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Bill Gates drinking drinks water derived from human feces and urine, to save thousands of children

Innovation / -

Bill Gates
© Gatesnotes

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, has shown that obtaining safe drinking water from human waste is possible. On his blog Gatesnotes he showed the whole world. Drinking it.

Every new research, every new study shows an increasing need for drinking water, and therefore making it more valuable. In both developing and industrialized Countries, because populations are increasing and water availability is declining for various reasons, from the expansion of arid areas to global warming and the pollution of waterways – both caused by human activity. For this reason there are many organizations that are seeking out solutions, to bring to life an invention, an innovation that can make water a shared and accessible commodity for all.

Gates drinks it
Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and still among the richest men in the world, has given real hope in this regard. On January 5, on his blog Gatesnotes he published a post where he talks about his experience at an "ingenious" plant that can transform human feces and urine into drinking water. And this is not simply a form of promotion or useless exhibitionism. In the related video you see Gates in the flesh drinking that water, without shame or fear.
“I watched the piles of feces go up the conveyer belt and drop into a large bin. They made their way through the machine, getting boiled and treated. A few minutes later I took a long taste of the end result: a glass of delicious drinking water.” A water that is just as good as bottled water.
Omniprocessor is "ingenious"
The system described by Gates is called Omniprocessor and is powered by Janicki Bioenergy, a company in the north of Seattle, in the US, thanks to a contribution received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is why the honorary president of Microsoft decided to check firsthand the effectiveness of the project.
The reason why it is necessary to turn sewage sludge into clean, drinkable water is explained by Gates himself: "A shocking number of people, at least 2 billion, use latrines that aren’t properly drained. Others simply defecate out in the open. The waste contaminates drinking water for millions of people, with horrific consequences: Diseases caused by poor sanitation kill some 700,000 children every year, and they prevent many more from fully developing mentally and physically.”
The prototype will be tested in Senegal
The UN data cited by Gates is embarrassing. Every 2.5 minutes a child dies from diarrhea because they drank or used contaminated water. This is the real reason why the effectiveness of the prototype developed by Janicki Bioenergy is crucial. The first official test will be conducted in Senegal where sewage sludge is still often discharged directly into the nearest river and ocean. The system is also able to produce energy during its activity, more than it consumes to run. It is a positive process that not only serves to recycle waste products from 100 thousand people, but is also able to provide 250 kilowatts of electricity for the local community; not to mention the 86,000 liters of drinking water transformed daily.

Malnutrition during pregnancy causes 50% of infant deaths

Economy / -

Saraswoti, una ragazza nepalese di 18 anni, alla seconda gravidanza
© Bijai Gajmer per Save the Children

Poor nutrition during conception, pregnancy and lactation increases the chance of delays in the development of a newborn child. For this reason Save the Children acts on the well-being of mothers, so to protect their children.

"Saraswoti is only 15 years old and has already completed her second pregnancy. She is married to Galiram (35 years old) and is the mother of a beautiful baby girl who was born prematurely, weighing 1.9 kg. That's why during her second pregnancy this young mother needed maximum care. During her first pregnancy, when she was just 13 years old, she suffered a lot of abdominal pain from the sixth month onwards. She gave birth naturally although prematurely to her child, who after a few coughs, died immediately. Among the various factors that prevented this baby developing organs during gestation, was the mother’s poor diet, consisting of just rice and lentils".
The story told by Sandesh, a Save the Children worker in Nepal, is a very common situation in many parts of the world. Malnutrition is the cause of at least 50% of infant deaths within the first five years. It is therefore possible to improve the child’s health, even indirectly, by improving the physical well-being of the mother. If the mother is well, there is more chance of the pregnancy proceeding in the best way possible. "With her second pregnancy, Saraswoti was able to make significant changes - continues Sandesh -. She learned to rest properly and to take care of herself and her diet, so no longer risking her life and that of her child".
The cost of malnutrition
But it’s not always like this. In most countries where Save the Children works, malnutrition is a widespread phenomenon.
Poor nutrition during conception, pregnancy and lactation increases the chance of delays in fetal growth already in the uterus, causing damage that can be for life. This includes stunting, a process that delays or prevents growth that begins in the uterus and continues for the first two years of a child’s life. In countries such as Zambia, where the percentage of malnutrition is very high (around 48%), and where women have little access to prenatal care, incidences of stunting in children are very high (45%), as well as child mortality. In this country, just last year there were around 87 deaths per 1,000 births.
There are also the long-term consequences, which are the base of a vicious circle. The problems in cognitive development, frequently experienced in children with stunting, affect the education of children of school age, create a future loss in the workforce and in productive capacity, perpetuating a general state of poverty, already widespread in the countries that experience these conditions. It is estimated that the global cost of malnutrition amounts to around 30 billion dollars a year.

Achieving a well-defined and ethical food chain

Sustainability / -

alimentazione etica

The Planet is unable to support the needs and food waste of an increasing population. International organizations respond to data on malnutrition and consumption by promoting vegetarianism and reducing food waste.

Population growth fuels the per capita consumption of animal protein. By 2050, meat production will reach 463 million tons per year, while its consumption will grow by 73 percent, and that of dairy products by 58 percent. Such an increase is not sustainable in terms of groundwater pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and land use. In addition, the UN reports show that farms and the production of building materials and plastics are the main causes of global warming.
In 2010, with the report Assessing the environmental impacts of consumption and production, UNEP (the United Nations Environmental Program) concludes that a diet that is free of animal products is the solution to the food and environmental issues affecting the Planet. The growth in demand for food and also the distribution of resources needs to be addressed by improving the efficiency of production facilities, leading to a need for vegetarianism and reduced waste.
The figures of malnutrition
FAO, Partner of Expo Milano 2015, states that 842 million people suffer from chronic hunger. Malnutrition kills 50 percent of children under 5 years, causes 3 million deaths every year, mostly in poor countries. The food waste of rich countries alone amounts to 1.3 billion tons of food a year, a cost which affects the economic and environmental future of the planet. The FAO report "Food wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources" (2013) is estimated to be 750 billion dollars a year of invested capital caused by the effects of food waste on water resources, biodiversity and climate change. To which must be added the cost of malnutrition, amounting to 3.5 trillion dollars a year.
Collective action is needed
The food that we throw away every year uses up 1.4 billion hectares of land, 30 percent of the world's agricultural area and produces 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases. A third of the food that is produced in the world ends up in our trash cans. In North America and Europe 900 kg of food per capita are produced every year, of which every consumer throws away between 95 and 115 kg a year. Meanwhile in sub-Saharan Africa and in Southeast Asia the total food production per individual does not exceed 460 kg per year, for a waste per capita from 6 to 11 kg. "These trends must be reversed." - said Jose Graziano da Silva, Director-General of FAO - "Everyone has to make changes in every part of the food chain to ensure that food waste is and reused or recycled wherever possible."
Of the 54 percent of waste in production, largely due to a lack of infrastructure and technology in poor countries, 46 percent is found in the early stages of processing, distribution and consumption in rich countries. Supporting developing countries with investments in food systems is one approach, following the steps outlined in the FAO Toolkit: reducing the food wastage footprint to reduce food losses and waste as a choice that must be made without delay.

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