Event: Global Poverty Initiative – Millennium Campus Conference [4/18-20, MIT]

Global Poverty Initiative
Global Poverty Initiative – Millennium Campus Conference
Date: April 18-20, 2008
Location: MIT
Speakers: Amy Smith, AIDG’s Peter Haas, Paul Polak, Paul Farmer (Partners in Health), John Wood (Room to Read)
Ira Magaziner (Clinton Foundation)
Registration: http://gpi.mit.edu/register.php

The Millennium Campus Network (MCN) is an organization of university student groups in the Boston area committed to supporting the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to eradicate extreme poverty. The Network brings together student organizations at leading universities to make the anti-poverty movement – in the spirit of the MDGs – a fully cross-disciplinary, collaborative and integrated effort.

The MCN’s Millennium Campus Conference will be hosted by different member universities each year, with the MCN hosting a series of seminars, workshops, and projects in between each conference. The inaugural conference, hosted by the MIT GPI, will open MCN’s resources and mentorship opportunities to the hundreds of students interested in starting or continuing work in poverty alleviation in the coming year.


Day 1 – Friday 4/18

9-11am Registration
11am-12pm Opening keynote
1-2pm Technology keynote:Amy Smith
2:15-3:30pm Track Session 1

  • Economics: Globalization: The Panacea for Poverty?
  • Education: The Bottom Up Approach
  • Health: AIDS in Zambia: A Personal Account
  • Public Policy: Leading the Charge Against Global Poverty
  • Technology: The Technological Chasm in ICT
3:30-5:30pm PANEL: Stories from the Field: Student Work in Poverty Alleviation
Movie Screening: Salud
6:00-10pm Evening Activities

Day 2 – Saturday 4/19

8-9:30am Registration
9:30-10:30am Health keynote: Paul Farmer
10:45am-12pm Track Session 2

  • Economics: Banking for the Poor
  • Education: Bridging the Technology Gap for Educational Growth
  • Health: Health Challenges of Today: New Versions of Old Diseases
  • Public Policy: Power, Responsibility, and Extreme Poverty
  • Technology: “Small is Beautiful”: Appropriate Technology
12-1pm Education keynote: John Wood
1-2:30pm Networking Luncheon (limited to 100 attendees)
1-3:30pm Student Expo for Social Change
3:45-5pm Track Session 3

  • Economics: Institutional Aid: Harmful or Essential?
  • Education: Cost-Effective Education
  • Health: : Obstacles to Healthcare Delivery
  • Public Policy: Faith and Famine
  • Technology: The Green Revolution and the Fight Against World Hunger
5-6pm Action Workshop – Starting Projects for Global Change

Action Workshop – Leadership and Organizations: Leading Your Peers to Change the World

7-10:30PM Millennium Campus Concert at the Roxy

Day 3 – Sunday 4/20

8-9:30am Registration
9:30-10:30am Public Policy keynote: Ira Magaziner
10:45am-12pm Track Session 4

  • Economics: Cutting-Edge Research in Development Economics
  • Education: A National Call for Education: A Closer Look at Tanzania
  • Health: : Doctors and Disasters in Resource-Poor Settings
  • Public Policy: Poverty, Security, and Public Policy
  • Technology: Building Infrastructure to Catalyze Community Growth
12-1pm Economics keynote: TBD
2-4pm Millennium Action Challenge poster session
Beyond College: Career Expo
3-4pm Action Workshop – Overcoming Barriers in Project Delivery
Action Workshop – Fundamental Steps to Effective Campaigns
Movie Screening: Hole in the Wall
4-6pm Show Me: The Poverty Action Tour — Jeffrey Sachs and John Legend
6-8pm Closing Ceremonies and Reception

Video: Dean Kamen on Colbert Report talking about his water purification system

Dean Kamen's Water Filter
Dean Damen’s water filter (vapor compression distiller). Quite an upgrade from earlier prototypes. 😉

from Random Cool Sites via Chris Darling

See also:
Colbert and Kamen Solve the World’s Water Problems from Wired

They’ve pulled together solid numbers behind the hype by distilling (pun intended) multiple Kamen articles and interviews.

  • It is designed to supply a village with 1,000 liters/day of clean water. (Colbert Report)
  • You can use any water source — ocean, puddle, chemical waste site, hexavalent chrome, arsenic, poison, 50 gallon drum of urine. (Colbert Report)
  • Vapor compression distillation is not new. Doing it in such an incredibly efficient way such that it takes only 2 percent of the power of convention distillers is new. (R&D World and Gizmodo commenter)
  • The are no filters to replace, no charcoal, no anything disposable (just distillation). (Colbert Report)
  • The Slingshot (as its called) can use half the waste heat (450 watts) from a sterling engine electrical generator (prototype also being designed by Kamen’s company) to boil its water. (TED)
  • The heat put into the water is recovered with a “counter-flow heat exchanger” and recycled to heat the next batch of water (that is part of the novel bit). (TED and Gizmodo commenter)
  • Slingshot will be less then 60 lbs. (TED)
  • The prototype slingshot was hand-built for $100K. The goal is to get production units down to $1,000 to $2,000. (CNN)
  • The sterling engine, used as an electrical generator, can produce about 200 watts of power (it will never be more then 20 percent efficient) and 800 watts of waste heat (the waste heat that slingshot uses). TED
  • Later sources say the sterling engine can generate 1 kilowatt or enough power for 70 high-efficiency light bulbs. (CNN)
  • The sterling engine can run on anything that burns, propane or even cow dung. (CNN)
  • The slingshot is a David and Goliath reference aimed at putting water and power back in the hands of the individuals. (AP)

Related Posts:
Innovate or Die – Aquaduct: Mobile Filtration Vehicle
Congress Stepping up Support for Global Safe Drinking Water
Science Barge: NYC
Solar Aquatic Systems: Treating Sewage through Natural Processes
Happy World Water Day 2007

Event: Entrepreneurial Approaches to Energy for Development [Yale]

Entrepreneurial Approaches to Energy for Development
Date: Thursday March 27, 2008
Time: 1130AM-1PM
Location: Bowers Auditorium Sage Hall – 205, Prospect Street, 2nd Floor
Speaker: Prof Bryan Willson – Department of Mechanical Engineering at Colorado State University

Dr. Willson is Director of the Clean Energy Supercluster at CSU and a co-founder of Envirofit International – a non-profit committed to improving global health through technology solutions to environmental problems in the developing world. Since 2003, Dr. Willson has worked with Envirofit to develop cleaner 2-stroke engines in the Philippines and cookstoves in India. He will also discuss his work on algae-based biofuels through Solix Biofuels, a CSU-affiliated startup founded to enhance energy security worldwide as well as his experience with graduate-level education in technology and sustainable social enterprise at CSU (www.GSSE.ColoState.edu).

Video: RISEPAK, a Web 2.0 tool for disaster response [Harvard Social Enterprise Conference]

Another impromptu interview this time with Dr. Asim Ijaz Khwaja, economist and assistant professor at the Kennedy School of Government on his work with RISEPAK (Relief and Information Systems for Earthquakes in Pakistan). RISEPAK is a web 2.0 tool that was launched after the devastating 2005 earthquake in Pakistan to aid in 1) the rapid dissemination of information and 2) real-time coordination between typical relief actors (e.g. Red Cross, Mercy Corps, etc.) and non-traditional actors (non-relief NGOs and people in the field who were trying to help).

Duration: 1min 53sec

“By and large”, Khwaja told the assembled group at the 2008 Harvard Social Enterprise Conference, “the people who die in natural disasters do so simply because we can’t reach them quickly enough.” By quickly enough, he means within the first few hours or days after the disaster strikes. He goes on to say “In the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka, 61% of the survivors received no help in the first 2 days… In the 2006 South Asian earthquake in Pakistan, there were thousands who didn’t receive anything in the first week. Why is that?”

Dr. Khwaja and the rest of the RISEPAK team identified 4 possible reasons that they thought their site could address:

  1. Information. Real time (up to the minute/hour) data on where, what and how much relief is needed doesn’t really exist a disaster. The potential actors are often flying blind and relying on educated guesses.
  2. Coordination. In the Pakistan earthquake, there were many non-traditional actors (e.g. NGOs in the field who had never done relief work) who wanted to help, but had no way of coordinating with the centralized disaster response efforts. Many would simply load up vans with supplies and take them to where they thought they were needed most or where they could get to. In fact, a substantial fraction of the initial relief was done by these non-relief NGOs or individuals. Another [unsurprising] observation of these uncoordinated efforts was that the easiest people to reach (e.g. communities along the main road) tended to receive lots of aid, while harder to reach communities, say across the valley, tended to receive nothing or far less. A big question is how to coordinate these actors?
  3. Aggregation. The RISEPAK team noted that while the larger relief players knew the granular data of how they were impacting the relief efforts, (i.e. the number of trucks they had deployed, the amount of supplies sent, and to what districts), finer data about exactly which villages in the district or which people in a village was harder to come by/did not exist.
  4. Accountability. During a disaster response, many tend to view accountability as something that occurs months into it. The RISEPAK team found that real-time accountability was particularly necessary.

RISEPAK provides village level geographic, demographic, and satellite data of the affected region that include maps, census data/number of people, roads & accessways, elevation, etc. People send in information on current access, damage, what has been delivered and what is needed via fax, phone, text, and online form. Within a 8 hour turnaround, this info is collated and posted on the site. Dr. Kwaja acknowledges that there is a chance that people will try to game the system, but hopes that this will be less likely in the initial stages of disaster responses.

His ultimate dream is for a world-wide system of this kind rather than just for Pakistan. This would be a great nomination for a TED Prize.

URL: http://www.risepak.com/

Other uses of web 2.0 in disaster/humanitarian response

Link of the Day 03222008: EWB/AIDG/XelaTeco Project in Wired Mag

Engineers Without Borders Bring Tech to Villages Without Power

EWB-SF's Malcolm Knapp and Heather Fleming with low-cost turbine that they helped design. It will be tested in Quetzaltenango this spring. Photo courtesy Jim Merithew/Wired.com

EWB-SF’s Malcolm Knapp and Heather Fleming with low-cost turbine that they helped design. It will be tested in Quetzaltenango this spring. Photo courtesy Jim Merithew/Wired.com

Over the past year, we’ve been working with the San Francisco chapter of EWB on a low-cost windmill design as part of our Project Placement Program. The goal was to create a windmill for under $100 that could power LED lights, a cell phone, a radio and/or other small appliances.

Unlike the large-scale assemblies found in wind farms, the roughly two-foot-wide and three-foot-tall turbine has a vertical axis. Matt McLean, a mechanical engineer and the EWB project leader] said that orientation worked better in the choppy conditions likely to meet the turbine out in the field, where it’ll be bolted on to buildings, towers or even trees.

Next Sunday, the prototype will undergo its next-to-last build before [Heather Feming, a member of the design team,]and another volunteer head down to the Guatemalan manufacturing facility, XelaTeco, with the building plans in hand.

The engineering team had to make their design simple enough that it could be assembled from cheap and widely available components. As a result, their plans call for building the turbine out of hard plastic (or canvas) bolted on to a steel-tube structure. The rotor, which creates mechanical energy from the movement of the blades, runs into an alternator (actually a cheap DC motor running in reverse), which converts the mechanical energy into electricity.

Related Links:
Appropriate Technology Design Team

Related Posts:
William Kamkwamba – TED Interview (Video)
12 Days of Xmas: 3 Turbines
Link of the Day: Wind Turbine Buyer’s Guide [pdf]
Ecotricity – Bristol Port – Wind Turbine Construction Video
IEEE TV: Wind Power – The Technology

Link of the Day: Grassroots Design for BOP [SSIR]

The BOP Beckons: Why grassroots design will determine the winners in developing markets

Why is serious investment in bottom- of-the-pyramid (BOP) markets the exception rather than the rule? What keeps companies from building lines of business by meeting the needs of the poor in developing markets?

Their answers:

  1. Business as usual does not apply. “First, and perhaps most fundamentally, these new markets look awfully different from the standardized markets of the West.” For example: “Weak infrastructure creates challenges to product distribution that range from uncertain to insurmountable.”
  2. “Most companies don’t know how to package products for poor people, and they don’t know what products and services the poor prefer.” Some companies such as Unilever have been very successful in marketing consumer goods. “But consumer goods are, in many cases, peripheral to a more substantial opportunity with a wider potential customer base in developing markets – namely, meeting the basic demand for housing, clean water, medical insurance, and legal and financial services that fit local needs, customs, and income.”
  3. “[B]usiness investments in social and infrastructure needs often face the highest regulatory hurdles.”

Their proferred solution: Don’t recreate, innovate via grassroots design

[T]here is another way to look at developing markets. Rather than starting with the status quo in rich countries and measuring business opportunities in poor ones by gauging what it would take to recreate that environment, businesses can take a step back and do what entrepreneurs have always done: ask questions like “What do people need?” “Why don’t they have it?” and “How do they get it?”

That approach is the essence of grassroots design. Though it requires more initial thought and creativity, it makes things far simpler in the long run. Businesses that start with a grassroots design process end up with products and services that meet real, as opposed to perceived, needs; integrate local materials and processes; and reflect the culture and aesthetic of their customers. Of course, a company that embraces grassroots design does not gain the benefits of simply importing its existing business model and product line. But mass markets are fragmenting everywhere, and firms that learn to design up from local circumstances will compete better wherever they operate.

Thanks, Rob K.

Video: Birima & Africa Works [Youssou N'Dour & Benneton]

Duration: 3min 23sec

The Birima videoclip is part of the global campaign for the micro-credit programme in Senegal, a co-operative credit society founded by the Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour.


Birima helps the people of Senegal start their own businesses and develop small enterprises. It supports emerging artists and musicians, too. It is open to all, particularly women and young people, and it lends both to individuals and groups. Birima works with its clients, giving them the support they need to achieve business success.

Birima is also receiving financial support from Benneton who recently launched their Africa Works campaign. See particularly the Africa works images. I’m especially fond of the miller/welder pic.

Stacy Smith who worked on the campaign says [ref.]:

Late in 2007, Benetton began documenting the progress of the loan recipients through the images of photographer James Mollison. Mollison’s photos spotlight a diverse group of entrepreneurs including a fisherman, a decorator, a musician, a farmer, and a boxer. In keeping with Benetton’s commitment to social advocacy, the images are featured on billboards and print ads in the company’s new “Africa Works” global communications campaign. Benetton’s hope is that these everyday people will become tangible symbols of an Africa that uses the dignity of work to fight poverty and take back responsibility for creating its own future

via Osocio

Related Post:
Video: Don’t Wait For the Rain – Mr. Ebbo [KickStart MoneyMaker Pump]