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People Fixing the World


tories about clever or big new ideas to solve global problems – and probing if these solutions actually work. A podcast from the BBC World Hacks team.

tories about clever or big new ideas to solve global problems – and probing if these solutions actually work. A podcast from the BBC World Hacks team.
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tories about clever or big new ideas to solve global problems – and probing if these solutions actually work. A podcast from the BBC World Hacks team.




Running and Singing to Improve Maths and English

This week we go back to school, with two simple ideas that involve changing the day-to-day lives of pupils to improve their physical and mental wellbeing. The Daily Mile is an idea developed in a Scottish school by an enterprising teacher, which is now being adopted worldwide. It gets pupils to run a mile at a surprise moment during the school day, to break up their learning and burn some calories. Meanwhile, in Bradford, in the north of England, a previously failing school has found...


A Green Space Revolution in Paris

How do you create green spaces in the middle of a city, where there’s no space to create large-scale parks or gardens? Paris has come up with a clever solution – they allow anyone to apply for a permit to start a garden anywhere at all. A rich assortment of small projects has sprung up, ranging from plant pots around lamp posts, to rejuvenated church squares, to walls covered with ivy. It’s a piecemeal approach to making the city greener, but it’s one that seems to be working. This week on...


Scanning Homeless People To Make a Donation

Have you ever wanted to donate to a homeless person, but found yourself without any cash, or concerned about how they may spend the money? A potential solution is being proposed in Oxford, England, through a scheme issuing homeless people with barcodes which can be worn around the neck or printed on a sign. Members of the public can scan these barcodes on their smartphones and read the homeless person’s story, before deciding whether or not to donate. Any money pledged goes into a special...


Rewarding Green Travel in Bologna

In the northern Italian town of Bologna, a new public transport system is rewarding citizens for taking sustainable modes of transport. Each time locals walk or use the bus, train, car pooling or car sharing, they receive ‘mobility points’, which can be cashed in at cafes, cinemas, bars, bookshops and a number of other locations across the city. We explore the social and environmental benefits of taking Bologna’s residents out of their cars and onto the streets, moving about the city in a...


Cool Ways of Keeping Things Cool

A vast and expensive system with the sole purpose of keeping things cool exists across the developed world. This “cold chain” includes fridges in kitchens, refrigerated lorries and cold store warehouses for supermarket produce and medicines. It costs billions to run and has a big environmental cost. But in poorer countries, this cold chain is just in its infancy. People are dying as health clinics lack the fridges to keep vaccines safe. New cold chain technology is needed and two inventors...


Reviving Italy’s ‘Ghost Towns’

Across the Italian countryside, villages are becoming deserted as people migrate to towns and cities. A sustainable tourism model known as the ‘Albergo Diffuso’ is attempting to reverse this trend. Tourist services, restaurants and hotels are spread around the village to encourage visitors to eat and stay with different families, boosting the local economy. We travel to the town of Santo Stefano di Sessanio in the Abruzzo region to meet the local business owners, restaurateurs and hoteliers...


Why Millions Listen to This Girl

A nine-year-old child announcer has been recruited on the London Underground. The idea is that her voice will surprise passengers, so they listen to her safety message. It’s an example of nudge theory in action, the art of subtly persuading large numbers of people to change their behaviour, by adjusting their environment. People Fixing the World also visits a university campus, which is nudging its students with a subtle price change, encouraging them to use fewer disposable coffee cups....


Bonus Podcast: My Indian Life Preview

Introducing Kalki Presents: My Indian Life - our new podcast with Bollywood actor, Kalki Koechlin. This preview tells you all about it. It’s raw, it’s painful, it’s joyful. It’s real life in India in the 21st century. Episode 1 will be available from 4 August 2018.


Training India’s Fake Doctors

It’s thought that more than half the people claiming to be doctors in India have no medical qualifications. They are known as “quacks”, operating illegally, but often ignored by the authorities because of a shortage of qualified doctors. They regularly misdiagnose diseases and prescribe the wrong drugs, and some even perform surgeries in makeshift clinics. One prominent, qualified, doctor has started a controversial scheme, offering a quick crash course in medicine to thousands of his...


Stopping Wildfires in Their Tracks

Wildfires can have a devastating impact, destroying land, homes and lives. Scientists say that as the planet gets warmer, they are only going to start more often. World Hacks looks at three projects in Spain and North America that are trying to prevent forest fire destruction, by making the landscape itself more fire-resistant. Presenter: Harriet Noble Reporters: Ammar Ebrahim and Richard Kenny Photo Credit: Getty Images


Generating Power from the Roads

As scientists and companies work on cleaning up cars, there’s also a team developing new technology along a road in rural Georgia in the United States, with the aim of making a truly sustainable highway. The Ray, an 18-mile stretch of road near the Alabama border, is a “living laboratory” where eco-friendly projects are being tested. It’s got pollination gardens, a tyre-monitoring system to help reduce fuel consumption and solar panels embedded in a section of the road. A large solar...


Recycling to Turn Trash into Cash

Rubbish littering the streets is a problem all around the world but collecting it can also be a vital source of income. Two projects, thousands of miles apart, are trying to clean up the streets and make life better for rubbish collectors at the same time. In Nigeria, a start-up called Wecyclers is helping people profit from their waste, with the help of bicycles, tricycles and an incentives system. In Brazil, a phone app called Cataki is helping connect litter pickers and people with...


The Bricks Helping to Rebuild Gaza

The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely-populated tracts of land in the world. In addition to the ongoing violence there, it has an unemployment rate of more than 40 percent, and problems with access not only to clean water and electricity, but also basic construction supplies. The United Nations has described the situation there as “a constant humanitarian emergency”. Despite these challenges, a young Gazan engineer has developed a new and innovative way of making bricks, which she hopes...


Learning Lessons from the Longest Living Lands

Can adapting your lifestyle add 10 years to your lifespan? Dan Buettner, a journalist for National Geographic, has identified nine characteristics that he says can add more than a decade to life expectancy. His Blue Zones Project uses lessons learned from five areas of the world with the highest population over the age of 100. We visit Naples in Florida, which has been named the top state for wellbeing in the United States, to find out how altering daily habits has improved the health and...


Nigeria's Secret STI Test Kits

More than three million people in Nigeria are living with HIV, but only about 10% of the population has ever taken an HIV test. Talking about sex is a taboo subject and sexual health clinics are not popular places to be seen. Other sexually transmitted diseases, such as Hepatitis B and Syphilis, are on the rise among young people. But a Nigerian entrepreneur called Florida Uzoaru thinks she has a millennial-friendly solution to sexual health. Her start-up is giving people the option to...


Can a $1 million Prize Help Keep Women Safe?

In India, an estimated 79% of women have experienced sexual harassment in public, but it’s hoped that a $1 million competition will reduce that figure. We visit Mumbai for the grand final of the Women's Safety XPRIZE, where five teams compete to win $1 million for designing a wearable gadget that will secretly alert others in the event of an attack. We follow the competitors through a series of challenges as they try to prove their device is the best - from buses winding their way through...


The Street Where Houses Come Half-Built

Two thirds of the world’s population are expected to live in cities by 2050 according to the UN. But where will all these extra people actually live? Budgets to build new social housing are limited, so one architect has been working on a radical solution. To cut costs, Alejandro Aravena suggests providing people with only half a house that they complete at a later date with their own money. Several estates have already been built this way around the world. Tom Garmeson travelled to one in...


Fighting Food Waste

Food waste is a global problem. According to the UN, one third of the food that we produce is being thrown away. Two London-based technology start-ups aim to change that. Smartphone app Olio encourages people to share food they no longer want with their neighbours. Meanwhile, Winnow has developed a smart bin which allows chefs to record how much food they’re throwing away, so they can make their kitchens more efficient. Presenter: Dougal Shaw Reporter: Ammar Ebrahim Photo Caption: Food waste...


Clean Clothes and Glasses for the Poorest in Society

How do you improve the lives of the very poorest people? Sometimes it’s just a question of doing the simple things. In Greece, where an economic downturn has left thousands of people homeless on the streets, three friends have found a way to provide them with a basic need – clean clothes. They bought a van and fitted it with washing machines, so they can do the washing wherever it’s needed. In Malawi, the problem-solvers have turned their minds to another basic need – vision. They are...


Turning Subsistence Farming into an Investment Opportunity

How do you pull subsistence farmers in Africa out of the cycle of poverty? All you have to do is help them produce more food than they need to survive. But to do that you need money and a new company in Nigeria has designed a smart way to provide it. Farmcrowdy connects farmers with online urban micro-investors. The investors finance the production of chickens, vegetables or grain and receive a guaranteed financial return – and the farmer makes enough to start to grow their business....