Sunday, 13 January 2008

MIT D-Lab Teach Charcoal Technology in Peru

Last week The Colour of Hope teamed up with Lima Kids, a social welfare programme for disadvantaged children living in orphanages or on the streets of Lima, and representatives from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) D-Lab to learn how to make cheap, efficient and environmentally friendly charcoal.

D-Lab is a series of courses that focus on international development, mainly taught by MIT Senior Lecturer and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, Amy Smith.
Last August, Amy headed the first International Development Design Summit (IDDS), which united more than 50 people from 18 countries, many from developing nations, to build technologies for improving the quality of life in the developing world.
"I believe very strongly that solutions to problems in the developing world are best created in collaboration with the people who will be using them," said Amy. She and her team are here in Peru until the end of January to identify local problems and begin working on their solutions. They kindly dedicated part of their trip to teaching The Colour of Hope, Lima Kids and care home, Sagrada Familia, their pioneering charcoal technology.
The charcoal is made using agricultural waste, such as corn cobs and sugarcane waste (bagasse). Traditionally, these products are simply thrown away or burnt because they have no apparent use. But D-Lab has now shown us how to convert them to charcoal, simply using an oil drum, 3 bricks and a wooden pole! (Click here to find out more)
Until now, Sagrada Familia, has been buying wood (leña) for cooking fuel, which gives off a lot of harmful smoke and comes at a price. But now it will be able to use this new technique to produce its own cooking fuel. The Colour of Hope is going to work together with Lima Kids to promote the technique amongst other care homes and young people who leave the homes. One or more groups of young people could adopt the technique and form small businesses to market the charcoal, and thereby become self-sufficient.
Many thanks to D-Lab and to all the team members who gave up their time to teach us this innovative technology.

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