The New York Times has an article on a show at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York which includes many items to show a grasp of the depths of world poverty and ingenious ways to attack it. such as the 20-gallon rolling drum for transporting water, above.
The OLPC is also there, as well as the design of other things.
I thing there are things people need that are essential — whether they be materially well off or not — and things they don’t need. I believe the exhibit focuses on the former. For example, as Nicholas Negroponte says, the point of OLPC is not the laptop, it is the focus on education that the OLPC enables. It is not that every child in the world should have a new thing.
That said, I think some of the design is….cool. Now if someone would design a half decent cart to help me get my groceries home without a car, I would be happy. But I digress.