People working on low-cost technology solutions to the challenges of life in developing countries gathered last month in Colorado to exchange ideas, and two of them addressed some of the most basic needs--light and clean water--for people in India.
The International Development Design Summit is a kind of inventor boot camp geared at producing viable prototypes for products that can help the world's poorest. IDDS 2010 was held at Colorado State University.
One project discussed at the conference is the Sollys solar lamp. Like the Nokero solar bulb, it can replace polluting, ineffective kerosene lamps used at night in poor rural villages with little or no electricity. Some residents walk for hours every month to obtain kerosene and carry it home to mountain communities.
Volunteer group Avani manufactures and distributes Sollys in part of the Indian Himalayas in Uttarakhand state. It says there are no other solar lamps available in the region, where far-flung communities are not connected to electricity grids.
Avani trains locals to manufacture the lamps out of parts sourced from Indian companies. Sollys consists of a solar panel connected to a battery-operated fluorescent lantern. One model costs $45 and can be purchased through a partner microcredit loan for about $2 a month, which is what many families spend on kerosene oil. The price includes two years of maintenance, something Avani says distinguishes Sollys from competitors.
The group says its Sollys lights can operate for three days without a charge, which comes in handy during the monsoon season and its overcast skies. Avani sells about 500 lights per year, and aims to reach 1,000 families in 2011. … Read more