For the first week of the project, my professor encouraged us to become “instant experts”, emerging ourselves in various sources of secondary information. In order to have a better understanding of the project at hand, our group first focused on researching information about the country of Uganda, disabilities, and designing for the third world. Additionally, by finding this information, we might be able to discover possible design opportunities for the future.
A lot of the initial research opened my eyes to some of the views that the Ugandan communities had about the disabled, the definition of disability, the link between poverty and disability, and why one the first causes of poverty among disabled people is exclusion and neglect. As I researched further, I discovered more quantitative information about education system in Uganda and even though the constitution states that everyone has a right to education, children with disabilities stay at home due to the lack of resources that the schools provide.
During my search, I decided to focus on more of the theory of designing for the third world. I was introduced to the book, “Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change” by Victor Papanek. It explained the concept of the triad of limitations. In order to create social change, one must exceed biological limitations and both the limitations of habitat and morality. By not overcoming at least one of these, products will create more problems than what they had originally intended to solve. In this book, he illustrates through example how the automobile has become symbol of status. Victor also talks about third world design. Not only does he stress the importance of experiencing the country you are designing for, but also teaching design to the native population is more efficient for the betterment of their country. He describes a few examples of successful projects. One being the low cost television set designed by Stanhop Adams. Not only did this television set cost less than ten dollars, it could be manufactured in Africa by local labour, and could allow the population better access to education.
‘Small is Beautiful’ by Schumacher encourages designers to look past the material solutions of poverty, and consider the immaterial sources. He believes that development starts with education, organization and discipline. He also finds that it is important to bring work opportunities to rural areas, and even if it is not as productive, providing more jobs to more people is essential to the country’s development.
‘Design for the Other 90%’ was also another valuable resource, for it provided many examples of past products for developing countries, as well as an effective framework to assist those who are about to undergo a similar project.
Throughout this week, I also had the privilege of attending two very informative presentations at school. The institute of African studies held the first lecture, and Bjarki Halgrimsson explained in more detail about the past group and their projects. The second lecture was called ‘Global Challenges Through an Engineering Lens’ and was held by Engineers without Boarders. Sal Alajek expressed some of the different political challenges faced by organizations, and how to empower a community through microloans.
This week was very enlightening and I will look for arising opportunities as we next begin in the collection of primary research.
These are the resources and accompanied links to the research I discovered this week: