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Appropriate technology in developing countries

Appropriate technology are sustainable projects, implemented in developing countries, to improve quality of life by taking the social, cultural, and economic needs of the community into consideration.

Appropriate technology projects are simple, low cost projects. About 70% of the world population lives in developing countries with, 75-80% out of that, living in rural regions [1] . In mostly all rural areas of developing countries, there is a low literacy rate, minimal income, poor infrastructure, poor health and sanitation, and a limited amount of resources [1]. The main goal of appropriate technology projects is to improve the quality of life.

History

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Appropriate technology process and design

By looking back in history and examining past projects, lessons have been learned and strategies have been identified to improve the implementation of appropriate technology projects. There are three steps that can be taken to properly start an appropriate technology project.

  • 1) Identify the Problem: Conduct thorough research about the community and their needs
  • 2) Choose a Project Type:
    • a. Identify already existing appropriate technologies
    • b. Improve existing technology for the specific community and their need
    • c. Adapt other technology to the community and their culture
    • d. Research and develop a new appropriate technology
  • 3) Implement the Project [1]

Once the first two steps are completed, the design process begins. There are two types of designs: hard and soft. Hard design has specific standards that are set for the materials and dimensions of each part. The design may fail if the dimensions or materials are incorrect. Soft designs are modified in the field to more appropriately fit the community. This includes using available materials and skilled labor. Appropriate technology most commonly uses soft design to adapt the project to the local culture [1]. For example, a galvanized pipe is needed to connect a source box to Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) pipe further down a gravity fed water distribution system. If galvanized pipe is unavailable within the region of intended community or if it is expensive, then another solution might be found. Another pipe material could be used or more innovative ideas can be explored to substitute the galvanized pipe. If a break tank is necessary, a local masonry will be hired using his/her own methods. Therefore the design will not be exactly as planned. Ten criteria are identified that will cause a project to be more sustainable. Seven of these 10 criteria are related to the design of the project.

Successful project criteria

To implement a successful and sustainable appropriate technology project, 10 criteria have been developed.

  • 1) System Independence: Functions with minimal outside interaction and support systems, facilities, aids etc.… The technology contains the supporting materials, and any equipment that is necessary for the project to be functional.[2]
  • 2) Culture Considerations: Cultural aspects of the intended community are taken into consideration to ensure it meshes with the society.[2]
  • 3) Cost of Technology: Affordable by the members of the community.[2]
  • 4) Evolutionary Capacity of Technology: Designed to allow for it to be expanded and recreated in more communities who have the same need by the people of the community.[2]
  • 5) Multi-purpose Technology: Has the ability to accomplish a multitude of applications.[2]
  • 6) Local Materials: Consists of materials that can be bought and produced locally to ensure any part can be replaced. This gives a boost to the economy and reduces the amount of materials that need to be exported.[3]
  • 7) Leader/Committee: Community contains a board of members who are in charge of managing and maintaining the appropriate technology. They are responsible for receiving taxes from all members of the community to pay for maintenance [4]
  • 8) Simple Design: Design is as simple as possible so all community members are able to understand the technology and are able to maintain it. Simpler designs are easier to maintain and operate [5]
  • 9) Community Input: All members of the community, including women, elders, and children, voice their needs to identify the most appropriate technology project to fit the needs of the community[6]
  • 10) Community Involvement: Includes involvement from all members of the community, including planning, implementation, and overseeing the project so they feel a sense of ownership [4].

Moving towards sustainability

Without sustainability, appropriate technology projects cannot last. Acknowledging cultural and socioeconomic factors of the community will make the project more sustainable. It is important to communicate, listen, and learn before finding a viable solution that is adapted to fit the local culture, customs, and needs. Technology has the potential to benefit a community while making a lasting difference. Technology of developed nations is occasionally implemented with force in underdeveloped third world countries, instead of being integrated into the existing culture of the community [7] wastewater treatment systems that were built in the Mediterranean were not sustainable because the implemented technology was copied from the West instead of adapting the Western technology to the local culture, land, and climate. One of the most common reasons for a project failing is the new technology is not appropriate to the community where it was implemented[6]. There are eight identified categories of appropriate technology projects that are incorporated with various types of engineering. These types of engineering include Mechanical, Structural, Environmental, Chemical, and Electrical.

Types of appropriate technology projects

Sanitation

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Transportation

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Water supply and treatment

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Cooking

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Refrigeration

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Energy

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Communication technology

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Infrastructure

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Barrett Hazeltine and Christopher Bull (Editors) (2003). Field Guide to Appropriate Technology, 1st Edition. Academic Press, pp. 1-6. ISBN 0-12-335185-5. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Robert C. Wicklein (1998). "Designing for appropriate technology in developing countries". Technology in Society 20 (3).
  3. The Community's Role in Appropriate Technology George McRobie. From the website of the The New Economics Institute.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Studipta Sarka, John E. Greenleaf, Anirban Gupta and Debabrata Ghosh (2010). "Evolution of community-based arsenic removal systems in remote villages in West Bengal, India: Assessment of decade-long operation". Water Research 44.
  5. M. J. Clifford (2005.). "Appropriate Technology: The Poetry of Science". Science and Christian Belief vol. 17 (1).
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ahmed N. Bdour, Moshrik R. Hamdi and Zeyad Tarawneh (2009). "Perspectives on sustainable wastewater treatment technologies and reuse options in the urban areas of the Mediterranean region". Desalination 237.
  7. Innovation, Here, There, Everywhere: Developing Appropriate Technology to Improve Quality of Life and Retain Cultural Diversity Ann Feuerbach, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Hofstra University.




Achieving the Goals of Technical Writing

A Reflective Essay is an essay in which one demonstrates their personal writing has achieved the Learning Goals of the Advanced Writing in the Disciplines (AWD) course through effective quotations and commentary.

The personal writing consists of four separate units or papers each containing different audiences, themes and personas. The first unit discusses four core elements of audience, persona, thesis, and purpose within a specific professional journal. The second, third and fourth units are centered on the main topic of appropriate technology. The first unit analyzes a specific discourse community. The second unit is a written literature review and the third unit is a written Citizendium article. Lastly, the fourth unit is a multi-media design project.

Learning Goals: [1]

  • 1. A strong understanding of the uses of writing in his/her academic discipline and/or career path
  • 2. Successful use of appropriate citation conventions
  • 3. Confidence and facility with the processes of revision
  • 4. The production of 5000+ words of polished, revised writing
  • 5. Critical understanding of and facility in the discourse of a field
  • 6. An understanding of the importance of audience and context with respect to writing style and arrangement
  • 7. Written reflection on his or her own writing processes and texts and their role in his or her own practice of critical reasoning

Learning Goal 1:

The first learning objective is to gain a strong understanding of various uses of writing within our particular field of study. Writing units two, three, and four helped to achieve this goal, because they were all centered on the topic of appropriate technology, which is related to my field of study of mechanical engineering. Through unit two, I learned how to write a literature review that taught me how to explain an engineering concept in a thoughtful, methodical, clear, and descriptive way. This use of writing is extremely important to explain conducted research and its purpose to a public audience. The third writing unit consisted of writing a Citizendium article that is located on the web. This is a very useful form of writing to learn because at some point in my career as a mechanical engineer, I will need to post information on the Internet. For the fourth unit, I had to create a multi-media project that any audience would find interesting, understandable and could relate to regarding appropriate technology. This unit led me to learn how to write about my field so that a very broad audience can understand it.

Learning Goal 2:

The second learning objective was to learn how to use appropriate and correct citation conventions. This was achieved in all four units because each unit had to have citations. The second unit helped me achieve this goal the most, because it consisted of writing a literature review. Below is an example from the unit two paper of its context and respective citation.

Text in Paper: “1) Multi-purpose technology: The appropriate technology should be able to accomplish a variety of applications [1]." [2]

Citation: “1) Robert C. Wicklein, “Designing for appropriate technology in developing countries,” Technology in Society, vol. 20, iss. 3, 1998." [2]

Citations were extremely important in this unit because mostly all of the information that was written was taken from a variety of sources. I have also learned what citation convention is most appropriate for each unit whether that is MLA or IEEE in this specific AWD course.

Learning Goal 3:

The third learning objective is to obtain the ability to correctly and effectively revise works of writing. This goal has been achieved by conducting peer reviews for two students for each unit. Each peer review identifies the main context of the paper, major points and minor points that could be changed. For example, Brian Carbone, a student in the AWD class, wrote a peer review based on my unit two paper,

“The citation style seems to be MLA which I'm not sure is appropriate for this kind of paper. It seems like the discussion of case study 2 is cut short compared to the other case studies. I think it should either be expanded upon or taken out of the paper. I think the paper would benefit from adding additional citations to support some of the things that the author is stating as facts or well known things.” [3]

I responded to this specific review in my unit two peer review response,

“Brian noted that I should also change my citation format to IEEE, which I have done. I have decided to discuss that case study in more detail rather than removing it. I have followed his advice and included a lot more citations throughout the paper." [4]

By writing and reading these peer reviews, I have learned how to use people’s comments effectively to make my writing more polished and professional.

Learning Goal 4:

The third learning objective was to write at least 5000 revised, polished writing. Unit one consisted of 1819 words. Unit two consisted of 2948 words. Unit three consisted of 900 words and unit four consisted of 790 words. Therefore this goal has been exceeded by 1457 words after adding the amount of words for units one through four.

Learning Goal 5:

The fifth learning objective is to gain a critical understanding of and facility in the discourse of a field. This was achieved in unit one that comprised of writing a paper that discusses the four core elements of thesis, persona, audience and purpose related to a professional journal. By analyzing a journal titled Drinking Water Research, Advancing the Science of Water I gained an understanding of what a discourse community is and how to write a professional journal that reaches to that specific discourse community. I also learned how to decipher what specific discourse community a professional journal is trying to reach out to. For example,

“The fact that this journal is priced at $40 per year for four volumes a year further enhances this argument because working adults in the water utility and engineering fields would be able to afford this journal compared to a research journal that might cost $1000 a year. Also, because no extraneous advertisements are present within this journal, the author meant for an audience who is looking for information found through research.” [5]

This example, among others demonstrates that this goal has been reached. By writing units two through four I have demonstrated that I not only have a critical understanding of what a discourse community it and how it is related to writing, but I have an understanding of an engineering discourse community, specifically related to appropriate technologies.

Learning Goal 6:

The sixth learning goal is to gain an understanding of the importance of audience and context with respect to writing style and arrangement. Unit 1 consisted of discussing 4 core elements of audience, persona, thesis and purpose within a professional journal related to the field of engineering. Regarding the core element of audience, the paper had to include answers to these questions based off the professional journal’s context.

“Audience: Does this collection write to members of the community or to outsiders? Is the audience unified or multiple? Are different audiences targeted by different contributions? Is the collection primarily targeted to equals, experts, or beginners?” [6]

The title of my chosen journal is Drinking Water Research, Advancing the Science of Water. The context discusses research on water use and examines ways to conserve and use water more efficiently. By examining the contents within the journal, I came to the conclusion that

“This journal is writing to members of a community containing practicing professionals in fields such as environmental engineering, public health agencies, environmental science, and water utilities.” [5]

This is supported by the following evidence that

“Every article contains fairly short paragraphs with short and complete sentences along with a limited amount of difficult words, which further demonstrates the audience is not for PhDs.” [5]

By examining and writing about this professional journal, I learned how to write to a specific audience by way of the context of the material to the pictures displayed to the length of the paragraphs. These findings were utilized in writing the remaining three units, each of which were being written to a separate audience.

Learning Goal 7:

The seventh learning goal is to write reflections based on the writing processes and texts and its role in practicing critical reasoning. For each unit, a reflection was required to be written. The purpose of the unit two reflection was to answer the question why the assignment was memorable and a valuable experience. The response to this question was as follows.

“This assignment is valuable because it asks us to think about our technical profession in another way. We are forced to write about feels in a logical and thoughtful manner that will be clear to a specific audience.” [7]

The purpose of the unit four reflection was to answer the question how I captured and maintained the intended audiences attention throughout the video. The response to this question was as follows.

“I captured and kept the attention of my intended audience by using various black and white images. I believe that a picture is worth a thousand words and will grab the audience’s attention more than just narration.” [8]

Reflections like the two examples given above have been conducted for each unit and have allowed me to answer questions that show I understand the importance of each writing assignment.

References

  1. Template:AWD Syllabus pg 2
  2. 2.0 2.1 Template:Unit 2 Final Draft
  3. Template:Carbone Fritz Unit 2 Peer Review
  4. Template:Unit 2 Peer Review Response
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Template:Unit 1 Final Draft
  6. Template:Unit 1 Syllabus pg 1
  7. Template:Unit 2 Reflection
  8. Template:Unit 4 Reflection