The DEPP Labs Innovations

Local solutions to local problems

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Mt. Marsabit Dairy

The Mt. Marsabit Dairy is a women's cooperative dairy in Marsabit County, northern Kenya that sources products from individual suppliers and applies cutting-edge production techniques to offer longer life, affordable dairy products. The dairy supports the most vulnerable members of the community, especially pastoralist women, to earn a livelihood through a structured micro-milk collection system. It is now a registered limited company with the capacity to scale the innovation to meet the high demand for its fresh milk, ghee and yoghurt products.


Drought Cure

Drought Cure is a nutritious food brick that can be stored for long periods to sustain livestock during droughts, which recurrently plague the Horn of Africa. Devised by a farmers' cooperative from Marsabit in Northern Kenya, the brick is a lifeline for pastoralists in the region, who rely on livestock for their livelihood. It is made from locally-available materials including crop residuals, grass, leaves, pods and tubers, which are mixed with commercial nutrients.


Mathenge Maisha

Mathenge Maisha is a unique start-up which turns a drought-resilient weed into nutritious low-cost flour. Currently, nearly one million Kenyans are at risk from starvation as a result of prolonged drought. The Garissa-based project plans to employ local people, particularly from vulnerable groups, to collect the pods produced by the weed to be ground down into flour.




Betna is a housing solution for refugees and low-income workers in Jordan. Expensive private housing means people spend up to 50 per cent of their wages on transport to their workplace. Meanwhile, 31,000 homeowners rely on renting property to pay their housing loans. Betna is an Arabic-based platform, similar to AirBnB, that will match low-income renters to homeowners. This is a scalable business idea across Jordan and will eventually target refugees returning to Syria. It is based on charging a 15 per cent commission to landlords. Read more.



Martha is an educational tool using visual cards to teach Arabic and sign language literacy in the home, with a companion application that uses augmented reality videos for more engaging learning. Illiteracy in formal sign language and in Arabic is a major barrier to deaf children’s learning - resulting in an 80 per cent illiteracy rate in deaf children, who number around 10,600 in Jordan. Martha is the only home learning solution for deaf children aged 2-5.


Medicine Bank

Medicine Bank redirects close to end of shelf life medicines to pharmacies offering low-cost drugs to refugees in Jordan. Fifty per cent of Syrian refugees have a family member with a chronic condition. And about half of Syrians with a chronic illness couldn’t access their medicine in 2016, with financial barriers being the key obstacle. At the same time, pharmaceutical producers pay to dispose of unused medication every year. Medicine Bank is a supply chain management tool that connects diabetes and hypertension medicine approaching expiry to patients through contracts with drug producers and local pharmacies.  



Twig is an informal job market platform that connects refugees with employment opportunities. Eighty-four per cent of Syrian refugees in Jordan live below the poverty line. Although there are labour market opportunities in the agricultural sector, there is limited access to information about available work and no established network for Syrians. Twig seeks to link farmers, architects and landscaping and agricultural engineers via a digital platform to homeowners seeking services using a subscription-based model. Fifteen per cent of income generated goes back into the project.




Pharmacy aims to provide a training module to drug dispensers in Korail, one of the largest slums in Dhaka, where most of the people are illiterate and living in poverty. With low accessibility to healthcare, they are heavily dependent on over the counter medicines for common ailments. However, most dispensers are untrained, resulting in patients receiving the wrong advice. The project, which has already worked with 50 drug sellers, covers pharmaceutical and first aid training, nutrition, public health, chronic health conditions and physiotherapy.


Unbaked Bricks

Unbaked Bricks use soil, sand, cement, limestone powder and plaster of Paris for the construction of affordable housing in the expanding informal urban settlement area of Korail, Dhaka. The bricks are fire and heat resistant – critical in a city with a history of devastating fires caused by a high density of buildings, narrow roads, ageing water and electrical supply systems, and a prevalence of chemical factories. These bricks can be made by the community, in situ, removing transportation costs.

The Philippines


Disaster Preparedness Simulator

The Disaster Preparedness Simulator uses augmented reality as a novel tool for communities to experience and learn from authentic disaster scenarios and improve preparedness. The Philippines is at high risk from cyclones, earthquakes, floods, landslides, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and wildfires with 74 per cent of the population vulnerable to their impact. The innovators are targeting teachers, students and administrators with a start-up that can be duplicated for other risk scenarios.


Bottlenet lifejackets

Bottlenet lifejackets are low-cost flotation devices made from recycled fishing nets and plastic waste. With 60 per cent of the 106 million Filipino population vulnerable to drowning every typhoon season or during torrential rains, this innovation provides a vital life-saving solution with pockets for bottled water as well as bottles filled with plastic waste to enable buoyancy. It also creates jobs for unemployed women and addresses the growing problem of plastic waste in seas and river systems.



SolveX38 is an intelligent flood warning and monitoring system providing real-time information to communities at risk from flooding. The system monitors water level rises in rivers and when it reaches a critical level, computes the time before floodwaters reach the community, allowing them to take action. Solve X38 provides real-time SMS updates which respond with information on current water levels as well as the SMS blast at critical high water levels. Solve X38 will also provide the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management team authorised access to the public address system.