The Gates Foundation Aims to Reinvent the Toilet

September 15, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. reinvent (v.) [ree-in-vent] – to remake something (e.g., a product, etc.) into a completely new version
Example: The company reinvented its brand to appeal to young customers.

2. sanitation (n.) [san-i-tey-shuhn] – the disposal of waste (liquid or solid) carried off in sewers or drains
Example: Local officials are trying to solve the village’s sanitation problem.

3. hygiene (n.) [hahy-jeen] – cleanliness that aims to preserve health and prevent the spread of disease
Example: Good hygiene prevents a person from getting sick.

4. developing country (n.) [dih-vel-uh-ping] [kuhn-tree] – a country that is poor but wants to be more economically and socially advanced
Example: Life can be hard for people who live in a developing country.

5. remarkable (adj.) [ri-mahr-kuh-buhl] – worthy of notice; extraordinary and unusual
Example: Ana’s performance on the last exam was remarkable.

Read the text below.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched a $41.5 million project to get someone to reinvent the toilet.

A study from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that 1.5 billion children die every year due to diarrhea caused by lack of toilet access.

According to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the foundation's global development program, the design of toilets is limited especially for poor countries.

Frank Rijsberman, the foundation's director of water sanitation and hygiene, said that building a toilet requires water and a sewer system, which are costly and not always available in developing countries. In addition, toilet systems do not eliminate the dangerous substances in human waste. For these reasons, the foundation aims to come up with an affordable toilet that can recycle both waste and water.

Project participants, mostly university students and researchers, have showed some remarkable ideas, which include making a toilet that would recover water and salt from feces and urine, sanitize human waste within 24 hours, and produce electricity and solar power from it.

The Foundation believes, however, that changing the design of toilets alone cannot solve hygiene-related problems if water treatment and sanitation systems in these countries do not improve.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

·         What are the common types of toilet found in your country?
·         Do you think toilet design is important? Explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         What are the usual causes of sanitation problems?
·         What other ways can you think of to solve sanitation problems?

September 15, 2011