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Technology & Infrastructure

Innovation in housing materials, water and sanitation infrastructure, transport, and energy can drive rapid improvements in health, quality of life, safety, and even labor markets. Yet little is known about what contributes to the adoption and success (or failure) of these development investments. Engineers and scientists are increasingly recognizing how social and economic barriers, such as market failures and weak institutions, can prevent potentially transformative technologies from reaching the world's poor.

Our Approach

CEGA addresses the challenges inherent in innovating for the world’s poor, by leveraging its inter-disciplinary research network and close proximity to Silicon Valley, a global technology hub. 

Development Impact Lab (DIL) 

The Development Impact Lab (DIL) harnesses world-class expertise in science and engineering to maximize the adoption and impact of technologies for developing regions. The Lab seeks to demonstrate how data-driven, impact-oriented innovations can improve development outcomes. 

Research Highlights

“Smart” Solar Microgrids in India

Researchers are implementing a randomized evaluation of an AC solar microgrid optimized scaled for rural communities in India. The team integrates pricing experiments with high frequency metering data to capture high quality information about energy consumption and demand. This information is then fed back to the technology developers to inform redesign of the infrastructure.  Results forthcoming.

Slum Housing Upgrading in El Salvador, Mexico & Uruguay

This study measured the effect of the slum housing improvement program “TECHO” in El Salvador, Mexico, and Uruguay. Slums are typically found in dangerous geographic locations, such as on cliffs or slopes, and lack access to basic services such as water, electricity, and sanitation. To better understand program impact, researchers surveyed the residents before and after the program, and found that those involved in the programs experienced increased security/safety, improved quality of life, and reduced incidence in diarrhea for children living in the home. 

Mobile Messaging and HIV Treatment Adherence

Imperfect adherence to Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) regimens among people living with HIV/AIDS can drive drug resistance and reduce treatment effectiveness. This study implemented a four-arm randomized evaluation of different text messaging strategies, targeting early phase ART patients. Patients received either short or long reminders on a daily or weekly basis, via text messages. Subjects’ adherence to the ART regimen was monitored using technology that recorded each time the patient opened his or her pillbox.  Among results, researchers found that text messages significantly increased adherence to the ART regimen.

Photo: Installing Breakers, Zimbabwe; Credit: James Roditi


The power grid is one of humanity's most significant engineering undertakings, and it is essential in developed and developing nations alike. Currently, transparency into the power grid relies on utility companies and more fine-grained insight is provided by costly smart meter the University of Michigan and UC Berkeley, GridWatch provides an inexpensive and crowd-sourced manner for learning about power grid status independent of utility companies.

Since the early 1970s tens of millions of shallow tube wells have been installed in Bangladesh and India, resulting in a vast yet silent disaster: these wells draw from arsenic-contaminated aquifers. Recent studies report that up to 20% of all adult deaths in Bangladesh are now arsenic-related. Berkeley researchers have developed a technology, ElectroChemical Arsenic Remediation (ECAR), that robustly, reliably, and affordably produces arsenic-safe water within a sustainable and scalable business model. ECAR uses an innovative method: a small electric charge creates rust particles from ordinary steel plates which bind to arsenic, allowing for effective filtration. The technology is designed to be robust and low-maintenance enough to work in deep rural areas with almost no tech backup or support.


Built on the world’s most widely deployed standard, GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), GSM White Spaces enables new secondary networks to dynamically share spectrum with primary licensed mobile carriers. In doing so, GSM White Spaces enables organizations to provide mobile service to remote areas, facilitates competition, and increase affordability for people in under-served regions.