Ask and you shall receive?

Hey folks,

I’m putting an all call out there to our friends and supporters. As you may know, we’re a young organization (we’re entering our third year of existence. Hurray!). We’re up and coming and have accomplished ALOT given a) how small and b) how young we are. We’re starting to have a bit of momentum in terms of getting our name out there, but we need your help.

So I want to ask you all a favor. If you believe in what we are trying to do and what to help us grow and build, please take 5 minutes out to tell four of your friends about us. You all are our best advocates and we need you to make our dream of getting green and renewable technologies to the rural poor a reality.

Click here to help us Spread the Word.

Other ways you can help

If you are signed up with Technorati, write a where’s the fire post about us: That would be a huge help!

If you have your own blog or website and want to help us with our 6 degrees campaign, post this charity badge on your site. The group with the most donors (not the most cash) by March 31st can get a $10,000 matching grant from Kevin Bacon.

Thanks so much for that taking this journey with us.

Warm regards,


Doha for dummies

Doha is sort of like ersatz or erstwhile. One of those words that you can vaguely define but when pressed for an accurate definition, you are left blushing or making things up.

With all the Davos talk and with me coming to the end of “The End of Poverty”, I figured do what my mum would always tell me to do: Go look it up.

So in keeping with my Kyoto, Mon Amour: 5 things you might not know about the Protocol

Ten things you may not know about the Doha round of trade talks. There is a lot of juicy stuff in there.

  1. Doha refers to the round of WTO trade negotiations that occured at the Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar in November 2001. The round was supposed to have occured in Seattle in 1999, but were disrupted by anti-globalization protests.
  2. My favorite part: The Declaration on the TRIPS agreement and public health which talks about public health, with special mention of HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB. A major point of the document is that member states have wiggle room when it comes to intellectual property in the face of national public health emergencies:

    [W]e affirm that the [Trips] Agreement can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO members’ right to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all.

  3. Other highlights:

    • Each member has the right to grant compulsory licences and the freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licences are granted.
    • [P]ublic health crises, including those relating to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other epidemics, can represent a national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency.

Where things all went pear-shaped:

Rich countries don’t want to give up their agricultural subsidies.
Poor countries don’t want to loosen their barriers to trade.

Also fyi: The G8 (aka Group of 8. Sounds so superhero-ish, no?) is Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States. It was the G7 until Russia joined in 1997.

Going Legit: Entering the Formal Sector

I found this post today (How do enterprises become ‘formal’?)on the Private Sector Development Blog. It’s actually from November but I thought the topic was sufficiently important to mention.

In many poorer countries, as much as 50% of entreprises operate in the informal sector. The percent of the population occupying the informal labor market drop to 4-6% in richer countries. Here are two ways that the World Bank characterizes “informal”.

  • Coping strategies (survival activities): casual jobs, temporary jobs, unpaid jobs, subsistence agriculture, multiple job holding;
  • Unofficial earning strategies (illegality in business):

    Unofficial business activities: tax evasion, avoidance of labor regulation and other government or institutional regulations, no registration of the company;

    Underground activities: crime, corruption – activities not registered by statistical offices.

When we were first started XelaTeco in Guatemala, we were surprised by the amount of labor regulations that protected workers that already existed.

12 Days of Xmas – 12 hydrogen

Mixing hydro with other fuels (hydrogen hummer)

Hyundai and chevy hydrogen

Hydrogen for home use

Homeowner of solar-hydrogen house has $0.00 utility bill from Engadget

Mike Strizki, a civil engineer living in New Jersey has converted his home into a completely energy self-sufficient abode that runs exclusively on a combination of solar and hydrogen power. Using solar panels, a hydrogen fuel cell, storage tanks, an electrolyzer to split water into Hydrogen and Oxygen, plus a custom made fuel-cell car, Mike benefits from a utility bill of zero dollars, and the comforting feeling that his activities don’t produce any pollution. Currently the solution isn’t in any way practical for mass adoption — the initial cost was $500,000, with half paid by New Jersey state grants — but Mike thinks that he could reduce this cost tenfold with more research and mass market production lines.

More from IHT

hydrogen boat – shipping containers
hydrogen from algae stressing
solid oxide fuel cells (ceramics) instead of proton exchange membranes

12 Days of Xmas: Much less waste a-wasting

We’re doing the 12 days of Christmas Appropriate Technology style.

Day 1: Much less waste a-wasting.

We’ve got biodigesters, waste to energy and more.

1. 4M Tons of Waste = 25,000 Homes Powered from Ecogeek

We generate a lot of trash as a society. The majority of the time it ends up in landfills or shipped overseas for a variety of purposes. What if that trash could somehow been harnessed for energy? That’s the idea behind Covanta, a company developing energy-from-waste solutions. The company announced it now has its first energy-from-waste unit working in the United States under the EPA’s New Source Performance Standards.

2. Rural Biogas, Global Carbon Market from WorldChanging

A renewable energy project in the North Kolar district of Karnataka, South India, has helped villagers adopt clean energy solutions while also generating emissions “credits” that can be sold on the international carbon market. In June, the Bagepalli CDM Biogas Project received a World Clean Energy Award for its innovative financing solutions using the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development mechanism(CDM). The CDM was set up in 1997 as a way for industrialized countries to meet their commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto agreement while allowing for the sustainable development of developing countries.

3. Fuel Without the Fossil from NYTimes via PSD Blog

Related Posts

AIDG has Ceased Operations

AIDG has ceased operations. Click through the audio/video slideshow on to hear about our 10 years of work in Haiti and Guatemala.

Dear Friends,

Ten years ago I was inspired by travels to create a new type of aid organization. One with a long term sustainable legacy. One that used market forces to reach constituents. One that embraced local production and innovation in emerging markets. Ten years later I can gladly say that with your help AIDG achieved those goals. The enterprises we helped have served several hundred thousand people, and they are just getting started. A few of them might scale to serve millions.

AIDG embraced local design and manufacturing, SME investment, and direct outreach in communities to achieve an impact that will last well beyond the scope of the organization. I invite you to look through this multimedia review of our ten years of work: Thank you for your support through the years.


Peter Haas
Co-founder Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group (AIDG)

Meet the GuateVerde 2012 Finalists

guateverde2012_sidebar1. HITECA: Founded by former AIDG and former Xelateco employees, Hiteca is a company specializing in the installation of micro-hydroelectric systems for villages.

2. Safin Arquitectos:
Building high quality green homes for a price affordable to every Guatemalan. These homes include the use of recycled materials, water filtration systems and solar power.

3. PROACMA: Pumping technologies for farmers. They currently have two patents: a waterwheel and a hydraulic ram pump.

4. SOLUCIONES ECOLOGICAS: Producing locally sourced biodegradable alternatives to plastic bags, cups and plates.

5. ECOCOMAL: Making high efficiency stoves and water filters for the Guatemalan market

6. DIOSA: Designing LED lighting and energy efficient systems for businesses in Guatemala.

The $200 Walmart Shelter in Place Kit

Stay at Home Kit

So Engineering for Change did a shelter in place kit list in response to Hurricane Sandy(ten_things_to_put_in_your_emergency_kit.html). But it bothered me because of the prices of some of the items. The home solar kit or Biolite stove will run you a couple hundred bucks and they aren’t that appropriate for the developed world. I love my Biolite stove but I’m not going to use it in my apartment if the waters have risen. It got me thinking: what could I get for a couple hundred bucks to shelter in place from Walmart? The answer is a lot!

Here is my $200 shelter in place kit (mostly from Walmart excepting one cheat from Amazon that was cheaper). All of these items would be appropriate to surviving a week in an apartment or house without grid services. Most of these items have other uses, such as camping, going to a festival, or tailgating. All of the items are under $40, most under $10, meaning you can pick them up a bit at a time.

The $200 at Walmart (and one cheat at amazon) Shelter in Place Kit:

Water and Hygiene $33.45:

3X 5 gallon foldable water carrier $5.98ea

These are my mainstay at Burning Man. They scrunch up great in a closet or under a bed when it isn’t a disaster. They carry 5 gallons of water. This is meant for your drinking and teeth brushing water, fill them up BEFORE the disaster strikes. You should also fill your bathtub, if you have one, before the disaster strikes. Your bathtub is for your cleaning water, toilet flushing water. You want a gallon a day per person. 3 carriers gives you 15 gallons. This item is a great place to splurge if you have extra cash and space.

Iodine Tablets $4.56
Iodine is for water treatment should you be going to non-potable water sources such as your water heater or that water that’s been sitting in your tub for a week. Also iodine is good if you have a boil order but don’t have the fuel to spend boiling water. Iodine tabs are more portable than chlorine bleach and are a great item to take with you if you have to move or to gift to others if they are stuck with no purification.

Clorox UNSCENTED Bleach $1.98 No Online link

Chlorine is the mainstay of water treatment. Use 3 drops (5 if very cold water) per quart. 1/8 teaspoon (1/4 teaspoon if very cold) per 1 gallon. 1/2 teaspoon (1 teaspoon if very cold) per 5 gallons. That will give you a 5-6 percent chlorine solution.

For water to sanitize dishes after cleaning use 1/4 cup per 5 gallons of water and dip after rinsing for 1 minute.

I cannot stress enough ONLY GET PLAIN UNSCENTED BLEACH. The other types of bleach are not suitable for water treatment.

Camp Shower $8.88

Though I am sure in a disaster you’ve been doing bucket baths with hand towels or sponges, after a week you’ve probably gone through the tub water and are wanting to take a shower (or maybe you are lucky and have a shower separate from your tub). Either way the solar shower will feel like civilization in a bag. Here’s a hint, don’t fill it all the way. Partially full you might get away with hanging it from your existing showerhead.

Light, Power and Communications $131.71:

Eton Solar Crank Weather Radio $35.99

This little radio has weather, FM and AM. So you can keep up to date with important information. It stays charged between emergencies if you leave it in the sun due to a solar panel on top. It has a crank for charging in emergencies, and it can be used to charge you dumbphone (see below). It has a light for when your other lighting sources die out (in the unlikely event you are stuck for a few weeks).

Energizer LED headlamp $16.28

If you are walking around or doing task lighting activities nothing beats a headlamp. The Energizer one is nice because it has different light settings. Also it has a red light mode so you can walk around without blinding the people you are talking to.

3XTent Light $4.00 ea

I like light in emergencies. Lots of light. Unfortunately this is kinda blue light. But it is bright and cheap. This is a lot of light for very little cash. Put these around your home and it will feel like a much more welcoming place. (a more sustainable cheat to this is a Bogo light which is solar powered but not available at Walmart: . I recommend Bogo over Nokero and D-light due to quality reasons. Others have died on me over the years, but Bogo keeps going strong and is easy to open and fix.)

USB Battery Backup $36.72 Note only 3000MAH

This will keep your smartphone charged for an extra day or two. For a week if you use it sparingly and turn it off to conserve power. I have an 8600 MAH version of this and spent more elsewhere, but the basic premise still holds. Our devices are part of what makes us feel like we’re not living in the Stone Ages. Being online is important. I remember in Haiti handcloth washing from the rain barrel, but still feeling modern because afterwards I’d be online. This device will keep your smartphone going at least as long as the cell towers will have diesel for their generators.

Dumbphone $9.98

Should your smart phone die this is a back up phone that can be charged from your Eton hand crank radio. Just text and calls, but it could be a life saver. Battery life on dumb phones is much better than smart phones and you should go a few days on one charge. Tracfones usually come with airtime. I list the TracFone, but the ideal would be to buy an unlocked dumb phone and switch your SIM in emergency so you have the same number. Note you need an adapter to do this if you are using an Iphone 4 and up with microsim.

36 pack AA batteries $12.77

Batteries for tent lights. These should last you 360 hours (assuming you don’t use all 3 tent lights simultaneously)

20 pack AAA batteries $7.97

Batteries for headlamp. These should last you 450 hours with the headlamp.

Cooking $37.30:

Gasone Portable Butane Stove: $12.95

This is my cheat from Amazon because the walmart butane stove was cheaper quality and higher price. This is a stove that you can use indoors without killing yourself with carbon monoxide or tipping it over and starting a fire. It is a simple to operate single burner stove. Cheaper and much less complex than many camping stoves.

12 Butane Canisters for the Stove: $17.88

This will last you way more than a week’s worth of cooking. 1 canister should give you 3 squares for 2 days.

A Real Can Opener $6.47

This is just because I have heard stories of people buying canned food and getting home and realizing the can opener is busted. If you are buying canned goods you want to have a good working can opener, not just a Swiss army knife, on hand.

I did not cover food in this post but it shall suffice to say I am a big fan of dried goods, especially Japanese food in a disaster or while camping. Nothing like having veggie sushi and miso soup to feel like you are living large in a disaster.

I also did not cover heating, but if you have ever been without heat in the winter there is nothing like pitching a tent indoors and covering it with blankets to shrink that heat envelope (you still need to use blankets or a sleeping bag and an insulating pad or mattress inside the tent as well).

Hope this post is useful to some people to help them prepare for the next disaster.