Diffusion of Innovation

Posted on November 28th, 2018

The Diffusion of Innovation theory aims to explain how, why and at what rate innovations spread through a population. First published in 1962 by Everett Rogers, it highlights key elements that influence the spread of a technology.


The Innovation

The technology itself, in this case, Interlocking Stabilised Soil Blocks (ISSB). Potential adopters will evaluate ISSB on its relative advantage, its compatibility with existing practices, its difficulty or complexity to adopt, its trialability and its observed effects.


ISSB, as an innovation, is very attractive to potential adopters based on the above criteria. In Uganda’s current environmental and social landscape, the need for a simple, cost-effective, environmentally friendly construction material is high.


In order for a potential adopter to consider a technology, first, they must be made aware of it.



Trainees build the tank

HYT’s train as you build model is incorporated into the innovation itself. Adding another dimension to the innovation that may attract potential adopters.






Communication Channels


Diffusion of innovation deals in the currency of information, how does information pass from person to person or organisation to organisation?


Explained verbally, HYT has met a certain resistance when describing blocks pressed from soil. People want their houses, schools and hospitals made of brick and mortar, not soil! It is only when they see an ISSB structure or feel a block that they understand that ISSB is far from a mud hut. Each ISSB structure acts as an advocate for the technology.





Social System

Refers to the external factors that may affect a potential adopters’ decision e.g. the media, government organisation or pressure from cultural norms.


HYT has historically worked with schools as there is an urgent need to increase Uganda’s educational capacity. The social system surrounding schools is complex. It involves teachers, parents, government and often NGO funders. Within the system, each group has opinions and different levels of influence in the decision to adopt or reject a technology.


Schools are often at the heart of a community: every parent is emotionally, sometimes financially, invested. Structures in schools are able to communicate the positive message of ISSB to entire communities.


The forementioned resistance to using soil in construction is a symptom of the cultural pressure to move away from mud huts towards brick and mortar. For 10 years, HYT has operated in this cultural system, our work speaks for itself and has left a wake of ISSB enthusiasts where sceptics once stood.





A partnership with the Belgian Development Agency has allowed HYT to work in refugee communities. Photographed here: ISSB roundhouse.



More recently, HYT has been exploring ISSB applications in refugee settlements. A complex system of government and non-government parties orchestrate development in refugee settlements. One of HYT’s objectives with our showcase project is to demonstrate the benefits of ISSB to these influential parties.



Mauricia Nambatya Speaks at the Ashden Awards

Mauricia Nambatya Speaks at the Ashden Awards



HYT’s success at the 2017 Ashden Awards gave HYT the platform to share ISSB technology with an international audience. The prestigious award has given the organisation a huge amount of credibility and lets larger NGO’s, government bodies and individuals know that HYT and ISSB are worth investing in.



Critical Mass



Everett borrowed the term critical mass from nuclear physics. In this context critical mass occurs when there is a sufficient number of adopters in a population that further adoption becomes self-sustaining. Helped by our progressive partners and generous donors, HYT continues to nudge ISSB technology along the adoption curve towards critical mass.



The diffusion of innovations curve, with successive groups of adopters shown by the coloured bell curve and the innovation’s market share shown on the yellow line. The point where market share transects the bell curve is known as Critical Mass. 








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Winners of the Ashden International Award for Sustainable Buildings 2017.

Watch our exciting video, or check out our work at hytuganda.com