Emerging tech for developing countries (part one)

How can emerging and green technologies benefit some of the poorest people on earth? These people live in some of the harshest climates and geographies on earth. Improving their lives by bringing them up to health and well-being standards most of us take for grant does not seem to be a top priority, apart from a dedicated few. This two-part blog will highlight some of the projects and organisations trying to better the world through the use of simple and green technology. Part one of two will review water and health, food and agriculture and energy. Part two focuses on waste management, housing and construction and information and communication technology.

In 2005 the Swiss based company Vestergaard Frandsen released the Lifestraw®, a simple tubular device capable of removing water born bacteria and diseases. Vestegaard Frandsen state the ‘water filters convert contaminated water into clean, safe drinking water’ potentially providing a family of 5 with clean drinking water for up to 3 years. Vestegard Frandsen are not alone, Skyjuice Foundation based in Australia also produces water filtration systems for developing countries, but on a much larger scale.

Championing the aforementioned companies for the rest of this post would be easy, but who are the other companies making an effort that have yet to reach mainstream success. The Mother Nature network recently published an article about Cynthia Lam an Australian inventor, who has developed a water purification system which activates with sunlight. The onedollarglasses project is from a German inventor by the name of Martin Aufmuth. His concept providies affordable corrective eyewear hinges on utilising very cost-effective and robust materials that can be assembled at home.

In the area of food and agriculture, there are a number of great innovations being made. For instance, the hippo water roller is a 20lt circular container with a pole in the middle of each end that is bent around to form a handle. The hippo water roller project aimed to reduce the daily impact to women and children gathering water and placing heavy containers on their heads. The hippo water roller does exactly as it sounds, the containers can be rolled on the ground which reduces impact and significantly reduces time to gather the water. Theses containers allow a greater amount of water to be used for crops and food preparation as more water can be gathered daily, in turn providing more food and fresh water for communities.

With better infrastructure people in developing countries are gaining more access to mobile phone networks and the internet but not always a continuous or reliable source of energy. The African Renewable Energy Distributor has developed a mobile solar cell phone charger. These are portable devices that can attached to bicycles and mopeds. The concept enables the device to gain charge through solar cells and store the energy in lithium batteries. Its mobility allows it to be placed in numerous locations for mobile charging to occur.

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