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Past Clients + Publications | 1991 – 2016

DS Consulting logo copy
First business card David South Consulting
The first business card for David South Consulting. Inspired by the Dutch post office’s (PTT Post) corporate identity developed by Studio Dumbar, the card was designed by Brian Cartwright of Toronto’s Rocket Design. Work at this time included investigative journalism for Canada’s top magazines and newspapers, magazine and newsletter editing, and communications for a prestigious medical history funder. From the very beginning, we were inspired by Dutch design for the public sector and the importance placed on this in The Netherlands. The work of Hein van Haaren, former head of the PTT’s Aesthetics Department, and graphic design pioneers Wim Crouwel and Gert Dumbar, still remain key influences to this day.
Financial Times business card 1995
As a reporter for two Financial Times newsletters, New Media Markets and Screen Finance, I covered the rapidly growing UK (and Scandinavian) television and new media markets and the expanding film-financing sector in Europe.
Features Editor Id Magazine 1996-1997
This Canadian alternative bi-weekly magazine broke new ground with its investigative journalism and online journalism. It gathered together highly talented, young contributors, many of whom are leading figures in journalism, the arts and technology today.
UNDP Mongolia business card 1997
As the UN’s head of communications in Mongolia (1997-1999), I founded the UNDP Mongolia Communications Office and oversaw a two-year communications programme to respond to the biggest post-WWII peacetime economic collapse. Award-winning and influential, the Office pioneered the use of the Internet in international development crisis response and was called a “role model” for the rest of the United Nations.
UNDP Ukraine business card 2000
Following on from the success of the UNDP Mongolia Communications Office, I worked with the head of the UN Ukraine mission to strategically relaunch the mission web portal, incorporating the newly launched UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Ukraine biz card Ukrainian_mini
GOSH business card 2001-2003
Drawing on my extensive experience strategically using the Internet to achieve communications goals, I was hired to head a two-year project to launch the GOSH Child Health Web Portal. Award-winning, it was called a “role model” for the wider National Health Service (NHS) and one of the most admired websites in the UK public and charity sectors. The website was cited as contributing to the hospital’s high rating and attracted additional funding for its research.
Mong MDG biz card_mini
UN MDGs Education Media Project
As part of an assessment of Mongolia’s media capabilities to communicate the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), infographics were introduced for the first time to the mission.
Southern Innovator business card
With the Global Financial Crisis erupting, I was retained by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) to research and write a monthly e-newsletter and develop a new magazine to offer solutions and raise the profile of South-South cooperation as a development response to the crisis. Both publications proved highly influential, leading to the wider adoption of South-South cooperation and to national governments picking up the innovation agenda being brought about by the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology. The magazine Southern Innovator was called “a terrific tour de force of what is interesting, cutting edge and relevant in the global mobile/ICT space…”.
David South Consulting business card
In 2010, David South Consulting was relaunched with a new logo and branding for the 21st century. It represented a new phase, as work became global and very high-profile and influential. The foundations have been laid for future growth and expansion.

Watch Magazine

Watch Magazine masthead 1994
Watch Magazine was launched in 1994 and quickly became the authentic 1990s voice of Toronto’s youth. As one of Toronto’s first youth start-ups, Youth Culture became a successful youth communications brand and expanded to national distribution by the late 1990s. Launched during the economic austerity years in Canada, it was one of the contributors to Toronto’s economic resurgence and renewed business vitality.

New Media Markets

New Media Markets masthead 1995
As a reporter for two Financial Times newsletters, New Media Markets and Screen Finance, I covered the rapidly growing UK (and Scandinavian) television and new media markets and the expanding film-financing sector in Europe.

A Partnership for Progress: The United Nations Development Programme in Mongolia

P4P masthead 1997
The Partnership for Progress brochure raised the curtain on the UN’s response to Mongolia’s economic and social crisis in the late 1990s. It celebrated Mongolia’s independence and its flourishing media scene and free expression after the long years of Communism and state repression.

Human Development Report Mongolia 1997

Human Development Report Mongolia 1997
The first human development report for Mongolia captured in data and stories the damage done by the harsh transition from Communism and the imposition of austerity during the 1990s. It found high levels of poverty in the country and a heavy toll taken on people’s health, communities and families. The report was received with great enthusiasm and had two print runs.

Blue Sky Bulletin

Blue Sky Bulletin
The Blue Sky Bulletin newsletter broke with the usual approach taken by UN newsletters of offering up ‘grip n’ grin’ pictures of men in suits and instead offered actual stories and data on how Mongolia’s transition crisis was faring. It was distributed within Mongolia and by post and email outside the country to help raise awareness of the country and its development challenges.

Mongolian Rock-Pop Book

Mongolian Rock-Pop Book
Researched and written by ethnomusicologist Dr. Peter Marsh, this book on the impact of Mongolian rock and pop on the country’s business and entrepreneurship culture, shone a spotlight on a lively modern music scene.

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 1: Mobile Phones and Information Technology

SI Issue 1
The first issue of Southern Innovator was called “a terrific tour de force of what is interesting, cutting edge and relevant in the global mobile/ICT space… ” and a “Beautiful, inspiring magazine from UNDP on South-South innovation.”

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 2: Youth and Entrepreneurship

SI Issue 2
Issue 2 of Southern Innovator drew praise for painting a positive picture of how the world’s development challenges could be taken on: “Thank you David – Your insight into the issues facing us a[s] [a] ‘global Village’ is made real in the detail of your article – 10 out of 10 from the moladi team.”

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 3: Agribusiness and Food Security

SI Issue 3
Issue 3 was on the theme of agribusiness and food security.

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 4: Cities and Urbanization

SI Issue 4
Issue 4 on cities and urbanization saw Southern Innovator visit innovative new cities across Asia. Readers said “The magazine looks fantastic, great content and a beautiful design!” It is designed by Icelandic graphic designer and illustrator Solveig Rolfsdottir.

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 5: Waste and Recycling

SI Issue 5
By this point, the Southern Innovator brand was drawing praise for being “one of the best sources out there for news and info on #solutions to #SouthSouth challenges.” Readers also said they “really enjoyed reading them [Southern Innovator], impressive work & a great resource. Looking forward to Issue 6. My best wishes to you & your team at SI.”
DSC web address in green_mini (1)

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021

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Clay Filters are Simple Solution for Clean Water

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Access to clean water is critical to good health. It is a basic human need that when met, leads to the biggest improvements in health and well-being. Dirty water causes diarrhoea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diarrhea), cholera and typhoid. Diseases caused by dirty drinking water kill almost 5,000 children a day around the world (WHO).

But millions have benefited from a simple solution using clay filters invented and pioneered in Central America, and now manufactured by 28 small factories in 23 countries – the largest in Ghana and Cambodia. Each factory makes up to several thousand filters a day. They offer an ingenious solution that also creates local jobs and skills.

Looking like 30 centimetre-high flowerpots, the filters designed by Guatemalan chemist Fernando Mazariegos blend local clay and plant husks to create a filter capable of killing 98 percent of the contaminants that cause diarrhoea. The husks are burnt away when the filters are fired in a kiln, creating tiny holes that filter out harmful organisms. A coating of colloidal silver (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colloidal_silver) is painted on the filters after they have been fired in the kiln.

“Each filter can support a family of six,” said Kaira Wagoner, Coordinator of Ceramic Water Filter Projects with the NGO Potters for Peace (www.pottersforpeace.org). Founded in Nicaragua but now US-based, Potters for Peace has popularized the filters and helps with all the training and support required to establish the workshops and market the filters.

The first filter-making workshop was set up in Managua, Nicaragua after Hurricane Mitch in 1999 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Mitch). That workshop has made and distributed 40,000 filters through the Red Cross and NGOs such as Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders. Potters for Peace has now stopped running workshops and factories themselves, and provides others with the training and advice necessary to produce clay filters.

To work, the filters are placed in a plastic bucket, a spigot added, and a cover put on top to prevent contamination. The filters are capable of filtering four litres of water an hour.

The genius behind the filters is the fact they can be made by small, local workshops – making access to clean water available anywhere, and creating jobs. Just three to four people can produce up to 50 filters a day. According to tests by the Family Foundation of the Americas, a Guatemalan NGO, the filters halve the incidence of diarrhoea in households that use them.

“The cost of establishing a workshop varies largely,” said Wagoner, “depending on the factory’s location, desired production – from 50 per day to 1000 per day – and on the equipment already available in the potter’s workshop. Potters for Peace generally tries to work with potters who already have some of the needed equipment, such as a hammer mill and clay mixer.

“Filters are distributed hand in hand with health and sanitation information which highlights practices such as hand washing,” said Wagoner. “Since many individuals would otherwise boil their water, the filter significantly reduces the time many women would spend gathering firewood. This gives them time for other things such as school and income generating activities, and is better for the environment, especially in locations where problems with deforestation are significant.”

Experience has found marketing is key to the successful adoption of the filters by communities.

“It is very difficult to create a market in a region of poverty,” said Beverly Pillars, also from Potters for Peace, “and to gain acceptance of a new product that the community will want to purchase to keep a workshop sustainable. NGOs may distribute the ceramic water filters, but for the community to fully accept the idea of seeking out clean, safe drinking water on their own, we urge the local owners of the factory to be innovative in marketing.

“Our best approach has been to select partners in developing areas that have some experience such as a potter or brick maker, and help them to find methods that work in their communities to distribute as many of the ceramic water filters as possible, such as a distribution link through local health centres and small corner markets, adds in Yellow Pages, road signs.”

To get a workshop up and running, they need to have a machine to press the clay filters, a kiln to fire them, and a pyrometer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrometer) to measure the temperature of the kiln. It usually takes between three and six weeks of training to become proficient at making the filters. Trainers help with acquiring the proper equipment, building the kiln, the clay filter formula, quality control procedures, and marketing techniques and materials.

“My advice to people wanting to start making filters is to look for local craftspeople to partner with,” said Pillars. “Look at local access to brick, clay and sawdust. Be prepared for hard and rewarding work to bring safe, clean drinking water to developing populations.

“Every location is a best location, because the demand for safe, clean drinking water worldwide is so great. The beauty of the ceramic water filter technology is that it uses very few resources: clay, sawdust or other burnout material available and bricks for a kiln. We have found these resources to be present worldwide.”

The filter has been cited by the United Nations’ Appropriate Technology Handbook, and is used by the International Red Cross and the Nobel Prize winning medical relief organization Doctors Without Borders. There are plans to start more filter factories in Cote d’Ivoire, Bolivia and Somaliland.

Published: December 2008

Resources

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Flurry of Anti-poverty Innovations

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Innovation is key to transforming the lives of the world’s four billion poor. And it is at the core of much of the new thinking these days. While the world’s poor can’t rely on political developments, or wider macro-economic events to go their way, they can harness the power of invention, innovation and self-reliance to make big changes in the quality of their lives and increase income – and so can those who want to help them. New York Times journalist and author Thomas Friedman put it like this: “Africa needs many things, but most of all it needs capitalists who can start and run legal companies. More Bill Gateses, fewer foundations. People grow out of poverty when they create small businesses that employ their neighbours. Nothing else lasts.”

In the 1940s, Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter wrote that “the function of entrepreneurs is to reform or revolutionise the pattern of production.” Schumpeter’s definition remains at the core of an entrepreneurial approach that focuses on innovation and enterprise as a means of addressing social needs. “Social innovators” are pragmatic and embrace innovation to tackle social problems through both for-profit and non-profit models.

International Development Enterprises India (IDEI) is a non-profit that uses product invention to transform the lives of the poor and tackle hunger and malnutrition. Its approach is to take existing technologies and adapt them, reducing costs and improving effectiveness. By constantly evolving the design, they can focus in on making it cheap and relevant.

One innovation is the Treadle Pump: a foot operated, water pump for small plots of land. It enables crops to be grown in winter and summer – no need to rely on rain. And since women are key to farm life, it is physically easy for women to use. So far more than 350,000 small farms are using it. It has been calculated the pump increases household incomes by a minimum of US $100/year.

Another of their innovations is the Affordable Drip Irrigation Technology Intervention. While drip irrigation systems have been for sale in India for the past 15 years, they were not relevant or affordable for small and marginal farms. IDEI adapted these technologies during trials from 1997 to 2000. Existing technologies suffer from two drawbacks: they are complicated to maintain and they are expensive to buy. A big challenge was demystifying the idea that crop irrigation methods were for only the big orchards. The irrigation systems are sold as kits and are scalable so that farmers can expand their systems if they want. IDEI has sold over 85,000 of the various irrigation kits.

Both inventions are designed to mimic traditional technologies and are inexpensive, thus maximising take-up by small farmers, who can recover the cost within one season of crops.

They not only do the research and development and product design and manufacturing, but also set up the vertically integrated marketing and sales network and make it viable for the private sector to step up and sell the kits.

Paul Polak, the founder of the global International Development Enterprises, believes progress is only possible if products are sold at a fair market price. “When you give things away, you lack discipline in how you design them because you don’t have to get feedback from the customer,” he said.

In the village of Otse, Botswana in southern Africa, the Godisa Technologies Trust has brought affordable solar-powered hearing aids to the poor. Most of the employees are deaf, and as a non-profit social enterprise, its battery chargers – and its branded Solar Aid digital behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid – are all for use in developing countries. It is estimated over 600 million people suffer from some form of hearing impairment. According to the World Health Organization, 278 million people in the world are affected by moderate hearing loss. Yet the global production of hearing aids does not come anywhere close to meeting the need.

The Solar Aid needs only six to eight hours of sunlight to recharge for a full week. And it is fully compliant with WHO guidelines. Conventional hearing aids and batteries are very expensive and often not locally available. Solar Aid batteries can take 400 charges before being replaced.

The Solar Aid hearing aid was developed through field testing, funds were raised for further design improvements, and it went on to win several awards. But it initially failed to earn back its production costs and so the Godisa Technologies Trust was established to sweat the details on making it sustainable. It was developed in partnership with the Botswana Technology Centre,

“I want to help other deaf people to have access to education training and employment. I would like to use my skills and opportunities to help other deaf people achieve their goals,” said one of Godisa’s technicians, Sarah Phiri. So successful are these hearing aids, there is interest around the world, including in Canada.

Adequate street lighting has been proven to cut down muggings and improve public safety, reduce traffic accidents, and boost business confidence in neighbourhoods because people feel safe going there. StarSight’s street lamps combine solar-powered street lighting and internet access in a wireless configuration, freeing up the lighting poles from needing to access the main power and telephone grids. Each one contains VoIP, wi-fi broadband, CCTV and are being rolled out in Istanbul.

StarSight street lamp poles, designed in Turkey, are also being rolled out in Martinique, Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Cote d-Ivoire. StarSight’s goal is to install 70,000 street lamps by 2011. Malaysia and Indonesia are next.

d.light design is a social enterprise targeting the 1.6 billion people who rely on kerosene oil to light their lanterns, or use candles. There is an ambitious goal behind this business: they want to replace all the kerosene lanterns in the world with their lights within the next ten years. They use light emitting diode (LED) technology and are about commercializing light and power solutions for families living without electricity in emerging markets.

Better lighting has many benefits, including helping children and adults to study and learn during dark hours. Importantly, it will make the air inside dwellings cleaner and the environment safer without the risk of fire. Indoor air pollution is one of the biggest killers of children under five in India. UNDP has found that families with improved lighting see a 30 per cent increase in their income because they can keep doing things at night.

On high beam, the lights last five hours; on low beam, they last for 200 hours without a charge. It can be re-charged by solar panels or by normal electric outlet. They promise consumers can expect to save $150 over five years. They have received additional support from the Acumen Fund to enter the peri-urban and, later, the rural market in India.

Published: December 2007

Resources

  • Rockefeller Foundation Innovation for Development Initiative: It will “spur the development of solutions to the challenges facing poor or vulnerable people around the world.”
    Team leader: Maria Blair, email: Innovation_dev@rockfound.org
  • Pratt Design Incubator for Sustainable Innovation: It brings together the entrepreneurial talents of designers, artists and architects with one goal: to link the social entrepreneur with the business of design. Budding social entrepreneurs get start-up support, design help and connection to mentors.
  • E and Co: An investor providing seed funding to energy entrepreneurs in developing countries.
  • SEAF (Small Enterprise Assistance Fund): A global investment firm focused on helping small companies and entrepreneurs in emerging markets, and those underserved by traditional sources of capital.
  • Microplace: An online marketplace to connect retail investors (anybody looking to invest US $100 or more) with microfinance organisations looking for funds.

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Archive

Brazilian Solar-powered WiFi for Poor Schools

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

There is a pressing need to spread access to the internet to the world’s poor — but also many obstacles. Often it is something as basic as a lack of electricity that brings progress to a halt. But a Brazilian innovator has come up with a solar power supply that is helping to bring internet access to schools serving the poor.

Many initiatives are trying to bring inexpensive access to the internet to rural and remote regions around the world. Schools in poor areas are receiving laptop computers through schemes like the One Laptop Per Child project, but it is common that schools do not have a steady electricity supply to power the computers or the internet connection. One of the most successful ways of rapidly expanding access is to offer wireless (WiFi) internet so that anyone can use the Web, no matter what device they have, whether a laptop computer, a personal computer or a mobile phone. The signals use radio waves, and are an excellent solution for multiple users.

Brazilian professor Marcelo Zuffo, Interactive Electronics Coordinator at the University of Sao Paulo, has invented a cheap solar-powered WiFi access point for the poor. Designed to be used by schools without a steady source of electricity, it doesn’t need outside electricity supply, and is not difficult to assemble. It is being tested on lampposts around the Sao Paolo campus.

The device uses something called a ‘mesh’ strategy. By acting as a group, several units are able to expand the area covered by WiFi in a honeycomb pattern. The signal is relayed back and forth between the units, significantly increasing the area covered that can access the Web. “In such a strategy,” said Zuffo,”you can cover large rural areas, parks, low income neighbourhoods, by just dropping our equipment in roofs, trees or on to existing lamp posts.”

Zuffo was inspired to develop the solar-powered WiFi boxes after the university tried to bring laptop computers to a Sao Paulo school, and found they didn’t have a steady electricity supply.

“We came up with the idea of taking energy that is most plentiful and cheap, i.e. the sun,” he told the BBC. “We have a solar panel, a cheap motorcycle battery and a circuit that is responsible for energy management. We can have up to two days of full internet coverage and our goal is to increase that to 10 days – so that in the rainy season and the winter, you can have the internet for free.

“The natural plan is to miniaturize the system so that we can save on costs. So by the end you can imagine these WiFi solar mesh devices being the size of a cellphone or playing card.”

The low cost, solar-powered access point is ready as soon as it is unpacked and needs neither maintenance nor a power socket to get going.

“It is a completely autonomous WiFi hotspot, it doesn’t need any internet or energy connection,” said Zuffo.

“Everything comes from the sun and we have plenty of that in Brazil,” he said.

The volunteer organization Green WiFi initiative is also developing solar powered technologies to bring ubiquitous internet access to the world’s poor.

Zufo’s message for other scientists and inventors is this: “Innovation, invention is all about transforming people’s lives. We need methods and equipment which are cheap enough so that they are accessible to virtually every one, suitable for small scale applications, and compatible with man’s need for creativity.”

The issue of inequality in access to the internet has stark consequences for global economic development. Already, according to the World Information Society Report 2007, “Europe has achieved the largest overall gain in digital opportunity over the last two years, followed by the Americas… Asia and Africa have witnessed smaller gains in digital opportunity. The implications for the digital divide are clear: digital opportunity is becoming more sharply divided by region, not less.”

Published: November 2008

Resources

  • Wireless Networking in the Developing World: A Practical Guide to Planning and Building Low-cost Telecommunications Infrastructure. Website:
  • World Information Society Report 2007: A progress report on pledges to bring digital opportunity to all. Website:
  • The Wireless Geographic Logging Engine: This is a website with maps tracking the presence of WiFi access around the globe. So far it maps over 10 million separate WiFi networks. Entrepreneurs only have to log into the website to start searching for wireless networks near them.
  • iTrike: The world’s first solar powered wireless internet rickshaw.
  • The KyaTera lab where the technology was developed. Website: http://kyatera.incubadora.fapesp.br/portal/research/laboratories/interactive-electronic-media

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022