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.
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 Stoves | Location: 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.