Author: Ana Laura Rodrigues Santos, Jairo Da Costa Junior and Linda Wauben
This study is a follow-up of the study presented at the previous RSD symposium, where a systems approach was proposed to address complex problems in challenging societal contexts. This study focuses on an elective course called Product-Service Systems from the Industrial Design Engineering Master Programme provided by the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at Delft University of Technology (DUT) in collaboration with the Federal University of Paraná in Brazil and the innovation section of the international organization Medécins Sans Frontières in Sweden. Our aim is to describe advantages and challenges of the use of a systems design approach when addressing the need for affordable energy in low-income households in Brazil and the need in humanitarian aid of sterilization and of cold chain monitoring.
One particular challenge shared by humanitarian organizations and governments when providing services such as healthcare and energy to populations or local institutions with poor financial and infrastructural resources is the need for alternatives to traditional business. To succeed, these stakeholders need to adopt several unconventional tasks like product distribution and servicing which, in most cases, customers or end-users are not capable of affording . In resource-limited social contexts, the complexity and ambiguity between the interests within the network of stakeholders is higher than in traditional businesses  and the end user is mostly considered as a passive recipient, dependent on own coping mechanisms to benefit from the provided services.