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How human centered design can enhance international development

  • By Christiane Lemma
  • May 13, 2022

Human centred design (HCD), concerns the prioritization of the user in your design process or thinking. You combine how individuals interact with each other, society, the environment and then you use this information to aid your design process. Kenya Climate Ventures often collaborates with organizations that keep this thought process in mind through the implementation of their products. For example, Sunken Limited created sustainable cookware in place of traditional cookstoves. Their products are more affordable, aid in preventing lung damage, and are sustainable, however, the most significant factor in this product working was its community approval. The design is not too different from the traditional cookstoves, and are easily implemented in each household, making it easier for them to be used.


The stages of the HCD process includes 4 steps, the first is discovery and asking questions. We get to know the issue at hand and immerse ourselves in the challenges that our primary constituent would face, as we have familiarized ourselves with the climate change impacts on women in East Africa. Sunken Limited has done this by assessing a aspect of carbon emissions they wanted to tackle, and outlined the negative impacts traditional cookstoves have on their environments and the communities health.


The next step is to analyze, by taking the information we discover and seeing how they connect to trends, such as key factors causing higher vulnerability in women. It was evident in Sunken Limited work that women were at a much higher risk of impact due to their traditional gender role of preparing food in the kitchen. Because of this increased exposure, they were much more vulnerable to the negative impacts of their traditional cookstoves.


The third stage is to create solutions based on innovate ambitions. Sunken Limited has created the solution of their briquette cookstoves and formed a more sustainable option for rural communities in Kenya to use. Finally, the last step is testing and implementation, and Sunken continued this process by providing sustainable cookstoves to households and assessing the benefits to their technology.


Through this process, Sunken limited was able to create a product that was catered to the community and was successful due to their HCD process implementation. KCV continues to support and collaborate with Sunken Limited to further continue their climate smart processes, and to apply these types of processes into their various sustainable products.