Too often in development, we see expensive and complicated capital-intensive projects being implemented, usually with little to no input from the community. This is particularly true in the water sector.  It’s estimated that around 40 percent of water systems in developing countries become inoperable after five years. That’s not only a waste of money, time, and resources, but it means there are a lot of people who should have safe drinking water, but don’t. We believe this system is broken.

Beneficiaries should be involved in projects. They should know how a technology is made and how it works. They should know how to source a replacement part and they should have the means to fix it on their own. 

To enable this, we work with local partners and pursue sustainable and scaleable solutions that follow the principles of our Low-Tech, High-Thinking design process. 

Principles of Low-Tech

  • Simple: Anyone, regardless of education level or expertise, should be able to develop and implement a solution with minimal instruction

  • Low-cost: The solution should be affordable to the end-user

  • Locally-sourced: 100% of the materials, tools, and labor should be available locally

  • Flexible: Every community is different and has different resources available to them;  solutions should be flexible enough to adapt to varying local conditions

  • Open-source: Solutions should be freely available to anyone who would like to utilize them

Wait a minute, what’s high-thinking? A lot of attention is given to the newest app or high-tech gadget, but we think it takes just as much (if not more) creativity and ingenuity to create low-tech solutions that can have meaningful impact on a global scale. High-thinking requires examining and understanding a problem and its underlying causes; a vital part of this process is listening and learning from the people directly affected.

Our process is a form of design thinking and our approach is similar to IDEO’s Human-Centered Design. Human-Centered Design is a creative approach to problem solving. It's a process that starts with the people you're designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs. To learn more about OHorizons' Low-Tech, High-Thinking design process check out our blog post on it.  

OHorizons’ utilization of a volunteer coalition of technical, social, and commercial innovators and entrepreneurs, which includes community members in the areas we work, shows we’re an organization on the cutting edge of social innovation and using design thinking for good. 

At OHorizons, we want to ensure that everyone has the ability to live a healthy, productive, and dignified life. Access to clean water is an essential first step in making this vision a reality. At first look, the water situation may seem bleak:

·         Nearly 2 billion people use a water source that is contaminated with feces

·         50% of under-nutrition cases are due to water-related diseases

·          Diarrhea and dysentery are among the leading causes of death for children under 5

·          Globally, women and children spend 125 million hours each day collecting water.

·          The water crisis was named the #1 global threat to society by the World Economic Forum in 2015.

We agree, but also see cause for optimism. Giving clean water not only improves people’s health, but it also has the potential to improve entire economies. 

The World Health Organization estimates that investing $1 in drinking water infrastructure in South Asia yields a $3.70 return, the highest of any developing region worldwide: this means a $10 donation to our Bangladesh project can not only provide a person with clean drinking water, but it can yield an economic return of over $35!

Access to clean drinking water can positively improve the health and well-being of communities and their members in many ways. We’re proud to be working on this important and transformative issue.

Water, Agriculture, Energy, and Economic Development are essential daily needs for the health and wellness of all people. Each of these Four Horizons represents a unique development challenge that is important and deserving of thought, attention, and action. We plan to use our Low-Tech, High-Thinking design process to create sustainable solutions for each Horizon. To learn more about OHorizons’ Four Horizons check out this blog post.