Submitted by Chris Holmes

USAID and the New York Academy of Sciences are currently hosting a display of innovative technology at New York City’s  Millennium Hotel. The hotel is just around the corner from the United Nations. This is General Assembly week and participants at the UN activities are filtering into the display room to, as I am doing, look, listen, learn, and let their minds run to possible applications in their respective fields.  This is a unique event that certainly stands out among a packed schedule this week.

I work in the water sector and so I was drawn, in particular, to three technology displays.

The first was KickStart, a hip powered pump structured to leverage the power of one’s hip to power a suction pump. The pumps retail at $34 a piece, are in place throughout Africa and according to Ken Weimar, Senior Development Officer of San Francisco, California based KickStart, the pump has helped 100,000 successful small businesses. Ken was delighted to be able to display his technology, noting that: “This is a very exciting time. I have never been able to get this close to the UN in General Assembly.”

Right next to Ken’s display was a booth featuring DTI-r Design Technology and Irrigation technology. This was remarkable: any kind of water- salt, brine, waste water- is placed in long plastic like tubes about a foot underground. Water vapor is released into the ground from the exterior of the pipe, irrigating root systems. The technology was developed with support from Launch, an initiative formed by USAID, State, NASA and Nike.
The technology can be placed near sea water, where sea water can be piped into the tubing and crops grown in sand. Mark Tomkin from DTI announced today  that his conpany just signed a global exclusive licensing agreement with DuPont. Mark told me he is on his way tomorrow to install a major million meter system in Jordan, using ground water.

And finally, I discovered a group of entrepreneurs, working for Bicilavadora,  which makes a portable power pedaled washing machine, part of a bicycle hooked up to a metal drum with ripe netting inside which serves a washing machine. The machine is operating in Peru. I asked one of the team where do they get the water, how do they reuse and dispose of the water?  My thoughts led to their getting water from a KickStart pump, using their waste water to grow crops using the DTI irrigation system.  Everything is connected.  Great changes are ahead and USAID is leading the way.