The masterful marketers at the Gates Foundation have put the following video together to raise the profile with what is probably one of the most important and least sexy issues in global health – how to get billions of people to poop in the right place. Their idea: the world needs a need toilet that is better suited to resource constrained environments – in their words the Toilet 2.0.

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13 Responses to “Getting our sh*t together..or at least in the right place”

  1. Karen Grepin says:

    Getting our sh*t together..or at least in the right place (blog post) #WASH

  2. Brett Keller says:

    I’m happy that the Gates Foundation is drawing attention to a neglected issue — nobody really gives a shit about sanitation (ha?). But…

    Do we really need a better toilet? Don’t we already have low-cost solutions that work when there are resources to build them and the will to use them? Like the VIP? I’m not sure there’s much benefit to be had from making a cheaper latrine (if that’s event possible?) unless it somehow makes more people want to use them. But my impression is that the problem is less to do with people not using them and more to do with a general shortfall in the number of good, well-maintained latrines available to people, precisely because the issue isn’t sexy and governments / NGOs / big international foundations don’t want to spend money on setting up millions of latrines.

  3. Karen Grepin says:

    Those are some good points…but I really don’t know myself. I have not spent nearly as much time as I probably should have to now understanding the issues better.

  4. Brett Keller says:

    Nice but (as I comment) is tech needed? RT @KarenGrepin Getting our sh*t together..or at least in the right place #WASH

  5. Brett Keller says:

    Right, me neither! My knowledge is completely limited to a few classes on sanitation. I just never got the impression that it was a problem that demanded a new technology. I guess my gut reaction is suspicion because the Gates Foundation tends to see its value-added as new technology, but that approach might not be the best one here. So I hope any investments in new technology are accompanied by investments in distributing what we already know works.

  6. Brett, I would say your instinct is pretty accurate – a better toilet may have some role to play in the sanitation challenge but it’s not the main problem. However it’s worth reading the full challenge description on the Gates website and the summaries of the research projects that have been selected to address it. Although it’s not really explicitly stated, it seems that the challenge is aimed more specifically at the difficulty of implementing conventional sewerage systems in poor, dense urban areas – a toilet which doesn’t use water to flush away, and converts the shit into a useful product (instead of potentially difficult/costly pit emptying) may be a possible solution.

  7. RT @KarenGrepin: Getting our sh*t together..or at least in the right place

  8. Maggie Paul says:

    The SOIL project in Haiti is an example of the kind of innovation that I think the Gates Foundation is encouraging with this campaign: Waste is collected, treated (basically allowed to compost long enough and at a high enough temp to kill harmful bacteria), and then used locally as nutrient rich soil. The project does not require preexisting infrastructure, but demands maintenance by trained staff members which places limits on its potential scale.

  9. Gates Foundation on shit RT @KarenGrepin: Getting our sh*t together..or at least in the right place

  10. Brett Keller says:

    Stephen — thanks for the feedback. I did some Googling, and first off, the Gates Foundation’s media machine is really impressive — they’ve gotten a ton of coverage of their initiative. Secondly, I found their new strategy document talking about what they’re actually doing. PDF at Looks like you’re right and that community-led sanitation efforts and scaling up existing technologies is a pretty big chunk of what they’re paying for. Interesting that they emphasize the new tech in the video — I guess it makes better PR, which makes sense. I feel much less critical now based on this distribution of resources.

  11. Erica says:

    RT @KarenGrepin: Getting our sh*t together..or at least in the right place TOILETS! Finally!

  12. Nicki Graham says:

    Getting our sh*t together..or at least in the right place I love this video!

  13. RT @KarenGrepin: Getting our sh*t together..or at least in the right place – an effort by the Gates foundation

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