Hassan Al Damluji, head of Middle East Relations at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, recently discussed the Lives and Livelihoods Fund in an interview, stating, “We are engaging Gulf donors who will be around and are sustainable, unlike the Foundation, which is a family fortune and is thus finite.”

Al Damluji went on to explain that one of the key features of the fund is its encouragement of investment from the poor countries themselves. Another essential working part of the fund is that it gives aid linked to the loans taken by recipient countries, so these countries are held accountable for their own development.

The plan is for the fund to finance projects in four different areas: agriculture and food security, primary health care, infectious disease control and eradication, and basic infrastructure. Al Damluji explained that all of these areas represent major drivers of inequality across the globe.

The overarching goal is to maximize the beneficiaries of this partnership, regardless of race, country or religion. With the additional long-term goal of sustainability in mind, the fund will be strategically housed in and administered by the IDB.

So far, the IDB has provided $2 billion, and a remaining $500 million will come from donors over the next five years in the form of grants. Both partners will work together to determine which projects deserve priority. The partners will meet twice annually in order to ensure cooperation and coordination.

The reasoning behind the choice of the four main project areas is that over time, effects like improved health and increased farmer productivity will work to boost economies. The key to understanding the way the new fund will work is to operate from a big picture perspective and to take into account its long-term consequences.

This will be the first major fund of its kind to actually be based in the Middle East. Al Damluji boasted that the fund will also have a bank of shareholders that are not OECD countries and not traditional donors.

Both the IDB and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation understand the necessity of a well-functioning partnership in order to accomplish real change in the Middle East. The new partnership is more important than the fund itself and cooperation is absolutely necessary.

Additionally, both partners understand that two minds are better than one—especially when dealing with such a deeply rooted, complex problem. Together, the IDB and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have raised the bar in the global anti-poverty fight.

Sarah Bernard

Sources: Nonprofit Quarterly, Gulf News
Photo: Time USA Newsweek