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Appropriate technology

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The solar cooker, an example of appropriate technology. Among other things, an excellent way to purify water of pathogens.

Appropriate technology is a philosophical and socio-cultural movement originating from the work Small is Beautiful by British economist E. F. Schumacher. The core belief of appropriate technology is that technology should be used for personal and community benefit, and opposes large scale use of technology such as industry.

The characteristics of appropriate technology can be summed up as:

  • Technology should be environmentally friendly. Large scale industrial technology creates pollution, and is responsible for global warming, climate change, sea-level rise, glacier melting etc. Appropriate technology encourages the use of renewable resources, and discourages the use of coal and oil.
  • Technology should benefit the community. Appropriate technology advocates argue use of high technology involves the use of costly components, which are not available to low-income earners, or to low-income communities. Moreover high technology requires technical expertise, meaning specialist training will require additional cost. On the other hand, appropriate technology can be used without specialist training.
  • Technology should be labor intensive and the use mostly self-powered machinery.

Examples of appropriate technology are:

  • Universal nut sheller
  • Solar cooker
  • Porous ceramic filtration


Extremely labor-intensive, low-scale manufacturing can often be much less efficient than larger-scale industry. This can lead to low wages and poor labour conditions.

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