November 23, 2023: On the occasion of World Toilet Day on November 19, American billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates went down a sewer to visit the Sewer Museum in Brussels. A video shared by Mr Gates on Instagram showed him going down a sewer and exploring the hidden history of Brussels’ sewage system. The video also showed him meeting with scientists to understand the intricate workings of the city’s water waste system. Notably, a 200-mile network of sewers and treatment plants process the city’s waste.
’’I explored the hidden history of Brussels’ sewage system—and the role of wastewater in global health—for this year‘s #WorldToiletDay,’’ the caption of the video read. A text inlay on the video reads, ’’I experienced it all at the Brussels’ underground museum. Documenting the history of the city’s wastewater system. In the 1800’s the sewage got dumped into the city’s Senne River. That led to horrible cholera epidemics. Today, a 200-mile network of sewers and treatment plants process the city’s waste.’’
In order to raise awareness about sanitation issues, Mr. Gates has taken part in a variety of public stunts, like drinking water from "fecal sludge" in 2015. A year, later in 2016, he posted a picture of himself taking a giant whiff of pit latrine odour. He said "the stench was foul and made me wince," and described the smell as "a combination of sewage stink, barnyard sweat, and bitter ammonia topped off with vomit (or was it parmesan cheese?)."
In 2018, the billionaire shared the stage with a beaker of poop during a speech at the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing.
The philanthropist is committed to solving a variety of global issues through his and his ex-wife’s charity The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.
Notably, World Toilet Day, celebrated annually on November 19, is about inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. It has been an annual United Nations Observance since 2013 but was first celebrated in 2001 by the World Toilet Organization. This year’s theme is ’Accelerating Change’.
World Health Organization says that inadequate availability of water, sanitation, and hygiene results in 8,27,000 deaths in low- and middle-income countries each year.