The German non-profit organization URIDU uses solar-powered MP3 players to provide illiterate rural women in developing countries with health knowledge.

According to the World Health Organization, about three-quarters of all illness in the developing world could be prevented by better nutrition, sanitation, immunization and health education — all areas in which women, traditionally the caretakers of the family, take the major responsibility. But at the same time women in developing countries are the poorest of the poor, the least literate, the most exploited, and the most marginalized of all social groups. Most of them never attend school. Facing their day-to-day challenges without having access to basic information is a losing game for them. Therefore, still today every 6 seconds a child under five dies – most of them from easily preventable causes. Just providing illiterate rural women with accessible health knowledge could save millions of lives.

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A SIMPLE, SUSTAINABLE AND EFFICIENT TECHNOLOGICAL SOLUTION

The so-called MP3forLife player contains more than 400 carefully selected and easy-to-understand answers to questions about health, nutrition, family planning, childcare, income generation possibilities and many more topics. All texts are translated with the help of more than 15.000 volunteers from over 100 countries who participate in a unique crowdsourcing effort. Once the information has been translated a native speaker of the target language records it. Local NGOs are then taking care of distributing the MP3forLife players free of charge to women in need.

MORE THAN SIMPLE KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER A tool for change

The MP3forLife player was conceived for small group of average 8 – 12 women listening. It therefore fosters discussion, exchange and self-help group building and is a natural tool for change. The player operates in harsh environments and its built-in solar panel makes it completely independent from the power grid. A special design makes it impossible to use the MP3 players for any other purpose to avoid any misuse of the devices.

Environmental friendliness and sustainability were at the core of the design process of this life-saving MP3 player. Not only is it solar-powered, but it was also designed to be easily reparable. Core components like the battery or the loudspeaker can be replaced by social workers without soldering. Unlike today’s “throw-away” consumer electronic devices, the MP3forLife players are designed to provide a lengthy expected service life. They are built to provide illiterate rural women with vital knowledge for many, many years.