Category: Publications -

8 December 2011 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

iDE Annual Portfolio Now Available

iDE’s Annual Portfolio for 2012 is now available. It’s a colorful look at the exciting work we are doing in our country programs. Highlights include:

  • The launch of new country programs in West Africa
  • The incorporation of iDEal Tecnologias, a distribution enterprise designed to deliver microirrigation products to small plot farmers in Central America and Mexico
  • Building on the success of our “Easy Latrine” in Cambodia, we’ve expanded our water, sanitation and health programs


Click here to download the iDE Annual Portfolio (PDF, 4MB).

11 January 2010 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Securing the Prosperity of Nations

To start IDE’s blog on an inspirational note for 2010, we give you an excerpt below from an analytic essay written by IDE’s founder, Paul Polak along with Peggy Reid and Amy Schefer for the forthcoming special edition of Innovations Journal, “Tech4Society: A Celebration of Ashoka-Lemelson Fellows” to accompany a live conference in Hyderabad, India next month.

It seems self-evident that we should care about helping 2.4 billion people raise themselves out of poverty. But really, why should we? Most of us working in the field of development fall into that fortunate few: the richest 10 percent of people in the world. Is it altruism alone that motivates us to care about the fates of billions of individuals whose lives we know relatively little about? For some of us, perhaps. But for most, recent history has made it painfully evident that the fates of all nations are connected. As economic institutions and markets have become ever more globally linked, the peace and security of our nation and of all nations are inextricably interwoven. And the widening gaps between the “haves”and the “have nots” are not simply morally questionable—they also lead to greater violence and instability and further economic stagnation. As President Barack Obama cautioned the world in his Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo, Norway,“Security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine they need to survive.”

As we slowly recover from the worst economic downturn in nearly a century, we would be wise not to ignore the spectacular opportunities to create jobs and profits and to spur more rapid economic growth by giving birth to dozens of Henry Ford sized new markets that serve 90 percent of the world’s customers. By investing in income-generating enterprises that provide access to basic human needs, we are investing not only in prosperity but also in education, health, and greater global security.

The strategies to get there are surprisingly simple. We need to start by recognizing the enormous market opportunity to create products and services that 90 percent of the world will pay for instead of limiting ourselves to 10 percent of the world’s customers. We need to start treating the poorest of the poor as customers, not as charity cases. We need to listen to those customers to understand their biggest, most pressing needs and build simple, affordable solutions; ones that can be easily maintained and which create profitable businesses for local entrepreneurs. And we need to do so by relying on business models that offer attractive profits to companies and commercial rates of return to investors. Most importantly, we need to galvanize and embrace the self-interest and enterprising spirit inherent in all of us—companies, investors, and poor people.

The most effective way to reach the world’s poorest people and to give them the chance to generate wealth and lift themselves out of poverty is to energize market forces, those same forces that have fueled enormous wealth creation in developed nations for generations.

The time to begin is now.

– Paul Polak, Peggy Reid, and Amy Schefer

18 August 2009 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

New Report Praises MUS ("Moose")

The International Water and Sanitation Centre has issued a report on Multiple Use Water Systems (MUS) currently being implemented in developing countries by IDE and other organizations. The report, titled “Climbing the Water Ladder – Multiple-use Water Services for Poverty Reduction” concludes that MUS is an effective way to improve livelihoods:

“Our case studies confirm that water used at and around the homestead for multiple purposes brings substantial benefits to people’s livelihoods. Provided services are well targeted, homestead-scale MUS is a way of achieving a more integrated set of poverty impacts than conventional water services. Homestead-scale MUS empowers women and is accessible to the poor and is likely to be the best way to use water to contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).”

You can read an executive summary or download the full report here.

8 July 2009 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Open-Source Innovation

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

26 June 2009 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Farmers' Needs at the Center of Design

“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.

19 June 2009 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

FAO: Increase in World’s Hungry

Some thoughts from Bruce McCrae, IDE VP/Asia:

Today the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) announced that, for the first time in human history, more than one billion people worldwide are suffering from hunger. This is a sobering, even frightening statistic. It’s also a dramatic reminder of why IDE’s mission is so important.

IDE’s PRISM methodology confronts the very structural basis of hunger by enabling poor rural households to increase their income through micro-irrigation, high-value crops and better access to the value chain. The increased income allows families to purchase food and to acquire improved inputs for their farm production. The hunger cycle is broken.

Today’s FAO press release has a table listing the main effects of the current economic crises and household responses in five sample countries. Four of the five are places where IDE has programs: Bangladesh, Ghana, Nicaragua and Zambia.

What are the FAO’s recommendations for solving the present crisis? Here is an excerpt:

“In the short term, small‐scale farmers must be given access to indispensable means of production and technologies ‐ such as high‐quality seeds, fertilizers, feed and farming tools and equipments ‐ that will allow them to boost production. … In the medium and long terms, the structural solution to the problem of hunger lies in increasing production particularly in low‐income food deficit countries.”

This is PRISM. This is exactly what IDE does. Let’s get on with it.

— Bruce McCrae, IDE VP/Asia

20 March 2009 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

IDE’s New Book at World Water Forum

IDE’s latest publication was officially launched on March 18 at the world’s largest water event, World Water Forum 2009 in Istanbul, just in time for UN World Water Day on Sunday, March 22.

The focus of this year’s WWD observance is transboundary waters and water sharing opportunities.

IDE’s book, researched and written by Monique Mikhail and Bob Yoder, provides a comprehensive study on the practical implementation of multiple-use water services (or MUS) in Nepal and India.

What is MUS? Basically it’s a concept for low-cost water sharing systems that allow poor rural communities to access clean water for domestic needs and agricultural needs from the same source. MUS used in conjunction with IDE’s micro-irrigation systems allows for production of income-generating, high value crops using half the water that traditional farming methods use.

The book outlines clear ground rules for cooperation on implementing a gravity-fed community system design in the middle hills of Nepal, and discusses the legal, political, financial and institutional barriers and opportunities to scaling up larger MUS systems in India.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can download a PDF copy of the book, “Multiple-Use Water Service Implementation in Nepal and India” here (8MB PDF).

For more on World Water Day, check out the site here.

And, if you’re interested in participating locally, some events are listed by country here.

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