Catalyzing the growth of the Kenya tech community

Design thinking for water challenged rural communities

By Mark Kamau
iHub Research
  Published 07 May 2013
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Design thinking for water challenged rural communities

The true value of technology is the people it impacts. The same is true about research. At the iHub UX lab, we take this very seriously. In the recent past, iHub Research did a comprehensive research project among the rural population of Kenya that looked at
water related challenges the communities face.

One of the key findings was the need for people to access water information. Whenthere is an issue with supply or availability of water, it is unclear for people who theyneed to talk to and whether this information will be acted on. Essentially, there is acommunication gap between these rural citizens and the authorities responsible forservice delivery.

This need has been in existence for a while and many interventions have been attemptedincluding 20 apps, 10 of which never even saw the light of day. Why is that? How comeall these efforts are ineffective?

A people centered approachWith a design thinking approach, we are able to look at the problem in a structured and
systematic way.

  • Who are we designing for? Are we clear on their challenges that they face?
  • What is the best, most viable and efficient ways to address these problems?
  • How do we test for efficiency?
  • How do we make sure we continue to innovate responsively?
  • How sustainable are these innovations?
These are the questions stakeholders are guided to ideate on in a design thinkingworkshop at the iHub UX lab. The design challenge set being; Design ways for ruralcitizens to access water information.

The interaction with stakeholders was successful but for the sake of veracity and depth,we aim to do a second round of ideation to ensure all the stakeholders are covered.

 

For the first time, the design thinking approach is helping African research discoversolutions in an all-inclusive approach. It is a truly exciting journey, one which has thepotential of changing how research is leveraged. The second ideation workshop takes place on the 16th May 2013, please sign up here if you would like to participate.

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