Designing to help the world’s poor

Superb article from the New York Times about designs that solve problems for the world’s poor. Here’s an excerpt:

“A billion customers in the world,” Dr. Paul Polak told a crowd of inventors recently, “are waiting for a $2 pair of eyeglasses, a $10 solar lantern and a $100 house.”

The world’s cleverest designers, said Dr. Polak, a former psychiatrist who now runs an organization helping poor farmers become entrepreneurs, cater to the globe’s richest 10 percent, creating items like wine labels, couture and Maseratis.

“We need a revolution to reverse that silly ratio,” he said.

I love the rolling drum for transporting water. I’d imagine that we’d have a few people in India being able to use it, especially in remote villages where women walk for water.

Speaking of designs to help the poor, I was reminded of the clay pots that were ubiquitous in summer. You know the ones used to cool water before we could all afford fridges? I do see the pots now and then but I’m thinking more people use their fridges than the pots, especially in the cities.

But enough of my reminiscing, go read Design That Solves Problems for the World’s Poor by Donald G. McNeil Jr., for the NYT.


One thought on “Designing to help the world’s poor

  1. Interesting.. I also liked the pot-in-pot water cooler concept – Simple, yet brilliant!

    Yes, I do remember the clay pots. We used to get one every summer, despite having a fridge, till like about 10-12 years back. I don’t recollect why we stopped getting them. Well, we don’t even use the fridge to cool water now. :-)

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