8/31/12: This post is written by Vincent Okoth, alumni of the Global Social & Sustainable Enterprise MBA Program at Colorado State University. Vincent participated in this year’s International Development Design Summit, which took place in July in Brazil.
Help me and I will help you, so goes a Ghanaian saying that has since been adopted as the International Development Design Summit mantra. This year’s IDDS co-created ideas and technologies with residents of the suburbs of Sao Paulo, Brazil and was hosted by the University of Sao Paulo (USP). It was a summit of many firsts, as Amy Smith of MIT’s D-Lab pointed out, including being the first bilingual, Brazilian and urban-focused summit. The emphasis this year was on problems faced by favela (slum) dwellers, and participants worked with community members to innovate and develop sustainable solutions. In order to accomplish this we conducted a few community visits where we worked with community members to identify challenges, and develop appropriate solutions and prototypes.
IDDS formed teams that looked into developing a range of products and projects, including IT solutions for financial management, urban agriculture, sustainable housing, recycling, playing solutions for children, and sanitation. The team I worked with looked into a low-cost option for durable, attractive flooring which would provide residents of the Dois Pallitos Favela improved housing options.
We identified locally available materials that could be repurposed, including the ubiquitous Tetra Paks, Polyethene and other plastics collected by the Cooperativa de Catadores (Cooperative of Trash Collectors). In the spirit on IDDS, this solution was, we believe, not only sustainable, but would also make an impact in the lives of residents of the favelas.