When it comes to running water and clean energy, resources aren’t always available to all. Independent groups have been doing what they can to provide for rural areas, implementing Eco-Boxes and bleach lamps. Though the power grid issue seems to be improving, development is slow and India has had enough. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the Saubhagya Scheme, which promises to provide electricity for over 40 million Indian families by December 2018.
Millions of rural Indians still rely on lamps fuelled by kerosene, the use of which the scheme hopes to cut. Kerosene is a huge health and environmental hazard and restricting its use would further India’s ambitious climate goal to cut emissions.
Roughly 300 million Indian citizens have no access to electricity. Along with the scheme, the government plans to keep from charging poorer families. However, as opposed to targeting villages, the scheme will single out individual households.
Remote, and often inaccessible, villages have proved to be a major challenge in the electrification drive. The government has said it will distribute solar packs (comprising LED lights, a fan and a plug) and a battery bank to households in these villages.
The project will also help state-owned power distribution companies with debts. It’s a helping hand I’d have no problem shaking!
These days, the challenge of sustainability elicits many different creative responses: leather out of wine, air purifiers made of algae, even energy from cow and turkey poop. Truly the stranger, the better. A new project from an Indian startup company makes the sun and the wind come together to create water. How does that sentence make sense? Uravu answers our question.
The company’s affordable, electricity-free Aqua Panels use solar thermal energy to convert vapor into usable water – and they should be available to the public within two years. “There’s no need of any electricity or moving parts,” Uravu co-founder Swapnil Shrivastav told Quartz India. “It is just a passive device that you can leave on your rooftop and it will generate water. The process starts at night, and by evening next day you’ll have water.”
The process of producing water from vapor has already been developed and utilized before, mostly for industrial and agricultural purposes, but the outdated versions of this technology had to consume large amounts of energy and humidity—innovative, yes, but not yet as sustainable as the above-mentioned Aqua Panels. Uravu wants their device to suit domestic use.
“Initially we’ll be working with governments and strategic partners, and we want to reach places where there is water scarcity, such as parts of Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, and rural areas,” explained Shrivastav. “We will be trying to start with a household device and aim at community-level projects.”
Ultimately, the Indian company aims to make the process more simple to make it more accessible for people who lack resources. Sustainability takes many different forms, but surely it is best when it answers to society’s greatest needs.
In September of 2017, tech company Zipline began testing drone deliveries for blood transfusions. Now, its collaboration with ride service Uber has become a reality. Since its launch, “Uber for blood” has delivered 5,500 units of blood to rural Rwanda, saving hundreds of lives.
“The work in Rwanda has shown the world what’s possible when you make a national commitment to expand healthcare access with drones and help save lives.” [said Zipline co-founder Keller Rinaudo.]
What initially took some 4 hours of delivery time from major cities now takes only 30 minutes. Simultaneously, hospitals are able to store less blood, lessening waste from spoilt containers. Considering Zipline’s success, the company hopes to begin delivering various other supplies such as sutures and tubes.
“We know who needs medicine, when and where. And now, we can get them that medicine as quickly as possible.” [said Rinaudo.]
With the exponential rise of traffic jams and continued accessibility of drones, Zipline and Uber may have just hit the jackpot.
Believe it or not, anyone can turn plastic into a valuable and non-wasteful material — all it takes is resourcefulness. Whether as part of an art piece or repurposed into product packaging, the possibilities with plastic are endless. This Cameroon student is salvaging not just a handful, but thousands of plastic bottles into recycled fishing boats.
“We are fighting,” he said. “We are trying to find innovative solutions that are new and can be useful in order to add value to these bottles.”
Ismael Essome Ebode claims his project is meant to combat pollution.
He’s been testing the boat and trying to convince local fishermen to use it as a cheaper, environmentally-friendly option to wooden boats.
Despite enforcing a ban on disposable plastic bags in Cameroon in 2014, the law does not extend to rural areas. Other materials are too expensive for simple merchants, while plastic is available and affordable. Ebode has successfully crafted five boats, proving it doesn’t always take a village to make a difference.
Months ago, we considered whether drones could be life-savers. Now that they’re restoring forests and transporting defibrillators, it seems the answer is yes. California-based company Zipline is pushing the limits even further, delivering blood transfusions via drone to remote areas across the nation. Recently, it tested the effects of long-haul flights on blood cartridges.
[The] team used a hybrid drone that combined a helicopter’s ability to launch and land vertically with a glider’s longer flight range. The researchers attached a custom-built, foam-cushioned cooler to the drone’s fuselage. Powered by the vehicle’s onboard battery, the cooler kept the samples at about 75 degrees Fahrenheit — 15 degrees cooler than outside air.
After 3 hours of testing, researchers deemed the blood healthy and relatively unaffected. Zipline has since delivered blood to areas in Rwanda and is now targeting Tanzania. They are also taking extreme safety measures to minimize drone accidents.
Drones for medical transport should be regulated: pilots should have licenses, and specific drone routes should be designated to prevent crashes.
Admittedly, drones have a lot of work to do. Still, they are promising an optimistic outlook of the future. Especially now, we could use the good news.