A new sanitation champion?: European MP calls for more support for sanitation innovation

Bill Gates with Nirj Deva of the European Parliament's development committee

A British Member of the European Parliamentarian (MEP) wants the EU to spend more aid on innovative low-cost sanitation technologies. Nirj Deva MEP and Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament’s development committee launched his call after a meeting with philanthropist Bill Gates.

Following a question from Mr Deva regarding diarrhoeal diseases and possible solutions, Mr Gates told the committee that one of the greatest problems with clean water is contamination because traditional flushing toilet systems are expensive and unachievable.

Mr Gates pointed out that his foundation had funded projects to find innovative solutions to areas that are challenged either by water shortages or by flooding.

After praising Bill and Melinda Gates as “an outstanding example to philanthropists around the world” and the ability of private philanthropy to support innovative solutions, Mr. Deva added:

“One of the specific areas discussed was the high costs of sanitation and particularly flushing toilet facilities. It’s not a sexy subject but it is important that we invest in finding an innovative alternative. This is one area where the EU should improve its funding of innovation and I will seek to make this a priority for development funding in the future.”

Bill Gates was at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 5 April 2011 to talk about fighting poverty and disease with MEPs and to present his foundation’s Living Proof initiative.

See a video report of the full meeting.

Niranjan Joseph “Nirj” De Silva Deva-Aditya (1948) is a member of the Conservative Party, and has been a MEP representing South East England since 1999. He was born in Sri Lanka in 1948 and raised in the UK. Besides being Vice Chair of the European Parliament’s development committee he is also a member of the Human Rights and Foreign Affairs committees.

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Source: ECR, 05 Apr 2011

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