Appropriate technology is a movement (and its manifestations) encompassing technological choice and application that is small-scale, decentralized, labor-intensive, energy-efficient, environmentally sound, and locally autonomous.It was originally articulated as intermediate technology by the economist Dr. Ernst Friedrich "Fritz" Schumacher in his work Small is Beautiful. Both Schumacher and many modern-day proponents of appropriate technology also emphasize the technology as people-centered.
Technology is the sum of techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation. Technology can be the knowledge of techniques, processes, and the like, or it can be embedded in machines to allow for operation without detailed knowledge of their workings. Systems applying technology by taking an input, changing it according to the system's use, and then producing an outcome are referred to as technology systems or technological systems.
Decentralization or decentralisation is the process by which the activities of an organization, particularly those regarding planning and decision making, are distributed or delegated away from a central, authoritative location or group. Concepts of decentralization have been applied to group dynamics and management science in private businesses and organizations, political science, law and public administration, economics, money and technology.
Efficient energy use, sometimes simply called energy efficiency, is the goal to reduce the amount of energy required to provide products and services. For example, insulating a home allows a building to use less heating and cooling energy to achieve and maintain a comfortable temperature. Installing LED lighting, fluorescent lighting, or natural skylight windows reduces the amount of energy required to attain the same level of illumination compared to using traditional incandescent light bulbs. Improvements in energy efficiency are generally achieved by adopting a more efficient technology or production process or by application of commonly accepted methods to reduce energy losses.
Appropriate technology has been used to address issues in a wide range of fields. Well-known examples of appropriate technology applications include: bike- and hand-powered water pumps (and other self-powered equipment), the universal nut sheller, self-contained solar lamps and streetlights, and passive solar building designs. Today appropriate technology is often developed using open source principles, which have led to open-source appropriate technology (OSAT) and thus many of the plans of the technology can be freely found on the Internet.OSAT has been proposed as a new model of enabling innovation for sustainable development.
A solar lamp also known as solar light or solar lantern, is a lighting system composed of an LED lamp, solar panels, battery, charge controller and there may also be an inverter. The lamp operates on electricity from batteries, charged through the use of solar photovoltaic panel.
Solar street lights are raised light sources which are powered by solar panels generally mounted on the lighting structure or integrated into the pole itself. The solar panels charge a rechargeable battery, which powers a fluorescent or LED lamp during the night.
In passive solar building design, windows, walls, and floors are made to collect, store, reflect, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject solar heat in the summer. This is called passive solar design because, unlike active solar heating systems, it does not involve the use of mechanical and electrical devices.
Appropriate technology is most commonly discussed in its relationship to economic development and as an alternative to technology transfer of more capital-intensive technology from industrialized nations to developing countries.However, appropriate technology movements can be found in both developing and developed countries. In developed countries, the appropriate technology movement grew out of the energy crisis of the 1970s and focuses mainly on environmental and sustainability issues. Today the idea is multifaceted; in some contexts, appropriate technology can be described as the simplest level of technology that can achieve the intended purpose, whereas in others, it can refer to engineering that takes adequate consideration of social and environmental ramifications. The facets are connected through robustness and sustainable living.
Economic development is the process by which the economic well-being and quality of life of a nation, region or local community are improved. The term has been used frequently in the 20th and 21st centuries, but the concept has existed in the West for centuries. "Modernization", "Westernization", and especially "industrialization" are other terms often used while discussing economic development.
Technology transfer, also called transfer of technology (TOT), is the process of transferring (disseminating) technology from the person or organization that owns or holds it to another person or organization. It occurs along various axes: among universities, from universities to businesses, from large businesses to smaller ones, from governments to businesses, across geopolitical borders, both formally and informally, and both openly and surreptitiously. Often it occurs by concerted effort to share skills, knowledge, technologies, methods of manufacturing, samples of manufacturing, and facilities among governments or universities and other institutions to ensure that scientific and technological developments are accessible to a wider range of users who can then further develop and exploit the technology into new products, processes, applications, materials, or services. It is closely related to knowledge transfer. Horizontal transfer is the movement of technologies from one area to another. At present transfer of technology (TOT) is primarily horizontal. Vertical transfer occurs when technologies are moved from applied research centers to research and development departments.
In economics, capital consists of assets that can enhance one's power to perform economically useful work. For example, in a fundamental sense a stone or an arrow is capital for a hunter-gatherer who can use it as a hunting instrument, while roads are capital for inhabitants of a city.
Indian ideological leader Mahatma Gandhi is often cited as the "father" of the appropriate technology movement. Though the concept had not been given a name, Gandhi advocated for small, local and predominantly village-based technology to help India's villages become self-reliant. He disagreed with the idea of technology that benefited a minority of people at the expense of the majority or that put people out of work to increase profit.In 1925 Gandhi founded the All-India Spinners Association and in 1935 he retired from politics to form the All-India Village Industries Association. Both organizations focused on village-based technology similar to the future appropriate technology movement.
China also implemented policies similar to appropriate technology during the reign of Mao Zedong and the following Cultural Revolution. During the Cultural Revolution, development policies based on the idea of "walking on two legs" advocated the development of both large-scale factories and small-scale village industries.
Mao Zedong, also known as Chairman Mao and Mao Runzhi, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who became the founding father of the People's Republic of China (PRC), which he ruled as the Chairman of the Communist Party of China from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976. Ideologically a Marxist–Leninist, his theories, military strategies, and political policies are collectively known as Maoism.
The Cultural Revolution, formally the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, was a sociopolitical movement in the People's Republic of China from 1966 until 1976. Launched by Mao Zedong, then Chairman of the Communist Party of China, its stated goal was to preserve Chinese Communism by purging remnants of capitalist and traditional elements from Chinese society, and to re-impose Mao Zedong Thought as the dominant ideology in the Communist Party of China. The Revolution marked Mao's return to a position of power after a period of less radical leadership to recover from the failures of the Great Leap Forward, whose policies led to famine and approximately 30 million deaths only five years earlier. The Cultural Revolution damaged China's economy and led to the death of an estimated 500,000 to 2,000,000 people.
Despite these early examples, Dr. Ernst Friedrich "Fritz" Schumacher is credited as the founder of the appropriate technology movement. A well-known economist, Schumacher worked for the British National Coal Board for more than 20 years, where he blamed the size of the industry's operations for its uncaring response to the harm black-lung disease inflicted on the miners.However it was his work with developing countries, such as India and Burma, which helped Schumacher form the underlying principles of appropriate technology.
Ernst Friedrich Schumacher was a German-British statistician and economist who is best known for his proposals for human-scale, decentralised and appropriate technologies. He served as Chief Economic Advisor to the British National Coal Board from 1950 to 1970, and founded the Intermediate Technology Development Group in 1966.
India, officially the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives; its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.
Schumacher first articulated the idea of "intermediate technology," now known as appropriate technology, in a 1962 report to the Indian Planning Commission in which he described India as long in labor and short in capital, calling for an "intermediate industrial technology"that harnessed India's labor surplus. Schumacher had been developing the idea of intermediate technology for several years prior to the Planning Commission report. In 1955, following a stint as an economic advisor to the government of Burma, he published the short paper "Economics in a Buddhist Country," his first known critique of the effects of Western economics on developing countries. In addition to Buddhism, Schumacher also credited his ideas to Gandhi.
Initially, Schumacher's ideas were rejected by both the Indian government and leading development economists. Spurred to action over concern the idea of intermediate technology would languish, Schumacher, George McRobie, Mansur Hodaand Julia Porter brought together a group of approximately 20 people to form the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) in May 1965. Later that year, a Schumacher article published in the Observer garnered significant attention and support for the group. In 1967, the group published the Tools for Progress: A Guide to Small-scale Equipment for Rural Development and sold 7,000 copies. ITDG also formed panels of experts and practitioners around specific technological needs (such as building construction, energy and water) to develop intermediate technologies to address those needs. At a conference hosted by the ITDG in 1968 the term "intermediate technology" was discarded in favor of the term "appropriate technology" used today. Intermediate technology had been criticized as suggesting the technology was inferior to advanced (or high) technology and not including the social and political factors included in the concept put forth by the proponents. In 1973, Schumacher described the concept of appropriate technology to a mass audience in his influential work, Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered....
Between 1966 and 1975 the number of new appropriate technology organizations founded each year was three times greater than the previous nine years. There was also an increase in organizations focusing on applying appropriate technology to the problems of industrialized nations, particularly issues related to energy and the environment.In 1977, the OECD identified in its Appropriate Technology Directory 680 organizations involved in the development and promotion of appropriate technology. By 1980, this number had grown to more than 1,000. International agencies and government departments were also emerging as major innovators in appropriate technology, indicating its progression from a small movement fighting against the established norms to a legitimate technological choice supported by the establishment. For example, the Inter-American Development Bank created a Committee for the Application of Intermediate Technology in 1976 and the World Health Organization established the Appropriate Technology for Health Program in 1977.
Appropriate technology was also increasingly applied in developed countries. For example, the energy crisis of the mid-1970s led to the creation of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) in 1977 with an initial appropriation of 3 million dollars from the U.S. Congress. The Center sponsored appropriate technology demonstrations to "help low-income communities find better ways to do things that will improve the quality of life, and that will be doable with the skills and resources at hand." However, by 1981 the NCAT's funding agency, Community Services Administration, had been abolished. For several decades NCAT worked with the US departments of Energy and Agriculture on contract to develop appropriate technology programs. Since 2005, NCAT's informational web site is no longer funded by the US government.
In more recent years, the appropriate technology movement has continued to decline in prominence. Germany's German Appropriate Technology Exchange (GATE) and Holland's Technology Transfer for Development (TOOL) are examples of organizations no longer in operation. Recently, a study looked at the continued barriers to AT deployment despite the relatively low cost of transferring information in the internet age. The barriers have been identified as: AT seen as inferior or "poor person's" technology, technical transferability and robustness of AT, insufficient funding, weak institutional support, and the challenges of distance and time in tackling rural poverty.
A more free market-centric view has also begun to dominate the field. For example, Paul Polak, founder of International Development Enterprises (an organization that designs and manufactures products that follow the ideals of appropriate technology), declared appropriate technology dead in a 2010 blog post.
Polak argues the "design for the other 90 percent" movement has replaced appropriate technology. Growing out of the appropriate technology movement, designing for the other 90 percent advocates the creation of low-cost solutions for the 5.8 billion of the world's 6.8 billion population "who have little or no access to most of the products and services many of us take for granted."
Many of the ideas integral to appropriate technology can now be found in the increasingly popular "sustainable development" movement, which among many tenets advocates technological choice that meets human needs while preserving the environment for future generations.In 1983, the OECD published the results of an extensive survey of appropriate technology organizations titled, The World of Appropriate Technology, in which it defined appropriate technology as characterized by "low investment cost per work-place, low capital investment per unit of output, organizational simplicity, high adaptability to a particular social or cultural environment, sparing use of natural resources, low cost of final product or high potential for employment." Today, the OECD web site redirects from the "Glossary of Statistical Terms" entry on "appropriate technology" to "environmentally sound technologies." The United Nations' "Index to Economic and Social Development" also redirects from the "appropriate technology" entry to "sustainable development."
Despite the decline, several appropriate technology organizations are still in existence, including the ITDG which became Practical Action after a name change in 2005. [ permanent dead link ] (Schwierzerische Kontaktstelle für Angepasste Technology) adapted by becoming a private consultancy in 1998, though some Intermediate Technology activities are continued by Skat Foundation through the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN). Another actor still very active is the charity CEAS (Centre Ecologique Albert Schweitzer). Pioneer in food transformation and solar heaters, it offers vocational training in West Africa and Madagascar. There is also currently a notable resurgence as viewed by the number of groups adopting open source appropriate technology (OSAT) because of the enabling technology of the Internet. These OSAT groups include: Akvo Foundation, Appropedia, The Appropriate Technology Collaborative, Catalytic Communities, Centre for Alternative Technology, Center For Development Alternatives, Engineers Without Borders, Open Source Ecology, Practical Action, and Village Earth. Most recently ASME, Engineers Without Borders(USA) and the IEEE have joined together to produce Engineering for Change, which facilitates the development of affordable, locally appropriate and sustainable solutions to the most pressing humanitarian challenges.Skat
Appropriate technology frequently serves as an umbrella term for a variety names for this type of technology. Frequently these terms are used interchangeably; however, the use of one term over another can indicate the specific focus, bias or agenda of the technological choice in question. Though the original name for the concept now known as appropriate technology, "intermediate technology" is now often considered a subset of appropriate technology that focuses on technology that is more productive than "inefficient" traditional technologies, but less costly than the technology of industrialized societies.Other types of technology under the appropriate technology umbrella include:
A variety of competing definitions exist in academic literature and organization and government policy papers for each of these terms.However, the general consensus is appropriate technology encompasses the ideas represented by the above list. Furthermore, the use of one term over another in referring to an appropriate technology can indicate ideological bias or emphasis on particular economic or social variables. Some terms inherently emphasize the importance of increased employment and labor utilization (such as labor-intensive or capital-saving technology), while others may emphasize the importance of human development (such as self-help and people's technology).
It is also possible to distinguish between hard and soft technologies. According to Dr. Maurice Albertson and Audrey Faulkner, appropriate hard technology is "engineering techniques, physical structures, and machinery that meet a need defined by a community, and utilize the material at hand or readily available. It can be built, operated and maintained by the local people with very limited outside assistance (e.g., technical, material, or financial). it is usually related to an economic goal."
Albertson and Faulkner consider appropriate soft technology as technology that deals with "the social structures, human interactive processes, and motivation techniques. It is the structure and process for social participation and action by individuals and groups in analyzing situations, making choices and engaging in choice-implementing behaviors that bring about change."
Some of the well known practitioners of the appropriate technology-sector include: B.V. Doshi,Buckminster Fuller, William Moyer (1933–2002), Amory Lovins, Sanoussi Diakité, Albert Bates, Victor Papanek, Giorgio Ceragioli (1930–2008), Frithjof Bergmann, Arne Næss, (1912–2009), and Mansur Hoda, Laurie Baker.
Schumacher's initial concept of intermediate technology was created as a critique of the currently prevailing development strategies which focused on maximizing aggregate economic growth through increases to overall measurements of a country's economy, such as gross domestic product (GDP).Developed countries became aware of the situation of developing countries during and in the years following World War II. Based on the continuing rise in income levels in Western countries since the Industrial Revolution, developed countries embarked on a campaign of massive transfers of capital and technology to developing countries in order to force a rapid industrialization intended to result in an economic "take-off" in the developing countries.
However, by the late 1960s it was becoming clear this development method had not worked as expected and a growing number of development experts and national policy makers were recognizing it as a potential cause of increasing poverty and income inequality in developing countries.In many countries, this influx of technology had increased the overall economic capacity of the country. However, it had created a dual or two-tiered economy with pronounced division between the classes. The foreign technology imports were only benefiting a small minority of urban elites. This was also increasing urbanization with the rural poor moving to urban cities in hope of more financial opportunities. The increased strain on urban infrastructures and public services led to "increasing squalor, severe impacts on public health and distortions in the social structure."
Appropriate technology was meant to address four problems: extreme poverty, starvation, unemployment and urban migration. Schumacher saw the main purpose for economic development programs was the eradication of extreme poverty and he saw a clear connection between mass unemployment and extreme poverty. Schumacher sought to shift development efforts from a bias towards urban areas and on increasing the output per laborer to focusing on rural areas (where a majority of the population still lived) and on increasing employment.
The term appropriate technology is also used in developed nations to describe the use of technology and engineering that result in less negative impacts on the environment and society, i.e., technology should be both environmentally sustainable and socially appropriate.E. F. Schumacher asserts that such technology, described in the book Small is Beautiful tends to promote values such as health, beauty and permanence, in that order.
Often the type of appropriate technology that is used in developed countries is "appropriate and sustainable technology" (AST),appropriate technology that, besides being functional and relatively cheap (though often more expensive than true AT), is durable and employs renewable resources. AT does not include this (see Sustainable design).
In order to increase the efficiency of a great number of city services (efficient water provisioning, efficient electricity provisioning, easy traffic flow, water drainage, decreased spread of disease with epidemics, ...), the city itself must first be built correctly. In the developing world, many cities are expanding rapidly and new ones are being built. Looking into the cities design in advance is a must for every developing nation.
The local context must be considered as, for example, mudbrick may not be durable in a high rainfall area (although a large roof overhang and cement stabilisation can be used to correct for this), and, if the materials are not readily available, the method may be inappropriate. Other forms of natural building may be considered appropriate technology, though in many cases the emphasis is on sustainability and self-sufficiency rather than affordability or suitability. As such, many buildings are also built to function as autonomous buildings (e.g. earthships, ...). One example of an organisation that applies appropriate earthbuilding techniques would be Builders Without Borders.
The building structure must also be considered. Cost-effectiveness is an important issue in projects based around appropriate technology, and one of the most efficient designs herein is the public housing approach. This approach lets everyone have their own sleeping/recreation space, yet incorporate communal spaces e.g. mess halls, latrines, public showers, ...
In addition, to decrease costs of operation (heating, cooling, ...) techniques as Earth sheltering, Trombe walls, ... are often incorporated.
Organizations as Architecture for Humanity also follows principles consistent with appropriate technology, aiming to serve the needs of poor and disaster-affected people.
Appropriate technology has been applied extensively to improve agricultural production in developing countries. In the United States, the National Center for Appropriate Technology operates ATTRA (attra.ncat.org), a national sustainable agriculture assistance program.
As of 2006, waterborne diseases are estimated to cause 1.8 million deaths each year while about 1.1 billion people lack proper drinking water.
Water generally needs treatment before use, depending on the source and the intended use (with high standards required for drinking water). The quality of water from household connections and community water points in low-income countries is not reliably safe for direct human consumption. Water extracted directly from surface waters and open hand-dug shallow wells nearly always requires treatment.
Appropriate technology options in water treatment include both community-scale and household-scale point-of-use (POU) designs.
The most reliable way to kill microbial pathogenic agents is to heat water to a rolling boil.Other techniques, such as varying forms of filtration, chemical disinfection, and exposure to ultraviolet radiation (including solar UV) have been demonstrated in an array of randomized control trials to significantly reduce levels of waterborne disease among users in low-income countries.
Over the past decade, an increasing number of field-based studies have been undertaken to determine the success of POU measures in reducing waterborne disease. The ability of POU options to reduce disease is a function of both their ability to remove microbial pathogens if properly applied and such social factors as ease of use and cultural appropriateness. Technologies may generate more (or less) health benefit than their lab-based microbial removal performance would suggest.
The current priority of the proponents of POU treatment is to reach large numbers of low-income households on a sustainable basis. Few POU measures have reached significant scale thus far, but efforts to promote and commercially distribute these products to the world's poor have only been under way for a few years.
On the other hand, small-scale water treatment is reaching increasing fractions of the population in low-income countries, particularly in South and Southeast Asia, in the form of water treatment kiosks (also known as water refill stations or packaged water producers). While quality control and quality assurance in such locations may be variable, sophisticated technology (such as multi-stage particle filtration, UV irradiation, ozonation, and membrane filtration) is applied with increasing frequency. Such microenterprises are able to vend water at extremely low prices, with increasing government regulation. Initial assessments of vended water quality are encouraging.
Whether applied at the household or community level, some examples of specific treatment processes include:
Some appropriate technology water supply measures include:
Poor sanitation is a major issue for a large proportion of the human population, with about 2.5 billion people lacking even the most basic forms of sanitation and more than a billion people worldwide practising open defecation in 2015 according to the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation of the United Nations.
The ideas of appropriate technology influenced the provision of sanitation systems for many years. However, since about the early 2000s there has been a departure from a focus on simplistic 'one-size-fits-all' sanitation systems.As conditions vary, sanitation systems also need to vary to meet the needs of the users and other stakeholders.
Technologies for sanitation provision, such as toilets, are important but only one piece of the puzzle. Sanitation needs to be regarded as a system that includes technical and non-technical aspects, such as behavior change and management as well as political aspects – the enabling environment.The overall aim should be to achieve a sustainable sanitation system. One option of achieving that aim can be the ecological sanitation approach which focuses on safe reuse of excreta.
It is impossible to name all possible sanitation technologies that may fall under the category of "appropriate technologies" but some common systems which might be considered to be "appropriate" include:
The term soft energy technology was coined by Amory Lovins to describe "appropriate" renewable energy."Appropriate" energy technologies are especially suitable for isolated and/or small scale energy needs. Electricity can be provided from:
Some intermediate technologies include:
Finally, urine can also be used as a basis to generate hydrogen (which is an energy carrier). Using urine, hydrogen production is 332% more energy efficient than using water.
Electricity distribution could be improved so to make use of a more structured electricity line arrangement and universal AC power plugs and sockets (e.g. the CEE 7/7 plug). In addition, a universal system of electricity provisioning (e.g. universal voltage, frequency, ampère; e.g. 230 V with 50 Hz), as well as perhaps a better mains power system (e.g. through the use of special systems as perfected single-wire earth returns; e.g. Tunisia's MALT-system, which features low costs and easy placement)
Electricity storage (which is required for autonomous energy systems) can be provided through appropriate technology solutions as deep-cycle and car-batteries (intermediate technology), long duration flywheels, electrochemical capacitors, compressed air energy storage (CAES), liquid nitrogen and pumped hydro.Many solutions for the developing world are sold as a single package, containing a (micro) electricity generation power plant and energy storage. Such packages are called remote-area power supply
Human powered-vehicles include the bicycle (and the future bamboo bicycle), which provides general-purpose transportation at lower costs compared to motorized vehicles, and many advantages over walking, and the whirlwind wheelchair, which provides mobility for disabled people who cannot afford the expensive wheelchairs used in developed countries. Animal powered vehicles/transport may also be another appropriate technology. Certain zero-emissions vehicles may be considered appropriate transportation technology, including compressed air cars, liquid nitrogen and hydrogen-powered vehicles. Also, vehicles with internal combustion engines may be converted to hydrogen or oxyhydrogen combustion.
Bicycles can also be applied to commercial transport of goods to and from remote areas. An example of this is Karaba, a free-trade coffee co-op in Rwanda, which uses 400 modified bicycles to carry hundreds of pounds of coffee beans for processing.Other projects for developing countries include the redesign of cycle rickshaws to convert them to electric power. However recent reports suggest that these rickshaws are not plying on the roads.
According to the Global Health Council, rather than the use of professionally schooled doctors, the training of villagers to remedy most maladies in towns in the developing world is most appropriate. – based on the model of the Jamkhed hospital – can remedy another 15%, while only 5% will need to go to a larger (more expensive) hospital.Trained villagers are able to eliminate 80% of the health problems. Small (low-cost) hospitals
Note that many Appropriate Technologies benefit public health, in particular by providing sanitation and safe drinking water. Refrigeration may also provide a health benefit. (These are discussed in the following paragraphs.) This was too found at the Comprehensive Rural Health Projectand the Women Health Volunteers projects in countries as Iran, Iraq and Nepal.
Some proven intensive, low-effort food-production systems include urban gardening (indoors and outdoors).[ citation needed ] Indoor cultivation may be set up using hydroponics with Grow lights, while outdoor cultivation may be done using permaculture, forest gardening, no-till farming, Do Nothing Farming, etc. In order to better control the irrigation outdoors, special irrigation systems may be created as well (although this increases costs, and may again open the door to cultivating non-indigenous plants; something which is best avoided).[ citation needed ] One such system for the developing world is discussed here.
Crop production tools are best kept simple (reduces operating difficulty, cost, replacement difficulties and pollution, when compared to motorized equipment). Tools can include scythes,animal-pulled plows (although no-till farming should be preferred), dibbers, wheeled augers (for planting large trees), kirpis, hoes, ...
Greenhouses are also sometimes included (see Earthship Biotincture).[ citation needed ] Sometimes they are also fitted with irrigation systems, and/or heat sink-systems which can respectively irrigate the plants or help to store energy from the sun and redistribute it at night (when the greenhouse starts to cool down).
According to proponents, Appropriate Technologies can greatly reduce the labor required to prepare food, compared to traditional methods, while being much simpler and cheaper than the processing used in Western countries. This reflects E.F. Schumacher's concept of "intermediate technology," i.e. technology which is significantly more effective and expensive than traditional methods, but still an order of magnitude (10 times) cheaper than developed world technology. Key examples are:
Through financial systems envisioned especially for the poor/developed world, many companies have been able to get started with only limited capital. Often banks lend the money to people wishing to start a business (such as with microfinance). In other systems, people for a Rotating Savings and Credit Association or ROSCA to purchase costly material together (such as Tontines and Susu accounts). Organisations, communities, cities or individuals can provide loans to other communities/cities (such as with the approach followed by Kiva, World Vision Microloans MicroPlace and LETS). Finally, in certain communities (usually isolated communities such as small islands or oases) everything of value is shared. This is called gift economy.
Features such as low cost, low usage of fossil fuels and use of locally available resources can give some advantages in terms of sustainability.For that reason, these technologies are sometimes used and promoted by advocates of sustainability and alternative technology.
Besides using natural, locally available resources(e.g. wood or adobe), waste materials imported from cities using conventional (and inefficient) waste management may be gathered and re-used to build a sustainable living environment. Use of these cities' waste material allows the gathering of a huge amount of building material at a low cost. When obtained, the materials may be recycled over and over in the own city/community, using the cradle to cradle design method. Locations where waste can be found include landfills, junkyards, on water surfaces and anywhere around towns or near highways. Organic waste that can be reused to fertilise plants can be found in sewages. Also, town districts and other places (e.g. cemeteries) that are subject of undergoing renovation or removal can be used for gathering materials as stone, concrete, or potassium.
Solar energy is radiant light and heat from the Sun that is harnessed using a range of ever-evolving technologies such as solar heating, photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, solar architecture, molten salt power plants and artificial photosynthesis.
Alternative energy is any energy source that is an alternative to fossil fuel. These alternatives are intended to address concerns about fossil fuels, such as its high carbon dioxide emissions, an important factor in global warming. Marine energy, hydroelectric, wind, geothermal and solar power are all alternative sources of energy.
Photovoltaics (PV) is the conversion of light into electricity using semiconducting materials that exhibit the photovoltaic effect, a phenomenon studied in physics, photochemistry, and electrochemistry.
Sustainable energy or clean energy is the practice of using energy in a way that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
Practical Action is a development charity registered in the United Kingdom which works directly in four regions of the developing world – Latin America, East Africa, Southern Africa and South Asia, with particular concentration on Peru, Bolivia, Kenya, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Off-the-grid (OTG) is a system and lifestyle designed to help people function without the support of remote infrastructure, such as an electrical grid. In electricity, off-grid can be stand-alone power system or microgrids typically to provide a smaller community with electricity.
Microgeneration is the small-scale generation of heat and electric power by individuals, small businesses and communities to meet their own needs, as alternatives or supplements to traditional centralized grid-connected power. Although this may be motivated by practical considerations, such as unreliable grid power or long distance from the electrical grid, the term is mainly used currently for environmentally conscious approaches that aspire to zero or low-carbon footprints or cost reduction. It differs from micropower in that it is principally concerned with fixed power plants rather than for use with mobile devices.
A zero-energy building (ZE), also known as a zero net energy (ZNE) building, net-zero energy building (NZEB), net zero building is a building with zero net energy consumption, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site, or in other definitions by renewable energy sources offsite. In some cases these buildings consequently contribute less overall greenhouse gas to the atmosphere during operations than similar non-ZNE buildings. They do at times consume non-renewable energy and produce greenhouse gases, but at other times reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas production elsewhere by the same amount. A similar concept approved and implemented by the European Union and other agreeing countries is nearly Zero Energy Building (nZEB), with the goal of having all buildings in the region under nZEB standards by 2020.
Clean technology is any process, product, or service that reduces negative environmental impacts through significant energy efficiency improvements, the sustainable use of resources, or environmental protection activities. Clean technology includes a broad range of technology related to recycling, renewable energy, information technology, green transportation, electric motors, green chemistry, lighting, Greywater, and more. Environmental finance is a method by which new clean technology projects that have proven that they are "additional" or "beyond business as usual" can obtain financing through the generation of carbon credits. A project that is developed with concern for climate change mitigation is also known as a carbon project.
Solar air conditioning refers to any air conditioning (cooling) system that uses solar power.
A low-carbon economy (LCE), low-fossil-fuel economy (LFFE), or decarbonised economy is an economy based on low carbon power sources that therefore has a minimal output of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the biosphere, but specifically refers to the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. GHG emissions due to anthropogenic (human) activity are the dominant cause of observed global warming since the mid-20th century. Continued emission of greenhouse gases may cause long-lasting changes around the world, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.
Renewable energy commercialization involves the deployment of three generations of renewable energy technologies dating back more than 100 years. First-generation technologies, which are already mature and economically competitive, include biomass, hydroelectricity, geothermal power and heat. Second-generation technologies are market-ready and are being deployed at the present time; they include solar heating, photovoltaics, wind power, solar thermal power stations, and modern forms of bioenergy. Third-generation technologies require continued R&D efforts in order to make large contributions on a global scale and include advanced biomass gasification, hot-dry-rock geothermal power, and ocean energy. As of 2012, renewable energy accounts for about half of new nameplate electrical capacity installed and costs are continuing to fall.
The developing nations of Africa are popular locations for the application of renewable energy technology. Currently, many nations already have small-scale solar, wind, and geothermal devices in operation providing energy to urban and rural populations. These types of energy production are especially useful in remote locations because of the excessive cost of transporting electricity from large-scale power plants. The applications of renewable energy technology has the potential to alleviate many of the problems that face Africans every day, especially if done in a sustainable manner that prioritizes human rights.
iDE, formerly International Development Enterprises, is an international nonprofit organization that promotes a business approach to increasing income and creating livelihood opportunities for poor rural households. iDE was founded in 1982 by Paul Polak, a Denver, Colorado psychiatrist who promoted the concept of helping poor people become entrepreneurs instead of simply giving them handouts. Originally, iDE was devoted to the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of affordable, scalable micro-irrigation and low-cost water recovery systems throughout the developing world. iDE facilitates local manufacture and distribution of these products through local supply chains that sell to farmers at an affordable price which they can repay in one growing season. This strategy allows farmers to grow higher value and surplus crops, and in turn links them to high-value crop markets where they can realize profits from their higher yields. Recently, their success is in the promotion of sanitation products to decrease the practice of open defecation leading to diarrheal disease.
Renewable energy technology has sometimes been seen as a costly luxury item by critics, and affordable only in the affluent developed world. This erroneous view has persisted for many years, but 2015 was the first year when investment in non-hydro renewables, was higher in developing countries, with $156 billion invested, mainly in China, India, and Brazil.
This page is an index of sustainability articles.
As of 2019, renewable energy technologies provide about 17.3% of Canada’s total primary energy supply and about 67% of its electricity production.
Mansur Hoda: (1930–2001) was born in a middle class Muslim family in an Indian City Chhapra, Bihar. Mansur Hoda as a student, had worked as a research volunteer for the Intermediate Technology Group. After working for Indian Railway for 10 years, he joined Bihar government as Inspector of Factories.
The Appropriate Technology Collaborative is a U.S. Non-profit dedicated to designing everyday technologies for the global poor.
Fecal sludge management (FSM) is the collection, transport, and treatment of fecal sludge from pit latrines, septic tanks or other onsite sanitation systems. Fecal sludge is a mixture of human excreta, water and solid wastes that are disposed of in pits, tanks or vaults of onsite sanitation systems. Fecal sludge that is removed from septic tanks is called septage.
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