Whatever your innovation is, it won’t exist within a vacuum. It will exist within a specific culture, society and community. It is really important to research whether your innovation will be suitable and acceptable within the culture and community and indeed how delivery and ongoing management of it will work. These are just some of the design aspects that you will need to consider.
We outline below the important points to consider. EWB staff are here to answer your questions as well and help you throughout your project.
What are the habits and customs of the culture where you hope your design will be used? How do people interact with each other and how will they interact with your innovation? Will you harness local/traditional knowledge? We recommend you try to find articles, interviews, magazines, even films online about the culture within which your innovation will exist to help you develop an understanding of people’s values and ways of life. We also have partners in-country who can help you better understand what life is like.
Taiye Selasi, the famous British-American writer and photographer of Ghanaian and Nigerian origin, made the statement “Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m a local” in an illuminating Ted talk. Taiye is right, in truth, it is the various communities we live in and navigate throughout our lives that shape our identities, our ability to fully participate or not in society and how we see and understand the world.
Consider the daily rituals of the community you will be focused on. Consider local modes of transport, of eating, gender roles…try to find out as much as you can about the local community. EWB Ireland can support you in this research.
How will your project be implemented on the ground? Consider all logistics: who will be responsible for constructing and maintaining your design/innovation? Is specific training involved? If a part breaks, what do people need to know how to do locally to fix it? If a part needs to be replaced, are materials available locally?
Environmental ImpactWhat positive or negative impacts will your design have? If there are negative impacts, how could these be offset?
Cost & Economic Impact
How much will it cost to produce and maintain your innovation? Consider the cost of materials, implementation costs, operational costs and maintenance costs. Where will the funding come from? Could your innovation help create jobs in the community?
Where will all the materials required for your innovation come from? If they need to be transported to the community, could there be problems associated with transport? Try to work with materials that are locally available and keep costs low.