Sustainable Solutions for Developing Countries
When discussing issues such as sustainability, one should keep in mind that everyone has a different experience. Throughout the world, all people count on various resources, environments and cultures, amongst other things, that make it impossible to find a one-size-fits-all solution.

In today’s world, it is essential to look at the common denominators when trying to find environmental solutions. Doing so provides a guide to finding solutions that are sustainable in diverse circumstances. This mindset becomes particularly relevant when referring to developing countries because solutions accessible to people in developed countries might not be an option for those in nations that are not. To find truly sustainable solutions, it is important to take into account the planet, as well as how these solutions would impact the people. This piece will discuss three sustainable solutions that developing countries have implemented and why these have been successful.

WeCyclers

WeCyclers is a for-profit company in Lagos, Nigeria. Lagos is on track to become the third-largest economy in Africa. However, 8.5 percent of the population is still poor and 20 percent is vulnerable to poverty. WeCyclers offers a recycling service using low-cost bikes. The organization allows homes to generate value from the waste they produce. WeCyclers began in 2012 when the city collected only 40 percent of its waste and recycled only 13 percent.

Recycling firms in Lagos face many supply constraints, so the WeCyclers solution is vital for both the environment and the people. When people live in conditions that do not involve a formal system of waste collection, they are at risk of diseases such as malaria and cholera. Trash can create water pools that are optimal conditions for disease vectors to breed. In addition to this, they are also at risk of property damage and psychological stress. Waste that places do not deal with forces residents to walk through obstructed roads and come across frequent trash fires.

WeCyclers built its platform on a fleet of cargo bikes called wecycles. Today, it also includes tricycles, vans and trucks and its collectors use them to pick up waste from people’s homes. As people give material, the service rewards them with points per kilogram of recycled waste. People can exchange these points for things such as food and household items.

Netafim

Netafim, the second of the sustainable solutions for developing countries, is a precision irrigation solution in Israel. It increases yields while saving water and cutting costs. The system consists of dripping precise amounts of water right at the root of the crops through a tank that uses gravity. Therefore, it minimizes not only water waste but electricity use as well. It is also commercially viable considering that it has a payback time of about a year.

The company is facing three challenges that are essential to the future of the planet. These include water scarcity and contamination, growing demand for food and the need for arable land. Netafim has spread across 110 countries and has 17 manufacturing plants worldwide. It has irrigated over 10 million hectares of land, as well as produced over 150 billion drippers.

Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha

Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha implements school boats in Bangladesh. This initiative grew from the recognized need to take action against worsening floods around the world. This particularly relates to the prediction that rising sea levels could displace over a million Bangladeshis by 2050.

One of the flooding consequences is children not being able to attend school for long periods. This challenge, in turn, makes it difficult for them to escape poverty, as they are not receiving a quality education. Therefore, by building these solar-powered school boats, the initiative secures learning even in flood-prone regions. Nigeria, Cambodia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Zambia have all replicated this model. The organization “teaches women and girls on new skills, sustainable agriculture, climate change adaptation and women’s rights.” A doctor and a farmer are also on board, which allows them to grow vegetables and raise fish and ducks.

Solutions such as WeCyclers, Netafim and Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha not only help the environment but people too. The common denominator that results in their success is seeing them as mutually exclusive: there is no sustainable way to help the environment without helping society as well.

Johanna Leo
Photo: Flickr