Product, Service & Design Innovation
BASF, Save the Children Using 'Empathic Design' to Tackle Water and Nutrition Challenges in India, Kenya

Chemical giant BASF has partnered with Save the Children to develop solutions related to improvement of water accessibility and quality in Mumbai, and livelihoods and food security in the Turkana region of Kenya.

The two organizations plan to use a co-creation methodology known as “empathic design” for research and development. This technique combines in-depth problem observation with target group interaction to develop better solutions for pressing challenges in India and Kenya.

Several experts from BASF and Save the Children — which has previously partnered with organizations including Unilever, Oxfam, PSI, UNICEF and the World Food Programme to improve quality of life through safe water access and hygiene — have begun in Mumbai, spending a week talking with low- and mid-income community members about solutions to water challenges. In Kenya, the experts will focus on addressing nutrition challenges in agro-pastoralist communities.

“We feel that today’s global challenges are too complex for any sector to be addressed alone. We want to work more closely with all relevant actors, including NGOs, governments, local communities and our business partners. We therefore are adopting the ‘empathic design’ method in India and Kenya to facilitate collaborative discussions which lead to a deeper understanding of local challenges and allow us to create better solutions for the target communities,” said Gops Pillay (pictured, left), president of South & East Asia, ASEAN and Australia/New Zealand, BASF.

Mumbai was the first stop on BASF’s Creator Space Tour, a weeklong co-creation program now taking place at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in celebration of BASF’s 150th anniversary. After the two-day summit, executives at BASF and Save the Children signed an agreement to further explore the findings, outcomes and discussions from Creator Space during the upcoming on-site immersion phase in late February in Mumbai.

“We very much welcome the commitment and leadership of BASF to share its knowledge and expertise to create interventions that can improve the living conditions of marginalized groups in Mumbai and in Kenya. Every man, woman and child should have access to safe water and healthy food, now and in the future. By pooling our expertise, influence and resources and by listening to the people impacted, we have the chance to create interventions that achieve wider positive effects in the communities we work with,” said Dr. Sudeep Singh Gadok (pictured, right), Director, Programmes, Save the Children India, also at the signing ceremony.

The Mumbai Creator Space Summit focused on improving access to water that is both safe and affordable. India houses a fifth of the world’s population, but has access to only 4 percent of the world’s fresh water resources, and an estimated 80 percent of rural India lacks access to safe drinking water.

Solutions discussed at the Summit included changes in technology, policy and behavior, alternate decentralized water sources in Mumbai to ensure equitable distribution, and monitoring the quality of water along its journey through the water pipes. The action points derived from the water summit will be further verified and substantiated by a multidisciplinary team of local, national and international BASF, BASF Stiftung (a German charitable foundation) and Save the Children experts using the empathic design method.


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