Mission: Design a system or a product that will increase children’s sanitation in schools in developing Africa.
Findings: From extensive research, including interviews with non for profit ‘charity:water’, reports and documentaries, I found that sanitation is the biggest issue humanity is currently facing. Two thirds out of all people do not have proper sanitation, which contaminates their water sources, causing 80% of diseases worldwide. As a continent, Africa is facing the harshest of conditions. At the same time, children are the ones most prone to get sick due to immature immune systems, behaviors that spread germs, lack of control of bodily fluids and exposure to germs in group care. It is also the main reason girls don’t go to schools in developing countries. Hand-washing is the number one intervention to decrease diarrheal deaths, and most designs are targeting homes, where one person washes his hands at a time, rather than a more crowded scenario such as a school. It is my prediction that if a child will learn to wash their hands regularly, they will keep doing it in their adult life. When dealing with water, I wish to adapt the design to take all stages into consideration. This includes the use of gray water, and therefore reducing waste and utilizing as much of the resource as possible.
Cost: The product will have to be relatively cheap as I would be targeting an economy that lives on less than USD$4 a day. However, as this would be a product that could greatly assist the economy and reduce sicknesses and create a long time impact, global funding can be raised to assist its at least initial costs.
Production and Materials: I hope to produce my product locally, as I believe that it is important for citizens to support their own economy and markets. Even though this is very region-specific, so far I found that cement and sand are widely available throughout the continent. I am also investigating the use of local plants that could act as anti-bacterials. The product will most likely use ‘appropriate technologies’, meaning that the design will take the environment, ethics, cultural and social issues into consideration as well as the local economy. Due to the economical state of the target market, I intend to use simple technologies that are likely to be more labor intensive. As the design is for children, I am considering using their high energy level to generate or clean water by designing a rewarding game. This should use fewer resources, be easier to maintain and reduce costs. As well as that, I will use ‘intermediate technologies’. These are tools and technologies that are more effective and expensive than low technology methods, however, cheaper than high technologies we use in developed countries. Hopefully the use of intermediate technologies will lead to a higher productivity and have a greater impact.