P08427: LED Lighting Technologies for a Sustainable Entrepreneurial Venture
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Assessment of Needs for Developing Nations

Observations from Developing Nations

It has proven quite difficult to obtain an interview with inhabitants of the Developing Nations. I am fortunate in that I have spent time in some of the Developing Nations (specifically El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Costa Rica), and while there I have experienced or observed nearly all aspects of life for the 2 socio-economic classes found in those countries. For the purposes of this projest we will not be looking at the minority upper class, but rather those who live in poverty which words truely fail to describe. I will use some of my experiences working in developing nations to establish needs for the project as an actual in person or e-mail interview will prove nearly impossible to procure.

In August of 1999, I spent several days in a remote village in Guatemala's Peten Pinensula. The only access to this village was by a poorly maintained dirt road and there was no electricity brought in from the national power grid. Solar panels provided small amounts of power for water systems, but all light was supplied by gas lamps or candles. It was generally the case that the interiors of the buildings were sooty with the residue of the combustion process. Additionally, during the time that I was there, it rained every afternoon and night for many hours. These rains were very heavy and could be damaging to anything left out in it. On the worst of days, collecting solar energy was very difficult so battery backup systems had to be used.

The sonoran deserts of northern Mexico provide a different set of challenges for everyday life. While building houses there in the springs of 2002, 2003, and 2004, I witnessed some of the most harsh and extreme climactic conditions to be found. Blinding Sand-Sotirm and greater than 100 Degree Fahrenheit temperatures are a common part of daily existance. These sand storms are violent and can destroy anything that is not fastened down, has enough mass to hold it in place, or in extreamly durable. On the other hadn, at times heavy rain and hail are a constant threat in the spring and due to the lack of humidity, 50 degree temperature swings between day and night are possible.

The homes that we built while in Mexico were 11'x22', 2 room structures. This size is slightly larger than the average for the housing typical to Ciudad Juarez. Housing in El Salvador is of similar proportions and like the non-government or mission built housing in Juarez is made of whatever materials are available (shipping pallets, cardboard, sheet metal, and various orther scrap materials). As such these dwellings are not waterproof and are fairly exposed to the elements. For those in El Salvador fortunate enough to live in government block housing, the living space is a 12'x24' chamber with very little natural lighting, thus necessitating the use of "synthetic" lighting inside at all times to be able to perform certain tasks such as cooking.

Interpreted Needs

Identify Customer Needs
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