Category: Human Centered Design -
19 November 2011
Lack of access to sanitation is a major problem affecting the developing world. Poor sanitation is a major cause of diarrheal disease, lost labor productivity for adults, missed school days for children, and additional financial burdens for families requiring medical treatment. In Cambodia alone, diarrheal diseases account for 17 percent of deaths in children under five. The World Bank recently estimated the annual economic loss due to poor sanitation there to be $448 million a year, which is equivalent to 7.2 percent of GDP.
Existing markets for rural sanitation in the developing world are woefully underdeveloped. Low demand and weak supply chains hinder the availability of sanitation products and services. Publicly funded sanitation projects often make extensive use of hardware subsidies with disappointing results; typically, only a fraction of the subsidy reaches the intended target group, and recipients often do not use or maintain their latrines over time.
For a number of years now in Asia, iDE has been at the forefront of Sanitation Marketing developments to address these challenges. iDE recently completed a pilot project in Cambodia that exceeded expectations by enabling 9.6 percent of the rural population to purchase sanitary latrines in eleven target districts over a 16-month period.
Now, a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made it possible to expand these achievements on a national scale, improving the sanitation conditions of tens of thousands of rural households while stimulating vibrant and sustainable sanitation markets. Over a three-year period, the Cambodia Sanitation Marketing Scale-Up Project will build on the original pilot project by working directly with some 90 local enterprises, encouraging them to invest their own resources into addressing the demand for sanitary latrines.
The project will enable 115,000 households in 60 districts of Cambodia to purchase affordable sanitary latrines. Other outcomes include:
• Improved latrine designs for two “challenging environments”
• Sanitation financing mechanisms for consumer households and supply chain enterprises
• A research and training center to become a global dissemination platform for Sanitation Marketing experience
The total cost of the project is estimated at $6,942,199. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded iDE a grant of $3,987,717. Other key partners in the project include the Stone Family Foundation, the World Bank Water and Sanitation Program, PATH, and the Royal Government of Cambodia.
Sanitation Marketing has emerged as a highly effective approach for rapidly and sustainably improving rural sanitation at scale by connecting consumers with products that they want and can afford. Evidence from a number of recent projects demonstrates that stimulating private enterprises to address the untapped rural sanitation market can have a revolutionary impact on the uptake of sanitary latrines—with associated health and financial gains for rural households.
The Sanitation Marketing model leverages the advantages of private sector entities, civil society, and government to reach large numbers of rural households in short time frames. Donor funds are not used to provide direct subsidies for hardware or installation. Instead they are invested in laying the foundations for demand-driven, self-financing market systems.
Broadly, Sanitation Marketing applies iDE’s market-based poverty alleviation approach to the related problem of inadequate sanitation. First, we develop a deep understanding of the target group’s needs and aspirations, and adapt or design affordable technology options to meet those needs. We strengthen the capacity of local enterprises to manufacture and deliver the technologies, conduct social marketing campaigns to encourage the purchase and proper use of the technologies, and coordinate with NGOs, microfinance institutions, and government agencies to extend scale and to reach poorer households.
27 July 2011
From Paul Polak’s Blog, guest bloggers Kali Friedmann and Danny Growald give an overview of the Design for the Other 90%, with some ideas about how to (and how not to) design for the developing world:
“Design for the Other 90%” Comes to Denver
By Kali Friedmann and Danny Growald
The Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt “Design for the Other 90%” exhibit has arrived at RedLine Gallery in downtown Denver, showcasing products designed explicitly to fit the needs and circumstances of the world’s poorest customers – the “other 90%” who are bypassed by current design processes.
The exhibit, organized in part by International Development Enterprises (iDE), showcases products from an array of designers, engineers, and organizations focused on development, including the Design Revolution (D-REV), the non-profit technology incubator co-founded by Paul Polak. D-REV is an outgrowth of Dr. Polak’s vision of fomenting a revolution in how companies design, price, market, and distribute their products, to produce radically affordable income generating technologies for customers living on less than $4 a day.
Products like D-REV’s Jaipur Knee (a simple prosthetic knee that costs $25 to make and retails for $80) and low-cost ceramic water filters from iDE and other organizations, help illustrate the types of technologies that – at the right price and combined with appropriate mechanisms for marketing and distribution – have the potential to leverage the power of the market to reach large-scale impact.
Kamal using the Jaipur Knee (YouTube)
True to RedLine’s mission of merging art, education, and community, these low cost technologies are displayed throughout the gallery along with the creative responses of seven local artists to poverty, waste, and the challenges of design for development. One such work, created by RedLine resident artist Viviane Le Courtois, emphasizes the disparity between the bottom 90% of the world’s citizens in dire need of practical design solutions, and the top 10% who are served by the majority of designers and live surrounded by excess. The product of several weeks of work, many gallons of Elmer’s glue, and the waste from a covey of Le Courtois’ friends, it is a round thatched-roof hut made entirely of shredded junk mail.
On the exhibit’s opening day, reporter Ryan Warner from the Colorado Public Radio program Colorado Matters met Dr. Polak at the gallery for a walk-through interview. True to form, Dr. Polak provided both a clear description of the design process required to create meaningful and effective tools for development, and an honest critique of the difficulties inherent in doing so.
Dr. Polak highlighted the importance of talking to customers and building not only radical affordability into design – a primary and thoroughly non-negotiable requirement – but also taking into account the much less obvious cultural and lifestyle factors of the communities being served. Failure to take into account details about social structure, cultural preferences, and the subtleties of life at the local level often results in the failure of the project as a whole. As an outsider, this requires a deep cultural understanding that can only be attained by spending time on the ground listening to the needs of users early on in the design process. A full explanation of Dr. Polak’s 12 Steps for Practical Problem Solving can be found in his book, Out of Poverty, but the first three are crucial, and, while they seem obvious, are often overlooked:
- Go to where the action is.
- Talk to the people who have the problem and listen to what they say.
- Learn everything you can about the problem’s specific context.
For example, there’s the Q Drum – a doughnut-shaped water transportation vessel that can be rolled to and from a water source with a rope tied through the center. Sounds great, looks cool, but, 1) at more than $70 per unit it’s too expensive for poor customers, and there’s no way for it to pay for itself, 2) the ropes tend to wear out quickly, and it’s unusable without a way to pull it, and, 3) the opening in the container is too large, making the water vulnerable to contamination from hands reaching inside or dirt finding its way in (80% of the contamination of bad water occurs during transportation between source and end-user). These sorts of problems can only be understood and solved by designing for affordability, spending time on the ground with users, doing a lot of listening, and continually iterating in response to feedback.
Developing countries are littered with well-intentioned but eventually useless products ostensibly designed with poor people in mind, but without their consultation or true knowledge of their needs. A classic example in this category is the PlayPump, a product that is not part of the Cooper-Hewitt exhibit. Designed like a manual merry-go-round, as children run and spin on it the device pumps water into a storage tank for later use. Harnessing the power of children at play to pump water for the village conjures up a lovely image of a type that often appeals to Western donors. As a result the project (run by PlayPumps International) received tremendous press coverage and raised over $60 million dollars to build 4,000 pumps in villages in Southern Africa.
Yet in just a few months it became clear that the project was an abject failure. In the absence of expertise or funding for maintenance of the devices, technical malfunctions were never resolved, and water ceased to flow. After a period of initial excitement, children for the most part lost interest and stopped using the toy, leaving women to spin the PlayPump themselves. Imagine a seventy-year-old woman, after a full day’s work, having to single-handedly spin this large toy that replaced her simple hand-pump just to get the water she and her family need. It’s this type of problem, rooted in the failure to connect with the customer, which designers working for the bottom 90% must avoid by beginning the design process on the ground, listening to the people for whom the product is being created.
By contrast, the treadle pump created by iDE has proven to have a higher output of water than the work put into it. As a result of that efficiency, of its low cost (around $25), and an effective marketing and distribution system involving troubadours singing its praises and local artisans manufacturing and selling the pumps, over 3 million units have been sold throughout the developing world, helping many millions of people increase their incomes by cultivating higher-value, off-season fruits and vegetables. It’s affordable, reliable, leads directly to increased income (and pays for itself several times in the first year), and it’s so efficient it allows men, women, and children alike to pump water without breaking a sweat.
Which brings me to my one and only point of contention with Mr. Warner: I was witness to the fact that at age seventy-seven, Dr. Polak was able to consistently and almost effortlessly operate the treadle pump, and simultaneously talk about it without skipping a beat – much less “appearing out of breath.”
The Cooper-Hewitt Design for the Other 90% exhibit will be at RedLine through Sunday, September 25th, 2011. RedLine is located at 2350 Arapahoe Street in downtown Denver.
Click here for the full interview with Paul Polak that aired on Colorado Matters Wednesday, July 13.
20 January 2011
10,000 of them, actually. Congratulations to IDE Cambodia, for facilitating sales of 10,000 IDE EZ Latrines in just over a year.
IDE Cambodia staff celebrate the 10,000 Easy Latrine milestone
Here’s the full story from IDE Cambodia:
Phnom Penh, Cambodia – January 14, 2011 – In only a little over a year, IDE’s Sanitation Marketing Project in Cambodia has reached a landmark of 10,000 latrines sold. This marks more latrines sold in the project areas in the past year than in the last four years combined, a tremendous step forward in public health for a country where only 18 percent of the rural population has access to a toilet.
What is even more remarkable about the Sanitation Marketing Project’s success is that all the latrines were sold without any price subsidy. Instead, the Sanitation Marketing Project has applied market principles and world-class product design to the challenge of rural sanitation in Cambodia.
A common local latrine, which could run up to $150, was well beyond the means of the average rural Cambodian, whose average annual income is a mere $135. With help from IDEO designer Jeff Chapin, IDE redesigned the latrine to make it more user-friendly—easy to buy, easy to build, and easy to use. The resulting “Easy Latrine” costs only about $35 and can be assembled by the families themselves in a day.
“The project began by treating people as customers rather than beneficiaries of charity,” said Michael Roberts, Country Director for IDE Cambodia, “and we have seen that many rural Cambodians are able and willing to pay for something that delivers real value.”
The latrine redesign is integrated with a social marketing campaign to stimulate demand. By marketing the latrine as a status product instead of lecturing people about the health woes of defecating in the fields, the Sanitation Marketing Project triggered people’s universal desire for “keeping up with the Joneses.”
Previously an unsexy product, the rapid growth in demand is now being met by local entrepreneurs in the latrine supply chain who have been trained by IDE in efficient production methods, business skills, and proactive methods for generating sales. There are now 22 Easy Latrine producers, who have inspired ambitious competitors to also join in the booming latrine market.
Not only has the Sanitation Marketing Project made tremendous strides in improving rural sanitation in Cambodia, it has done so by leveraging the market and improving the livelihoods of local entrepreneurs. The program has been recognized internationally for its success, winning the International Design Excellence Award and recently being inducted to the World Toilet Organization’s Hall of Fame.
4 August 2010
A two-part gallery exhibition of affordable water technologies and artwork from developing countries where Denver-based IDE works to cultivate prosperity, The Art of Dirt opens August 6 at the EventGallery 910 Arts, running through September 25. The show allows visitors to experience how simple, affordable technology design can improve the incomes and lives of the millions of people at the base of the economic pyramid through The Art of Dirt. The exhibition includes photographs, videos and a tomato garden growing in the gallery that is irrigated using IDE water technology.
IDE is dedicated to creating income opportunities for poor, rural households in the developing world. “The Art of Dirt” showcases some of the simple technologies, such as the foot-powered treadle pump, low-pressure micro-sprinkler and affordable drip irrigation that IDE has made available to poor, rural families, allowing them control over their water supply and opening up a new world of income-generating possibilities.
Many of the technologies in the show were selected by the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum for its recent Design for the Other 90% exhibition; this is the first time that they have been exhibited in the Denver area. The Art of Dirt incorporates photographs and videos of farms, farmers and irrigation in some the countries where IDE works; after Sept. 1, the exhibit will also include artwork by artists in these areas, which will be available for purchase through a silent auction benefiting IDE’s programs.
During the show’s run, IDE and 910Arts will host a number of special events, including First Friday open houses, film nights, and a gala event honoring IDE founder Paul Polak. For more information on these events, please visit www.artofdirt.org.
EventGallery 910 Arts is located in the heart of Denver’s art district at 910 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, 80204.
24 June 2010
Users and schematics for the award-winning IDE Easy Latrine. Photos courtesy Jeff Chapin and IDE Cambodia.
What do a consumer technology product, an ecologically responsible laundry detergent, and a simple design innovation for an age old product have in common? They were all selected as winners of the prestigious Best in Show Award at the 2010 IDEA Awards for international design excellence.
Latrines are a decidedly unsexy topic, more likely to induce uncomfortable giggles than provoke innovative thinking. People in the developed world take access to sanitation for granted. Yet in most of rural Cambodia, lack of adequate sanitation causes more deaths than HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Despite this fact, many villagers view purchasing sanitation equipment as an unnecessary luxury, partly because of the expense and difficulty of installing traditional latrines.
Jeff Chapin, a designer on sabbatical from IDEO worked with our IDE Cambodia team to tackle the problem. The solution? A low-cost sanitation system that villagers could build themselves using cheap, locally available materials. Each latrine costs about $25, and more than 2,500 have already been purchased and installed by villagers.
The award judges appreciated the Easy Latrine’s integration of product design, social strategy, and sustainability. In the end, they decided that excellence in affordable technology deserved equal status with the other two winners, the Slingbox 700U and Method Laundry Detergent with Smartclean Technology™. Judge Anton Andrews, of FrontEDGE Experience Planning for Microsoft Entertainment, said, “We’re choosing all three because it’s a sustainability story. All three tell the same story from different angles. One is cloud computing, the other is behavioral change, and the third is applying design thinking at its best to an extreme problem in another part of the world.” Industrial Designers Society of America’s Chief Executive Clive Roux explained, “Design works across the spectrum of human needs and issues and can produce excellence at both extremes.”
We couldn’t agree more. Congratulations to Jeff Chapin and the entire IDE Cambodia team on this well-deserved recognition.
The Sanitation Marketing Pilot Program, from which the “Easy Latrine” design resulted, is funded by USAID Cambodia MSME and the Water and Sanitation Program of the World Bank, and is implemented by IDE.
2010 IDEA Awards Gallery
Fast Company story
Best in Show judges video at fastcodesign.com
9 February 2010
Photo courtesy Jeff Chapin (wanderingjefe.blogspot.com)
Though most of our projects are focused on the agricultural value chain, even seemingly unrelated projects like our water and sanitation project in Vietnam can create new, sustainable sources of income for poor rural families.
The Dutch organization IRC – International Water and Sanitation Centre tells the story of Thuy Thanh Ky, a 43 year-old mason in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam. Unable to support his family through farming alone, Thuy started a successful business as a toilet mason, helping meet the increased demand for affordable, effective sanitation in rural Vietnam.
It’s interesting to note that Thuy was not initially chosen by his commune to be part of the group trained by IDE’s project. Not to be deterred, he was able to train himself after coming across IDE’s training manual. What a great example of the way IDE projects often spark rural entrepreneurship even outside of those we are able to directly impact within the original project itself.
Learn more at IRC’s website.
8 July 2009
Over at Fast Company, Alissa Walker blogs about IDEO’s Human Centered Design Toolkit, with a history of the project and some good real-world examples of its use. IDE was one of three organizations chosen by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to collaborate with IDEO to develop the toolkit.
“Human-centered design has always been IDEO’s approach to creating innovation,” says HCD Toolkit project lead Tatyana Mamut. But it was the Gates Foundation’s work in developing nations where IDEO saw an opportunity to apply their three core values for sustainable design: human desirability, technical feasibility and technical viability. “What we’ve done with this toolkit is taken the basic structure of that methodology and turned it into a process that makes it applicable to the developing world.”
Read article at FastCompany.com
26 June 2009
“Learning the limits of your expertise—and challenging your own assumptions—can be the beginning of a whole new level of learning. For IDE, learning about the details of poor farmers’ daily lives—for example, the unexpected importance of gender roles in appropriate design—was critical to helping the organization develop technology that would meet farmers’ needs.”
–What We’re Learning, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
At IDE, we often talk about the necessity of listening to our customers–small-plot farmers in developing countries–in order to develop income generating products which are useful and affordable. As part of our Rural Prosperity Initiative, we collaborated with the design firm IDEO (no relation) to develop the Human Centered Design Toolkit, a set of tools that can be used by organizations to better listen and respond to farmers and translate their experience and expertise into new design solutions.
Read more about it at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s website.
Download the Human Centered Design toolkit at IDEO’s website.