Projects D-Lab Food and Health 2016

1. A web platform for collaboration under human and natural disasters, Lahore, Pakistán (IDIN Network)

In cases of emergency such as natural or human catastrophes, governmental institutions as well as non-governmental aid organisation are frequently under equipped to deal with the sudden large number of patients or people in need.

In such cases Pakistani civil society is excited to help and donate equipment, food, blood, time and more. However, the needs of the acting organisations are often not clear to the volunteers, which leaves certain needs unanswered and creates an unnecessary oversupply in other cases. Once a hospital might receive too much food, whereas patients at others have too little. This potentially wastes important resources and can disincentivize people from donating or volunteering again if it seems like their help is unnecessary.

The Solution: Make-i-Stan ( has developed is a web platform that captures, communicates and tracks needs in specific larger emergency situations such as droughts, floods, earthquakes and attacks, so that willing volunteers can respond accordingly. Certified organizations can register a specific need, which is displayed on a dashboard and shareable on common social media platforms. The public can then answer to this need. Progress and completion are tracked and displayed on the web platform.

2. Thalir: A Nutrition-Monitoring and Educational Tool for Community Health Workers, India (IDIN Network)

 How can we empower illiterate health workers to diagnose and assess malnutrition in children effectively?

We found health workers at THI (and potentially globally) struggle with standardizing malnutrition diagnosis and providing locally accessible treatment for lasting improvement of community nutrition because of contextually inappropriate tools. We addressed this problem framing by developing a qualitative and quantitative nutrition assessment tool, the Thalir concept.

Solution: The Thalir concept provides Health Workers, regardless of literacy, with the capacity to accurately diagnose, monitor, and record community nutritional status. Through a mixed-method qualitative and quantitative approach, the tool standardizes the diagnostic process. It facilitates education of community members during the monitoring process. The treatments the device recommends also promote local agriculture and healthy nutritional choices.

During the IDDS summit in Aarogyam this team used community feedback from the rural hospital, Tribal Health Initiative (THI), and surrounding villages to identify the community need for nutritional status monitoring and education. Through in depth interviews and focus group discussions, the Thalir concept was co-created.


3. DriCheck – Dried Food Moisture Content Indicator, Africa, Horticultural Innovation Lab

Aflatoxin, produced by Aspergillus flavus, is a common contaminant in stored maize, peanuts, and other dried products. At high concentrations, aflatoxin causes liver cancer. At lower exposures, aflatoxin compromises the immune system, and inhibits absorption of essential minerals and vitamins. Stunting, affecting large portions of children in sub Saharan Africa, is associated with ingesting aflatoxin tainted food. Aspergillus and other mycotoxin forming molds do not grow when dried below a 0.65 water activity. This equals a headspace relative humidity equal to 65%. Thompson and Reid have developed a durable humidity indicator in the form of a laminated business card. It can be produced for a few cents each.

The key issues to evaluate are:
1. How should use instructions and test results be presented so a wide range of people understand it?
2. Manufacturing is simple, should it be done locally?
3. How should the card be marketed or distributed?

4. Rah-e-maa:

In order to reduce maternal mortality, we designed a hotline for fathers that gives them access to information about to pregnancy and delivery. This information is very culturally sensitive and traditionally not shared with men. Fathers are not involved in caring for their wives during the pregnancy or delivery and this dynamic (or lack thereof) is dictated by culture. So with the hotline, we are hoping to change that equation. I’ve attached a video that goes through our problem and how we addressed it in more detail. It was made for an audience fluent in English in Urdu, so please overlook the Urdu parts. The prototype is still very much in the development phase. We do not have a service that can be made public tomorrow yet.

The Solution: We have farmland that could help women nutrition for their children, because we have a problem of malnutrition is linked to birth reconciliation problem that causes malnutrition of early weaning child causing diarrhea, incomplete vaccination. To undertake and successfully prosecute maternal health and neo natal, I have this project to help people in my community, to save a number of women and children.

5. Koom International, Yargho, Burkina Faso.

The Problem: Burkina Faso, because of its limited resources to store rain water; farmers’ agricultural activities only span the four months of the irregular rainy season. The community members of Yargho are seeking solutions for year-round water storage for irrigation use.

Koom International is assisting the people of Yargho by installing a small-scale dam to capture surface and rain water for a constant source of irrigation water. In addition to the dam, Koom also plans to provide education materials on irrigation management to maximize yields.

Koom International and AAM have joined hands to aid the local community in Yargho through this project to construct a small-scale dam to store the rainwater for irrigation purposes during the dry season.


6. Approtechs, El Salvador (IDIN Network)

We have a bike-powered corn sheller that it needs to be reevaluated to improve its efficiency and benefit farmers in la Magdalena. We want to have a better understanding of the costs, resources and challenges involved in order  to improve this technology.

Approtech is an initiative supported by IDIN since 2015, focused on technologies development, through educational processes in rural areas from Santa Ana’s department in the context of poverty to improve agricultural work processes. As a solution we propose the organization of the people involved in agricultural activities, to develop workshops in which they are trained to co-create technologies that facilitate their work in the field from their own needs and ideas.


7. MARS: A Holistic Model to Improve Agricultural Supply Chains, India.

The sponsoring firm would like to see students develop an integrated, holistic model for achieving economically, socially and environmentally sustainable agricultural supply chains in India. The factors at play that determine whether or not a farmers chooses to grow a crop are many and complex. Furthermore, the factors that a global buyer like this firm must account for when purchasing local ingredients are equally numerous and demanding. The challenge lies in identifying the ideal suite of technologies and practices that are effective, affordable and viable.

We seek to understand the ideal model to make farming these three ingredients economically viable for all actors along the value chain while also ensuring that our firm contributes a net positive impact on the communities and the environments the ingredients are sourced from.

This project will require an understanding of the best agricultural practices surrounding each crop, the current and future market conditions, the emergence of new or changing technologies and scientific/ genetic advances as well as the social, cultural, political and environmental contexts of these origins.

8. Sequestering Soil Solutions, Amazon, Brasil.

With increasing demand for both high & low tech solutions to interconnected, complex, adaptive problems (ie: climate change, food insecurity, farmer scarcity, drought, GHG-producing waste streams like landfills/manure lagoons), high-leverage and cascading opportunities to internalize an entire value chain will be leveraged by the client (“S3 ”) as a holistic community wealth building strategy through scaling via bioregional replication. Structured as a vertically integrated social enterprise that markets a suite of complementary products that can be recycled back into the business, the catalyst informing S3 ’s “Surpas sing the Triple-Bottom Line” business model is innovation in regenerative carbon farming technology.

Description of Technology
The primary initial value proposition of S3 will be the production of a state of the art compost & soil manufacturing system that is passive, intelligent, scalable, and that can be assembled using manual or robotic labor. These “continuous flow reactors” combine a “ thermophilic pre-composting” & “vermicomposting” (worm composting) process into a single gravity-fed system for use on farms, restaurants, neighborhoods, & other bio-waste streams. This technology aims to disrupt the the vermicomposting market and the designs for it will most likely be open-source within S3 ’s first five years of operation. These vermicomposting machines will be marketed as well as integrated into the business operations to grow fresh produce, herbs, value added products, poultry, eggs, gourmet mushrooms, worms, black soldier fly larvae, fish, etc

9. Medicinal Herb Trail, Amazon, Brasil.

A compilation of traditional recipes for medicinal uses of Amazonian plants was created during IDDS Amazon. Local partners are establishing a set of educational trails that walk people through a medicine cabinet’s worth of plants. Alternative models of tourism must be explored to bring people to the town of Boa Vista in a way that does not degrade the ecosystem and the community. Amazonian medicinal and aromatic plants must be investigated and catalogued.

Biological and Agricultural Engineering students are potentially assuming the challenge of designing an artisanal essential oil distillery must be designed to integrate into the retiros (Cassava furnaces) in order to obtain essential oils from their forest products.


10. Aquaponics, Amazon, Brasil.

The design and construction of a riverside aquaculture fish tank was taken to near completion during IDDS Amazon. Riverside Aquaculture has the potential to be environmentally damaging due to its high organic matter effluent and also has the potential for integration into a larger scheme that filters riverwater using the tides to push water through tanks into a sequence of garden beds. Chinampas were a similar system that integrated aquaculture and horticulture for ecological food production. Contemporary aquaponic models accomplish this as well, but in an environment where tides are constantly bringing fresh water into the system, adjustments must be made to accomodate this flow.