The Sunny Side of Nicaragua

by iihlab

This past week, we loaded up on SPF, packed up our prototypes and headed to Ocotal, Nicaragua, near the Honduran border. Ocotal, population 30K, is a small town full of inventive doctors, nurses and lab tech. It is also home of solar technology experts, las Mujeres Solares (the Solar Women). We collaborate with both groups on the design and manufacturing of some key technologies at our lab, including the foot-powered nebulizer and Solarclave. For these two technologies, we aim to create products that can be made from tools and materials found in any workshop around the world. Thus, it’s pretty important that we spend as much time as possible in Nicaragua testing and iterating the design. Working with las Mujeres Solares helps us to understand the local supply chains and fabrication methods. By involving nurses from nearby clinics in the early stage of the designs, we can brainstorm together the important features – compact storage, able to use by one person, repairable with local materials – that lead to a more sustainable product.

Seen here is Charles Hsu, IIH bio/physics expert and self-taught viola maker of MIT ’14 , setting up a bacteria test in the Solarclave prototype outside of las Mujeres Solares’ workshop. You’ll hear more from Charles in future IIH updates from Nicaragua. In the mean time, here’s a small clip from Alejandra of las Mujeres Solares explaining the Solarclave prototype built by their team at the workshop. English subtitles forthcoming!

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