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The "Multifunctional Platform"
Jeremy Faludi, 7 Jan 05

bougoulaba_pfm_press.jpgOne of the up-and-coming Appropriate Technology devices which we haven't written about before is the "Multifunctional Platform". Clearly no marketing people have laid hands on it, but good engineers and designers have. It's intended as a tool for social change, emancipation through industrialization. As their website states:

The multifunctional platform is built around a simple diesel engine, than can power various tools, such as a cereal mill, husker, alternator, battery charger, pump, welding and carpentry equipment, etc. It can also generate electricity and be used to distribute water.

The platform reduces many of the women's burdensome and exhausting tasks (fetching water, grinding cereals...). It offers them income-generating opportunities, management experience and, as they become more economically independent, increases their social status.

And remember, there will be no sustainable third-world without empowered women. As the United Nations Population Fund put it, "The empowerment and autonomy of women and the improvement in their political, social, economic and health status is a highly important end in itself. In addition, it is essential for the achievement of sustainable development... [and the] long-term success of population programmes."

Designed for Africa, the Multifunctional Platform seems universal enough to be useful in any location still on the fringes of industrialization. It's low-tech enough that any decent-sized town in the world should have replacement parts equal or similar to the power train parts used in the machine, though the tools that attach to it may only be available in eastern Africa for now. Presumably if it's successful enough to be transplanted elsewhere, it'll be successful enough to support the local fabrication of those parts. It might even be a good way to kick-start communities that have been wiped out by the tsunami, as it helps people be productive without requiring other infrastructure.

ENDA (Environnement et Developpement du Tiers Monde) says "The large scale use of multipurpose infrastructure platforms is a step forward in the right direction", but notes "Economic and social development in Africa will – to a large extent – depend on the pace at which the growing energy needs of the current and future population will be met." The last thing African nations need is economic dependence on expensive foreign oil. However, some people at Design That Matters fixed that in their particular installation, modifying the Multifunctional Platform so rather than running on petrol-diesel it runs on "jatropha oil, a heavy vegetable oil made from a locally-available plant".

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Awesome. Now this is what Congo (among others) needs. Thanks. We are linked on
Life More Abundant right above a post on Congo.

Posted by: Drae on 8 Jan 05

Awesome. Now this is what Congo (among others) needs. Thanks. We are linked on
Life More Abundant right above a post on Congo.

Posted by: Drae on 8 Jan 05



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