The Standard Group Plc is a multi-media organization with investments in media platforms spanning newspaper print operations, television, radio broadcasting, digital and online services. The Standard Group is recognized as a leading multi-media house in Kenya with a key influence in matters of national and international interest.
  • Standard Group Plc HQ Office,
  • The Standard Group Center,Mombasa Road.
  • P.O Box 30080-00100,Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Telephone number: 0203222111, 0719012111
  • Email: [email protected]

Bill Gates! Drinking water that, minutes ago, was human faeces

 Bill Gates when he spoke during the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York. [Getty Images]

There is a cringe video of billionaire Bill Gates sipping on a glass of water, which, just minutes before, he confesses, was human waste.

He gives his signature smile, a wry, knowing grin, and savours the taste as people clap in the background. "It's water," he says.

"I watched the piles of feaces go up the conveyor 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," Mr Gates, whose full name is William Henry Gates III, wrote on Gatesnotes.

If you are not stumbling into him taking a leisurely stroll in the streets of Eldoret (he did this once in 2009), or coming across his video taking the aforementioned water, then he is somewhere doing business and cementing his position among the richest men on earth.

Mr Gates, 67, was ranked the sixth richest man on earth by Forbes at the time of going to press, with a net worth of a staggering $104 billion (Sh12.69 trillion). And even as Tesla, SpaceX, Starlink and The Boring Company CEO - and now Twitter owner Elon Musk gallops into an unassailable lead atop the rich list, many will eternally see Mr Gates as the richest man on earth.

Enhancing healthcare

The Microsoft founder was, for nearly two decades, the richest man on the globe, and arguably the most famous. He was also lionised as one of the most charitable.

With his ex-wife Melinda French, they founded The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a charity foundation premised on "enhancing healthcare and reducing extreme poverty across the world, and expanding educational opportunities and access to information technology in the United States".

The plight of the less privileged people in developing countries, the billionaire has perennially said, is one of his biggest concerns. He gets to work to help eradicate poverty and poor sanitation owing to the unsafe disposal of human waste.

"Because a shocking number of people, at least two 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," Gates wrote when discussing the machine Omniprocessor, which converted human waste to clean drinking water.

Omniprocessor was designed and built by Janicki Bioenergy, an engineering firm based north of Seattle. An impressed Mr Gates fancied the launch of its pilot project in Senegal.

"If we can develop safe, affordable ways to get rid of human waste, we can prevent many of those deaths and help more children grow up healthy," he said.

The philanthropist has also discussed a waterless toilet, "which employs heat-treatment and bioprocessing technologies to eliminate viruses present in human waste, (and) was created by the founder of Microsoft in collaboration with the research and development team from Samsung Electronics," NDTV wrote. In this toilet created courtesy of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's "Reinvent the Toilet Challenge", liquid waste is biologically purified "while solid trash is dehydrated, dried, and burned to ashes".

Chicken rearing

As Mr Gates now holds meetings with President William Ruto, whose story of a rise from grass to grace involves chicken rearing and selling, perhaps the two will discuss Mr Gates' initiative to donate chickens to families living in abject poverty in the continent over half a decade ago.

In 2016, Mr Gates announced that he was donating "100,000 chickens to countries with high levels of poverty, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa", according to CNN.

He detailed how chicken were the best way to pull such families out of their financial quagmire as economies struggled on and governments made little progress in bettering their citizens' welfare, saying chicken "are easy and inexpensive to take care of, are a good investment, helps keep children healthy, and empowers women".

"Our foundation is betting on chickens. Alongside partners throughout sub-Saharan Africa, we are working to create sustainable market systems for poultry. Our goal is to eventually help 30 per cent of the rural families in sub-Saharan Africa raise improved breeds of vaccinated chickens, up from just five per cent now," he wrote.

While Mr Gates may only be known by many as the nerdy child whose enthusiasm for computer technology catapulted him to the echelons of success in programming and software development, and a genius with a reputable work ethic, he often paints a picture of a man uninterested in amassing more wealth, one keen on giving.

As early as 2001, The Gates family, pioneered by Mr Gates' father William Henry Gates Sr, was winning top awards for philanthropy.

That year, they won The Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. The senior Gates was an attorney and "a trustee, officer, and volunteer for more than two dozen Pacific Northwest organisations" according to The International Family of Carnegie Institutions. His son's Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was a continuation of the philanthropic work of their father.

Yet at some point, a filthy rich Mr Gates said he would only leave an inheritance of $10 million (Sh1.22 billion) for each of his three children. He was funding noble courses, not relatives he felt might fail to appreciate the value of the immense inheritance, or who he did not think deserved it all together. "I definitely think leaving kids massive amounts of money is not a favour to them."

He, however, has been advocating for better living conditions for people living in deplorable settings.

Related Topics


Trending Now


Popular this week