Seed Funding Competition Year 2006 - 2007

In order to help achieve the goals of the Earth Clinic, a competition for project seed money was held. The Earth Clinic Steering Committee received 6 proposals requesting a total of ca. 170,000 dollars. The proposals were reviewed by the Earth Clinic Steering Committee and 3 proposals were awarded funding totaling $85,378. The following provides information on the funded proposals.


Contact: Art Lerner-Lam, Doherty Senior Research Scientist, LDEO

Title of Project: Development of a Web-Based Tool for Ranking the Natural Hazard Exposure of Cities, Villages and Facilities

Scope of Project: In the Natural Disaster “Hotspots” project, completed with funding from the World Bank, we compiled existing hazard and loss data sets, and developed a simple methodology to calculate and grid the global geographic distribution of mortality and economic impact for a set of six natural hazards (earthquakes, landslides, volcanoes, storms, floods, and drought). The effort put into compiling these data and performing the global grid calculations can be leveraged to provide an Earth Clinic capability for assessing natural hazard exposure on national, sub-national and smaller scales. We have built a prototype application that interrogates the database to produce a “site” ranking for a given list of facilities (or cities, villages, dams, etc.) with a variety of client-selectable normalizations. We propose to refine this software to produce a platform-portable, geographically scalable, and adjustable tool that would give Earth Clinic clients the capacity to identify natural hazard risk hotspots in their countries and thus prioritize the mainstreaming of hazard mitigation into development activities.


Contact: Darby Jack, EI Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Title of Project: A Pilot Subsidized Cook Stove Program for sub-Saharan Africa

Scope of Project: Reducing exposure to indoor air pollution is a top-priority goal. Globally, about 3 billion people cook with biomass fuels, which leads to about 1.6 million excess deaths a year and a substantial share of the global burden of disease. These problems arise when people cook in poorly ventilated indoor spaces using inefficient combustion technologies. Columbia University scientists have been working to develop more efficient, cleaner-burning cook stoves. The goal of the project is to reduce exposure to indoor air pollution and to improve quality of life by providing efficient, low emissions cook stoves designed by Columbia University scientists to rural households in sub-Saharan Africa. We have designed the project to illuminate key uncertainties regarding the adoption of new cooking technologies—namely, how acceptable are engineered cook stoves to local communities, and what measures can improve their acceptance? Thus, we also designed the project to fill knowledge gaps and to show feasibility for larger–scale cook stove programs. In addition, the proposed work will provide critical antecedents for large-scale NIH and foundation grant that will further lay the groundwork for sustainable solutions to the domestic energy problem.

Contact: David Ho, Doherty Associate Research Scientist, LDEO
Title of Project: Bamboo Bicycles as Sustainable Transportation in Africa: A feasibility study
Scope of Project: The bicycle is the primary mode of mobility for millions of people throughout many poorer parts of the world. In addition to individual transport, they see a vast number of applications including moving goods to market, the sick to hospital, and even the distributing medicines. Bicycles currently used in Africa are utterly inappropriate for transportation in these regions. They are a throwback to the British colonial period, meant for the amusement of the wealthy classes in well-paved cities, not for critical transportation of poor rural people. They are manufactured outside Africa in China and India, and shipped complete. Despite the critical need for bicycles in Africa, there are no local bicycle building businesses anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa. The objectives of this proposal are two-fold: 1) To build a better bike for poor Africans in rural areas; and 2) To stimulate a bicycle building industry in Africa to satisfy local needs. The suggestion is to employ native bamboo for the bicycle frames. The goal of this project is to test the feasibility of implementing bamboo bikes as a new form of transportation in Africa.