Appropriate technology

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Appropriate technology (AT) is technology that is designed with special consideration to the context of its use - including environmental, ethical, cultural, social, political, and economical aspects of the community it is intended for. With these goals in mind, AT proponents claim their methods require fewer resources, are easier to maintain, and have less of an impact on the environment compared to techniques from mainstream technology, which they contend is wasteful and environmentally polluting.[1]

The term is usually used to describe simple technologies which are suitable for use:

  • In developing nations or less developed ruralW areas of industrialized nations,[1]
  • In an off-the-grid setting,
  • Wherever individuals or small communities wish to lower their environmental impact and increase their resilience.

This form of "appropriate technology" usually prefers labor-intensiveW solutions over capital-intensiveW ones, although labor-saving devices are also valued where this does not mean high capital or maintenance cost, or environmental impact. Appropriate technology can be described as the simplest level of technology that can effectively achieve the intended purpose in a given location. In industrialized nationsW, the term appropriate technology takes a different meaning, often referring to engineering that takes special consideration of its social and environmental ramifications.[2]

Background and definition

The term appropriate technology came into some prominence during the 1973 energy crisisW and the environmental movement of the 1970s. The term is typically used in two arenas: utilizing the most effective technology to address the needs of developing areas, and using socially and environmentally acceptable technologies in industrialized nations.

Some prefer to capitalize the term as Appropriate Technology, to distinguish it from other situations where the words "appropriate technology" might be chosen.

Synonyms: intermediate technology; simple technologies.


Mohandas GandhiW advocated small, local, mostly village-based technology to help India's villages become self reliant, resisting the dependence associated with colonialism, to aid in the freedom struggle against British and wealthy Indians. Gandhi did not believe that technological development was inherently synonymous with progressW. He believed the powers of technology should be produced and used artfully and the benefits should be close to the individual and widely produced and distributed in a decentralised fashion. Gandhi stated that his favorite technologies were the sewing machine, because it was invented out of love, and the bicycle, because it kept one's feet close to the ground. He felt that technology should not disenfranchises people or be used for violence - rather that it should be used to empower people broadly. The movement for self-rule was based on local economies, and Gandhi championed the spinning wheel, or charka, employed in the khadiW movement in the 1920s, which produced cloth locally in an act of civil disobedience, causing the British monopoly on textiles to collapse. The spinning wheel is today seen at the center of the Indian national flag, and the flag itself must, by law, be made of khadi.W

In the movement for SwarajW (home rule), Gandhi believed in a revolution of production, saying "It is not about getting rid of the tiger and keeping the tiger's nature". Saying "it is better for a machine to be idle than a man to be idle", Gandhi rejected the factory model of industrialization. He raised money to offer a reward for someone to invent a spinning wheel that could employ people in the same way, while producing more thread.

E. F. SchumacherW was strongly influenced by Gandhi's philosophy, and took these village development ideas further, coining the term "intermediate technology" in the early 1970s. It is Schumacher through his book Small is BeautifulW[3] and later by creating the Intermediate Technology Development Group (now Practical Action) that pioneered appropriate technology in development work.


Well known advocates and practitioners of appropriate technology include:

  • Amory LovinsW
  • Sanoussi DiakitéW
  • Victor PapanekW

Developing areas

The term has often been applied to the situations of developing nations or underdeveloped rural areas of industrialized nations. The use of appropriate technology in these areas seeks to fill in the gaps left by conventional development which typically focuses on capital-intensive, urban development.[5]

Appropriate technologies are not necessarily "low" technology, and can utilize recent research, for example cloth filters which were inspired by research into the way cholera is carried in water. High technology is used in appropriate technology applications in the form of high-efficiency white LED lights, used for example by the Light Up the World FoundationW in remote areas of Nepal to replace kerosene lampsW or wood fires - this reduces smoke and by doing that reduces problems with respiratory health and eyes, and can be expected to reduces child mortality.

"Intermediate technology"

Coined by E. F. SchumacherW, the term intermediate technology is similar to appropriate technology. It refers to tools and technology that are significantly more effective than traditional methods, but still an order of magnitude (one tenth) cheaper than developed world technology. Such items are generally within the economic reach of poor people, and according to proponents can lead to greater productivity with minimal social dislocationW. Intermediate technology can also be built and serviced largely using locally available materials and knowledge, with minimal input from outside. This is conducive to decentralization, compatible with ecology, gentle in its use of scarce resources, and designed to serve humans and avoid making them the servants of machines.

Village-level operation and maintenance

Water pumps came to demonstrate the importance of appropriateness and context in the application of technology.

During the International Drinking Water Decade (1981-1990)W, water wells with pumps were provided to villages in developing countries around the world, paid for primarily with foreign aid. This was done in a top-down manner, with little attention to the local context. A key problem was that the pumps were difficult to maintain at the village level - parts were not easily accessible or repairable, and/or specialized skills were required that did not exist in the typical village.

After the water decade, "village-level operation and maintenance" pumps, or VLOM pumps, were introduced. Such an approach reduces the dependency of villages on governments and donors.

This lesson continues to be learned in many aid and development projects, decades on.

Appropriate hard and soft technologies

According to Dr. Maurice AlbertsonW and Faulkner, appropriate hard technology is “engineering techniques, physical structures, and machinery that meet a need defined by a community, and utilize the material at hand or readily available. It can be built, operated and maintained by the local people with very limited outside assistance (e.g., technical, material, or financial). it is usually related to an economic goal.” Some have explored the use of classroom projects for university-level physics students to research, develop and test appropriate hard technology.[6]

Albertson and Faulkner consider "appropriate soft technology" as technology that deals with “the social structures, human interactive processes, and motivation techniques. It is the structure and process for social participation and action by individuals and groups in analyzing situations, making choices and engaging in choice-implementing behaviors that bring about change.”[7]

Developed countries

The term appropriate technology is also used in developed nations to describe the use of technology and engineering that results in less negative impacts on the environment and society.[2] E. F. SchumacherW asserts that such technology, described in the book Small is Beautiful[3] tends to promote values such as health, beauty and permanence, in that order.

The type of appropriate technology used in developed countries is sometimes termed "Appropriate and Sustainable Technology" (AST); besides being functional and relatively cheap (though often more expensive than the appropriate technology of the village), this technology is intended to be very durable. (Appropriate technology for the village may place less emphasis on durability than on ease of repair.).[8][9]

John F. C. Turner, a British architect interested in human settlements and development, (author of Housing By People, and co-author and editor of Freedom To Build), says that truly appropriate technology is technology that ordinary people can use for their own benefit and the benefit of their community, that doesn't make them dependent on systems over which they have no control. Technology typically creates dependencies and thus to truly be appropriate, technology should enhance the local or regional capacity to meet local needs, rather than creating or amplifying dependencies on systems beyond local control.

Determining a sustainable approach

Features such as low cost, low usage of fossil fuels and use of locally available resources are advantages in sustainability. For that reason, these technologies are sometimes used and promoted by advocates of sustainability and alternative technology.

Besides using natural, locally available resources (e.g. wood or adobe), waste materials imported from cities using conventional (and inefficient) waste management may be collected and re-used. Use of these cities' waste material allows the gathering of a huge amount of building material at a low cost. When obtained, the materials may be recycled over and over in the own city/community, using the cradle to cradle method. Locations where waste can be found include landfillsW, junkyardsW, on water surfaces and anywhere around towns or near highways. Organic waste that can be reused to fertilise plants can be found in sewage. Renovation or removal of material from building sites can provide a source of stone, soil and concrete.

The waste materials include

  • plastics and aluminum[10]
  • ferrousW waste materials (e.g. cans, ...)
  • sewage sludgeW (for use as a fertiliser, depending on pollutant levels and application) See also Waste management, Solid wasteW and Sewage.

The waste materials can be gathered by waste pickersW, or – if possible – with more sophisticated machines such as materials recovery facilitiesW (MRFs),and solid waste processing facilitiesW. The latter may allow better separation of the different metals, plastics, ... resulting in a higher – and more efficient- yield. Also, waste pickers -besides usually not being equipped to disassemble the materials - risk being exposed to various poisonings.

Sewage sludge is collected not by hand, but through a sludge processing plantW that automatically heats the matter and conveys it into fertiliser pellets (hereby removing possible contamination by chemical detergents, ...)[11] This approach eliminates seawater pollution by conveying the water directly to the sea without treatment (a practice which is still common in developing countries, despite environmental regulation). Sludge plants are useful in areas that have already set up a sewage system, but not in areas without such a system, as composting toilets are more efficient and do not require sewage pipes (which break over time).

After collection, the obtained materials often need to be melted and recast in forgesW and/or may require bending, cutting, folding, ... in a workshopW. Plastics are a special case that are too melted in a workshop, using small, purpose-built hand-operated melting containers. Metalworking tools that can be used to cut or fold the metal are the OpenLatheW and Multimachine. Also, some CNC metalworking tools can be appropriate.

In some cases, melting and recasting is not required, as some parts can be simply cut and used as is in different devices. An example is the passive solar collector built from old refrigerator tubing.

City construction

The city's layout - urban planning - greatly affects the usefulness and appropriateness of technologies. For example, transport: Medium to high density development enables an emphasis on walking, cycling and public transit, all of which rely less on complex and expensive technology, as well as having a lower impact on the environment, and allowing a greater quality of life for residents. An emphasis on vertical development (medium to high buildings) reduces the land area used by buildings, leaving more open green space while maintaining the medium to high density needed for sustainable settlements.

Much more detailed recommendations can be found in New Urbanism and related concepts such as transit-oriented development. These typically include grid plans,W narrower streets, traffic calming, transit nodes - and of course safe routes for cyclists.

In the developing world, cities are expanding rapidly, often along an ad hoc, car-dominated model. Changing this direction is essential for both sustainability and for creating desirable cities.

Building construction

Building methods regarded as appropriate technology include:

  • Dutch brickW
  • AnimalW products
  • CobW
  • Autonomous buildingW
  • EarthshipW
  • and/or other green building materials could be considered appropriate earth building technology for much of the developing world, as they make use of materials which are widely available locally and are thus relatively inexpensive.

The local context must be considered as, for example, mudbrickW may not be durable in a high rainfall area (although a large roof overhang and cement stabilisation can be used to correct for this), and, if the materials are not readily available, the method may be inappropriate. Other forms of natural building may be considered appropriate technology, though in many cases the emphasis is on sustainable architectureW and self-sufficiency rather than affordability or suitability. As such, many buildings are also built to function as autonomous buildingsW (e.g. earthshipsW, ...). One example of an organisation that applies appropriate earthbuilding techniques would be Builders Without BordersW.

Where building height is important - e.g. to allow sustainable levels of density and efficient transport within a city - then traditional and alternative methods such as earthen buildings are not appropriate.

The building structure must also be considered. Cost-effectiveness is an important issue in projects based around appropriate technology, and one of the most efficient designs herein is the public housingW approach. This approach lets everyone have their own sleeping/recreation space, yet incorporate communal spaces e.g. mess hallsW, latrinesW, public showers, ...

In addition, to decrease costs of operation (heating, cooling, ...) techniques as earth shelteringW or Trombe walls may be incorporated.

Organizations as Architecture for Humanity also consider principles of appropriate technology, aiming to serve the needs of poor and disaster-affected people.


MicrogenerationW is appropriate to remote and mobile applications, with low power requirements.

The term soft energy technologyW was coined by Amory LovinsW[verification needed] to describe "appropriate" renewable energy.[12] "Appropriate" energy technologies are especially suitable for isolated and/or small scale energy needs. However, high capital cost must be taken into account.

Electricity can be provided from:

  • PV solar panels (which are expensive initially, but simple), and (large) Concentrating solar power plants. PV solar panels made from low-cost photovoltaic cellsW or PV-cells which have first been concentrated by a luminescent solar concentratorW-panel are also a good option. Especially companies as Solfocus make appropriate technology CSP plants which can be made from waste plastics polluting the surroundings (see above). In certain cases, a dish stirling setup could be appropriate (by using low-cost Stirling engines as the thermomechanical generatorW); primarily as they have greater efficiency, reducing the size required for the plant. However, repair of these more efficient CSP setups is more difficult than with regular CLFR, solar power towers or parabolic troughs.
  • solar thermal collectorW
  • wind power (home do-it yourself turbines and larger-scale)
  • micro hydro, and pico hydroW[13]
  • human-powered handwheel generators[14]
  • Plant microbial fuel cells
  • other zero emission|zero emission generation methodsW

Some intermediate technologies (causing still some degree of pollution) include:

  • Biobutanol,
  • biodiesel,
  • and straight vegetable oil can be appropriate, direct biofuels in areas where vegetable oil is readily available and cheaper than fossil fuels.
  • Anaerobic digestion power plants
  • Biogas is another potential source of energy, particularly where there is an abundant supply of waste organic matterW. A generator (running on biofuels) can be run more efficiently if combined with batteries and an inverterW; this adds significantly to capital costW but reduces running costW, and can potentially make this a much cheaper option than the solar, wind and micro-hydro options.
  • FecesW (eg cow dung, human, etc) can also be used. For example DEKAW's Project Slingshot stirling electricity generator works this energy source to make electricity.
  • Biochar is another similar energy source which can be obtained through charring of certain types of organic material (eg hazelnut shells, bamboo, chicken manure, ...) in a pyrolysis unit.[15] A similar energy source is terra preta novaW.

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Finally, urine can also be used as a basis to generate hydrogen (which is an energy carrier). Using urine, hydrogen production is 332% more energy efficient than using water.[16][17]

Electricity distribution could be improved so to make use of a more structured electricity line arrangementW and universal AC power plugs and socketsW (e.g. the CEE 7/7 plug). In addition, a universal system of electricity provisioning (e.g. universal voltage, frequency, ampère; e.g. 230 V with 50 Hz), as well as perhaps a better mains power systemW (e.g. through the use of special systems as perfected single wire earth returnsW; e.g. Tunisia's MALTW-system, which features low costs and easy placement)[18][19]

Electricity storage (which is required for autonomous energy systems) can be provided through appropriate technology solutions as deep-cycle and car-batteriesW (intermediate technology), long duration flywheels, electrochemical capacitors, compressed air energy storage (CAES), liquid nitrogen and pumped hydro.[20] Thanks to Daniel NoceraW, low-cost hydrogen storage is now also possible as a mid to short-term storage solution.[21][22][23] Many solutions for the developing world are sold as a single package, containing a (micro) electricity generation power plant and energy storage. Such packages are called remote-area power supplyW

Water supply and treatment

As of 2006, waterborne diseases are estimated to cause 1.8 million deaths each year while about 1.1 billion people lack proper drinking water.[24]

Water generally needs treatment before use, depending on the source and the intended use (with high standards required for drinking water). The quality of water from household connections and community water points in low-income countries is not reliably safe for direct human consumption. Water extracted directly from surface waters and open hand-dug shallow wells nearly always requires treatment.

Appropriate technology options in water treatment include both community-scale and household-scale point-of-use (POU) designs.

The most reliable way to kill microbial pathogenic agents is to heat water to a rolling boil.[25] Other techniques, such as varying forms of filtration, chemical disinfection, and exposure to ultraviolet radiation (including solar UV) have been demonstrated in an array of randomized control trials to significantly reduce levels of waterborne disease among users in low-income countries.

Over the past decade, an increasing number of field-based studies have been undertaken to determine the success of POU measures in reducing waterborne disease. The ability of POU options to reduce disease is a function of both their ability to remove microbial pathogens if properly applied and such social factors as ease of use and cultural appropriateness. Technologies may generate more (or less) health benefit than their lab-based microbial removal performance would suggest.

The current priority of the proponents of POU treatment is to reach large numbers of low-income households on a sustainable basis. Few POU measures have reached significant scale thus far, but efforts to promote and commercially distribute these products to the world's poor have only been under way for a few years.

On the other hand, small-scale water treatment is reaching increasing fractions of the population in low-income countries, particularly in South and Southeast Asia, in the form of water treatment kiosks (also known as water refill stations or packaged water producers). While quality control and quality assurance in such locations may be variable, sophisticated technology (such as multi-stage particle filtration, UV irradiation, ozonation, and membrane filtration) is applied with increasing frequency. Such microenterprises are able to vend water at extremely low prices, with increasing government regulation. Initial assessments of vended water quality are encouraging.

Whether applied at the household or community level, some examples of specific treatment processes include:

  • Porous ceramic filtration, using either clay or diatomaceous earth, and oriented as either cylinder, pot, or disk, with gravity-fed or siphon-driven delivery systems. Silver is frequently added to provide antimicrobial enhancement
  • Intermittently operated slow-sand filtration, also known as biosand filtration
  • Chlorine disinfection, employing calcium hypochlorite powder, sodium hypochlorite solution, or sodium dichloroisocyanurate (NaDCC) tablets
  • Chemical flocculationW, using either commercially produced iron or aluminum salts or the crushed seeds of certain plants, such as Moringa oleifera
  • Mixed flocculation/disinfection using commercially produced powdered mixtures
  • Irradiation with ultraviolet light, whether using electric-powered lamps or direct solar exposure
  • membrane filtration, employing ultrafiltrationW or reverse osmosis filter elements preceded by pretreatment

Some appropriate technology water supply measures include:

  • Deep wells with submersible pumpsW in areas where the groundwater (aquifers) are located at depths >10 m.
  • Shallow wellsW with lined walls and covers.
  • rainwater harvesting systems with an appropriate method of storage, especially in areas with significant dry seasons.
  • Fog collection, which is suitable for areas which experience fog even when there is little rain.
  • Air wellW, a structure or device designed to promote the condensation of atmospheric moisture.
  • Handpumps and treadle pumps are generally only an option in areas is located at a relatively shallow depth (e.g. 10 m). The Flexi-Pipe Pump is a notable exception to this (upto 25 meter). For most deeper aquifers (<10 m), submersible pumps placed inside a well) are used. Treadle pumps for household irrigation are now being distributed on a widespread basis in developing countries. The principle of Village Level Operation and MaintenanceW is important with handpumps, but may be difficult in application.
  • Condensation bagsW and condensation pits can be an appropriate technology to get water, yet yields are low and are (for the amount of water obtained), labour intensive. Still, it may be a good (very cheap) solution for certain desperate communities.
  • The hippo water rollerW and Q-drum allow more water to be carried, with less effort and could thus be a good alternative for ethnic communities who do not wish to give up water gathering from remote locations, assuming low topographic relief.
  • The roundabout playpumpW, developed and used in southern Africa, harnesses the energy of children at play to pump water.


Human powered-vehiclesW include the bicycle, which provides general-purpose, human-powered transport at a lower cost of ownership than motorized vehicles, with many gains over simply walking, and the whirlwind wheelchairW, which provides mobility for disabled people who cannot afford the expensive wheelchairs used in developed countries. Animal powered vehicles/transportW may also be another appropriate technology.

Certain zero-emissions vehiclesW may be considered appropriate transportation technology, including compressed air carsW, liquid nitrogenW and hydrogen-poweredW vehicles. Also, vehicles with internal combustion engines may be converted to hydrogen or oxyhydrogen combustion.

Bicycles can also be applied to commercial transport of goods to and from remote areas. An example of this is Karaba, a free-trade coffee co-op in Rwanda, which uses 400 modified bicycles to carry hundreds of pounds of coffee beans for processing.[26] Other projects for developing countries include the redesign of cycle rickshaws to convert them to electric power.[27][28]


See also Greywater treatment and Water purification.

As of 2006, waterborne diseases are estimated to cause 1.8 million deaths each year, marking the importance of proper sanitation systems. It is clear that the developing world is heavily lacking in proper public sanitation and that solutions as seweragesW (or alternatively small-scale treatment systems) need to be provided.[29]

Ecological sanitation can be viewed as a three-step process dealing with human excreta: (1) Containment, (2) SanitizationW, (3) Recycling. The objective is to protect human health and the environment while limiting the use of water in sanitation systems for hand (and anal) washing only and recycling nutrients to help reduce the need for synthetic fertilizersW in agriculture.

Small scale systems include:

  • Composting toilets are the most environmental form of excrement disposal systems. In addition, the toilets design allows the nutrients to be reused (e.g. for fertilising food crops). Also, DIY composting toilets can be build at a very low cost.
  • BiPuW is a portable system suitable for disaster managementW, while other forms of latrineW provide safe means of disposing of human waste at a low cost. The Orangi Pilot ProjectW was designed based on an urban slum's sanitation crisis. Kamal Kar has documented the latrines developed by Bangladeshi villagers once they became aware of the health problems with open defecation.


  • Organic LEDsW made by roll-to-roll production are another source of cheap light that will be commercially available at low cost by 2015.
  • Compact fluorescent lamps (as well as regular fluorescent lights and LED-lightbulbsW) can also be used as appropriate technology. Although they are less environmentally friendly then LED-lights, they are cheaper and more efficient than incandescent lights.
  • The Safe bottle lampW is a safer kerosene lampW designed in Sri Lanka. Lamps as these allow relative long, mobile, lighting. The safety comes from a secure screw-on metal lid, and two flat sides which prevent it from rolling if knocked over. An alternative to fuel or oil-based lanterns is the UdayW lantern, developed by Philips as part of its Lighting AfricaW project (sponsored by the World Bank Group).[31]
  • The Faraday flashlightW is a LED flashlight which operates on a capacitor. Recharging can be done by manual winching or by shaking, hereby avoiding the need of any supplementary electrical system.
  • HID-lampsW finally can be used for lighting operations where regular LED-lighting or other lamps will not suffice. Examples are car headlights. Due to their high efficiency, they are quite environmental, yet costly, and they still require polluting materials in their production process.

Food production

Food production has often been included in autonomous building/community projects to provide security[verification needed]. Skilled, intensive gardening can support an adult from as little as 15 square meters of land[verification needed]. Some proven intensive, low-effort food-production systems include urban gardening (indoors and outdoors). Indoor cultivationW may be set-up using hydroponics with Grow lightsW, while outdoor cultivation may be done using permaculture, forest gardening, no-till farming, Do Nothing FarmingW, etc. In order to better control the irrigation outdoors, special irrigation systems may be created as well (although this increases costs, and may again open the door to cultivating non-indigenous plants; something which is best avoided). One such system for the developing world is discussed here.

Crop production tools are best kept simple (reduces operating difficulty, cost, replacement difficulties and pollution, when compared to motorized equipment). Tools can include scythes,[32] animal-pulled plowsW[33] (although no-till farming should be preferred),[34] dibbersW, wheeled augersW[35][36] (for planting large trees), kirpisW, hoesW, ...

Greenhouses are also sometimes included (see Earthship Biotincture). Sometimes they are also fitted with irrigation systems, and/or heat sinkW-systems which can respectively irrigate the plants or help to store energy from the sun and redistribute it at night (when the greenhouse starts to cool down).

Food preparation

According to proponents, Appropriate Technologies can greatly reduce the labor required to prepare food, compared to traditional methods, while being much simpler and cheaper than the processing used in Western countries. This reflects E.F. SchumacherW's concept of "intermediate technology," i.e. technology which is significantly more effective and expensive than traditional methods, but still an order of magnitude (10 times) cheaper than developed world technology. Key examples are:

  • the Malian peanut shellerW
  • the fonio husking machineW
  • the screenless hammer millW
  • the ISF corn mill
  • the ISF rice huller
  • all other types of electrical or hand-operated kitchen equipment (grinders, cutters, ...) Special multifunctional kitchen robots that are able to perform several functions (e.g. grinding, cutting, and even vacuum cleaning and polishing) are able to reduce costs even more. Examples of these devices were e.g. the (now discontinued) PiccoloW household appliance from Hammelmann Werke (previously based in Bad Kissingen.) It was equipped with a flexible axis, allowing a variety of aids to be screwed on.[37][38]


  • Solar cookers are appropriate to some settings, depending on climate and cooking style. They are emission-less and very low-cost. Hybrid variants also exist that incorporate a second heating source such as electrical heating or wood-based.
  • Hot platesW are 100% electrical, fairly low cost (around 20€) and are mobile. They do however require an electrical system to be present in the area of operation.
  • Rocket stoves and certain other wood stoves (e.g. Philips Woodstove[39]) improve fuel efficiency, and reduce harmful indoor air pollution. The stoves however still make use of wood. However, briquetteW makers can now turn organic waste into fuel, saving money and/or collection time, and preserving forests.


  • SolarW, special Einstein refrigeratorsW and thermal mass refrigerators reduce the amount of electricity required. Also, solar and special Einstein refrigerators do not use haloalkanes (which play a key role in ozone depletion), but use heat pumps or mirrors instead. Solar refrigerators have been built for developing nations by SopologyW.[40][41]
  • The pot-in-pot refrigerator is an African invention which keeps things cool without electricity. It provides a way to keep food and produce fresh for much longer than would otherwise be possible. This can be a great benefit to the families who use the device. For example, it is claimed that girls who had to regularly sell fresh produce in the market can now go to school instead, as there is less urgency to sell the produce before it loses freshness.[42]

Ventilation and air conditioning

  • Natural ventilationW can be created by providing vents in the upper level of a building to allow warm air to rise by convection and escape to the outside, while cooler air is drawn in through vents at the lower level.
  • Electrical powered fans (e.g. ceiling fansW) allow efficient cooling, at a far lower electricity consumption as airconditioning systems.
  • A solar chimney often referred to as thermal chimney improves this natural ventilationW by using convection of airW heated by passive solar energyW. To further maximize the cooling effect, the incoming air may be led through underground ductsW before it is allowed to enter the building.
  • A windcatcherW (Badgir; بادگیر) is a traditional PersianW architectural deviceW used for many centuries to create natural ventilation in buildings. It is not known who first invented the windcatcher, but it still can be seen in many countries today. Windcatchers come in various designs, such as the uni-directional, bi-directional, and multi-directional.
  • A passive down-draft cooltower may be used in a hot, arid climate to provide a sustainable way to provide air conditioning. Water is allowed to evaporate at the top of a tower, either by using evaporative cooling pads or by spraying water. EvaporationW cools the incoming air, causing a downdraftW of cool air that will bring down the temperature inside the building.

Health care

According to the Global Health CouncilW, rather than the use of professionally schooled doctors, the training of villagers to remedy most maladies in towns in the developing world is most appropriate.[43] Trained villagers are able to eliminate 80% of the health problems. Small (low-cost) hospitals - based on the model of the Jamkhed hospital – can remedy another 15%, while only 5% will need to go to a larger (more expensive) hospital.

  • Before being able to determine the cause of the disease or malady, accurate diagnosis is required. This may be done manually (through observation, inquiries) and by specialised tools.
  • Herbalist medicinesW (e.g. tinctures, tisanes, decoctions, ...) are appropriate medicines, as they can be freely made at home and are almost as effective as their chemical counterparts. A previous program that made use of herbal medicine was the Barefoot doctor program.
  • A phase-change incubatorW, developed in the late 1990s, is a low cost way for health workers to incubate microbial samples.
  • Birth controlW is also seen as an appropriate technology, especially now, because of increasing population numbers (overpopulating certain areas), increasing food prices and poverty. It has been proposed to a certain degree by PATH (program for appropriate technology in health).[44][45]
  • Jaipur legW was developed by Dr. P. K. Sethi and Masterji Ram Chander in 1968 as an inexpensive prosthetic leg for victims of landmine explosions.
  • Natural cleaning productsW can be used for personal hygiene and cleaning of clothing and eating utensils; in order to decrease illnesses/maladies (as they eliminate a great amount of pathogens).

Note that many Appropriate Technologies benefit public health, in particular by providing sanitation and safe drinking water. Refrigeration may also provide a health benefit. (These are discussed in the following paragraphs.) This was too found at the Comprehensive Rural Health ProjectW[46] and the Women Health VolunteersW projects in countries as Iran, Iraq and Nepal.[47]


ICT4D refers to information and communication technologies for development, and examples include:

  • The OLPC XOW, SimputerW, Eee PCW, and other low cost computers are computers aimed at developing countries. Besides the low price, other characteristics include resistance to dust, reliability and use of the target language.
  • Offline knowledge sharingW projects to give access to development information in areas without reliable and affordable internet access.
  • The Wind-up radioW and the computer and communication system planned by the Jhai FoundationW are independent from power supply.
  • GrameenPhoneW, which fused mobile telephony with Grameen Bank's microfinance program to give Bangladeshi villagers access to communication.
  • Mobile telephonyW is appropriate technology for many developing countries, as it greatly reduces the infrastructureW required to achieve widespread coverage. However, mobile phone network may not always be available (it depends on the location) and may not always provide both voice and data services.
  • LobandW, a website developed by AptivateW, strips all the photographic and other bandwidth-intensive content from webpages and renders them as simple text, while otherwise allowing one to browseW them normally. The site greatly increasing the speed of browsing, and is appropriate for use on low bandwidth connections as generally available in much of the developing world.
  • An increasing number of activists provide free or very inexpensive webW and emailW services using cooperative computer networks that run wireless ad hoc networksW. Network service is provided by a cooperative of neighbors, each operating a router as a household appliance. These minimize wired infrastructure, and its costs and vulnerabilities. Private Internet protocolW networks set up in this way can operate without the use of a commercial provider.
  • Rural electrical grids can be wired with "optical phase cable", in which one or more of the steelW armorW wires are replaced with steel tubes containing fiber opticsW.[48]
  • Satellite Internet accessW can provide high speed connectivity to remote locations, however these are significantly more expensive than wire-based or terrestrial wireless systems. WimaxW and forms of packet radioW can also be used. Depending on the speed and latency of these networks they may be capable of relaying VoIPW traffic, negating the need for separate telephony services. Finally, the Internet Radio Linking ProjectW provides potential for blending older (cheap) local radio broadcasting with the increased range of the internet.
  • SatelliteW-based telephone systems can also be used, as either fixed installations or portable handsets and can be integrated into a PABXW or local IP-based network.

Banking and finance

Through financial systems envisioned especially for the poor/developed world, many companies have been able to get started with only limited capital. Banks and government and NGO programs lend appropriate amounts of money (i.e. small amounts, often starting below $100) to people wishing to start a business with microfinance. Organisations, communities, cities or individuals can provide loans to other communities/cities (such as with the approach followed by, MicroPlaceW and LETS). In other systems, people for a Rotating Savings and Credit Association (ROSCA) to take turns in access to the combined pot of money - this depends on community trust and accountability. (Variations are practiced in many societies). Finally, in certain communities (usually isolated communities such as small islands or oases) gift economiesW can be effective due to the small community and the importance of social acceptance.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Appropriate Technology Sourcebook: Introduction" Accessed on 5 July 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Schneider, Keith. "Majoring in Renewable Energy." 26 March 2008.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Schumacher, E. F.; Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered: 25 Years Later...With Commentaries. Hartley & Marks Publishers ISBN 0-88179-169-5
  4. see and BV Doshi as AT founder
  5. Reyes, W., S. Unakul, M. Acheson. Research in the Development of Appropriate Technology for the Improvement of Environmental Health at the Village Level. World Health Organization. 8 April 1978. p 13.
  6. Joshua M. Pearce, "Teaching Physics Using Appropriate Technology Projects", The Physics Teacher, 45, pp. 164-167, 2007. pdf
  7. Faulkner, A. O. and M. L. Albertson. "Tandem use of Hard and Soft Technology: an Evolving Model for Third World Village Development" International Journal of Applied Engineering Education. Vol. 2, No. 2 pp 127-137, 1986.
  8. Appropriate and Sustainable Technology
  9. [ AST definition and technologies]
  10. ISF has made two documents on how respectively discarded plastics and aluminum can be salvaged and reused in developing countries.Recycling plastics in the developing world
  11. Sewage sludge to fertiliser plant
  12. Soft energy paths: toward a durable peace. San Francisco: Friends of the Earth International; Cambridge, Mass: Ballinger Pub. Co., 1977
  13. Micro hydro in the fight against poverty
  14. Human powered handwheel generators example
  15. Biochar burner/stirling engine setup
  16. Hydrogen from urine
  17. 1,23V/0,37V
  18. SWER-mains electricity system advantages
  19. Description of Tunisia's MALT-system
  20. Appropriate energy storage by Troy McBride
  21. Daniel Nocera's Low-cost Hydrogen Energy Storage System
  22. Sun catalytix spin-off of Daniel Nocera's work
  23. ARPA-E funding Sun Catalytix
  24. "Safe Water System," US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Fact Sheet, June 2006.
  25. [1] WHO's Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality
  26. Coffee Cargo Bikes in Rwanda, Using Bicycles blog, 24 July 2008
  27. Rickshaws Hit the Streets of Delhi, Wired Magazine, 2008-10-21
  28. "Solekshwa" Eco-Friendly Dual-Powered Rickshaw Launched, Ministry of Science and Technology (India), 2008-10-02
  29. "Safe Water System," US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Fact Sheet, June 2006.]
  30. Powerplus Stingray
  31. Uday lamp and lighting africa project description
  32. The scythe, an intermediate technology
  33. plows
  34. AT Plows
  35. Pflanzfuchs wheeled auger
  36. 3-point hitch augers for tractors
  37. Piccolo Hilft der Hausfrau
  38. Electro As Piccolo
  39. Philips woodstove
  40. Solar refrigerators for developing world
  41. Optimized Einstein Fridge
  42. "Development of a low-cost cooler to preserve perishable foods in countries with arid climates", ITDG Food Chain Journal, 29 November 2001.
  43. Use of villagers rather than doctors
  44. PATH proposing birth control as appropriate technology
  45. PATH working on devices for birth control
  46. NGM Necessary angels
  47. Women Health Volunteers
  48. Northern Economics Inc. and Electric Power Systems Inc. April 2001. "Screening Report for Alaska Rural Energy Plan." (Report published on government website). Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, via Retrieved on 16 September 2007.

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