Sunday, August 9, 2009

Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Global Issues

During this past week, students in my online course, SOC 415 Global Social Change, discussed the role innovation can play in helping to solve the water crisis. Here are some student comments about how entrepreneurs around the world are approaching this problem.

Two innovators, Trevor Field and Paul Ristic, created PlayPumps International, which is a company that makes pumps that children can use to play with that ultimately help pump cleaner water to smaller villages in third world countries. "The PlayPump systems are innovative, sustainable, patented water pumps powered by children at play. Installed near schools, the PlayPump system doubles as a water pump and a merry-go-round for children. The PlayPump system also provides one of the only ways to reach rural and peri-urban communities with potentially life saving public health messages." (Play Pumps International) "I chose C Kumar Ganguly (India) Ganguly showed people how to carry out protection and regeneration of degraded, drought ridden lands in South India. He rebuilt an agro-forest habitat on 32-acre piece of land where one of the worst drought affeted distric in India. He uses simple, natural water preservation technique to improve productivity of land and livelihoods. I think he is doing a great job, by improving productivity and lilielihoods he is also improving people's live in India." (Ashoka)

"Angelique Smit is the director of Ideas at Work. She is responsible for marketing the water rope pump to low income families in Cambodia. This great tool has helped to lighten the burden of household water collection for individuals. The tools to maintain this pump are now available locally at the markets in Cambodia so the individuals are able to repair them as needed. They can be adapted for use on wells, rivers or ponds. Ideas at Work is responsible for installing 400 pumps which has benefited 20,000 people! They are addressing the gap between the technological products that are out there and bringing these tools to individuals who otherwise couldn’t afford it. Angelique Smit is really an inspiration to all for the great work she has done to help these families have convenient access to safe water." (Social Edge)

"I chose to research Eugen Tóth. He is from Slovakia and is creating new possibilities for water conservation. The idea of collecting rain water is brilliant and it gives the community an opportunity for total involvement. Some ideas that have come about require a lot of money and not every one is able to get involved unless they are making a donation. Rain is a natural resource and everyone can pitch in and begin collecting in order to solve the water crisis. Eugen realized this and then came up with an integrated water management system that would keep rainfall circulating in the same area. Every one would like to give water to the whole world but the best way to solve any problem is to start small. By circulating the rainfall in one region it divides the large area into smaller modules geographically. Water management will also be incorporated in the cities legislature to define different zones and what specific module would be appropriate for each. The first stage of his project “Water of Prešov for People” will cover an area of 7,040 hectares and directly impact 95,000 people. Another project called blue schools is more of an education campaign to teach young children about public space and the water management system. This will localize the rainfall system. Teaching the children is very important because they will one day have to put their knowledge and efforts into effect to keep the system going." (Ashoka)

Here is a video that explains rainwater harvesting. Programs have been implemented here in the San Miguel de Allende area, but also in many areas of the U.S.

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