BBC World News Horizons explores why human waste is one of biggest public health issues facing world today

Oct 24, 2013










Horizons | BBC World News

In the 12th episode of the series, Adam Shaw travels to New York to meet Dr. Doulaye Kone, senior program officer for sanitation technology with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to discuss how new technologies are changing the way we manage human waste.
As the urban population increases, this creates a growing and more complex problem for dealing with human waste and sanitation. Many developing countries lack the resources and infrastructure, needed to put in universal and centralised sewerage systems.

Dr. Kone and Adam talk about human waste as a valuable resource that can be used as a source of energy or fertiliser.

Dr. Kone said: “What most people don’t realise is, once you push the button, or the small handle, it’s a huge industry, and this system was invented 200 years ago, and since then there haven’t been any major innovations, and it’s too expensive to scale up. Most people can’t afford it, so we really need to rethink a new solution, a new toilet technology for the 21st century.”

Correspondent Rajini Vaidyanathan visits New Delhi in India, to examine the twin pit toilet developed by Sulabh Sanitation Movement. Already improving sanitation for an estimated 10 million people daily, the simple toilet uses two pits dug into the ground connected to a traditional squat lavatory. This reduces water use and needs no chemicals to treat the waste.

In Portland, Oregon in the United States, a water resources utility called Clean Water Services is using technology developed by Ostara that recovers 85 per cent of the element phosphorous from sewerage. It is an important element for plant growth, playing a crucial role in global food production. Ostara turns phosphorous into pellet like fertiliser that can be used to fertilise crop land.

The Horizons series, sponsored by DuPont, airs weekly on Saturdays at 01:30 and 08:30, Sundays at 14:30 and 20:30 (all times GMT).

The sponsorship arrangement was facilitated by BBC Advertising, which sells advertising and sponsorship solutions on behalf of BBC World News and

Further information, online videos and behind the scenes content can be found at (non-UK only) or follow Horizons on Facebook: and/or on twitter at @horizonsbiz.

Episode broadcasts on Saturday 26 October and Sunday 27 October 2013



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