Addressing Issues of Poverty with Design

A new exhibit at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden showcases a myriad of products and practical designs for use in developing countries to address issues and symptoms of poverty. The exhibit is described as reflecting "a growing movement among designers, engineers, architects, and social entrepreneurs to create low-cost solutions for everyday problems faced by the world’s poor."

The displays include water purification devices, solar-powered lighting, drip irrigation systems, and cargo-hauling transportation. The items function to keep people healthy, increase crop yields, increase productivity, or to provide connection to others or information. Many of the problems that the designs address are problems that people living in developed countries hardly think about such as access to clean water, proper sanitation, and electricity. The designs address complex problems in seemingly simple ways. For example, the Q Drum, a cylindrical container that can hold 75 liters of clean water, and is transported by rolling rather than carrying. This makes the transportation of water easier and faster for the individual.

Ceramic water filter: The Ceramic Water Filter combines the natural filtration capability of ceramic material with the anti-bacterial qualities of colloidal silver, dramatically decreasing diarrhea, days of school or work missed due to illness, and medical expenses. It is used in: Cambodia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia (Bali), Iraq, Mexico, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Though the exhibit presents a handful of high-tech designs, the majority are designs made from simple materials that are readily available in the areas they are used. One such design is the Pot-in-Pot Cooler. It consists of a small earthenware pot that fits inside another pot, with the space in between filled with sand and water. Fruits and vegetables can be kept in the smaller pot and as the water evaporates it pulls heat from the interior of it, which increases the longevity of the produce.

While most of the designs address problems mostly prevalent in developing countries, there are a few that address domestic issues of need as well. One example of this is the Mad Housers Hut, a temporary shelter design created by Georgia Tech architecture students in 1987 to address homelessness in the Atlanta area. The pre-fabricated houses can be erected in less than one day and include a door lock for security and wood-burning stove for heat and cooking.

Domed pit latrine: The latrine cover slab can be cast quickly on-site and does not require steel reinforcement. Its tight-fitting lid helps keep the odor in and the flies out, while the wire hand heats up from the sunlight, killing germs and reducing contamination. These latrines are the standard in refugee camps in East Africa, where more than 90,000 slabs have now been installed.

Beyond health, productivity, and basic needs, the exhibit has a few products that function to connect individuals both to one another and to information. One such product is a solar-powered laptop that is distributed to children in developing countries. It boasts low-power consumption, long battery life, and a display that is readable in sunlight (a necessary design feature since many classes in developing countries take place outdoors).

Bamboo Pump Treadle: The Bamboo Treadle Pump allows poor farmers to access groundwater during the dry season. The pump consists of two metal cylinders with pistons that are operated by a person’s natural walking motion on two treadles. It is used in: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Zambia.

The exhibit’s designs function to address many of the problems of today’s poverty-affected communities, but they contain farsighted benefits as well. Through arming individuals with tools that: keep their bodies healthier and safer, make their businesses more productive and profitable, and create a more educated generation of young people, the positive outcomes from these designs should be felt worldwide for years to come.

>d. Pot-in-pot cooler: The pot-in-pot system consists of a small earthenware pot nestled within another pot, with the space in between filled with sand and water. When the water evaporates, it pulls heat from the interior of the smaller pot, in which vegetables and fruits can be kept. Used in: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Niger.

If you are in the Twin Cities area I highly recommend checking out this exhibit. It runs through September 7th at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and is free to attend. For more information visit: www.walkerart.org

No comments:

Post a Comment