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What the world needs now is a new toilet

Inventing a new lavatory would make a huge difference to people’s lives

By on Thursday, 16 August 2012

Reinventing the Toliet

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has come in for quite a lot of stick in Catholic circles recently – including an almost unheard of put down from the Vatican’s newspaper itself – over its support for artificial birth control, so it is nice to see (not for the first time) that they are also supporting some very worthwhile initiatives that could make a huge difference for Africa.

I speak of sanitation. 

In Africa, there are several forms of sanitation. There are European style and standard bathrooms and lavatories in a small, very small, number of houses. In Kenya, for example, at a guess, less than five per cent of the population would have access to what is called a “flush toilet”. The reasons for this is simple: most houses do not have running water. Water is collected from a standpipe and perhaps carried over a long distance. Even where a house does have running water, that water usually comes from a borehole, rather than from “mains.”

Thus, even where there is piped water, there may not be a flush lavatory, on the grounds that water is simply too valuable and scarce to waste in this way. One may find what is called a pit latrine, usually known as a “longdrop” – a very deep hole in the ground, surmounted by a small corrugated iron shed. While longdrops are supposed to be OK, they frequently are anything but. They can stink to high heaven.

There may well be chemical lavatories in Africa, but I never came across them; I imagine that the chemicals used, in what is essentially no more than a bucket, are expensive.

Then there is the bush itself – out in the wilds, people just disappear into the undergrowth. This is of course not possible in very populated places, where there is usually no lavatory, flush or longdrop, to speak of. In the slums of Nairobi, people use a plastic bag for their bodily needs and then fling it away, usually over the next house, where it may well land on someone. This is jocularly known as a “flying toilet”.

Whichever way, none of this is very satisfactory: bad smells are unpleasant; bad sanitation causes disease; and where there is European style sanitation, it wastes water. Hence the idea of inventing some new system  which is cheap, safe, and environmental is to be welcomed. This could make a huge difference to people’s lives – after all, everyone needs to go to the lavatory.

I mentioned earlier that the Gates Foundation has form in his field – they have of course made sterling efforts to help overcome the scourge of malaria, which has already been eradicated in many continents, and could with the right will be eradicated in Africa too. 

As with lavatories, so with malaria – what is needed here is not shed loads of cash (the track record of such aid is not good) but human inventiveness and will. Malaria is best fought with nets, which are cheap, and the new Gates Loo (if it ever comes) is designed to be cheap too.

  • Acleron

    Waterless, composting toilets would appear to fit the bill and have been around for some time.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composting_toilet 

  • buckingham88

     The old four by two thunderbox used to work well.

  • Daclamat

    Your depth of knowlege is amazing.- WHO recomend  the anaerobic digester, but then the organisation is involved in programmes not approved by CH  let alone the Holy See. Still, compared with Francis Phillips remarks on Amnesty International, your article has the fragrance of lavendar.

  • EndTimes101

    As a Roman Catholic priest your defence and promotion of Bill Gates and his eugenics agenda is nothing short of disgraceful….. 

  • Alexander Lucie-Smith

    Hang on a sec… that is precisely what i am NOT doing. This is about sanitation. Lavatories have no connexion with eugenics.

  • Alexander Lucie-Smith

    And your point is?

  • paulpriest

    When the guy who is providing them has a stated aim of reducing the global population by 10-15% ?

    Yes they have!

  • Jeannine

     I don’t understand the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations. They do so much good by investing in the obvious & seemingly inexpensive items that improves quality of life for millions, ie clean water wells. Yet, they spend billions, on artificial family planning which has yet to show such a dramatic positive change in these 3rd world countries as cheap Malaria nets. (Thank goodness he got out of the day-to-day operations at Microsoft.)

  • http://www.catholicyouthwork.com Catholic Youth Work

    Actually what he is doing is EXACTLY what Catholics should do more of: he is looking at a thing, celebrating what’s good and charitably criticising what’s bad, rather than saying that it is 100% bad or 100% good just because it does some bad or good things.
    It’s a far more charitable, productive, realistic, honest way to work and Father is to be highly commended for it.

  • EndTimes101

     Given your logic, i expect your next article might be highlighting Hitler, and his project to build the Autobahn, and how it has since been copied the world over, has benefited mankind.

    You response, your article and your attitude is symbolic of everything that is wrong INSIDE the Catholic Church and Catholic Establishment. It is a perfect example of why in 50 years, the Church has completely FAILED to provide any effective resistance to the Culture of Death and the moral collapse of our civilisation…..

  • teigitur

    He does nt do points.

  • EndTimes101

     That quote from Mr Gates was just relating his work with vaccinations. Yes that’s right folks, even his seemingly helpful work with vaccinations has an evil agenda behind it. DYOR.  With his efforts in abortion and contraception, he is hoping for a much higher kill ratio…..

  • EndTimes101

     If you just do even a little research on Bill Gates and his foundation you will quickly and easily realise that any good he does is simply a cover to hide his clear and present agenda to control people, food and natural resources….. and reduce world population.

    Did you know is father was head of Planned Parenthood in America? Just do a little research yourself and see how deep the rabbit hole goes…..Bill Gates, his wife, his foundation and the foundations of his elitist pals like Rockefeller are rotten to the core and EVERY Catholic should be at a permanent state of war with them and their evil agenda

  • EndTimes101

     Catholicism 101, you can’t compromise with an evil agenda because some good might come out of it.

    The Freemasons do a lot of good work for charity but Catholics are still banned under pain of excommunication from joining their ranks……for very grave reasons.

  • http://www.catholicyouthwork.com Catholic Youth Work

    Actually, you are quite free to co-operate with the good bits of what a group does as long as it is overtly clear that that’s all you’re supporting.

    I’ll give you two examples (out of a great many):

    1. The Holy See co-operates with almost every country in the world even though many support abortion, contraception etc etc. The Holy Father even welcomed Obama to the Vatican and shook his hand.

    2. The NHS does more abortions than almost any other organisation in Europe, yet how many Catholics (and I mean serious, Orthodox ones) would go to an NHS A&S if they got injured or to their NHS GP if they got sick? Most, if not all.

    There are sooooo many other examples. Just think of every organisation your parish works with and think about exactly what they do and exactly what their views are…

    I have always maintained that this idea of “don’t co-operate at all with organisations that do X, Y, and Z” is a nice theory, but it’s just totally unworkable in real life. It’s also not actually part of the Church’s teaching. Contrary to popular belief, the Church has never said that we cannot co-operate in any way at all with such organisations, nor support the good aspects of their work.

    And before I get misquoted, let’s be clear: Gates is wrong on contraception and we should fight this hard.

  • EndTimes101

     It is this culture of compromise and equivocation that you describe is precisely how we got to this state of moral collapse in the first place. Everyone is doing it so it is OK with God? Tell that to Sodom….

    Popes kissing the Koran, the levels of annulled marriages etc etc are all shameful scandals. Who now does not feel shame when they see Catholic clerics shaking hands with Hitler or making nazi salutes? So it will be in the future for those who compromise with evil now…

    Your example of the NHS is a case in point. The Bishops should have rallied the troops and even under pain of death should have fought tooth and nail for Catholics and good people in this country to have an opt out from paying taxes going towards moral evils like abortion. What did they do…..? They done what you agreed they should do….they compromise, they did and do NOTHING. It is a scandal plan and simple.

  • http://www.catholicyouthwork.com Catholic Youth Work

    Not really my point, but okay…

    We should never compromise with evil. But the question is one of whether and to what extend we co-operate with OTHER THINGS carried out by those who do co-operate with evil. The people in Sodom weren’t asking that question; they were actually co-operating in the actual evil. Or, actually doing it!

    Your point that the Bishops should be campaigning more against abortions is spot on. But also, not the point. The question of whether Catholics can go to their NHS GP is the issue here – which, of course, they can!

  • MDG

    Millennium Development Goals 2015
    Latest report on the UN website

  • Parepidemos

    Considering your comment regarding the Holy Father, just wondering; are you in full communion with the Holy See or do you follow the de facto (and possibly one day,de jure) schismatic SSPX group or its ilk?

    As for the NHS and abortions: like any Catholic, I abhor the practice and find your idea of an opt out for a percentage of income tax interesting. Of course, once the premise had been established,other exceptions would have to be made e.g. those against having a military. Complicated – and costly.

    I’m sure you will agree that the NHS does a great deal of good. If you are British, it is likely you have used its services; but. perhaos you were strong enough not to compromise. Still, even if you ‘went private’ (as I have done one 2 occasions) the private system funds abortions.

  • Konrad

    Except the first motorway was the Italian autostrada from Milan (Mailand) to Varese, not the German Autobahn. And the Autobahn came before Hitler and the Nazis, they just saw the propaganda value of it and took the credit. 

    But even if the Autobahn was Hitler’s project, acknowledging it was a good idea would hardly make you a Nazi would it. 

    Oh and comparing Bill Gates to a man who is responsible for deaths of tens of millions is pretty disgraceful…

  • EndTimes101

     I didn’t say he built the first one (autobahn), but he was the first one to take the idea and run with it. It is an irrelevant point anyhow…

    “comparing Bill Gates to a man who is responsible for deaths of tens of millions is pretty disgraceful”

    I compare him to Hitler because there is no difference to their eugenics programme bar the gas chambers. But give him time…..there are already many cases of forced sterilisations appearing in the third world. Do some research before you start defending this monster. Admittedly not many people know whats going on because the media (as demonstrated by the Catholic Herald) constantly refuse to ask the tough questions about his projects. Might be something to do with the fact the Gates Foundation sponsors so many articles and blogs on the revelent topics including for the Telegraph and Guardian.

    Bills Gates DIRECTLY funds and promotes abortion, sterilisations and contraception (including some that leads to chemical abortions), That is the MAIN purpose of his foundation, to reduce the world population through any means possible. His father was a eugenists and so is he and all his elitist pals. Wake up

    Just do some research yourself and see…..

  • EndTimes101

     “We should never compromise with evil”

    But if our income taxes and nation insurance contributions go towards paying for and promoting Abortion that is exactly what we are doing. That is where the line is and our Bishops allowed the Catholic faithful in this country the cross it years ago. This same line has now been crossed by Obama in America but there, the Bishops are at least starting to wake up and fight back….

  • EndTimes101

     “I’m sure you will agree that the NHS does a great deal of good”

    Yes the NHS has done a great deal of good but so did the Nazis. They put people to work, restored the economy, made great leaps forward with technology etc….so what, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    The fact is the NHS is socialised medicine and in case you didn’t know, the Catholic Church condemns socialism. The NHS will go the same way Hitler did, it is inevitable. It is already well along the way down that road with all the old and vulnerable being quietly killed off. Wake up people…….the Catholic Church is the only hope for Western civilisation. Unless you start identifing the enemy and start fighting back (without compromise) there is no hope for our world….

  • http://www.catholicyouthwork.com Catholic Youth Work

    We’ve moved a very, very long way from my original point here :)

  • EndTimes101

    “Actually what he is doing is EXACTLY what Catholics should do more of:
    he is looking at a thing, celebrating what’s good and charitably
    criticising what’s bad, rather than saying that it is 100% bad or 100%
    good just because it does some bad or good things.”

     Your point was its cool to compromise as though it is no big deal. My point is that compromise leads to the death of MILLIONS of innocent children. To compare the benefits of a new toilet system to mass contraception, sterilisation and abortion as though they are moral equivalents is shocking beyond contempt.

  • Meena


     It is this culture of compromise..”

    It is precisely cultures of compromise that are needed in the world today. Tolerance and compromise are needed everywhere.

    You don’t seem to understand, EndTimes, that there are other fundamentalist believers (including some who believe that you, as a fundamentalist Catholic, are an evil infidel) who would delight in doing battle with others.

  • Meena

    You really seem to want a battle.

    Unfortunately there are many others like you – but their hope for mankind differs from yours in its content – but not in its madness. 

    Identify “the enemy and start fighting back (without compromise)” – God help us all.
    Did you by any chance awake from a very long sleep recently?  Or do you simply need to get out more?

  • Meena

    You really should get out very much more. Every day.

  • Meena

    It’s true that the differences between people, or things, lie in  their differences.

  • Konrad

    “he was the first one to take the idea and run with it”

    No he wasn’t – do some research…

    “Bills Gates DIRECTLY funds and promotes abortion, sterilisations and contraception (including some that leads to chemical abortions)”

    Funding abortions and contraception is comparable to the murder of tens of millions in the holocaust? Do you ACTUALLY believe that or are you just trolling?

  • EndTimes101

     I am talking about compromise with intrinsic evils. This is a relatively small amount of issues. If somebody tries to force you to co-operate with that evil i.e Abortion, pay for them with your taxes, we as Catholics are now forced to do in the UK. This is absolutely outrageous, and yet our Bishops and Media are silent. Here we are at the Catholic Herald and a Roman Catholic priest writes a gushing piece on the good work of the Gates foundation, an organisation that’s primary purpose is to kill off as many people from the face of the earth as it possibly can. Only a week after Melinda Gates put two fingers up to the CC and it’s teaching too…….

  • George

    Presumably you don’t pay your taxes then? You would be compromising with evil if you did after all…

  • Alexander VI

    Have you missed your medication or something?

  • EndTimes101

    If you don’t believe abortion is murder, then what are you doing here at a Catholic website posting comments?  Just who is the troll here?

  • Meena

    I agree.
    Having read this website for some time, I am surprised to find that the Catholic priest (Father Alexander L-S) is by far the most broad-minded and tolerant (and knowledgeable) of the article writers. Perhaps this results from the fact that he seems intelligent and well-educated.He does have a style that reminds me of Charles Moore of the Telegraph, and like him he uses “moreover” instead of “also”, but he avoids the “whilsts”, “indeeds”, “thereofs” etc and the bits of Latin of the semi-literate, but that’s a fairly minor thing.

  • EndTimes101

     The Catholic Church teaches those of us that wish to listen, that this life is a constant battle against the world, the flesh and the devil. If good people refuse to acknowledge and fight evil in this world then the world will keep degenerating until even murder (like abortion for example) will seem normal.
    You can insult me all you want, i really don’t care……

  • Meena

    He’s saying (I believe) that your broad knowledge of places, and other things, is amazing. I expect that some of this is due to wide travel, possible for a Catholic priest without wife and children, and with many “bases” in which to stay around the globe.

    He is also drawing your attention to  the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation re. anaerobic digesters, as a solution to the toilet problem.
    He also wonders about WHO’s non-Catholic stance on other things, such as birth control etc., and how this might complicate matters.

    Finally, he favourably compares your article as a breath of scented air, relative to some others on the website. I concur with this view.

  • EndTimes101

     Your attempting a sly ad hominem attack with this question? This is not about me but in answer to the general point, the culpability of an individual with taxes that go towards intrinsic evil would lie not in the fact the government does intrinsic evil with their money against their wishes, it lies in the fact they is do nothing to rectify the situation. The main culpability therefore would be with those most able to effect change said change. Where are the shepherds to lead the flock?

  • Jeannine

    I think you also need to do a little research too. Gates Sr was on the board not the head of Planned Parenthood of America which of course doesn’t make it any better if you’re pro-life. Since you are being nit-picky so can I.

    You need to get your thnking out of conspiracy land. Bill & Melinda are a very rich couple who want to share their wealth with the less fortunate. Isn’t this what the Catholic Church teaches? If they have other objectives, so be it. The results are that they improved the quality of life for millions of poor people & that should be encouraged. (Read the sermons on charity by Pope Leo the Great. He gave the rich some of the darnest reasons to get them to donate.()

    I do not like Bill & Melinda’s position on birth control & abortion. I also think they are wasting billions of dollars in those areas that can be put to better use.

  • Gypsycook

    I don’t think that a sensible recommendation to reduce world overpopulation on a finite planet with limited resources so as to improve the general standard of living, has anything to do with Eugenics; which is a program of racially-motivated artificial selection to breed babies, who are seen by those in charge of the eugenics program as having desirable features, eg blue eyes.

  • Gypsycook

    A troll is anyone who disagrees with you.

  • Gypsycook

    Providing starving children with food, sanitation and medicine is also evil as it prolongs their life span so that they themselves can breed yet more babies, and more and more. Has the man no decency at all?

  • Patrickhowes

    What are you on about?.The one priest who has stood for tradition values in the Church and orthodoxy is Fr Alex !So lay off him!He like me has also lived in the developing world and understands the problems that overcrowding and lack of sanitary hygiene can be!So Buster you need to go back to the beginning of time and not the end to find TRUTH.Fr Alex has never represented the liberal confusion of which you accuse him,so man up and apologise.You are completely wrong!!!

  • Lt.Fudgecake

     So you do pay taxes then. MURDERER.

  • BTyler

    Calm down dear…

  • BTyler

    Wow, how profound. Did you think that up all by yourself?

  • Meena

    Many people (who are not practising Catholics, and even non-theists) are most unhappy about late abortions, but still consider the early abortion to be justified in several circumstances.

    In their opinion the rigid stance of the Catholic church, which does not countenance any abortion, no matter how early, is a barrier to a more united front which could argue persuasively against later abortions.  

  • Meena

    I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to insult you. Just a gentle joke was intended.

    My apologies.

  • Meena

    No.
    EndTimes’s posting strongly suggested it to me.

  • Daclamat

    I pity you.