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 there are many ingenious products that can also help make their day-to-day lives easier.
Below, we show you six of the most incredible inventions and how they help rural communities achieve a higher quality of life.
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).
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.
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 a 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, consumes energy and puts families who cook over open fires at risk of contracting indoor air pollution-related diseases. With the Wonderbag, women can save up to 1,465 hours of cooking that they can use 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.
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,” 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 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.
So, there you have it, six inventions that can help rural communities grow. Maybe you can surprise your loved ones, or a community of your choosing, with one of these products soon.