Technological Innovation: Multi-functional Platforms in Mali
As the description of Terese's daily life illustrates, life for women in Sub-Saharan Africa is strenuous, involving burdensome tasks associated with lack of modern energy. The development and dissemination of the multifunctional platform sprung from this particular problem. The multifunctional platform is a simple diesel generator that boasts a low cost and a range of uses such as providing electricity for refrigeration, lighting, and other appliances, pumping water, and grinding cereal. It is hoped that in the future, liquid biofuel can be used in lieu of diesel. UNDP is currently sponsoring a project for the dissemination of 450 multifunctional platforms to rural Mali in response to the extraordinary results of the pilot phase from 1996-1998 during which 45 platforms were installed.
Dissemination of the multifunctional platforms as been thoroughly multilateral- funding comes from various NGOs (Non government organizations), international organizations, and private investors. Acquisition of a platform is on a voluntary basis- a group of women from a village must create a formal organization to request and purchase a generator (which is subsidized 40-50%). Local artisans are in charge of installation, maintenance and repair of the platforms, each decentralized unit being easy and cheap to construct. Finally, the project is overseen and supported by the Malian government, regional authorities, as well as local authorities. The platforms have proven to be astounding for rural Malian women.
The platform frees up two to six hours of a rural Malian women's day by eliminating a portion of the drudgery associated with a lack of energy use. Italso provides income-generating opportunities, raising owners' annual incomes by US$40 to US$100, and allows them to pursue other endeavors, such as education or other activities. Multifunctional platforms have actually succeeded in elevating women's social status. One Malian woman called the machine a "silent daughter-in-law" in reference to the duties it performs. The success of multifunctional platforms in Mali highlights the interdependency of all aspects of development and modern energy consumption. Women who own and manage a multifunctional platform machine have higher incomes, economic independence, more time for education, and ultimately a higher social status and a higher quality of life.
To find out how you can help a village get a multifunctional platform or for more information: http://www.ptfm.net/mfpwhat.htm. (pictures and information from this site)
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