Tag Archives: africa

Popuptology

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The past couple of years have brought just about everything that can be popped-up, from hotels and nightclubs to hair salons and spas. A curious re-mix of the pop-up idea is the inflatable movie screen range developed by the Open Air Cinema Humanitarian Program. NGOs and humanitarian agencies have used the technology to both entertain and educate small and large communities across Africa and beyond. One of the largest organisations using the inflatable screens is the FilmAid International.

FilmAid is a Global Implementing Partner of the UNHCR and currently operates in two refugee camps in Kenya, where it assists refugees from  Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its signature “Outdoor Evening Screenings” take place several nights per week and have reached up to 30,000 people in one evening. FilmAid’s “Daytime Screenings” are followed by group discussions enabling a deeper discussion about topics of concern. Topics addressed in these videos include conflict resolution and peace building, health education (e.g., HIV/AIDS, cholera, malaria prevention), landmine awareness, prevention of sexual abuse and gender-based violence among women and girls, repatriation information and more.

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The Open Air Cinema program has also been used by the  Shine Global and Fine Films organisation to screen the Oscar-nominated documentary War/Dance to thousands of refugees living in northern Uganda’s . They are also currently working with the Rwanda Cinema Center to bring films into remote corners of Rwanda.

The power of visual media is demonstrated both through the use of photography in mass media and the making of documentaries about socio-economic and political issues around the world. Apart from their more tangible impact on audiences, visual media such as film have a crucial role in educating societies that largely aren’t literate.

Image courtesy of the Open Air Cinema.

Keeping it cool

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Emily Cummins, a 21 year old student from Keighley, West Yorkshire has designed a food storing fridge that doesn’t require electricity.The fridge works by exploiting the process of cooling by evaporation. Made out of simple components and easily available materials, the fridge can maintain a temperature of 6 degrees centigrade. The fridge is made out of 2 cylinders, the inner dry one for storage of foods and the outer empty one to provide space for evaporation. The outer cylinder is submerged in sand, soil or wool that are soaked in water to enable the cooling process.

I wanted to keep it really simple and so I set about researching how we cooled things years ago. The simplest method of cooling something could be seen when you look at how we cool biologically  –  through sweating or evaporation.

That idea led me to the design and the fridge was born.

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Emily is now preparing to work on another version of the fridge that would be used for carrying medication in Africa. The design is brilliant, but I would like to know more about how much water is needed to keep the device running. After all, water is not easily accessible across Africa. Design innovation seems like one of the most important ways of moving on in developing countries. Another interesting example of innovative design for use in the developing world is the biomass stove, by a nonprofit company called Envirofit.

Image courtesy of Daily Mail.

Time Poverty

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Across the world societies are getting more affluent, but end up paying for it in other ways. In most developed countries, the numbers of hours worked keeps rising while those spent on leisure are on the fall. Every year millions of people end up not taking all the holidays they earn and thus return some of their earnings to the employers. The concept of time poverty is by no means a new one, but it seems that it is increasingly relevant across developed and underdeveloped societies. The concept of time poverty boils down to indivuals not having enough time for rest and leisure once they spend the required time in the labour market, on domestic work and for other basic activities such as shopping or commuting.

This is a recent study from the Economist:

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Historically our efficiency is actually on the increase – the amount of energy and resources used to complete activities or produce things is drastically lower in the developed parts of the world than it used to be decades ago especially considering the digital advancements in communications and the hyper-efficient mass production of items. In countries that haven’t gone through industrial revolutions one can see how much the working force efficiency is lagging behind – to look at Africa, its poverty, lack of sanitation and health problems are some of the major consequences of its lack of infrastructures taken for granted in the developed world. As an example, fetching water in some African villages may take several hours and many of its diseases are preventable with simple measures that come with adequate sanitation.

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Unlike consumption or income, time is a strictly limited resource and one that we just can’t get more of in our lives. The problem of ‘not enough hours in the day’ seems to apply to more and more people these days. So what are the major reasons for the increasing time poverty in the developed societies? Apart from people just working long hours, one can also account increasing commuting distances. Commuting is related to a lot of factors, but mostly to housing prices and urban sprawl. Consequently, across the world people waste more of their time, fuel and money due to commuting. We suffer because of the time taken out of our days and make the environment suffer from the pollution we produce while getting to work and then getting home. Considering how much work can be done over the Internet, I believe employers should drastically cut down on the required amount of hours in normal offices. This would hopefully be a win-win solution giving employees more time for leisure, family time and learning and eventually allowing businesses to scale down on their property expenses and energy usage.