Dolatpura consists of about 800 people where a majority of the families are landowning farmers. Though there is a tradition steeped in agriculture, the industrialization of India has brought factory employment to the younger generation in the village. In addition, some have chosen to be entrepreneurs, starting their own businesses such as small shops/stands or event planning.
A typical village like Dolatpura consists of many brick based concrete houses with a central Anganwadi, which is an early childhood development center, which is typically funded by the government of India. In Dolatpura, there are two main streets one where many animals are kept and the other (Near the Anganwadi) acts as the village center, where people hang out, kids play cricket, and enjoy fruity flavored golas (snow cones) on a hot summer day. A large tree provides shade for those relaxing and resting from the scorching hot sun, which averages 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit.
On a typical day, Dolatpura residents wake up early in the morning at 5 or 6 AM and go to work. Majority of the family including the women work in the fields. Most of the farmers come back from the fields at 12-4 pm to avoid the heat of the afternoon, and nap. Some of them return to the farm afterwards to finish their work, and come back in the evening to dine with the family and enjoy watching TV. Right now, most residents enjoy watching the IPL (Indian Premier League) comparable to America’s Major League Baseball except the sport is cricket. In fact, their favorite team is the Bangalore Royal Challengers, where Chris Gayle’s sixers are the talk of the town (he’s the most popular player in the world). Factory workers have a typical schedule like American workers, while entrepreneurs have the freedom to create a flexible one.
WHAT ARE WE DOING IN DOLATPURA?
After a thorough needs assessment in May 2014, the team discovered many health related problems in Dolatpura. Two in particular which we discovered were the high volume of smoke created by the stoves, and the lack of functioning toilets within the village. Noticing these issues, the team decided to research and co-design sustainable technology with the community. Between September 2014 to April 2015, the team researched and developed an alpha and beta design for both toilets and stoves. In addition, the stoves team prototyped three models. In May 2015, the team is implementing the stoves alpha design while the toilets team modifies its design based on their interviews with the family.
BLIP is a long-term project that centers on establishing relationships within a community by working alongside Dolatpura residents to develop sustainable methods. The team focuses on designing technology that works around village lifestyle without introducing drastic changes to their daily routine. Simultaneously, University of Michigan students build the systems alongside residents, utilizing techniques and feedback learned from the community. With this emphasis in co-design, the team fosters a regular line of communication by exchanging current developments in regards to the current progress of the projects in both Dolatpura and Ann Arbor.
During this school year, the stoves team is continuing communication with family partners to garner information and suggestions for improving the first implemented design. In addition, the team plans to modify the stove by prototyping with the given feedback from the community, until a consensus has been reached on a design that solves the smoke and inefficiency problems of the stove. The toilets team is conducting composting tests to better understand how the process will work in an environment similar to that in Dolatpura in terms of water, temperature, and other external conditions. In addition, the toilets team is continuing to communicate with family partners to modify and finalize the first prototype design.