4. Promoting school attendance
Talking about toilet matters is taboo in many places, particularly among women. Young girls may stop attending school if the building lacks private toilet facilities, which ultimately limits these girls' access to education.
But the solution isn't always straightforward. For instance, some aid workers have suggested installing public toilet blocks. However, when toilet blocks were installed in Bhopal, India, as part of a study in November 2008, men were twice as likely as women to use them.
5. Saving energy
Wastewater from toilets contains about 10 times the amount of energy, in biochemical form, as that needed to treat it. Scientists and engineers are developing ways of processing wastewater to save energy and reclaim drinking water.
For instance, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation started the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge to develop sanitary, waterless toilets that don't require a sewer connection or electricity, and would cost less than five cents per user per day.
Clearly, a toilet is far more than a place to store waste.
This story originally appeared on LiveScience.com.
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