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The iShack is a high-tech shack developed by the University of Stellenbosch, designed to provide slum dwellers in South Africa with a reliable source of electricity and protection from extreme temperatures.

Discussion:  This iShack, or improved shack, is equipped with a solar panel that can power lights and a mobile phone charger, and may soon change the windswept slums that house 62% of the urban population in Sub-Saharan Africa.  This dwelling is intended to raise the living standards of slum residents while improving their access to electricity and protecting them from extreme temperatures in an evironmentally friendly way.  A slum is charachterized by deplorable living conditions, a feeling of insecurity and inadequate infrastructure for basic energy, sanitation and water services.  Shacks are becoming the new norm, and this project, which recently received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, provides a cost-effective solution.

Source:  CNN News

Date:  January 8, 2013

Link:  http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/08/tech/innovation/ishack-slums-south-africa/index.html

Discussion Questions:

  • Why are some researchers focusing on short-term solutions to the housing crisis in South Africa rather than looking ahead for a long-term solution?
  • Why is supporting a cell phone charger an important improvement to slum living?

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