Simple Practical Techniques for people in rural areas of developing countries

If any of these techniques below seem of interest we will gladly send you an up-to-date pdf document or via OneDrive.

Just email Graham at biodesigndiy@gmail.com

As a practical experienced engineer and inventor involved for years with projects for the poor in developing countries we have come to realise that many of the solutions offered by some organisations are really quite unsuitable!

In so many cases projects are set-up but, without proper training of locals, they fail after a few months and any spare parts left behind cannot be used.

This is often the result of the supplier being more interested in future funding than the actual project

In recent years government pressure has been on funded NGOs to only help those who might develop 'products' for sale despite many millions having to exist on just a few dollars per day!

What is on offer here are solutions that require people to get involved not only in trying out new practical ideas but applying it as best they can in their particular circumstances. Larger NGOs are welcome to freely adopt these techniques, as have Solar Aid, Noar Foundation, etc., but in many cases Western NGOs are not able to use this approach as donors insist on getting quick measurable results.

We have developed simple techniques as outlined below and will initially send samples but we expect our contacts to work out how they can best use the technique to start a small enterprise. At that stage they will sometimes have to import some items from China via the Internet and we can explain how this is done.

This website covers quite a range of topics so it is not possible to keep them all up-to-date.

For those seeking the latest information we provide leaflets/CDs by post or as pdf documents on request.

Forest Gardens/Agroecology/Conservation Agriculture

With increasing concern about climate change we provide information indicating what type of gardening/farming is best.

As this varies from one country to another we really need your details before any real guidance can be offered.

However if your problem is very poor soil than get some jack beans and plant just them for a season on part of your plot and see what happens. But make sure they are protected from wandering animals!

The next year you should get some result from a sowing a crop of maize!
Ask for more info.

Fall Army Worm

Every year sees an outbreak of this scourge which is often gets out of control.
For smallholders the only control can come from their alertness to the danger by constant checking of their crops.
If the worms are killed as they arrive (in small number) the damage is limited.
This is not easy but so far no real remedy has been found!

Using composting worms (Vermiculture) - redworms

Also insects such as mealworms

In some developing countries small farmers turn their crop residue and manure into a special compost (vermicompost) produced by 'red' worms. Using this compost produces better crops over time than imported fertiliser or ordinary compost.
And it may well prove even more useful for feeding livestock and so providing animal protein that is often lacking in the diet of small farmers.
Similar worms are being used in Oxfam toilets where they are already proving of great benefit.
Ask for details!
Even better go to the next page "Worm farming" where you can learn lots more"

Biosand Water Filter

This type of filter has been in use for over 100 years in remote areas of the world.

It is usually made locally using a concrete mould which is rather expensive.

Another approach is much cheaper - converting a bucket/plastic container - and almost as good!
Ask for details.

BioDesign Biogas Digester

We have developed a digester that produces biogas from food/crop waste as well as cow/goat/pig manure so allowing cooking without burning wood or charcoal.

This digester is a new simple design that anyone can make using low cost layflat polythene which can be bought in hardware shops in most towns.

Unlike sausage type digesters this does not need a trench dug and is very cheap.

It is unlike flow digesters with both pros and cons which are explained when in contact.

Another possible 'fuel' is a certain cactus - Opuntia (or Prickly Pear) . This grows wild in many countries! See below

A little 'fresh' cow/goat manure is needed initially but then there are many alternative 'fuels' to produce biogas!

Most important - Make sure that any water used has no added soap, detergent, chlorine, etc.

Opuntia Cactus is a vegetable

In many parts of the world Opuntia is grown as it is a delicious vegetable while in other parts it is treated as an invasive noxious weed!
It is both - depending how it is treated!
There are many cooking recipes for Mexicans and elsewhere it is grown to provide fuel for biogas plants

Fig opuntia is grown primarily as a fruit crop, but also for the vegetable nopales and other uses.
Most culinary references to the "prickly pear" are referring to this species.
The name "tuna" is also used for the fruit of this cactus, and for Opuntia in general; according to Alexander von Humboldt, it was a word of Hispaniola native origin taken into the Spanish language around 1500.[2]

Opuntia ficus-indica (Indian fig)
Cacti are good crops for dry areas because they efficiently convert water into biomass. O. ficus-indica, as the most widespread of the long-domesticated cactuses, is as economically important as maize and blue agave in Mexico today.


Treating Malaria

It has been shown over many years, but known by few, that the leaves of a plant Artemisia Annua (Aa) can cure malaria symptoms within 24 hours!

Now trials in RDC have shown that the more common Artemisia Afra plant is equally effective and, what's more, can cure all sorts of diseases!

"....En fait ce sont les seuls à avoir fait des essais cliniques, depuis 2006 au Cameroun, et maintenant à grande échelle au Congo, non seulement contre le paludisme, mais aussi la bilharziose, la tuberculose et l’ulcère de Buruli.

Le chercheurs des universités du Nord continuent à tripoter les plantes qu’ils vont chercher chez les guérisseurs africains, les analysent, les extraient pour trouver les molécules qui permettraient à Bigpharma de vendre en Afrique d’autres monothérapies vouées d’avance à l’échec."

Pierre Lutgen

Although claims are made that the incidence of malaria is falling this is mainly due to the increasing use of bed nets.

However with the decreasing funding being now offered it may be that bed nets will not be replaced when holed in the future!

Here is a quick run through of other projects we offer with one link per main topic below:

DIY Solar Pumping

By using a cheap small industrial ($10) 12v pump powered by a solar panel it is possible to lift water from any well to supply it anywhere. If sunshine is limited water can be stored in a tank!

This saves the enormous cost of a hand pump installation as well as the time normally devoted to hand pumping for other jobs! We also provide information about simple low cost drip irrigation!

This is ideal where people have access to a car battery but even better where solar pv panels are possible.

In Burkina Faso one entrepreneur is intending to use these pumps, powered solar panels, to pump water for drip irrigation for peasant farmers.
These consist of women's and men's groups

Cookit solar cookers & slow cooking

These can be made with materials costing a few dollars that are found in even in the most remote spots and thousands of solar cookers have been made by NGOs following our instructions.

There is now a reflective material used in home insulation that has been found to give better heating.

Many people wish to have their meals when the sun has gone down. This is quite possible if they have what some call a 'slow cooker'!
They are usually called a haybox. Long ago hay was used as a heat insulator now foam plastic is often used to keep the pot hot for many hours.

Biomass Stoves

These have been used in the past but the knowledge has been mostly lost.

We have shown that sawdust, etc can be burnt, without pelletising, in a VERY simple stove – even a modified bucket!

Ask us!

Keyhole Gardening
One useful growing technique is called Keyhole Gardening which minimises the amount of water needed to grow vegetables.
If set up next to your dwelling any 'dirty' water can easily be used for irrigation!

We have lots of information that can be sent to you!

Mosquito Traps, Repellents and Cure

It seems strange that many of our contacts use bed nets but have never heard of mosquito traps!

The simplest ones are made from a plastic bottle cut in half with liquid bait put inside. Details on request.

There is a mixture containing boric acid that can be sprayed anywhere and kill all the mosquitoes in the area!

Since malaria is of great concern we have supplied some of our contacts with chemicals/plant seeds that might deter mosquitoes from entering rooms.

Perhaps of greater import is the news that there is a simple cure for malaria that is 80 - 90% effective!

Visit http://artemisiaannua.wikispaces.com and


Localised Minimal Irrigation - pipe, pots or wicks

By getting water near to the roots of plants the amount needed can be reduced by over 90%!

This often means a drip system but many are expensive and the drip holes can soon get blocked!

However one of the best sort uses hosepipe which is pierced with holes into which fit ordinary wood screws.

By twisting the screws water flow can be regulated as desired!

We also provide information about Irrigation using the skills of local potters making porous pots or with wick irrigation.

This allows the water to get just to the roots of plants and so stops weeds growing!

Even better might be irrigation by Rope Wicks that we are now experimenting with.

DIY Fish Farming

Fishing in the sea, even if you live nearby, is now often hopeless but if you have a suitable inland site you can produce your own fish. Tilapia is easy and popular.

If you have suitable clay soil you can dig a pond and usually it will not need a lining.

If you live near a stream the answer maybe a simple cage containing your fry will be best. Ask for more details!

In India

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Updated June 2018