Project: With the spread of information technology worldwide, the barrier to communication has been significantly lowered. Recently, a new wave of technology-applications has reduced this communication gap further, by leveraging the power of information to target humanitarian causes. Several technologies have been developed and used in scenarios to report and locate emergencies during disaster scenarios. However, no cohesive system exists to engage in coordination and tracking of emergencies once reported – significantly reducing the impact possible. The goal of this project is to create AidSource, an emergency triaging and tracking system to be used in disaster-response or in resource-poor settings to handle local emergencies. AidSource is a three-part system that receives emergency reports, processes them and then coordinates with organizations to make sure that these emergencies are addressed. We hope that AidSource will tremendously improve emergency-response coordination and logistics in the field.
Project: In many developing internet markets, commercial infrastructure contains coverage gaps that leave people without access. JoinAfrica is creating a ecosystem to support small businesses that fill these gaps. Over the course of the last year, JoinAfrica--an extension of the Fabfi Wireless Project--has worked with students at the University of Nairobi to develop a platform for building and managing internet infrastructure. Using open-source software and low-cost wifi devices, the platform is designed to be accessible to the largest possible audience. This summer, JoinAfrica project will focus on three tasks: Expanding its pilot networks to a financially sustainable scale, packaging and documenting its networking platform, and developing a model where existing operators work collectively to support new implementers.
Project: In the developing world, the leading cause of amputation is trauma. There are multiple efforts underway to develop low-cost but high-tech prostheses for the developing world at universities in the United States. Our goal is to bring these innovations from the US to the developing world. Our strategy is to make hub-and-spoke network that will let us get as close to each of these groups as possible to reach an isolated group of urban amputees. The central location will manufacture and distribute prostheses. Distribution will take place through mobile vehicle that will contain the needed supplies for making prostheses. Within each community we will find an appropriate community contact that will serve as our liaison to each group of amputees and schedule visits. Using information technology and cellphones we will collect information about particular amputee maintain this database at our central location. This will improve the quality of life and employability of amputees in India.
Project: Volta Ventures Affordable Housing will be preparing to implement its first housing project during the summer months of 2011. Our project location is Accra, Ghana and we will utilize our Legatum Center Seed Grant to travel to Ghana to formalize our local partnerships and identify our project site. The project will be a peri-urban residential village with mixed-income housing for both middle-income employees and low-income informal entrepreneurs. Houses will be constructed to balance local preferences for traditional designs and materials with modern construction innovations that reduce cost and increase value. By introducing new financing and project management strategies, Volta Ventures seeks to overcome existing barriers that prevent low-income Ghanaians from owning a house and building up their asset base. As we scale up our housing delivery, we want to reduce costs and offer housing opportunities to the vast market of Ghanaians who can only access dysfunctional rental housing in Accra.
Project: Our objective is to design and construct a cost-effective, scalable shower system for use in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. With this project, Showergy addresses two core issues: sanitation and safety. Requiring no electricity nor connection to the water or drainage grid, Showergy provides the local community — especially women and children — with a safe, enclosed, and clean environment in which to shower. Instead of risking assault by bathing in the river or walking to a distant communal shower, residents can shower near where they live. Its light footprint of 3-by-5 feet allows it to be widely installed in the slums, facilitating access to sanitation services and supporting people's rights to hygiene. These showers will add to the existing latrine facilities run by Sanergy, a sanitation company that currently focuses on manufacturing and implementing toilets for Kenyan slums.
Project: The La Vaquita 2011 team is continuing a three-pronged development initiative in Zacatecas, Mexico, the second most impoverished state in the nation. With projects centered around a handicraft enterprise, the dissemination of agricultural technologies and improvements in the quality of government-provided healthcare, the team is working with rural farming communities to help them build the resources and infrastructures to combat their lack of sustainable income. Last IAP’s Seed Grant projects included an educational greenhouse, a biodigester, a health fair, 36 ecological stoves and a microenterprise in La Vaquita, one such marginalized ranchito. The team looks to work with the community to evaluate the project model this summer, then utilize the tight community framework to rapidly disseminate ideas to at least 5 surrounding communities.
Project: SasaAfrica focuses on developing web and mobile applications to empower female vendors in developing nations through access to global business opportunities. Given the prevalence of mobile phones in the developing world, the SasaAfrica business model capitalizes on mobile banking as a means of connecting female entrepreneurs without access to credit to the mainstream market. The Legatum seed grant will sponsor my travel to Kenya this summer to test the SasaAfrica platform. By meeting face-to-face with the many women in Kenya who may use this service, I hope to not only further spread SasaAfrica's membership range and improve SasaAfrica's technological implementation, but also to reinforce the sense of female entrepreneurship that the project supports.
Project: Green Grease delivers an inexpensive and environmentally-friendly fuel solution to improve the livelihoods of some of the most marginalized people in Brazil - the catadores (wastepickers) - by helping them recycle waste vegetable oil (WVO). Last summer, the team organized a workshop with RedeCataSampa to teach members of four wastepicker cooperatives how to convert their diesel collection trucks to run on WVO, converting two vehicles that resulted in significant savings on fuel. This May, the team will return to Brazil to build an efficient and safe WVO filtration and storage system and collection mechanism in order to increase WVO collection, and review the engine conversion process with the catadores.
Project: Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) is a proven, successful, chronic wound treatment. It is not available in low-income countries (LICs) due to its high electrical power requirement (upwards of 70 Watts), lack of portability (~12.5 lbs.), and high cost ($20-25K per unit; and $30/day for disposables). There are 26M wounds in LICs that would benefit from NWPT. Aiming to expand this therapy and break down all major barriers to widespread implementation, our team designed and developed the Wound-Pump. The Wound-Pump system is purely mechanical, weighs less than half a pound, and costs less than $3 to manufacture. The efficacy of the initial prototype is currently being validated in a phase I clinical trial in Rwanda. In summer 2011, our team will complete a four week project in Rwanda, for which my travel will be funded by the Legatum Grant. During this time, the trial will be expanded to another hospital, final product iterations will be made, the market will be identified, and local manufacturing and distribution will be explored.