How does appropriate technology change lives in the developing world? The story of life saving stoves in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Too often in the past, the West has tried to apply western technology to the problems of the developing world. Whilst this sometimes works, more often, the results have been a waste of money, as local people lack the skills and parts to repair expensive items when they go wrong. They cannot afford to buy replacement units for those which wear out or break.

Appropriate technology is designed with special consideration to the environmental, ethical, cultural, social, political, and economical aspects of the community it is intended for (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appropriate_technology).

An example of this is the use of fuel efficient stoves in the DRC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8580967.stm

These cut the amount of fuel needed, give work and security to women who make fuel from waste, and reduce deforestation for fuel and reduce the amount of time women have to spent collecting wood, during which time they are vulnerable to attack. Check the link above for details.

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Do cancelled timber contracts mean a better future for the forests of DR Congo?

An attempt to root out corruption from the logging industry in DR Congo means that there should be more control over which areas are logged and which are protected. Can a sustainable future for these important forests be found?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7838659.stm

What’s happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been suffering a long, bloody and poorly reported war.

You can learn more about the DRC here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/guides/456900/456977/html/default.stm

and here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Republic_of_the_Congo

Amnesty International have more information about the conflict and some of the ongoing problems here (do not click if you are easily upset):

http://www.amnesty.org.uk/content.asp?CategoryID=581

More recently, some seeds of hope have been apparent, showing that even in the most desperate of circumstances, humanity can prevail:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7637282.stm

In late October 2008, a detereoration in the situation lead to more suffering and pushed some of the world’s dominant governments to intervene in the hope of finding a diplomatic solution:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7701269.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7696139.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7704237.stm

As the tensions continue, government troops have been accused of targeting civilians and looting:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7722069.stm

Investigate the conflict and make your own mind up.

Whilst many have endured great suffering and hardship, it is clear that some Congolese are benfitting from the opportunities that exist in DR Congo, as shown in this report from May 2009:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/8027367.stm