Life is different for three out of 10 people worldwide, or 2.1 billion people, who do not have clean, safe water in their homes. One quarter of the world’s population does not have access to decent toilets. In cities alone, over 80 million people practice open defecation.
Chinta Didi just got a new, two-storied house. It costs less than USD 1,500 - and her neighbours built it for her. She has been partially blind since birth, and relies on the little income that her husband earns from working at a welding shop.
Unmanned aerial vehicles have populated both the imagination and nightmares of people around the world in recent years. In April, the United States Navy announced an experimental programme called LOCUST (Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology), which officials promise will “autonomously overwhelm an adversary” and thus “provide Sailors and Marines a decisive tactical advantage.”
We live in an innovation obsessed world. Organisations across sectors have made innovating an explicit priority. Many are devising deliberate strategies to foster innovation. In 2012, BRAC, the world’s largest NGO, developed the Social Innovation Lab for this purpose. We step out from the researcher’s cubicle and explore innovations happening on the frontlines.
A week before the Frugal Innovation Forum, I came across the Ted Talk by Dan Palotta that criticized development for rewarding frugality (i.e. low rates of overhead) instead of ambition and big ideas. This is one reason why, in his opinion, progress has been slow to find solutions to address social issues.
As a child, I was fed a healthy supply of fairy tales and fables. One of my favorites was that of “stone soup.” In the version I know, it’s about a community facing extremely harsh times during a war. Food was in short supply, and hope even shorter. A hungry traveller came to town and in the village center, put a big pot with water and a stone on a fire. Curious villagers came and asked what he was doing. “Making a tasty stone soup!” he would explain.