An Introduction to OHorizons

OHorizons is a non-profit organization connecting technical, social, and commercial innovators. Our mission is steeped in a vision of a world where everyone can live a healthy, productive, and dignified life. Eradicating world hunger is our aim and we believe that the capability and resources exist today to make it happen!

Hunger isn’t caused only by lack of food. Many complex, multifaceted issues contribute to hunger, including: nutrition, health, access to food, and poverty. To approach this, we have built a worldwide coalition of innovators to first understand the precise problems people are facing and then to develop and scale open-source design solutions to address them. We have created a philosophy around the mantra of Low-Tech, High-Thinking. Our Principles of Low-Tech ensure our innovations are simple, low-cost, locally-sourced, flexible, and open-source. We use High-Thinking in our process to design the best solutions possible that adhere to these principles. We partner with community leaders in underserved regions of the world to field test our initial prototypes. When a scaleable solution has been developed, we provide our partners with the support, knowledge, and resources to be active agents of change in the implementation process.

At OHorizons, we believe that by approaching the problem of hunger through the lens of the Four Horizons of Life, we can attack hunger from a systems perspective, which ultimately will be more sustainable and impactful in the long term. Moreover, each of the Four Horizons represents a unique development challenge that is important in its own right and deserving of thought, attention, and action.  

The Four Horizons of Life are Water, Energy, Agriculture, and Economic Development.

We intend to design and implement a disruptive innovation for each Horizon while always keeping in mind a systems perspective and our larger focus of eradicating world hunger. Our design process is to research, evaluate, ideate, prototype, and develop an innovation using the principles of Low-Tech. This way we ensure our impact is equitable, sustainable, and builds the capacity of the communities we work with!

We have started our mission with the Water Horizon. Our solution for water is a Wood Mold to make Concrete BioSand Filters.

In the early 1990’s, Concrete BioSand Filters were developed by the Canadian engineer Dr. David Manz as a low-tech water filtration device for household use in developing countries. The invention used a steel mold to cast the filter’s concrete structure. The final product is an approximately 3 foot tall concrete column that is filled with layers of sand and gravel to filter pathogens out of water. We’ll cover this process in more detail in a future blog article.  

OHorizons has engineered a Wood Mold to serve the same purpose as the aforementioned steel mold. The Wood Mold is a breakthrough because it allows on-the-ground organizations to manufacture and install BioSand Filters for a fraction of the upfront costs of traditional methods, meaning more people can get clean water faster.

At this stage, we have launched pilot projects in Bangladesh, Ecuador, and Mali. Our initiative in Bangladesh has been a major success and we are in the process of rapidly scaling our operation there. Each Wood Mold has the capacity to make approximately 50 BioSand Filters, meaning 250 people are given access to safe drinking water from a single mold! We’ll also cover this more fully in a future blog article. Our open-source Wood Mold Construction Manual and Appendix are available to download here.

OHorizons believes in using Low-Tech innovations to solve global challenges. Through this blog, we hope to spread awareness and inspiration about our work and philosophy! We are OHorizons and we’d love to have your support.