Who are we?

Innovation Aid is transforming the lives of people with limited resources by spreading solutions that they can build with local materials. Our projects are based around the idea of teaching and sharing innovative techniques and inventions from around the world – helping people grow individually, as a group and as a community. Successful innovations in the world of low-tech humanitarian aid are transforming communities globally. They are shared but seldom used in a global context. We are helping to bring them to the people in need.

We strive to work with anybody that wants to transform a community, using global solutions in a local context.

Use free local materials as the resource pool for any development work

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We constantly think of new projects, all based on the idea that humans always used their free local resources to build for the 21st century challenges in the poor areas in our world. Our generations all share the same free resources, like plastic or metal waste. We at InnovationAid have learned to find solutions working with the target community, taking advantage of these resources for low-tech humanitarian work. The global civil society has never learned to monopolize the free local resources of our time. There is much work ahead.

 

So when you see a plastic bag – do you see the remains of consumption?
Or do you see a free resource to transform lives?

We find the solution to local problem on the other side of the planet. We make the connection. We help to produce the solution out of the local materials in the target areas using low-tech tools. Each time we start a new project we look back on how we did things the previous time. How can they be improved and better adapted to the environment, the culture as well as to the community we will be working with.

Design & Brainstorming

We have the support from a big team of academics and organisations who help us to gain access to the local product designers. Design students and development professionals explored each part of the target area, recording all the perceived problems. For this we use geo tagged pictures, project management tools like Asana, report sheets and some quantitative SPSS magic.

A combination of the research with a network of local design experts, together with some grass roots work informs us about many problems and landfills to that we could exploit to provide working humanitarian innovations to any target area.

The MIT in the United States published a handbook that is used as a guide for our research, complimenting our design approach. Low-tech designs for dis-empowered people is something that is well established. Online resources like www.appropedia.org and www.demotec.org inspire globally. A combination of the two together with some grass roots work provides enough problems and existing solutions to transform any target area, from slum to refugee camp.

Following the qualitative and quantitative analysis of the slum and some of the major resources online, we start with the brainstorming and design phase while upcoming questions are still answered from the research team.

The Brainstorming consists of long sessions that start with the free association of all problems listed in a problem mind map. Participants invent new previously unconceived solutions where existing products might be altered or combined to produce a new product. This is followed by sessions where all innovations are analysed based on their feasibility and impact. Now all existing solutions from the internet are introduced to the brainstorming circle to generate dynamic feedback from the participants. Centres of gravity are identified. Which are the most pressing problems that have to be solved? How many low-tech development solutions exist to match them?

Collectively, this process can take 6 – 7 month to complete. In the case of the 2013-2014 project in India, we decided to build a water heater that replaces traditional methods of heating water in the slum. We used basecamp to realize this project and you can read through our conversations and tasks here.

Current methods to heat water gave electro shocks or had clear negative impacts on the respiratory system of its users. Whereby, electric water immersed heaters actually killed people. Therefore, it was regarded more unsafe then a plastic burning stove by the target community. Moreover, the design had to be safe and easy to fix. So we had an idea what we want to build and we know that it would help the community. But how can we implement the design in way that it is not perceived as a foreign or alien concept? The major obstacle to most humanitarian aid globally.

Prototyping & Production

The design process was steered by the identified needs and the available resources. Because academics and students were not able to solve certain design problems with the last prototype given their lack of insight into the environment of the target community; the last station of the design process was completed by the community or better an electrician in the community.

First we started thinking about putting a heating wire into a vessel in order to isolate it and heat the vessel assuring the safety of the user. As you can see in the videos, this was unsuccessful. The next step was to attach a heating element to plastic pot, with some soil to see if we could use it to assure that any flow of electricity could be directed there, unsuccessfully.

This is when the prototype was taken to the electrician who transformed our design into one which was nearly perfect. After some private consultation with an internationally recognized product safety agency we were able to come up with the final design which you can find bellow. Now the water heater is produced in the target area assuring that if anything goes wrong it turns itself off and can easily be fixed by anybody to work again. It is durable and was dropped in a boiling state from various heights resulting in a dislocation of the heating rod that was easily reattached to plastic pot.

The water heater is produced in the community and sold for a small profit. Please contact us if you want to know more.

Our future planed project will unite all available knowledge about low-tech recycling to empower the needy in a Jordanian Refuge camp for Syrian War refugees. The place is called Zaatari in Jordan.

We have already visited the camp and worked with NGOs there to suggest solutions to some of the biggest problems in the camp. You can find the report here. Your support would enable us to buy tools and finance the documentation of the project. There has already been a small project there to document that available rubbish and the existing products people produce from for example old UN shelter tents or their own agricultural projects.

We are preparing a crowdfunding push to realize this project. Maybe you have a better idea? Get in touch!

The last big project was the water heater project in Pune, India. You find the project outline here and a product catalog that we came up with for the target are here.This project took 1.5 years and was the start of Innovation Aid. It was the proof of concept, that a bottom up development work for innovative product generation is a feasible way to help people. This project was supported by students of the MIT of Design in Pune, the Deep Griha Society in Pune, the wonderful people of Demotech in the Netherlands and the support of various companies and individuals.

Apart from this project we have conducted some projects in Germany during the ISWI 2015 in Ilmenau and we are currently building products for a refugee shelter in Berlin.

Contact Us

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