Categories
Archive

Saving Water to Make Money

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

The world’s water supplies are running low, and according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), four out of every 10 people are already affected. But despite the gloomy reality of this problem, entrepreneurs in the South are rising to the challenge to save water.

“The situation is getting worse due to population growth, urbanisation and increased domestic and industrial water use,” said WHO’s Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan. While the WHO has adopted the theme ‘Coping with Water Scarcity’ for this year, every year more than 1.6 million people die from lack of access to safe water and sanitation. Ninety percent of these deaths are children under the age of five.

The health consequences of water scarcity include diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, salmonellosis, other gastrointestinal viruses, and dysentery.

One unnecessary waste of water is car washing. The number of cars in developing countries is growing fast, with a 27 per cent increase in sales in China this year, and South America overtaking Asia as the world’s fastest-growing regional vehicle market (Global Auto Report). And all these cars will be washed, wasting this precious resource.

The large informal car washing market in Brazil has long been known for paying low wages and avoiding taxes. On top of this they also waste water. Lots and lots of water. In Brazil, 28.5 per cent of the population (41.8 million people) do not have access to public water or wastewater services. And 60 per cent do not have adequate sanitation (Brazilian Institute of Applied Economic Research).

Started in 1994, Drywash uses a locally available Brazilian organic carnauba wax to clean cars without using water. Drywash has also developed a line of cleaning products that cleans every part of a car without the need for water. They estimate they have saved 450 million litres of water in their first 10 years of operation. From the start, they set out to change the status quo and run a business that “thinks like a big corporation,” said its international partner, Tiago Aguiar.

To do this, Drywash’s management team focused on operating an efficient and professional business. When Brazil’s government passed strict laws against informal selling of products, Drywash was well positioned to benefit, with companies preferring to work with a legal business. Customers have also been attracted to Drywash because they know the service is consistent and to a high standard. Drywash made US $2.7 million in 2005.

Drywash prides itself on operating “on the books”, and paying taxes. They are also ambitious, and have expanded outside Brazil and into other services.

And they don’t just do private cars: they also clean private jets, with Drywash Air. They have also expanded into Mexico, Portugal and Australia, on top of 50 Brazilian franchises. They also want to enter the US market.

In China, Landwasher toilets is tackling the growing problem of providing flush toilets to the country’s 1.32 billion people. As its founder Wu Hao told the World Resources Institute (www.nextbillion.net), “Assuming all of our country uses water-flushing toilets, not even the Changjiang and the Yellow Rive will be enough.”

Formed six years ago, it has patented a process using a special agent and sterilisation to dispose of human waste without using water, and very little electricity.

Hao graduated from Beijing University’s Physics Department and developed management experience working in manufacturing, securities investment and corporate management.

“On a personal level, I love the natural environment… I can’t endure the large scale waste and damage to the environment caused by the process of construction in China.”

Landwasher has seen its sales grow to 40 million Yuan (US $5.2 million), and has six sales offices covering 27 provinces.

Landwasher has just been awarded a contract to provide portable toilets to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Published: September 2007

Resources

  • World Water Council: Established in 1996, the World Water Council promotes awareness and builds political commitment to trigger action on critical water issues.
  • Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council: Works on sustainable sanitation, hygiene and water services to all people, with special attention to the underserved poor.
  • The Stratus Group is a Brazilian fund looking for sustainable SMEs in Brazil’s high-growth green sectors.

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

Categories
Archive

Traditional Healers can Heal the Mind, as well as Body

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Mental healthcare is critical to physical health and overall wellbeing, yet it is seriously neglected around the world – and especially in poorer countries.

Often seen as a luxury for the wealthy or an indulgence for the weak, mental health services are often left at the bottom of any list of development priorities. Yet Professor Martin Prince of King’s College London in the United Kingdom found that an estimated 14 percent of the global burden of disease is due to neuropsychiatric disorders, mostly depression, alcohol- and substance-use disorders, and psychoses.

Since the contribution of mental disorders to physical illness is inadequately appreciated, the actual global burden of mental disorders is probably higher than this. Dr. Shekhar Saxena of the World Health Organization has reported that a scarcity of resources for mental health is compounded by inequities and inefficiencies in the delivery of mental healthcare.

As a result, people who need care get none. “The treatment gap – the proportion of those who need but do not receive care – is too high for some mental disorders,” Saxena said. As many as one in three people with schizophrenia and one in two with other mental disorders do not receive any treatment. The WHO has reported that the treatment gap for serious disorders is 76 percent to 85 percent for low- and middle-income countries. And the organization says shortages of healthcare professionals have been shown to be the main limiting factor in delivering mental healthcare in most low- and middle-income countries.

But an ingenious solution to this problem has emerged in the South American country of Ecuador. It involves turning to the traditional healers who are already well-established in communities. They are both cheaper and faster than waiting for medical psychiatrists to turn up in poor communities, and they can start right now to provide the support people need in a culturally tolerant way. Their effectiveness has been proven by Dr. Mario Incayawar, director of the Runajambi Institute for the Study of Quichua Culture and Health in Otavalo.

“Poor countries where you find numerous traditional healers could benefit the most,” he said.

In findings published in the prestigious British Journal of Psychiatry (The British Journal of Psychiatry (2008) 192: 390-391. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.107.046938), Incayawar found there are just 800 psychiatrists in Ecuador, and most live in the cities and speak Spanish. The native population on the other hand, mostly speak the local Quechua language and are served by only one psychiatrist, but thousands of traditional healers.

In the Andean mountain city of Otavalo, most people are descendents of the ancient Inca people. Health conditions are poor and far worse than in Spanish-speaking regions. Over 3 million of Ecuador’s 12 million residents speak Quechua, many of them living in indigenous communities high up in the mountains, bypassed by development. Roughly 90 percent of indigenous communities live below the poverty level, a fact reflected in high maternal and infant mortality rates. In some remote communities, maternal mortality reaches 250 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to the national average of 130, and one in 10 infants does not live to see his or her first birthday.

For 5 million Indigenous people in Ecuador, for example, there is not one single mental professional paid to work within the Indigenous communities.

Traditional healers’ practices are widespread around the world, yet their diagnostic skills have rarely been investigated. Incayawar’s study found the yachactaitas (Quichua healers) in the Andes were able to identify cases of psychiatric illness in their communities. During the study over 18 months, 10 yachactaitas participated in the identification of 50 individuals with a condition. None of the participants was found to be healthy in biomedical or psychiatric terms when reviewed by psychiatrists. The results suggest yachactaitas can be an early warning system for identifying general psychiatric cases in their communities through their powers of observation.

“From the Quichua perspective, it is a matter of common sense,” said Incayawar. “We have a sizable number of traditional healers, why not promote their clinical skills for taking care of our communities.”

“Healers are paid in cash or by gifts such as a bag of potatoes, a basket of eggs, or a couple of chickens. The Quichua people are not familiar with psychiatrists or mental health professionals.”

He also sees a bright future for the role of the traditional healer: “Young people feel less threatened to pursue a career as a traditional healer. Currently, the trend points to an increase of traditional healers.”

In the future, Incayawar would like to see a happy co-habitation between the scientifically-trained psychiatrists, and the traditional healers: “We would like to see traditional healers working in a respectful partnership with biomedically trained mental health workers. The collaboration between equals … could be something to work on for the coming decade.”

Published: August 2008

Resources

  • Dr Mario Incayawar has new book coming out in February 2009 called “Psychiatrists and Traditional Healers: Unwitting Partners in Global Mental Health,” Publisher: John Wiley & Sons.
    It can be pre-ordered here: Amazon.co.uk And the draft chapters read here: www.mediafire.com
  • An innovative UNFPA project has managed to give the Quecha-speaking descendents of the Incas the benefits of both traditional and modern medicines in a culturally sensitive manner.
    Website: http://www.unfpa.org

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

Categories
Archive

Traditional Medicine is now a Proven Remedy

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Once dismissed as old fashioned, ineffective and unscientific, traditional medicine is now seen as a key tool in bringing healthcare and healing to poor people bypassed by existing public and private health measures.

Acknowledging traditional medicine as a useful tool goes back to the World Health Organisation’s Alma-Ata Declaration in 1978, which urged governments for the first time to include traditional medicine in their primary health systems and recognise traditional medicine practitioners as health workers. During the last 30 years there has been a considerable expansion in the use of traditional medicine across the world. Despite their ancient origins, it is still critical these medicines do meet efficacy and health standards and are proven to work.

In Mongolia, when the Soviet Union collapsed a decade and a half ago, new market forces meant that supplies of conventional medicines became prohibitively expensive for most of the population. With one doctor for 600 people in the rural areas – and the vast distances to be covered – medical services were virtually unobtainable in rural communities.

This situation led to a revival of Mongolia’s 2,000-year-old traditional medicine. This includes acupuncture, cauterisation, manual therapy, blood letting and therapies using mares’ milk – all integral to the rural way of life.

Research by the Japanese Nippon Foundation – the largest private foundation in Japan – explored how Mongolia’s public health care could be improved through traditional medicine. It focused on the possible use of traditional medicine alongside Western medicine, the depth of faith in traditional medicine, the affordability of traditional medicine, and the lifestyles of herdsmen living in remote areas away from hospitals. The project, launched in 2004, distributes medical kits with 12 types of traditional medicines to households in rural areas. As they use them, the households pay for them. The kits, which mostly target stomach and intestinal ailments and fever, have so far been distributed to 10,000 households (50,000 people) across the country. The Foundation found doctors’ house calls were down by 25 per cent after one year of the project.

In India, Gram Mooligai and its Village Herbs label helps bring quality healthcare to the country’s 170 million rural poor currently left out by public healthcare programmes, or who can’t afford private services. At present, the Indian government has been unable to find adequate funds to provide healthcare to all its people. Gram Mooligai uses a network of 300 women health practitioners to reach villagers who spend on average US $50 a year on health services – so far, they reach 30,000 households. It has built trust with the poor by offering herbal remedies based on India’s strong Ayruvedic heritage of herbal healing. It also draws on India’s rich biodiversity by harvesting medicines sustainably from native plant species – over 18,000 are known.

The company is owned by a network of rural growers that manufacture herbal remedies like Trigul balm for joint pain, Sugam cough syrup and Jwaracin fever reducer. Gram Mooligai combines modern heathcare with local remedies familiar to rural villagers.

The website gives a good example of this folksy approach. In answer to a villager whose daughter is complaining of pain in her legs and back, the villager is advised to give her milk and ghee (clarified butter). “Add nuts and dry fruits to her daily diet in small quantity. If she is lean, then a weekly massage with Lakshadi Thailam (which is available in the Ayurvedic shops) is very useful. Slightly warm the oil before massage and add a pinch of common salt to the oil for better absorption.”

Published: September 2007

Resources

  • Mongolian Traditional Medicine Website: www.baigal.com
  • Asia-Pacific Traditional Medicine and Herbal Technology Network: an excellent first stop for any entrepreneur, where they can find out standards and regulations and connect with education and training opportunities: www.apctt-tm.net and www.aptm.cn

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

Categories
Archive

Cooking up a Recipe to End Poverty

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Like music, food has a powerful ability to jump across cultural and regional barriers and unite people in the sheer pleasure of the meal. Tapping the rich vein of regional culinary heritages is also a great way to make money. Promoting local recipes and foods has other benefits: as the global obesity (or globesity as WHO calls it) epidemic reaches into the urban areas of cities in the developing world, anything that pulls people away from fast food and high-fat foods is a good thing. Doctors have found home cooking keeps people thin and is better for them.

The trend across the developing world towards eating away from home is another factor in the growing obesity crisis. While cooking at home allows for control of ingredients and portion sizes, eating out usually means more high energy and fatty foods. The global obesity crisis is threatening to reverse many essential health gains brought about by development. As communities prosper, diets become more reliant on junk food and fast food.

The International Obesity Task Force found 1.7 billion people in the world need to lose weight. There are now more overweight people in the world than hungry people. Neville Rigby, the policy director of the task force, told The Associated Press, “What’s clear is that the developing world in particular is going to bear the enormous brunt of this weight gain. It’s rapidly accelerating. We’re even seeing obesity in adolescents in India now. It’s universal. It has become a fully global epidemic – indeed, pandemic.”

According to Dr Susan Jebb, Medical Research Council Director of Studies, Human Nutrition Centre, University of Cambridge, “getting back to a bit of home cooking could be a good start” to tackling the obesity crisis.

Increasing awareness of traditional and local recipes can generate income in many ways. From publishing cookbooks to inspiring restaurant and food vendor menus to sparking up supermarket product lines, whole industries can be built up from the humble recipe. Supermarkets in Africa are a growing sector. Executives from South Africa’s Shoprite supermarket chain recently announced a doubling of their supermarkets in Uganda, and called supermarkets one of the fastest growing businesses in East Africa. UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has already started to dispatch Fairtrade Ambassadors to Africa to trawl the continent for new products to stock their shelves.

So, the time is right for entrepreneurs to target the African food market and raise its profile. Seizing this opportunity is an ambitious project to digitally archive the vast and often hard-to-find treasure trove of African cookbooks. Announced at a conference in Tanzania this summer, the African Cookbook Project is seeking to gather together in one place all the past and present African cookbooks, effectively creating the most comprehensive resource of African recipes.

Published: August 2007

Resources

  • Africooks: Culinary Literature by Jessica B. Harris: This established African cookbook writer offers an excellent role model for budding cookbook authors: www.africooks.com
  • A success story about a Senagalese restaurant in the US: NYTimes article
  • BetumiBlog and Betumi.com (www.betumi.com): Betumi is the African Culinary Network and “connects anyone who delights in African cuisine, foodways and food history.” View photos.
  • An extensive list of African cookbooks available for sale: here
  • Africa’s Big Seven: held every year, it is the main event that brings together food retailers and producers and is a perfect place to bring a new product looking to be launched.

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