[LINK] $100 laptop could sell to public

brd at iimetro.com.au brd at iimetro.com.au
Mon Jan 15 16:21:48 AEDT 2007

Is it just me or is this yet another technology solution looking for a 

Reminds me of this story, broadcast on Counterpoint in December

David O'Connor: Yes, I was in Mongolia, the capital Ulaanbaatar, and I was
working as a kind of a journalist but not in the way that Europeans 
think of as
journalists but I was helping them to try to develop a better 
journalism. I was
sent by Australian Volunteers International which is part funded by AusAid, so
I guess I was part of the spending of Australian foreign aid. But I had a
particular experience with AusAid which was that this is a city of one million
people which generates a lot of rubbish and the old system was there was a
large container placed outside each block of flats, a very, very large steel
container, which was collected and replaced every week. Associated with every
container there were scavengers that would get into it, they would take out
everything that was recyclable and they would sell it. They lived in the
street...this is minus 30 degrees during winter and they lived in the street,
and they lived from this money they got from the recycling.

AusAid and World Bank got together and decided this was not an 
efficient garbage
system and they brought in a consultant from Australia on a very large salary.
The average income in Mongolia is something in the order of $2 a day, and he
was on something in the order of $200 a day. He came for a few weeks, 
with bureaucrats like him who sat in offices, and they came up with a scheme
whereby the old containers were removed, smaller wheelie bins were placed
around the place.

They bought a whole lot of Chinese trucks that had special compacting 
and they could automatically pick up these wheelie bins and empty them, this
would be a much more efficient system. They took away the old bins. The 
was that the scavengers couldn't get into the new wheelie bins, so they threw
the garbage out onto the ground so they could go through it and scavenge
everything, which meant that every truck had to have two extra staff to shovel
the rubbish back into the wheelie bins so the truck could automatically 
lift up
the bin and put it inside.

They recycled the old, big cans, but people began to complain that the rubbish
was always on the ground. There wasn't enough consideration given to
maintenance of the trucks so they all broke down because they get pretty hard
wear in that sort of weather. The trucks broke down, the wheelie bins broke,
the trucks were removed, they didn't work any more, the wheelie bins were
removed because they all broke up, the garbage was just left lying on the
ground. They then instituted a system where a truck came round once a week and
you had to leave your house when you heard the truck beeping its horn, you
would leave your house carrying your garbage and put it in the bin. So the
scavengers were also out of work.



Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Sydney Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

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