Human Needs Project, www.humanneedsproject.org, a water based, Clean Technology Project which aims to insert utility-community centers into slums, and, through the use of new, clean technology, to provide an engine for self-expression and self-determination to the people who live there.
1 billion people worldwide live in informal settlements, - slums, where people are unable to meet their basic Human Needs. Water and power are the most immediate problems because their absence create several other serious problems, like disease and unsanitary living conditions. There is no security as police rarely enter these areas, and little education - mostly because families struggle to pay school fees; much crime and few jobs.
People living here become isolated from the rest of the society and lose the ability to break out of these conditions, - there are few services available to them which can offer the support and 'road map' out of there.
HNP believes that complex issues, such as the problems arising from living in informal settlements, need complex, compounded solutions. Providing only water, say, or sanitation, often leads to short term solutions: In many instances different technical problems will arise, - the water pump will develop mechanical problems, or the water will be of bad quality, for example, - or the toilets will be too dirty, no-one will maintain them, or they will do it badly, and soon these services are abandoned, and forgotten. No one seems to own these utilities once the aid groups are gone, and no one seems able to fix them once the community has been left with them.
We recognize the challenge it is to bring clean drinking water and public baths to places where the absence of electricity, sewage/water treatment systems, clean wells and qualified labor makes this a very difficult undertaking, and we have noted how many efforts to create lasting water/sanitation services have been hampered by these realities.
Digging our own well, maintaining strict water controls, providing our own clean source of electricity to power our pumps, and installing our own sewage treatment facility is how we aim to control the technical aspects of the utility/community Center. By involving the future employees directly in the construction phase of the Utility and its technology, in tandem with early and continued training, we aim to assemble a rich pool of qualified, local talent to administrate and maintain the utility-community center as a User/Employee owned Co-op in the future.
By involving the community from the start in planning and execution, and by early training to manage Clean Technology, we aim to create easy access to clean utilities, free internet, adult learning centers, micro credit offices, business services, green areas and even playgrounds, while establishing a wellspring of green technology know-how among the urban poor.
We aim to involve local academic institutions and local community talent from the initial planning of each project, and want to keep these institutions interested in helping us create solutions suited to their particular demographic, topographical, cultural and historical situation. HNP believes that each particular culture and geographical reality will influence and shape the particular technology and setup of each Center.