Through his Gates Foundation, Bill Gates is trying to tackle the problem of contaminated water due to unsanitary latrines in poor countries. Installing Western-style toilets isn't practical because it requires building a lot of new infrastructure.

One solution backed by the Foundation is a new kind of sewage treatment plant called the OmniProcessor, which in minutes turns the sewer sludge filled with fecal matter into electricity and, yes, drinkable water.

Bill Gates Drinks Water From Human Feces

Bill Gates wanted to make sure you believed the process works. So he made a video where he and the CEO of Janicki Bioenergy walks viewers through how it works – separating the water vapor from the solids by boiling, treating the vapor to make drinkable water and burning the solids to power a steam engine.

And then Gates takes a swig of the final product. "It's water!" he happily announces.

Bill Gates Helps Senegal Treat Its Sewer Sludge

The first video showed off a prototype in Gates' home state of Washington. Several months later, the Gates Foundation and Janicki brought an OmniProcessor to Dakar, Senegal, and brought cameras with them.

We see how in Dakar, 1.2 million people are not connected to a sewer line. We learn from Dr. Mbaye Mbéguéré of the National Institute for Sanitation how people relieve themselves in pits, which are emptied through either mechanical or manual means.

The manual method is how disease most easily spreads. But the traditional means of mechanical emptying also didn't give the Dakar community a means to eliminate pathogens.

Now, the OmniProcessor is treating one-third of the city's sewer sludge and, according to Mbéguéré, "we can make business from sanitation."

He concludes, "Drinking water is life. But sanitation is dignity."

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