Global Poverty Seminar: Projects 2017

Each year in our Global Poverty Seminar, each student is matched with a client who has an established project focusing on alleviating poverty in their community. After matching to their projects, students work closely with their clients to develop their grant proposals.

Please refer to the following for the available projects of 2017 from our various partners, including the UC Davis Humphrey Fellowship Program, IDIN, and the UC Davis Blum Center:

Increasing Efficiency of Charcoal Stoves | Location: Nbabyeya Forestry College, UGANDA

Description: Many charcoal stoves commonly used throughout East Africa are inefficient and produce a lot of carbon monoxide emissions. Improved charcoal stove designs can reduce the amount of charcoal that a family needs to use, saving money and reducing the environmental degradation due to charcoal production. Many of the existing charcoal stoves in Uganda consume a lot of fuel and produce high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) emissions to a level far beyond the recommended human exposure levels. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that is poisonous to humans. The project intends to explore ways to reduce CO emissions and lower CO exposure for stove users while improving fuel efficiency.

Awamu Gasifier StovesLocation: Kampala, UGANDA

Description: Over 90% of the Ugandan population relies on biomass fuels for cooking, and this is mostly with the inefficient 3-stone fire. Improved cook stoves are used in only 10% of over 6 million Ugandan households. This results in massive pressure on the dwindling forest cover, lots of time spent by women and children collecting firewood where women are exposed to risks like accident and rape. Women spent at least five hours each day while preparing meals for their households along with children where they are exposed to Indoor Air Pollution from the 3-stone fire stoves. Indoor Air Pollution causes respiratory illnesses. Approximately 19,700 people die as a result of IAP in Uganda each year of which 17,000 are children under five years. Thus it is important to research the feasibility of developing and implementing more efficient gasifier stoves.

Empowering Women and Girls through Technology Education | Location: Narok, KENYA

Description: The Kenyan economy has a high demand for people with technology skills; however, there is a huge deficit in the employment market that is set to increase in the coming years – before the education system can be reoriented to fill this gap. Traditionally, technology-based education has been the purview of men in the Kenyan society and women have been left behind. Even among women themselves, there are special cadres that have been totally ignored. Female ex-convicts lack the skills to fend for themselves in an increasingly technology reliant economy. Girls from poor backgrounds, especially those rescued from early marriages or female genital mutilation, are less exposed to technology and from an early age set on a path that makes economic emancipation almost unattainable. Since these populations lack not only the skill but also the confidence to use their skills, they are often left behind in the job market. In addition, for the ex-convicts, the stigma surrounding their previous incarceration means that no one will give them a job. However, it is hoped that by providing them with the right knowledge and skills they are in a position to determine their own future and be contributors rather than a burden to the economy.

Kepler Tech Lab | Location: Kigali, RWANDA

Description:  How can we use technologies to enhance practical hands-on experiences to better encourage locally produced product and employment opportunities? Kepler Tech Lab is looking for inclusion of digital tools and equipment to address mismatch of practical hands-on experiences, encourage girls to pursue engineering career, and break import and foreign labor dependency. We are not suggesting to eliminate imports, instead to encourage locally produced products so that we cannot rely on imports all the time. Economic development is one of the key factors that promote peace, especially in developing countries. This is often misunderstood to mean that anything that grows the GDP will bring peace to a country. If the economic development is not sustainable in the long term, it may even cause conflict if a crash occurs. One of the main methods to ensure that development is sustainable is to build projects that develop resources locally, instead of simply exporting minerals or oil.

Local Farm and Land Management Location: Bediani, GEORGIA

Description: The Bediani Children’s Center wants to involve an international student who is interested to work with local farmers in the Kvemo Kartli region and study local land management practices. This student will collect and analyze historical information on land management and agricultural practices in Georgia, focusing on the Kvemo Kartli region. A visit in Georgia will be used to assess current practices and trends in local farms and validate desk study findings. Based on the assessment the student will develop a report on threats of land management practices and impact on local economy and provide recommendations for potential interventions to change local land management practices. A specific land management plan will be elaborated for the Bareti land plot together with an Agricultural Research Center expert. The report will be used for planning of new educational courses for local farmers and land management plan will be applied on the Bareti farm to demonstrate benefits of modern land management practices.

Sustainable Cattle Feed Harvest: Fodder Chopper | Location: Dkar, BOTSWANA

Description: Across  Botswana,  cattle  are  dying  in   winter  because  of  starvation.  Crop   waste  (like  stalks)  is  available  but  not   used  because  cattle  cannot  eat  uncut   stalks.  We will work to improve a fodder chopper  that  is  appropriate   for  use  in  Dkar. A single blade chopper was developed on four steeply angle legs. The chopper was hand operated, heavy, less movable, and tightly fitted through a normal door and its blades were welded on and not detachable. Thus, there is a need to explore further alternatives to iterate the prototype, as well as research ways to make this device, and the use of crop waste in general, more efficient.

Ostrich Egg Shell Jewelry: Women in Small Business Location: Dkar, BOTSWANA

Description: For  generations,  making  jewelry  from ostrich eggshells has been an important  income generation  activity   for  San  women. Making  beads and   jewelry  from ostrich  eggshells is a long and tedious process. In  addition   to  being  labor intensive,  the  process   causes  the worker  hand, leg and especially back  pain. Finally,  many   beads  are  broken throughout the production  steps. Through both process and tool  innovation, we will   reduce  the  burden and increase the efficiency  of  making  ostrich  shell jewelry. Technical support is required for further development of prototype. Additionally, there needs to be a link with mechanical and metallurgical engineers and students to consider the ideas around the design.

PET Bottle Cutter: Plastic Waste Reuse Location: Dkar, BOTSWANA

Description: Plastic  beverage  bottles  are  a   common  waste  product  in  Dkar.   They  have  secondary  uses, such  as   water  storage  but  we  believe  by creating  and  providing  the  people  of   Dkar  with  a  technique  for transforming  plastic  bottles  into   strips  for weaving,  they  will  have  the ability  to  create  a  variety  of  products of  value  for  their  homes,  families  and community.  Potential  uses  of  this woven  material  include making   household  items  and  products  for sale. We  created  a  machine  that generates  plastic  strips  from waste   plastic  bottles. These  strips are the main component  of  our  weaving method.  Our  intention  is  to use this   method  to  create  multipurpose containers, as the Dkar  community expressed a need for such products. Examples of products  they  are  interested  in  include:  laundry   hampers,  food  containers,  wardrobe organizers, dish racks and gift boxes.

Precision Planter: Plant Propagation Location: Dkar, BOTSWANA

Description: The current process for plowing and plant propagation is not sustainable and very labor intensive. Additionally, the current plowing device is no longer subsidized in the Dkar community. Thus a prototype precision planter was created to move agricultural practices to align with the Conservation Farming Movement and address these issues. However, challenges exist for this device including: devising a mechanism to drop off a fixed volume of fertilizer and the further control on this volume based upon the seed to be planted and devising a mechanism to drop a selected quantity and size of seed to be planted. Technical support is required for further development of the prototype. Additionally, there is a need for discussion and sharing ideas with technical people whom could advise around fertilizer and seed dispersal mechanisms.

Timber Track | Location: Gabon, CENTRAL AFRICA

Gabon has about 22 million hectares of forested land which constitutes to 89.3% of the total land area (FAO) that are full of more than 80 exploitable timber species of which Okoume and Kevazingo are the most emblematic. The timber industry is the country’s second largest employer after the government. According to the ITTO, Gabon produced about 2.2 million m3 of logs in 2014. In 2009, the country banned raw logs exportation to promote the local industry. However, these efforts are being undermined by the harms of illegal logging. According to the WWF, 70% of the harvested timber is considered illegal. The illegal logs are usually trafficked to feed the international demand, namely in Asia. This indicates a difficulty on the control chain. Indeed, the system of control and traceability remains weak and relies largely on provincial units in lack of manpower. There are less than 10 control-stops of the Waters and Forests units in all the territory; the data is not easily centralized and not computerized, and therefore cannot be consulted if necessary. Added to this, corruption, which is one of the main difficulties in forest governance, is hampering some initiatives taken so far. Finally, efforts to establish a traceability and control system have so far failed, mainly because it requires large resources and a complex organization. This project will be developed through a partnership between the Gabonese Government and its partners, including the host NGO, Conservation Justice. The Goal of the project is to set up a control system of exploited timbers in order to reduce the circulation of illegal products and thus to combat illegal logging.

DONAGO Smokeless Stoves Location: Fomena, GHANA

Exposure to biomass smoke has been identified as one of the highest killers of women and children in developing countries. WHO (World Health Organization) puts the figure at 4.3million deaths worldwide each year. The smoke comes from inefficient and rudimentary biomass stoves and contains high levels of suspended particulate matter (PM). Torres-Duque et al (2008), identifies smoke pollution as having strong evidence to acute respiratory infections (ARI) in children and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This project seeks to eliminate biomass smoke from the working environment of women and children who depend on firewood to process Gari (Cassava granules).  It also uses firewood efficiently, about 40%. Cassava is tropical root tuber food on which over 800 million people in the tropics depend upon. Cassava may rot if it is not harvested within 12 to 18 months (depending on the variety). Gari is one of the many agro- products of cassava. The process is to roast the cassava dough into crispy granules over a fire in an earthenware or aluminum bowls. Gari can therefore be stored over a very long period, thus eliminating post- harvest loses. The intervention of this project is to make the DSS available to women groups/associations to facilitate their work in Gari production in an environmentally friendly atmosphere.

Cleaning La Caleta | Location: Ciudad del Carmen, MEXICO

La Caleta is a canal that runs through Ciudad del Carmen. This canal presents a high level of pollution coming from the discharge of water and solid waste such as plastics from households and industries. The outlet contains an accumulation of sediments, and the eutrophication of the outlet causes low productivity of aquatic flora and fauna and high concentrations of decomposing organic matter. There have been studies to measure the amount and types of pollutants in La Caleta, also projects to clean the outlet so the water can run along the canal again. Cleaning this canal by reducing the amount of pollutants coming from the households and cleaning the outlet of the canal so the water can run along would improve the quality of life of the habitants of the island, it would help the ecosystem to recover. The mangroves that go a long canal are also nurseries for different aquatic species. Recovering the mangroves will improve the fisheries activities and will bring economic benefit from tourism. Due to economic reasons, low government engagement and poor community involvement the projects have not been successful. That is why this project aims to design an implement a successful strategy to clean the outlet and to get community engagement to motivate the government to take the proper actions to help maintain La Caleta clean.