China to spend over $1 billion on its 'toilet revolution'

It's part of the government's effort to boost rural development.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou

China's "toilet revolution" will focus on building and upgrading toilets in rural areas. 

Zhang Peng via Getty Images

"Toilet revolution" is now a thing in China.

The Chinese government will spend 7 billion yuan ($1.04 billion) to build and renovate restrooms in the country's rural areas this year, according to a Wednesday report from state media Global Times. The fund will reportedly help construct up to 10 million toilets across 30,000 villages.

The "toilet revolution" campaign was reportedly proposed in 2015 to boost rural development and economy. Experts said toilets "can be vital to the life of a country" as better hygiene conditions can improve living standards.

In fact, hygiene conditions can be very important.

Forty percent of the world's population lacks access to flush toilets, and more than a billion people defecate in the open, according to data from Bill Gates' foundation. UNICEF estimates that at least 1.2 million children under age 5 die of diarrhea each year, and contact with human feces is the main cause.

Gates in February said "toilets of the future will save millions of lives." The Gates have championed the power of redesigned toilet as having the potential to save 800 lives everyday. Gates said that he saw several next-generation toilets at a toilet fair his foundation organized in Beijing last year. 

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