Case studies

As part of our aim to integrate sustainable human development as a regular part of all technical university courses, the GDEE team is facilitating the development of a set of case studies to be used as teaching materials. The case studies are being written by academics from all around the world, in partnership with NGOs, and are based on real-life development projects. They cover a range of topics directly related with those studied in engineering, science and other related courses, and can be adapted to suit national and institutional circumstances. See below for syllabus topics and technology areas.

We encourage you and your university to make use of the case studies. Share them with your colleagues and plan academic / student training courses and workshops (our courses page will have further information). 

If you want to find out more, get involved, or are interested in writing your own case study with a partner NGO, please contact us or register to get updates about what's going on.

These case studies relate to various farming techniques and innovations, and food storage, processing and production. Agricultural production (both animal and crop) in many parts of the world is carried out on a small-scale by farmers with little income or resources, making their lives vulnerable to unforeseen setbacks. However, clever methods can be adopted to improve outputs in a sustainable manner using little resources. For example, keeping fruit and vegetables cool in high temperatures using innovative clay pots.

The need for shelter is a fundamental necessity. Our built environment goes beyond housing, encompassing other infrastructures also. Adequate planning, design and construction methods are key. There are many important matters to consider, including the involvement of the local community at all stages, environmental sustainability, financial viability, and local availability of sound materials. Case studies include construction of an anaerobic digester tank for pit latrine waste and planning rural towns.

Disaster mitigation, or disaster risk reduction (DRR), is about preparing for disasters and minimising the risk when they arrive. For example, one case study examines a web application for a flood assessment and warning system. Emergency relief or disaster response is a specific intervention in very particular circumstances. Reconstruction is a more long term response to emergency situations which enables a transition from an immediate disaster response to a more general development agenda. 

Energy access is a key element to improving people’s lives, especially in more remote rural communities where mains electricity does not reach, and basic needs are met with difficulty as a result. In these locations there are a number of small-scale renewable energy technologies that can be used. Case studies include renewable energy based rural electrification, cookstoves, and micro-hydro plants. 

We live in an interconnected world where all our actions cause direct or indirect effect on our land, air and water ecosystems. Having a strong respect for our earth and all its inhabitants is key when developing new technologies or processes. Exploitation of natural resources since the industrial revolution has caused many negative impacts, for example climate change, with those in poorer regions being affected more. These case studies will look at sustainable ways of working in our environment to provide benefit to those living in poverty whilst also caring for our soil, biodiversity and ecosystems.

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector is growing fast. ICT plays a part in poverty alleviation by increasing access to information for all, enabling knowledge to be shared, and experiences to be communicated, more widely. It is important that ICTs are developed in a way that serves all equally and can benefit the most poor. For example, there is case study on the benefit of a low cost network technology for mobile phones.

Many people in the world are involved in micro and small scale enterprises (MSEs) manufacturing equipment and producing goods, often as a family based activity or small group on a semi-formal basis. The case studies will look at some of these MSEs, including essential oil extraction with solar thermal energy and cool food storage in pots. Enterprises help create a livelihood for communities and increase their wellbeing.

By improving transport and infrastructure, those without the means to previously do so are able to access markets where they can buy or sell goods for income, make better use of essential services such as health and education and keep abreast of social, economic and political developments happening in their country. Case studies include construction of gravity ropeways in Nepal and planning rural towns.

These case studies relate to water: the movement, distribution, quality and interaction of water systems, for example, looking at river management; sanitation: low cost sanitation approaches improve health and well-being of people, for example, faecal sludge management systems; waste: as towns and cities around the world expand and populations grow, volumes of waste produced increase and the challenges of solid waste management change along with the potential to recycle materials, for example, starting a plastic recycling enterprise.

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