CTI team at our office1

Alexandra Spieldoch, CTI Executive Director

My biggest takeaway from my recent trip to Nicaragua is that CTI’s success with its Water Chlorinator is thanks to strong relationships. Our team in Nicaragua is absolutely committed to clean, safe water in support of a stronger country. And, they travel by bus, motorbike and even on foot to get our chlorinators installed where they are needed.

We work with organized water committees within villages, and it is with them that we have built our friendships. They take ownership of our technology. They pay for it, train to use it, and work with CTI to evaluate its effectiveness.

These water committees are autonomous bodies that have been organized throughout the country to implement the right to water. Each one has an executive committee to identify needs, make decisions and collect and spend money donated by the villagers themselves. This is not a small feat. Nicaragua has the second lowest GDP in the Americas after Haiti. There is little extra, but villagers know that the way forward has to be based on clean, safe water and healthy food.





Another important thing I learned is the way in which we are supporting women leaders at the executive levels  of the water committees.  In fact, women are often in charge of fund allocations as they are perceived to be more responsible.  When meeting one of the water committees in the coffee producing region of Matagalpa, I had the honor of meeting one of these woman leaders and her daughter

We are working in partnership with the Ministry of Health to support these water committees in their efforts and to double our impact over the next three years through more detailed monitoring, evaluation and promotion of the chlorinator.

At CTI’s Spring Benefit Dinner, we are celebrating the power of innovation—the transformation of an idea into impact! You can help empower communities with innovative food and water tools by joining us in Minneapolis on May 8 for a Senegalese dinner and an R&D runway show! If you’re interested in attending the event or hosting a table, contact Lee@compatibletechnology.org.

Benefit-Invite-For-Emailing

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Most Powerful Tool of All

Written by

chlorinator-installation

CTI’s most valuable tool is not a grinder, nor a chlorinator, but it is something that can’t be built. In Nicaragua, CTI has spent many years BUILDING TRUST while installing our Water Chlorinators. By partnering with volunteer water committees in Nicaragua, CTI trains villages to install and maintain chlorinators to control the harmful bacteria in water. Together, CTI and Nicaraguan communities are eliminating waterborne illness while building strong collaborative relationships based on mutual trust and respect.

On a recent trip with CTI to Nicaragua, members of Project Redwood directly experienced the implementation of CTI’s work and saw the power of this partnership in action. Project Redwood is a foundation of the Stanford Business School Class of 1980 that supports international development projects that mitigate the causes and effects of poverty.

Project Redwood members reported that CTI infuses enthusiasm, respectfulness, passion, and dedication to clean drinking water among the extraordinary Nicaraguan people — and in the process they create a bond of trust. As one traveler wrote, “The positive and respectful relationship shared by CTI and local water committees is fundamental in the adoption of CTI’s systems in Nicaragua.” This relationship makes CTI’s Water Chlorinator all the more effective because technologies are only truly appropriate when there is trust between those who build it and those who use it.

With the great relationships between CTI and Nicaraguan villages comes more opportunity to reach CTI’s goal of providing clean drinking water to 250,000 Nicaraguans by the summer of 2014. Severe rural poverty and the prevalence of water-borne illnesses remain a threat to these communities, but CTI’s Water Chlorinator makes water safe and that is key to their health, vitality, and opportunity. Project Redwood’s experience confirms that livelihoods can improve with great technology and trust.

To find out more about Project Redwood’s experience with CTI in Nicaragua, read their blogs here.

Blog pic of Sorcha


Sorcha Douglas is an intern from Macalester College, studying International Studies with a concentration in International Development and a minor in Environmental Studies.

 

 

 

WomenGrinding

The global food waste problem is enormous in scale. Recent estimates indicated that waste accounts for one third to one half of all current food production. Much of this loss comes from post harvest inefficiencies that have long lasting environmental and socio-economic consequences. Since most developing countries rely on agriculture as their main economic sector, addressing post-harvest loss can have a significant impact on poverty reduction, crop resiliency, and sustainability of rural livelihoods.

In recent reports stemming from the 68th General Assembly publications, the United Nations recommends that prevention of post-harvest food waste is key as well as investment and engineering in “relatively simple technologies which can provide effective solutions and dramatically reduce losses.” This is precisely where Compatible Technology International (CTI) comes in.

Cereal grains grown in developing countries traditionally incur up to 50% post-harvest loss due to spillage, poor separation and drying contamination, or storage. One particularly important grain is pearl millet, a drought resistant crop grown in Sub-Saharan Africa that is highly nutritious. With CTI’s Pearl Millet Suite, farmers capture more than 90% of their harvest, helping them produce millet flour ten times faster than by using traditional methods.

The tools are simple: a stripper, thresher, winnower, and grinder, all engineered for the needs of a small farmer.

For impoverished communities struggling in times of a changing climate, CTI’s Pearl Millet Suite, more efficient post-harvest grain production could be the difference between a thriving farm and going hungry for years to come. With less food waste, farmers can diversify their crops to increase their resilience in times of environmental stress and spend less time in the field, allowing for more economic opportunity to sell their increased yield.

The impact is enormous: Security for food can lead to increased security for many other aspects of life: education, healthcare, and increasing economic power.

Blog pic of Sorcha


Sorcha Douglas is an intern from Macalester College, studying International Studies with a concentration in International Development and a minor in Environmental Studies.

 

 

 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

CTI welcomes new Executive Director!

Written by

Alexandra-de-CTI-avec-Marie-Mbaye--Coordonnatrice-du-CGC-de-Keur-Thième-Sawaré

We have exciting news!  We are thrilled to announce that our Board of Directors has voted unanimously to appoint Alexandra Spieldoch as CTI’s Executive Director. While serving as interim director over the past several months, Alexandra has been an outstanding leader for the organization.  Alexandra has many years of experience working in economic policy reform, food security and sustainable development. Check out Alexandra’s bio on our website.

Wednesday, 04 September 2013

Volunteers and Haitian students test shredder designs

Written by

shredding-breadfruit

Last year, two CTI volunteers, Larry Rauenhorst and myself, traveled to Haiti carrying two pieces of processing equipment: a shredder designed by CTI’s staff engineer and the latest iteration of a simple shredder that I had been working trying to perfect for several years. Larry and I set out to test and determine the reliability and usefulness of the equipment.

Through the years, CTI has partnered with Haitian organizations and people in an effort to help put Haitians to work processing an underutilized resource, a strange tropical fruit call breadfruit. The fruit grows on trees, mostly along the coast, are picked green (unripe), usually cut up, cooked and eaten like a vegetable. Much of the fruit simply rots and is wasted. CTI volunteers were asked if we could find ways of preserving breadfruit by shredding, drying and grinding breadfruit into shelf-stable flour, which could be made into useful products and help Haiti with better food security. Hand shredding of breadfruit is tedious, so enter myself and Larry, with our new shredders set to be tested.

We were hosted by the Agriculture College of the University of the Nouvelle GrandAnse in Jeremie, Haiti. While only about 100 miles from Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, reaching Jeremie took eight and a half hours over steep mountainous roads. The college provided us with three paid students, and together, we set out to process at least 2,000 pounds of breadfruit in fewer than ten work days.

Larry and I trained the students on processing the fruit to a stable, dry product. This entailed:

  • Cleaning the fruit and equipment river water that’s been disinfected
  • Each lot of ten fruit were weighed, peeled cored, shredded, and laid out to try (unusable peel and core were also weighed)
  • Shed samples were measured for thickness and length

The student teams processed 2,023 lbs of fresh breadfruit in eight days averaging 252.9 lbs per day. The amount of flour made from the ton of fresh breadfruit was 394 lbs.

How did the two shredders fare in the tests? The Mounir design worked wonderfully well and did almost all of the shredding. Red-faced Dave had to admit it was time to go back to the drawing board, make some important changes and perhaps shred another day.

What about the students? Did they continue to do what they had learned to do last year. You Betcha! The August issue of the college newsletter reports that two of the three students we worked with, Marie and Pierre, chose breadfruit processing as their required internship. During this summer alone they processed 215 dozen breadfruit or 6,450 lbs of fresh breadfruit. They now have three contracts with orphanages and schools in Port-au-Prince. They sell breadfruit flour for $2.00 (US) per 12 ounce bag plus shipping and handling. Package includes instructions, recipes and the story of how the breadfruit flour project developed.

Red face Dave, like Marie and Pierre, has learned from his experiences of last year. Previously I depended on others to test my shredder. For whatever reason I was not told of all the things that were wrong with it. I needed to discover those things myself. Stop in to CTI and see the Elton shredder I am now proud of.


dave

David Elton

David has been a volunteer with CTI for many years, focusing on developing breadfruit shredding technologies.

Alexandra-de-CTI-avec-Marie-Mbaye--Coordonnatrice-du-CGC-de-Keur-Thième-Sawaré

On a recent trip to Senegal, our Executive Director Alexandra Spieldoch met some real life “superwomen” — women who are farmers, mothers, entrepreneurs, and community leaders. Here she is with Marie Mbaye, Coordinator of a collective of women pearl millet farmers and community leaders in rural Senegal. Empowering and supporting women, who do the bulk of post-harvest labor, will be an important part of our work as we introduce our pearl millet tools in Senegal.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

CTI awarded Feed the Future support!

Written by

Grain_Tools

Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation, a program funded by USAID and implemented by Fintrac Inc., s helping CTI launch our newest innovation: a suite of tools designed to help developing world farmers increase their production of pearl millet grain.

CTI has received a grant to invest in manufacturing, local marketing, and sales of the tools in Senegal. Establishing a business model for the equipment in West Africa will enable us to deliver the tools to the farmers who need them in a way that’s efficient and sustainable.

Partnering for Innovation is a USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) initiative that supports the commercialization of agricultural technologies that can help smallholder farmers increase their productivity and competitiveness. In addition to USAID’s support, we recently received a separate grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to conduct long-term evaluation and impact monitoring of the millet tools in rural villages.

New Innovation Saves Africa’s Grain

CTI’s pearl millet suite — which includes a manually-operated stripper, thresher, winnower, and grinder — significantly increases farmers’ grain yields while minimizing the drudgery and food losses that occur with traditional hand-processing methods. Pearl millet is a major food source throughout the developing world and tools that help farmers improve its production can greatly strengthen food security for the global poor.

While field testing the prototype equipment in West Africa, farmers were amazed to see real and relevant solutions to their daily struggles — tools that can help them feed their families, earn a better living and invest in their communities. In Senegal, we met Cheickeh Dame, a well-respected farmer who remarked,

“In my father’s generation, the introduction of fertilizers was the boom. Those that were not early adopters or that didn’t believe this would help are no longer here.

As soon as these technologies are made available, I will be the first in line.”

We met countless other farmers like Cheickeh, men and women who never asked for handouts, only opportunity, and with the launching of CTI’s pearl millet suite in Senegal, we will make sure they have it.

FTFPFILogo

USAIDFINTRAC

 

Newsletter_Signup

This article was originally published in CTI’s newsletter. Sign up now to receive monthly updates from CTI.

VEDemonstration

Villagers in rural Uganda are becoming small business owners as a result of a partnership between CTI and Village Enterprise (VE), a nonprofit that provides business skills training and support to entrepreneurs in some of the poorest regions of East Africa — in rural communities rarely served by microfinance groups.

In Uganda, VE distributes our grinders to small business groups, providing the groups with training and mentoring in business skills, savings and financial literacy. Recognizing that locals know their communities best, VE encourages the groups to develop their own business ideas. By empowering hard-working villagers with tools, training and support, the collaboration is helping those living in some of the world’s most underserved communities become thriving entrepreneurs.

 

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Gates Foundation Backs our “Bold Idea”

Written by

kids

We are thrilled to announce that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded CTI a Grand Challenges Explorations Grant, an award that supports innovative and bold ideas that take on persistent health and development challenges. With backing from the Gates Foundation, CTI will deliver its new Pearl Millet Processing Tools to villages in rural Senegal for long-term evaluation and impact monitoring.

The award marks the culmination of years of effort developing a suite of tools that can significantly increase grain production in the most impoverished regions of the world.

Post-harvest grain loss is a major contributor to global hunger and poverty. Approximately $4 billion dollars of grain is lost after harvest in Sub-Saharan Africa every year—that’s equivalent to the entire amount of food aid sent to the region during the past decade.

CTI’s manually-operated pearl millet stripper, thresher, winnower and grinder can help farmers rapidly produce pearl millet grain with much less food waste. During field tests in Mali and Senegal, women and girls told us that the tools were a “blessing,” a “godsend” and an answer to their prayers. Now it’s time for us to gather scientific data about the wider economic and social impact that improved grain processing can have on a rural community. Precisely how much grain can communities save? How will women spend their freed time? We hope to answer these and other questions this fall, when we launch the tools in several rural Senegalese villages. Check our website for updates on our progress, and watch this video to see our tools in action.

Why Pearl Millet?

MilletPearl millet may just be the most important food crop you’ve never heard of. About 500 million people depend on this nutritious and drought-tolerant grain for their livelihoods. It’s a particularly important food source in West Africa, but it’s also notoriously difficult to process into edible grain. Traditionally, women and girls spend hours each day processing their pearl millet grain by breaking it apart in a mortar & pestle and winnowing it in the wind—an extremely wasteful practice. For these women, more efficient grain tools represent more than just additional food; they represent freedom from hours of daily drudgery and time to go to school, grow more crops or start a business—these tools are a major step towards profoundly improving lives.

We would like to thank the many volunteers, collaborators and donors that have supported our grain processing innovations, including the John P. and Eleanor R. Yackel Foundation, NCBA/CLUSA, and many more generous organizations and individuals!

 

Newsletter_Signup

This article was originally published in CTI’s newsletter. Sign up now to receive monthly updates from CTI.