A major problem in Egypt is the low quality of elementary education. Teachers and exams depend on memorizing textbooks and teaching methods driving the innovative side of the students especially in science subjects are totally absent. This results in students being only “receivers” of knowledge, not “creators”. The problem gets worse in low-income governmental schools (by far the most common type of schools in Egypt). With under-qualified teachers, a huge number of students and extremely low budget for any types of equipment, students have no access to quality education.
YouTeach Science Van project addresses this problem in an innovative way, that was never implemented in Egypt previously.
YouTeach Science Van project consists of 3 main phases:
- The first phase is giving students (age group: 11- 15 years) a series of very interactive workshops under the title “Let’s play science differently”. These workshops teach them how to think critically about what they learn, apply their creative thinking and introduce them to the “Scientific Method”.
- After that, students have one month time to choose a scientific topic they find interesting, and turn it into an experiment that simply visualizes this concept and makes it easy and interesting to understand by anyone. The best experiments (around 25) are selected to go on the Science Van.
- The high-point of the project is the science van tour. The selected experiments are all put on a van to form a traveling science fair. The van travels with the experiments, our team and the students on board around the city of Alexandria, and stops at different public places for 1-2 days each. During these days, students engage the public in trying out the experiments and explain them the scientific concept behind it. At the final day of the tour, a jury consisting of educational specialists selects the top three experiments. The winners receive awards during a closing ceremony.
The complete project cycle is repeated twice during an academic year.
1. What is your innovation?
Our innovation involves connecting organic waste with electricity. We can reduce outdoor defecation and bring power to a community with one solution. Organic waste is converted to methane gas in a digester, which can be combusted to generate electricity. Further, our innovation includes distributing power in an area that lacks infrastructure, through portable, rechargeable 12-V batteries. Other successful organizations have applied certain elements of this project; we are connecting the dots.
2. Who gains the most?
Women and children gain the most from our project. They are particularly exposed when relieving themselves, either at sunset or at sunrise. Electricity provided by the batteries can profoundly change life at home in rural India by allowing productivity after dark. Electricity can enable women to do necessary housework and children to do their schoolwork with artificial light. Toilets provide a safe and sanitary environment for the vulnerable to relieve themselves.
3. Who pays?
Donations and investments made to HPP will be spent on infrastructure needs for our toilet and power systems. HPP will generate revenue by charging battery users 10 Rupees ($0.19) per charge. HPP’s batteries have a 12 hour charge, so we assume that users will re-charge their batteries twice a week (if batteries are just used at night). Currently, families spend $40 a year on kerosene for lighting. Our system will offer a much cheaper, and more versatile form of energy while improving sanitation.
4. What is your success?
HPP envisions three interrelated layers of success. First, HPP will increase access to sanitation and electrical infrastructure in rural Bihar. Secondly, there will be a decrease in the incidence of water born illnesses and increased productivity associated with toilets and electricity. Finally, this will empower the community to realize that it has tremendous control over its health outcomes and economic success.
5. How will you do it?
HPP understands the subtle difference between access to toilets and use of toilets. Achieving success entails bridging that gap by implementing a community health education program grounded in behavior modification models. HPP will then connect the dots between organic waste and electricity generation, creating a new market economy based on our battery-rental service. Programmatic control will be shifted to the community thus empowering them to define health and economic outcomes.
Indians lack access to two critical pieces of infrastructure, toilets, and electricity. Our project, The Humanure Power Project (HPP), aims to alleviate both of these issues by connecting existing and proven technologies. HPP has been working in the village of Sukhpur, located in the Supaul district in the Indian state of Bihar. 11 million people in Bihar live without access to toilets. Stratifying this data to the district level, only 15% of the households in Supaul have access to toilets.
Furthermore, out of 1.7 million total residents in Supaul, only 1.2 percent of them have connections to electricity. HPP will build a community block of toilets and human waste will be collected in a biogas generator. Biogas generators have long been employed to create methane, which can then be combusted to generate electricity.
After combustion, however, we must distribute the generated electricity. Unfortunately, power lines do not exist in this village, so we must make the electricity ‘portable’. In order to do this, we will charge 12-volt batteries with the electricity we produce using human waste, which can then be rented out to the community. Currently, villagers spend about 15% of their annual income on kerosene that they burn for lighting.
Our batteries would provide a much cheaper and cleaner form of light. Once the charge on the battery has run out, villagers can return it to our charging station, and pick up a new one. Battery rentals will operate on a monthly membership program. While the toilet block is being constructed, cow manure will be used as a substitute for human waste. Cow manure is a consistent source of methane which can be purchased locally from farmers, and be harnessed to produce methane in a biogas tank. Electricity will be produced and distributed from this.
HPP will create the link between the toilets and the batteries once the toilet block is complete and we have a consistent supply of methane gas from human waste. We hope to incentivize toilet use to the community by stating that the more they use it, the more electricity the community has. An additional incentive will be the proximity of the toilets – villagers will no longer have to walk long distances just to relieve themselves. Furthermore, the battery system is a much cheaper and healthier form of energy and the battery rental program will also be creating a business in the community.