Third World Technologies

Developing Technologies in Developing Countries
By: Gavin Zheng

EWB and Technology

The way EWB approaches development work is not technology based. EWB like to deal with broader systemic issues, and you can find many examples of what EWB does on this website and the national website ( However, we do appreciate the potential impact that technology can have on developing countries. With that in mind, here is some more information on technology in developing countries.
Information on Technology in developing countries
Technologies within developing countries have been changing through the ages and can be modeled by a multitude of innovations and creations. What led to the innovation of things such as rooftop rainwater harvesting in areas of rural India undergo a wide range of considerations that include [1]:

• System-Independence: ability for the technology to progress by itself with little or no other devices.
• Image of Modernity: Is the community developed enough to be able to use it and perceive it as being worthwhile?
• Individual Technology vs. Collective Technology: Does their culture promote individual or societal satisfaction and to what degree?
• Single or multi-purpose: does it only work for one purpose?
• Cost of Technology: Is it affordable for the community?

These restraints especially the cost has pose a great problem towards the development of technology in the developing country. Many types of technological devices are geared towards only a certain situation with certain conditions and this limits a lot of growth and this in turn stints the advantages of manufacturing processes such as mass producing a certain item for a lower price. By investigating ways on solving and achieving attainable solutions, technological devices can be easier to implement within developing countries.

Examples of technology that can change developing nations:
Sunsaluter: Is a solar tracker and water filtration system that was developed by Mechanical Engineer from Princeton University as a great solution to alternative energy. This is a technological device that rotates within alignment of the sun in order to be perpendicular to the sun at all times, which increases the amount of energy absorbed. Not only is this energy efficient, but also cheap and made out of materials from locally-sourced material and recyclables of developing countries.

For more information visit:
And an interesting video of the Sunsaluter:

Tata Swach: Is an affordable water filter system (priced at around $20) that uses nanotechnology and requires no electricity. The filter is made from agricultural by products such as rice husk ash (the natural by-product of making polished rice) and nano-silver particles to deter bacteria growth. This product was made for the purpose of providing clean drinkable water in parts of India where clean water was not attainable. Although this isn’t directly feasible to places where there isn’t an abundance of water, it can still be implemented in areas that lack clean water.
Here’s how it works:

Cell Phone:
A debatable technological advancement would be the implementation of cell phones within develpoing countries. “In 2001, just eight out of 100 people in the developing world had a mobile phone subscription. Now, nearly 80 out of 100 do.”[2]. This tells us that most people have access to cell phones and nowadays technology has led to the communication of various things such as reports and news in text messages. Imagine the possibilities of cell phones within developing countries when, “In India, more people have access to cellphones than toilets,…” [2]. By far this might not be a good thing considering the fact that undeveloped nations should be placing more development into the necessities such as water and food, but this could lead to better coordination of resources and community development. Although implementing cell phones is easier than it sounds, there are other factors that need to be taken into account, such as; will the person know how to use it? Are there enough cell phone towers to provide sufficient signal? Will it prove to help development or pose as a distraction? These are all feasible questions in whether cell phones will play a critical role in development.

Interesting Reads
The above link provides a more in-depth look at the development of sustainable technology and its key factors.