5 TED Talks Addressing Water and Sanitation

Aug 28, 2014 | BLOG POST

Get to know one of our technical areas better with these illuminating talks from TED, a platform dedicated to sharing ideas on anything and everything from entertainment to global issues. Delivered by experts and idea-shapers, these five talks touch on issues of health, sanitation, and clean water access. According to the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene focus area of the U.S. Global Health Initiatives, “Access to safe water can increase productivity while decreasing illnesses, disabilities, and early deaths. People with access to improved sanitation services experience greater dignity, privacy, and security” (ghi.gov).The staggering statistics and new innovations presented in these talks will give you both perspective and hope.

  1. Rose George: Let’s talk crap. Seriously.: A third of the world’s population still doesn’t have access to a basic toilet or latrine. That means 2.5 billion people are at an exponentially higher risk for death and disease due to unsanitary conditions and contamination. Risks are even greater for the women of that 2.5 billion who face life altering consequences of not having safe sanitation facilities. In this charming talk, George covers a serious issue in a seriously funny way. 
  2. Robert Neuwirth: The hidden world of shadow cities: Squatter cities are the cities of tomorrow, so says Neuwirth. With nearly 70 million people migrating to cities every year, one in four people on the planet will be squatters by 2030.  These unplanned settlements can be difficult to service and are often located in areas that are inappropriate or unsafe. Neuwirth shows us there is more to them than that as he takes us on a guided tour.
  3. Ludwick Marishane: A bath without water: Armed with only a cell phone and a desire to escape the shower, this young entrepreneur invented the world’s first bath-substituting lotion. It may sound trivial at first, but the use of DryBath could save millions from disease associated with bathing in unsanitary water and cut back on the hundreds of hours rural populations spend walking to a clean water source.
  4. Michael Pritchard: How to make filthy water drinkable: By inventing a water bottle that can make even the filthiest water sterile for drinking, Pritchard has given the world a new way to think about the way it responds to crisis zones around the globe.
  5. Sonaar Luthra: Meet the Water Canary: Testing water in the field is expensive, time-consuming, takes too long to produce results. Inspired by the concept of canaries in coal mines, Luthra has developed a device that allows for quick and easy testing of a water supply. What he wants to do with the data will give us an incredible tool when it comes to fighting diseases, like cholera, that are transmitted through contaminated drinking water.

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