The Only Way Is Up - Hydraulic ram pump (The Philippines)
It's baffling how some inventions fail to achieve a tipping point. The hydraulic ram pump - which has been around for a couple of centuries - falls into this category. The Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc. (AIDFI) is determined to see the ram pump finally come into its own. Using the power of a river's flow to literally push water uphill without any other energy input, it's proving to be a boon for poor villagers living in mountainous regions.
The ram pump can save both hours of back-breaking work carrying water and cash where normally expensive water pumps would be installed. AIDFI has introduced the ram pump to over 170 upland villages, and has plans to spread the benefits far and wide among poor communities.
Growth Cycle - Bamboo bicycles (Zambia)
In 1995 high-end bicycle designer Craig Calfee made his first bamboo bicycle frame - and then spent 10 years improving the process to make the canes strong and durable. Calfee then began working with small workshops in the Zambia and three African countries with the aim of creating profitable small businesses. Bamboo grows fast in all these places. ensuring a ready supply of the construction material.
The bikes sell locally, but entrepreneurs particularly love the idea of exporting their products to Europe and the USA, where there is a market for the increasingly high-quality and unique frames. But don't expect them to be in the Tour de France anytime soon.
A Class Apart - Project Long Way Home (Guatemala)
Mateo Paneitz went to Comalapa, Guatemala, in 2004 as a Peace Corps volunteer. Peneitz's desire to help this impoverished, predominantly Mayan community didn't end with his tour though. He sold his car in the USA to raise funds to found Long Way Home, a non-profit organization that helps create better employment and education opportunities in Comalapa. A popular park has already been created, but the goal now is to create a mixed academic and vocational school.
The construction of the school is part of the solution - it's built from recycled waste such as car tyres and bottles. With mountains of waste available for re-use, the project is already providing training and employment.