The Makers North South – Together for Open Health project, which came into being following the health crisis (covid-19 pandemic), has two components:
1 – Provide 11 African fablabs with materials, equipment and digital production machines, consumables to be autonomous and resilient in the face of the health crisis and beyond in the production of health equipment.
2 – To experiment in Cotonou (Benin) with a “Precious Plastic” type machine allowing the production of 3D filaments by recycling plastic waste. This experimentation will contribute to reduce the environmental impact of plastic waste and make fablabs autonomous on raw materials for 3D printing.
Since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, African fablabs (digital manufacturing workshops) have been helping healthcare workers in their countries by using their own funds to manufacture masks, protective visors, small medical equipment and respirators in open source. They offer inexpensive, royalty-free solutions and thus support the health systems of their countries, which are under-resourced in terms of health infrastructure, whether in terms of prevention, detection or treatment of disease.
But with materials running out, African fablabs are particularly vulnerable to shortages of materials, raw materials, electrical components and other equipment (which they must necessarily import from China or Europe) and do not have enough equity to continue to supply and meet growing orders.
The Réseau Bretagne Solidaire, the Réseau Français des Fablabs (French Network of Fablabs) and the Réseau Francophones des Fablabs d’Afrique de l’Ouest ( French-speaking Network of Fablabs of Western Africa) have joined forces to provide African fablabs with digital manufacturing machines and consumables to manufacture health protection, prevention and detection devices on site. This capacity building of local fablabs should finally allow to support local health systems through a sustainable local production of health devices, while supporting the global actions of African fablabs by removing the barrier of access to equipment.
The first objective, which is a response to the emergency, is to send materials to meet the needs of 10 Reffao fablabs in order to provide them with a base of consumables and machines for the immediate manufacture of protective visors and parts of small health equipment.
The second, more structuring part, proposes to experiment with a “Precious Plastic” type machine allowing the production of 3D filaments by recycling plastic waste. This experimentation will contribute to reducing the environmental impact of plastic waste in addition to making the fablabs autonomous on raw materials for 3D printing. The challenge is to relocalize the production of raw materials and to increase (eventually) the production scale of the system, in connection with the local industrial fabric.
The Bretagne Solidaire Network (RBS) is the Breton regional multi-actor network dedicated to cooperation and international solidarity. It supports project leaders who fall within this framework and accompanies the pooling of skills. Within the framework of a collective and co-constructed dynamics with all the partners, it carries administratively the MakersNordSud project. RBS represents the collective institutionally and thus contributes to gather complementary competences for an innovative project and linking the Breton network, the French network and the West African network.
⇨ Bretagne Solidaire network: supervision, administrative support, solidarity
⇨ Francophone Network of Fablabs in West Africa: field coordination, manufacturing, development, experimentation
⇨ French Fablab Network: advice, support, sharing of open solutions
⇨ LabSud Montpellier: open health experiments with healthcare professionals in institutions
⇨ My Human Kit: Humanlabs support network on “handicapowerment
⇨ Climate Change Lab: coordination/capitalization and sharing
⇨ Airbus Africa Community : community management/communication
RESULTS / IMPACTS
⇨ 20 makers trained in the use of the machines and in the use of the plastic recycling machine for the manufacture of health equipment; 3000 beneficiaries (health workers and citizens) equipped and 3 capitalization tools produced
Places of intervention (countries, regions, localities)
Associated fablabs :
- BloLab, Cotonou, Benin
- WakatLab, Burkina Faso
- AgriLab, Ivory Coast
- Tic4Ed, Ivory Coast
- YopCreaLab, Ivory Coast
- H-FabLab, Ivory Coast
- DoniFab, Mali
- SahelFabLab, Mauritania
- SenFabLab, Senegal
- Sonatel, Senegal
- Ker-thiossane, Senegal