Increasing water access throughhuman-centered design : Design of a off-grid water purifying devicein a resource constraint environment

University essay from Luleå tekniska universitet/Institutionen för ekonomi, teknik, konst och samhälle

Abstract: Patrick and Felicia are a couple who run a farm. Every day they harvest their crops and sell them at the local market. This is the family's everyday life and today's income goes to all the family'sexpenses such as food, water, and transport to the market. At the end of the day, the family's totalbudget results in plus or minus zero. The crop that was not sold must be thrown away because itrots during the night. If the family had a refrigerator, they would have been able to store the cropsand extend their life of it, which in turn gives them the opportunity to also sell the crops the nextday and earn more money. The crux of the family is that the cheapest refrigerator on the marketis far too expensive to buy and operate due to electricity costs. The cooler of MittiCool Clay is acooler made of clay that costs around 1000 SEK and does not need electricity. Instead, it uses thenatural laws of thermodynamics to cool the contents making it free to operate.This is an example of a scenario where a product can create value for a family living in a resourceconstrainedenvironment (RCE). The product can offer a possible way to be able to save moneyand eventually be able to afford schooling for their child, a savings capital for crises and healthcareThis thesis uses a human-centred design process to create a solution for this target group. Thechallenge for these particular people in this project is the low access to clean water.Through a need-finding process that resulted in 10 insights that served as a guide in the project.In three workshops and with a contoured idea generation process with residents and designteachers, a variety of ideas could be developed. The ideas were put together and became concepts.The concept was evaluated through an evaluation matrix based on the needs of the users, thetechnical possibility, and the potential financial sustainability. At the end of the evaluationprocess, one concept remained Life Cube. The concept is a franchise, product and a service thatenables residents to clean their grey cat through an off-grid "cube" to drinkable quality. Theconcept also provides an opportunity for a prospective cube owner to run his own business andoffer this service.Four billion people live at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid and can be potentialcustomers. The feasibility study showed that there are very few products in this market today andthat the number of potential customers is large. Creating a so-called ‘frugal innovation’, combinedwith the fact that it is financially sustainable with very small funds, is complex. This requires thatthe innovator works locally with the user's specific needs and usually with local resources and thatthe local economic and physical infrastructure is considered.The conclusion is that one can use human-centred design to create products and services for peopleliving in a resource-constrained environment. The basis of the process is based on people's needs,economic situation, infrastructure, institutions, resource availability, which are essential factorsto consider for the solution desired by the user, technically viable and financially sustainable. Asecond conclusion is that the difficulties of product development towards this target group requireresources and knowledge that are not usually required in product development contexts towardsthe market that belonged to the top of the socio-economic pyramid, which can complicate theproduct development.

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