Bill Gates has brandished a jar of human faeces in China.
Bill Gates has brandished a jar of human faeces in China. Wikimedia Commons

Bill Gates stuns crowd with poop

BILL Gates has stunned a crowd in Beijing after he brandished a jar of human faeces towards them.

The billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft founder used the clear beaker of waste as part of his speech helping launch the Reinvented Toilet Expo event - a showcase for new toilet technologies.

"You might guess what's in this beaker - and you'd be right. Human faeces," he said. "This small amount of faeces could contain as many as 200 trillion rotavirus cells, 20 billion Shigella bacteria, and 100,000 parasitic worm eggs."

Mr Gates used the prop to highlight bacteria and sanitation-related disease, having spent more than $200 million on researching the field over the past seven years.

"I have to say, a decade ago I never imagined that I'd know so much about poop," he joked. "And I definitely never thought that Melinda would have to tell me to stop talking about toilets and faecal sludge at the dinner table."

The three-day event took place in China, where President Xi Jinping has made the "toilet revolution" a key priority.

As reported by a UN report in 2012, poor sanitation kills 2.7 million people every year.

"The problem will get worse if we don't do something about it," said Mr Gates. "It's no longer a question of if we can reinvent the toilet and other sanitation systems. It's a question of how quickly this new category of off-grid solutions will scale."

A number of financial institutions, including World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the African Development Bank, have announced that they would work to unlock $2.5 billion for sanitation projects in the cities of low and middle-income countries.

Mr Gates is known for using shock tactics to draw attention to his disease-battling efforts.

In 2009, he loosed mosquitoes at a TED Conference in California to make a point about the deadly sting of malaria - waiting a minute or so before assuring the audience the liberated insects were disease-free.