When it comes to helping friends and family living in rural communities, sending money is one’s first instinct. Remittances can help boost education and improve healthcare coverage, benefitting one’s loved ones in the long run. But, apart from money, are there any other solutions to poverty? Yes! A short answer would be innovation. There are many ingenious products that can help make their day-to-day lives easier.
Below, we show you some of the most incredible inventions and how they help communities achieve a higher quality of life. From vitamin-rich sweet potatoes and expandable shoes to repellents and laptops, there are many innovative poverty solutions available.
Let’s take a look.
Vitamin-rich sweet potatoes
Vitamin A deficiency has proven to be a major challenge in Uganda, with 38% of children between 6 to 59 months and 36% of women ages 15 to 49 suffering from it. This means a higher rate of blindness, stunts in growth, as well as maternal and infant mortality.
To tackle this issue, a new kind of potato was invented and disseminated across the country with the support of USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), as per the Sweet Potato Knowledge Portal.
The orange-fleshed sweet potato, yielded from cross-breeding different local potatoes, has a child-friendly taste and high levels of beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A. Consuming as little as 125 grams of the tuber is enough for a preschooler to reach his or her recommended daily vitamin A intake.
Lucky Iron Fish
Iron deficiency is a common problem around the world, but many can’t afford the stream of supplements needed to remedy it. Lucky Iron Fish comes as one of the great inventions to help alleviate poverty, since it has created exactly what its name indicates: an iron fish that releases enough iron to support a whole family for five years.
To kick anemia to the curb, all families need to do is drop the fish into boiling water or liquid-based meals for 10 minutes to give food 6-8mg of absorbable iron. Each time a lucky fish is purchased, a portion of the proceeds go to providing disadvantaged communities with one of their own.
As is the case of iron, iodine is an essential mineral. In certain parts of India, women are not as trusting of foreign medication. Unfortunately, that often translates to an iodine deficiency, which has been linked to an increase in fibrocystic breast disease and pregnancy complications.
To combat this issue, Talwar Bindi and the Neelvasant Medical Foundation and Research Center merged science with fashion and created a powerful invention: the life-saving dot called the Jeevan Bindi. This iodine-releasing patch is meant to be worn just like the traditional bindi, a decorative dot worn by women across India as a symbol of beauty. This way, women can receive their daily iodine dose without having to ingest any medication.
The water crisis still affects 2.1 billion people around the world and takes the lives of 1,000 children every day. And while a permanent solution has yet to find its way to many rural communities, innovative ideas like the Hippo Roller are making life easier and more sustainable for those in need.
Traditionally, people living in rural communities will transport water by carrying 20-litre buckets over their heads from the source to their home. This device, consisting of a plastic barrel and a metal handle, helps people carry 90L of water without having to suffer the weight. Instead, the barrel is rolled through the ground until reaching its final destination.
The passage of time is very evident for parents with young children. Kids truly grow too fast. Unfortunately, that means their shoes have to be switched out constantly, representing a huge and constant expense for families living in poverty.
As an innovative poverty solution, the Because Community launched “The Shoe that Grows,” an adaptable shoe that grows up to five sizes. It helps children protect their feet from many soil-transmitted diseases as well as from cuts and burns. They are also inexpensive, with prices oscillating between $15 and $20.
Energy-saving slow cooker
Cooking takes time and consumes energy. But beyond that, families who cook over open fires, which is often the case in rural villages, are at risk of contracting indoor air pollution-related diseases. Along comes a clever solution: the Wonderbag, which allows women to save up to 1,465 hours of cooking a year that they can used for working or going to school instead.
At the same time, the Wonderbag reduces energy spending, which is good for the environment and the family’s budget. How’s that for technology helping to fight poverty?
But how does it work? Food is brought to a boil by normal means, such as a pot on a stove-top. Then, once it’s boiling, the pot is removed and placed inside the Wonderbag. After sealing properly, the bag will ensure the heat is retained and continues to slow cook the meal. Even twelve hours later the food is still warm and ready to be enjoyed.
Nearsightedness is easy to counteract when we have access to glasses or contact lenses. But what happens to those who don’t live in privileged areas where they can easily purchase these items? They become a luxury.
This is the case for some 60 million children around the world who suffer from myopia and can’t focus in school. A lot of times, those who live in rural areas are not even aware that they have a visual impairment.
To remedy the situation, the Centre for Vision in the Developing World released “Child Vision,” a remarkable invention: self-adjustable glasses with fluid-filled lenses that can help children ages 12-18 see better without needing to see an optometrist. They are durable, practical and affordable.
At present, 1 in 6 people have no access to electricity. At the same time, many of those who do live in areas prone to natural disasters that could interrupt the service of electricity for extensive periods.
To keep households illuminated during outages and in rural areas, SALt (Sustainable Alternative Lighting) has developed a solution: salt-powered lanterns that work using metal-air battery technology. All it needs is saltwater as a medium to generate electricity. It’s safe to use, doesn’t harm the environment and can be used eight hours a day for five to six months before needing to replace the anode rod.
A reusable incubator
According to Embrace Global, one million babies die within 24 hours of birth each year. Most of the time, the culprit is hypothermia. In the developing world, not all women have access to proper natal care, resulting in pregnancy complications and premature births. Babies come into this world weighing less than they need and into hospitals with limited resources to treat prematurity.
The Embrace Warmer comes as a game-changing invention: it is a reusable and cost-effective incubator that doesn’t require electricity to function. It is designed specifically for hypothermic infants to keep them warm until they reach the necessary weight.
Smart, eco-friendly repellents
As the news confirms every day, mosquito-borne diseases are deadly. Malaria, in particular, remains the primary killer, with the World Health Organization reporting 219 million cases in 87 countries in 2018 alone. For pregnant women and children below the age of five, the risk is even higher. A solution is desperately needed.
Kite Products is on a mission to eradicate Malaria and other diseases carried by mosquitoes, such as dengue fever and chikungunya, through their line of repellants. The products are fueled by entomology, which refers to the scientific study of insects, and are pesticide-free. Through manipulating the smell neurons in biting insects, humans can become invisible to them. And, what’s more, five bottles are sent to rural communities in Africa for every 20 bottles of Kite Product purchased.
Laptops for everyone
Laptops are expensive, but access to technology is necessary to help fight poverty and to empower children throughout the world. To provide kids with the essentials for dynamic learning, One Laptop Per Child created low-cost and low-power laptops. This way, students are not only more engaged with their education, but also connected to the global community.
The non-profit organization focuses on early education and ensures laptops can sustain tough conditions. At the same time, laptops are gifted directly to the student and are rolled out to entire classrooms or schools to make sure nobody feels left behind.
All of these products can be extremely useful for anyone, so why not surprise your loved ones with one of them? Many providers also have options to donate these products to communities of your choosing. Another great idea if you’re feeling generous!