To Get “Out of Poverty,” Keep Innovating

By Alex Tung

It is never too late to start innovating, or to continue to innovate.  Paul Polak, founder of International Development Enteprises (IDE) is the perfect example.  After practicing psychiatry for 23 years, Polak founded IDE, an organization focused on creating income opportunities for poor rural households.  And now, almost 30 years later, at age 77, Polak has started blogging about practical solutions to poverty. His blog is named after his best-selling book, Out of Poverty.

IDE is currently working to mitigate any impact their technologies might have on climate change and the environment. (Photo credit: IDE)

In his first two blog posts, Polak spoke about how poverty impacts the environment, and his thoughts on the triple bottom approach.

His ideologies are reflected through IDE’s work. IDE is currently working to mitigate any impact their technologies might have on climate change and the environment.  According to Andrew Vermouth, Director of Marketing and Communications for IDE, their drip irrigation systems are “especially valuable in water scarce conditions,” as they can reduce water use by “30 to 60 percent.”  Emissions and carbon footprint are also reduced when famers use IDE’s treadle pumps instead of diesel pumps, as treadle pumps are foot-operated, “light enough to be portable by hand and foot or bicycle,” and often “made from recycled materials.”  Increasing numbers of small-scale farmers across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are adopting these technologies, which allow them to irrigate crops more easily and enhance productivity of their land.

To learn more about IDE’s irrigation technologies that help the rural poor, read Innovation of the Week: Slow and Steady Irrigation Wins the Race, Innovation of the Week: Access to Water Improves Quality of Life for Women and Children, Innovation of the Week: Getting Water to Crops

To read more of Paul Polak’s writings, visit his blog Out of Poverty.

Alex Tung is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.

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