An agent for transformation
The annual Open Design Festival is back in town. Garreth van Niekerk picks three designs that are making life better for all
Cape Town’s Watershed warehouse will become an incubator of socially useful innovations next week as the Design for Tomorrow showcase at the annual Open Design Festival kicks off its city-wide exploration of how human-centred design can improve living conditions, build human capital and drive job creation.
water ATM The Grundfos water dispenser – popularly known as the water ATM – was an Index finalist in 2013 and will also be on show this year.
Using smart cards or mobile money, customers can buy water from mobile dispensers that connect with watermanagement services across the country.
Without plumbing in some districts in Nairobi, residents had previously resorted to buying water from street sellers, who dragged handcarts loaded with cans or oil drums into back alleys.
That water was often dirty and sometimes taken illegally from broken pipes. But Grundfos machines allow people to purchase cheaper and clean water.
In contrast to inordinately expensive conferences like Design Indaba, the Open Design Festival is almost entirely free. This is an important part of its mandate to shake the exclusivity of these events and make design accessible to everyone.
This year, Design for Tomorrow has teamed up with Index, a Danish
in a box not-for-profit organisation.
CEO Kigge Hvid says: “There are more than enough white teacups in the world right now. That’s why we only focus on design to improve life.”
Design for Tomorrow asks how design can add value as an agent for social, environmental and economic transformation.
Design for Tomorrow is on at the Watershed at the V&A Waterfront until August 23 from 9am to 5pm. Entrance is free
maternity training The Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (Mama) system connects with expectant mothers around the world via SMS and sends them free, adaptable messages informed by experts in maternal, newborn and child health.
Cellphones could prevent the deaths of about 800 women who die from pregnancyrelated complications every day, or the 3.1 million newborn deaths that occur every year. The programme was put into action in South Africa in 2013 and has reached more than 700 000 women and their families with agebased and pregnancy stage-based health messages.
RESOURCEFUL Water ATMs make the resource available in rural areas HIGHER LEARNING The Solar Classroom in a Box can be installed in a day
MOBILE MOM Innovative SMS solutions could curb the high rate of pregnancyrelated deaths