To discuss poverty in our society, I feel it is important to first take a look at a few, devastating facts. I found these in an article written by Anup Shah, titled "Causes of Poverty."
1. Approximately half the world - around 3 billion people - live on less than $2.50 a day!
2. The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world's 7 richest people combined. (Shah)
3. 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (or roughly 29,000 children per day). (Shah)
Just imagine being a part of these statistics. Imagine living the lives of these people, going through what they endure each and every day of their lives. We need to think ahead and outside of the box. Go above and beyond. In reality, it IS the small things that make a difference. Martin Fisher, CEO of ApproTEC/KickStart, created a presentation that explains how a design so little, with no significant cost, could change the lives of many poor people living in Sub-Saharan Africa.
He came to the conclusion that the number one need of the poor people is, essentially, the need to make money (Fisher). His presentation showed that the business for the average African, or 80% of the poor in Africa, is farming. Most of the individual farmers still farm using basic techniques such as simple watering buckets to water their crop. Fisher created a simple design that would create a low cost pressure irrigation pump. This pump would not only make farming easier for the laborers, but also create jobs to benefit all of society. KickStart would create the design of the product and set up factories in Africa to manufacture the products. They would then hire train individuals to work those factories, while keeping track of quality control. KickStart would then recruit and train wholesalers as well as retailers. Essentially, this would lead up to a "Super MoneyMaker Pump Supply Chain" where everyone from designer, to manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, and consumer, would end up better off where they began.
When it comes to innovation and thinking of the bigger picture, Fisher's idea of social agenda is one that we should all take into consideration. His simple design, from the beginning of the process to the final use by the consumer, benefited society as a whole. This should be our priority as designers. We live in a world with a juggling economy. Let's figure out how to make things better, and bring this poverty crisis down.
"Causes of Poverty -- Global Issues." Global Issues : Social, Political, Economic and Environmental Issues That Affect Us All -- Global Issues. Web. 09 Nov. 2010 http://www.globalissues.org/issue/2/causes-of-poverty
"Design to End Poverty." Upload & Share PowerPoint Presentations and Documents. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. http://www.slideshare.net/whatidiscover/design-to-end-poverty