Information and news about innovations

Build Back Better World Initiative
Congress has been negotiating the size and scope of a domestic infrastructure bill for most of Joe Biden’s presidency. Still, action is necessary to further infrastructure abroad. The U.S. and its allies in the G7 recognize this need and have launched the Build Back Better World Initiative (B3W) to address global infrastructure challenges. A closer look at the initiative provides insight into the state of infrastructure in low and middle-income countries around the world.

The Infrastructure Gap

Infrastructure connects people and goods, which allows economies to scale and grow. Forming highways, ports, bridges, railways, pipelines, sewage systems and more, infrastructure projects are vital for transport, communication, energy and health. Infrastructure projects are the foundation of economic development and are vital to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including universal access to water and electricity. 

Infrastructure projects are also important for developing nations because the projects can be a major source of employment, spurring economic growth and allowing workers to gain new skills. The White House currently estimates that the infrastructure needed in low and middle-income countries globally totals more than $40 trillion.

Infrastructure gaps are significant because the gaps hinder economic growth. According to World Bank research, “Every 10% increase in infrastructure provision increases [economic] output by approximately 1% in the long term.” In other words, spending on infrastructure grows an economy. Further, as environmental challenges continue to threaten nations around the world, the World Bank says that even small investments in climate-resilient infrastructure can save trillions of dollars in recovery efforts.

The Build Back Better World Initiative

Partnering with G7 nations, the U.S. launched the B3W to alleviate some of the problems associated with infrastructure gaps. The White House will look toward not only its allies but the private sector for hundreds of billions of dollars in funding for infrastructure investment. The administration says that it will leverage partnerships with the private sector because “status quo funding and financing approaches are inadequate” to meet the size of these challenges. 

The focus for projects is four distinct areas, including climate, health, digital technology and gender equity. The aim is to reach all around the world with different partners, but, USAID and other U.S. development groups will take leading roles. However, there is still an understanding that local needs will be a priority, as “infrastructure that is developed in partnership with those whom it benefits will last longer and generate more development impact.” 

The Biden administration has stressed the importance of good governance in foreign assistance and has already noted the importance of using B3W as a way to encourage full transparency with monitoring tools, common contracts and metrics for evaluation.

The Build Back Better World Initiative and US Interest

Foreign assistance supports U.S. strategic interests, which is why Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics Daleep Singh has indicated support for the initiative. In recent years, especially when the U.S. has taken a step back from foreign affairs, China has accelerated spending on global infrastructure with the Belt and Road Initiative. 

However, Singh indicates that the point of the initiative is not to inflame hostilities or work as an anti-China group but rather to provide an alternative to Belt and Road financing. The goal is to “rally countries around a positive agenda that projects our shared values.” B3W supports U.S. interests by providing an alternative and showing that the U.S. is once again ready and willing to be a good partner for the world.

With Congress working on a domestic infrastructure package, it is important to not lose sight of the critical need for sustained and significant investment in infrastructure around the world. Infrastructure projects connect the world, making it safer and healthier. Funding infrastructure around the world as part of the Build Back Better World Initiative aligns with U.S. strategic interests. Hopefully, this initiative will encourage bridging gaps and becoming a more connected world.

– Alex Muckenfuss
Photo: Flickr

Innovations to fight COVID-19The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll on global economic, social and healthcare systems. Developing countries have seen an even more destructive impact. As wealthier countries relied on better-funded healthcare systems and vast resources to overcome the pandemic, the developing world was largely left to fend for itself. However, entrepreneurial technological innovations to fight COVID-19 have given hope to those less fortunate to persist through the pandemic.

JAMVENT: An Open-Source Ventilator

Ventilators serve as a last resort for those suffering from extreme cases of COVID-19. However, many countries, developing and developed alike, find themselves with a shortage of these expensive and complex machines. India, Brazil, the U.S. and Spain have all experienced scarcity throughout the pandemic.

Luckily, a team from Imperial College London has developed JAMVENT, a low-cost and open-source ventilator. This ventilator does not require specialty parts, a significant barrier to ventilator production. While ventilators currently cost $35,000, the production cost of JAMVENT is only $2,000. Furthermore, JAMVENT’s open-sourced blueprints could allow countries to manufacture reliable ventilators for a fraction of the current cost. JAMVENT is still in the regulatory process in the United Kingdom, but the blueprint is already available for countries to use.

Intelehealth: Providing Digital Health Care

Many communities globally suffer from isolation: a lack of roads or rail transportation can hinder the flow of goods and people to and from a town. Isolation from medical services can prove particularly detrimental, especially when faced with a contagious pandemic. Access to medical professionals, even virtually, increases survival rates. As a result, many innovations to fight COVID-19 focus on connecting those who are isolated to medical professionals.

Intelehealth, an open-source digital platform for connecting patients and doctors, has partnered with the NGO Aaroogya Foundation to create a platform to enhance access to healthcare in isolated Indian communities. So far, it has provided pandemic prevention education to 43,551 people across 22 regions in India, with another 10,088 teleconsultations and 8,396 frontline workers given training.

A Smart Hand Sanitizing Device

Temperature checks have become quite common in the United States, with many restaurants, supermarkets and shops requiring these checks. However, some territories around the world have trouble accessing these technologies due to trade restrictions or isolation. These barriers make developing innovations to fight COVID-19 difficult. However, in the Gaza Strip, entrepreneur Heba al-Hindi designed a smart hand sanitizing machine that automatically takes the user’s temperature and opens the door.

Along with preventing the spread of COVID-19 in businesses, this device has overcome some of the difficulties isolated communities face. The parts for the machine come from scrapyards across the Gaza Strip. Heba al-Hindi aims to bring awareness to this “Made in Gaza” brand to support local industry, providing an economic stimulus to a region in need.

A Clear Mask for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People

While mask-wearing has undoubtedly saved many lives, for some, it presents a problem. Deaf people who partly rely on mouth movements to interpret speech have encountered many difficulties in communication since the pandemic began. However, Faizah Badaruddin, a 51-year-old deaf tailor in Indonesia, developed a clear mask to address this communication barrier while wearing a mask.

“Since the pandemic started, everyone is wearing face masks. For deaf people, we can’t understand what others are saying because we can’t read their lips,” states Badaruddin in an interview with the Straits Times. Each day, Badaruddin and her husband make more than a dozen masks. These masks cost around $1 and allow families to accommodate their deaf friends and loved ones. For a developing country like Indonesia, keeping prices low and helping the deaf community both come as a priority, and, Badaruddin has seemingly struck a balance.

COVID-19 Vaccines

Many of the new COVID-19 vaccines use mRNA technology, a groundbreaking technology that could revolutionize vaccine production for many diseases. With these vaccines, the world is now equipped with the necessary innovations to fight COVID-19. While these technological innovations have helped contain the spread of COVID-19 and empower individuals, only a vaccine distributed to all countries will end the pandemic. However, distribution has remained unequal, with upper-income countries buying 54% of doses while only making up 19% of the population.

Luckily, the COVAX program by the World Bank and bilateral donations have helped many developing countries kick-start vaccination campaigns, with significant successes in countries such as Bhutan, El Salvador and Mongolia. The developed world should support these campaigns with more vaccine donations and greater freedom in accessing vaccine patents. Moving forward, collaboration and cooperation will accelerate the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic on a global scale.

– Justin Morgan
Photo: Flickr

Increase Access to clean waterAccess to clean water is a basic human right, but as of 2017, 884 million people do not have access to safe drinking water and more than two billion people do not have access to fundamental sanitation facilities. These issues have become more pressing as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed many into poverty and increased the world’s need for adequate sanitation to prevent the spread of th virus. The sixth Sustainable Development Goal is to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” by 2030. Organizations are working together in a greater effort to increase access to clean water.

7 Innovations for Water Access

  1. Majik Water. Founded by Beth Koigi, Anastasia Kaschenko and Clare Sewell, Majik Water is a Kenyan company that engineers solar-powered filters capable of harvesting drinking water from the air. Koigi was the victim of water scarcity while at university and sought to create a device that would reduce water scarcity in Kenya and beyond. The device has the potential to provide water to the 1.8 billion people globally who may be without reliable access to water by 2025.
  2. Gravity Water. A majority of the people in the world who do not have access to clean drinking water live in tropical and subtropical areas where fresh water is plentiful. Gravity Water wanted to create a system that would allow people in these areas to take advantage of the water they have access to but are unable to drink because of pollution and contamination. “Through harvesting rainwater and storing it above ground, Gravity Water systems provide pressure for filtration without the dependency of electricity, which is commonly lacking in rural areas.”
  3. Ashok Gadgil and Vikas Garud. While UV water filtration is a proven way to purify water, these systems are expensive due to the materials needed to build them. Ashok Gadgil and Vikas Garud have developed a modified version of these devices. UV lamps placed above water tanks filter the water and then use gravity to separate the drinkable water from residue inside. The device is smaller than traditional underwater UV devices and is able to disinfect 1,000 liters of water an hour.
  4. Guihua Yu (University of Texas). Guihua Yu and his team of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin created a device that can be used in disaster situations and areas without access to clean water. The device uses water-absorbent hydrogels that release water when heated and work in both humid and dry climates. The water comes from the air, and when the hydrogels are exposed to sunlight, the water is released. The device also runs on solar energy, making it affordable and sustainable.
  5. Innovative Water Technologies (IWT). Jack E. Barker founded Innovative Water Technologies (IWT) to develop global water treatment facilities to be used in humanitarian and disaster relief efforts. These solar and wind-powered water filtration systems can process 5,000-250,000 gallons of water a day. IWT has four different products, all of which bring clean water to those in need,
  6. Dar Si Hmad. Dar Si Hmad is a female-run nonprofit organization based in Morocco. Its water project makes use of fog collectors, also known as the “cloud fishing” technique. A fine mesh gathers droplets of water in areas with thick fog such as Southwest Morocco. Once enough water is gathered, the water falls into a basin and is filtered using solar-powered filters. The water is then piped to 140 nearby households. The fog-catching system is able to provide 6,000 liters of water daily.
  7. The Drinkable Book. WATERisLIFE and Dr. Teri Dankovich developed the Drinkable Book to provide easy water filtration options to those in need. One page from the perforated book can filter 100 liters of water. One book can secure a person’s drinking water needs for up to four years. The pages are made up of cellulose and silver nanoparticles that can filter out “99.99% of the bacteria found in cholera, E. coli and typhoid.”

Access to Clean Water

The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the need for universal water access, showing the broader impacts of lacking water access during times of crisis. Since poverty and water access are linked, innovations that increase access to clean water contribute to reducing global poverty.

– Harriet Sinclair
Photo: Flickr

Global poverty and social innovationAlthough the world was inching closer to eliminating global poverty prior to COVID-19, the pandemic’s lasting negative impacts exacerbated global poverty conditions all over the globe. COVID-19 was expected to push up to 115 million more people into extreme poverty in 2020, adding up to about 150 million by the end of 2021. However, there is hope for the resolution of global issues with the intersection of global poverty and social innovation. Stat Zero Ventures brings this intersection to life.

Stat Zero Ventures

With the prominent negative impacts of COVID-19 on poverty, the economy and ways of life, it is more important than ever to address the impoverished conditions that affect millions around the world. Combining entrepreneurship with issues of global poverty and social innovation, Marquis Cabrera, a leader in social innovation, launched a movement to accelerate progress toward poverty eradication.

Stat Zero Ventures uses innovative methods, including technology and venture capital, to aim for a world without poverty, pollution and diseases. Providing feasible solutions, the organization sponsors specific projects to accelerate these social goals. “Stat Zero Ventures invents, builds and invests in tech-enabled impact ventures” with the support of investors, international government agencies, celebrity offices and Fortune 100 companies.

Addressing Global Issues

Based in California, Stat Zero runs by the motto that “zero is the greatest number.” In other words, the company’s mission is to achieve a world with zero poverty, zero diseases and zero pollution. Through partnerships with a variety of organizations, Stat Zero supports impact ventures with diverse social, economic and environmental purposes.

At the intersection of global poverty and social innovation, Stat Zero unites governments with impact investors and social entrepreneurs who come together to solve pressing issues around the globe. Global issues of interest range from poverty alleviation to sustainability, with main focuses on “healthcare, energy, climate and sustainability, education, national infrastructure and social programs.” Thus far, Stat Zero has recycled more than 40 tons of plastic for carbon reduction and has given more than 100,000 people access to “digital medicine and finance” in the United States, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

Extended Reach

Additionally, the organization has extended its reach to include the goals of zero illiteracy and zero inequality. When choosing to invest in a social venture, Stat Zero ventures looks at the financials of the partnering company, assessing potential risks, the feasibility of the intended solution and whether the venture aligns with the “zero” mission.

Stat Zero provides industry experience to government authorities in China, Switzerland, Canada and Mexico. This expertise guides advice on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG), investing in best practice strategies to rebuild local economies in these countries.

Technological Innovation and Global Poverty

Uniting challenges of global poverty and social innovation advances the ability to address issues of poverty, social equality and sustainability through creative outlets. Stat Zero forges strong technological partnerships with investment firms that allow for innovation of ideas that limit waste, build wealth and advance healthcare and educational access to those in poverty.

Advanced technology has the power to change the world, as seen over the last century of industrialization. Through greater access to information and resources as well as innovative, creative ideas, solutions are forged. With operations such as Stat Zero, partnerships have the ability to use advancements to achieve desirable social outcomes such as eradicating global poverty or increasing overall sustainability practices.

-Kylie Lally
Photo: Unsplash

Zero-Waste SolutionsThai researcher Sorawut Kittibanthorn is looking into how to transform the nutrient component found in chicken feathers into a powder that can be turned into a protein-rich source of edible food that can be used in a variety of dishes. Prototypes including his version of chicken nuggets and a steak substitute have received some positive feedback. Kittibanthorn feels chicken feathers have the potential of becoming an alternative food substitute that can reduce poverty and food insecurity. Kittibanthorn and others are determined to promote zero-waste solutions in an effort to reduce global waste and promote sustainability while addressing global poverty and hunger.

Chicken Feather Waste

The poultry market is a booming industry. Chickens are one of the most commonly consumed meat products in the world and poultry is a cultural and economic staple in many countries. The bird feathers, however, produce mass waste. In the U.K. alone, chicken farms discard around 1,000 tons of feathers per week. Few companies have taken notice of the potential behind these unwanted goods. Feathers have a high source of keratin protein, making the feathers ideal sources of insulation, plastic or animal feed. The findings of Kittibanthorn are unique and shift the conversation toward a multi-pronged solution in combating global hunger using creative solutions.

On top of reducing waste, Kittibanthorn maintains the idea that chicken feathers can be repurposed for elegant, elevated dining. The destigmatization of food waste is not completely unprecedented in the culinary world. Michelin star chef, Massimo Bottura, utilized a trash-to-table dining model in 2018 by recovering surplus ingredients to make nutritious and delicious meals for a community. Food waste is a largely uncomfortable issue around the world and the U.S. alone generates 40 million tons per year. By utilizing solutions similar to Kittibanthorn and Bottura, many countries could work toward resolving the issue of world hunger through zero-waste solutions.

A Zero-Waste Future

Utilizing chicken feathers as a zero-waste solution to combat poverty would fall in line with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, which include seeking to end hunger and improve nutrition. In the context of agricultural initiatives, chicken feathers open the conversation on the collaboration between innovations like feather-based foods and organizations that promote crop diversity.

The Borgen Project spoke with Rodrigo Barrios, strategic partnerships manager at the nonprofit organization, the Crop Trust. Barrios explains how crop diversity includes two elements of action: use and conservation. Barrios told The Borgen Project about the organization’s program called The Food Forever Initiative. The Food Forever Initiative seeks to enlighten the community with crop usability by connecting chefs to less popular crops and giving chefs the agency to promote agrobiodiversity. Barrios says that promoting crop diversity would also help reduce poverty. In a similar fashion, Barrios states “we identify all biodiversity, internationally, that is fundamental for food security and nutrition and agriculture and we ensure that the gene banks are funded in perpetuity, provided they are up to standard.” The Crop Trust’s goals align with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. The organization seeks to build more funding to support long-term conservation initiatives as zero-waste solutions.

The Road Ahead

The practice of repurposing materials that are typically disposed of, such as chicken feathers, has great potential to reduce poverty and push for more sustainable market practices including zero-waste solutions. Trends and practices related to repurposing materials would promote ethical decisions in the private sector, help communities with nutrition security and connect agronomics to crop supporting initiatives.

Danielle Han
Photo: Flickr

Adjuvant CapitalGlenn Rockman and Jenny Yip are the leaders of Adjuvant Capital, an investment firm focused on public health. In February 2021, the firm announced a $300 million venture capital fund. The reason for raising this large amount is because the world is in great need of medical technologies and supplies and Adjuvant Capital wants to ensure those resources are accessible. The fund specifically works toward underprivileged and developing countries to ensure that those who would not otherwise have access to certain medical advances are getting the care they need. Multiple investors have pledged money to this fund, including the Gates Foundation, pledging $75 million to the venture capital fund.

The Venture Capital Industry

The venture capital industry has long since been overlooking new technologies in the medical field but Adjuvant Capital looks to change this in order to get the necessary medical resources to the people that need them. By investing in various companies, increased production will arise for new medical technologies that can help prevent or manage medical issues, from rare diseases to global pandemics. Many of the Adjuvant Capital investors are also contributing scientific advice and research as well as financial aid in order to cultivate the growth of wide-reaching medical resources.

Adjuvant Capital

The co-founders of Adjuvant Capital, Kabeer Aziz and Charlie Petty, have been global health investors in the past. Partners Rockman and Yip also have investment backgrounds, with Rockman being a former member of the Global Health Investment Fund. It is clear to see that these backgrounds have had a lot of influence over the firm’s current venture fund and can be seen further as Yip used to be a part of the Gate’s Foundation’s strategic investments group. The Gate’s Foundation is responsible for about 25% of the venture capital fund.

Although based in the United States, Adjuvant Capital commits to the most promising technologies globally, with investments in NigeriaBangladesh and China, among others. Recent financings include Beijing-based Yisheng Biopharma, which looks to resolve critical supply issues in the rabies vaccine market.

Medical innovations have been overlooked by investors for a long time, which is why this venture capital fund exists. Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is quoted saying “there is an important role for investment capital to play in stimulating innovation and making markets work for the poor so that everyone has the chance to live a healthy, productive life.”

The investment into these innovations will not only help the underprivileged but it will create an effect that reaches everyone and promotes public health as well as growth. Among others, investors in the fund also include the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The Road Ahead

Adjuvant Capital’s investment fund could possibly produce life-changing healthcare solutions that have the potential to create significant global social impact. Adjuvant Capital is committed to ensure global access to healthcare and health equity worldwide. The ultimate goal is to bring quality healthcare to all by creating affordable, effective solutions that everyone has access to, regardless of income, region or socioeconomic status.

Grace Aprahamian
Photo: Flickr

Education in The Sundarbans
The Sundarbans mangrove forest, one of the largest such forests in the world, lies on the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers on the Bay of Bengal. Being the largest river delta in the world, the Sundarbans is an archipelago of islands located in the Bay of Bengal and divided between India and Bangladesh. It is home to roughly 4.5 million people that are affected by storms, cyclones and other environmental disasters. In 2011, the literacy rate of the people in the Sundarbans was 25.71% compared to West Bengal’s 76.26%. Several organizations are dedicating themselves to innovative efforts to improving education in the Sundarbans.

Keeping Children in School

The Sundarbans islanders are dependent on fishing, agriculture and the cottage industry for their income. The location of the islands, their dwindling mangrove population, breached shoreline and similarly breached tiger territories have pushed children out of school. The unique climatic and environmental situation on the islands has made innovation key in improving education in the Sundarbans. Fortunately, many organizations have found ways to bring the school closer and made it more appealing to stay in school.

School in The Cloud

The ‘School in The Cloud’ is an independent learning lab that uses solar power. The school uses a 40-foot bamboo tower receiver for its internet connectivity in the Sundarbans. It is the brainchild of Dr. Sugata Mitra of Newcastle University. He wanted to integrate Self Organized Learning Environment (SOLE) in order to improve education in the Sundarbans. Leadership specifically designed these learning hubs for children who are below the poverty line and thus lack access to unrestrained holistic education. The school focuses on the reading, speaking and comprehension skills of the children. This innovative institution receives funding from the TED prize money worth $1 million that Professor Mitra received.

Sabuj Sangha & Kishalay

Biplab Das, a Sundarbans native with an MBA, founded the Kishalay Foundation. The Kishalay Foundation focuses on the improvement of education for the Sundarbans’ underprivileged children. The foundation is affiliated with the government of West Bengal and serves as a learning hub for children at various levels of their education.

Sabuj Sangha works with Kishalay in its mission to retain children who have dropped out of school. Its innovative “preparatory centers” are key in rehabilitating children back into formal education. It accomplishes this by educating children informally for a year to help aid their transition. So far, the centers have successfully rehabilitated 700 children into formal education with the help of unemployed graduate teachers. The support of many donors, including the Tata group and Pepe Jeans, sustains this multi-faceted effort. The Smile Foundation is also affiliated to amplify the efforts of Sabuj Sangha and Kishalay in improving education in the Sundarbans.

The Sundarbans, through the work of its islanders and supporting organizations, can become a resourceful community for children to grow. Developing communities such as the islands of Sundarbans benefit from continued initiatives and foundational innovations. Moving forward, the work of nonprofits and educational leaders will drive community-informed and community-focused holistic development in the Sundarbans.

– Anuja Mukherjee
Photo: Flickr

traditionally excludedOne of the gravest mistakes made when discussing development initiatives is presuming to know what communities’ most relevant problems are without involving those experiencing them. The members of traditionally excluded communities have the necessary knowledge to not only identify the best solutions to the challenges they face but to articulate and call attention to these challenges in the first place. Including traditionally excluded communities in the innovation process is a key ingredient in tackling some of the biggest development challenges of today. IDB Lab is an innovation lab born out of the Inter-American Development Bank Group that aims to do just this, promoting solutions that have been developed with and for excluded communities.

Incubating Innovation

IDB Lab mobilizes financing, knowledge and connections to support creators of inclusive solutions geared to improve lives in Latin America and the Caribbean. These innovative projects target people who are usually excluded from traditional markets. The projects also target populations made vulnerable by economic, social or environmental factors. Such people often do not get to participate in the decision-making process that influences public and private services designed in their favor. IDB Lab prioritizes the involvement of beneficiaries to ensure that relevant solutions are proposed and implemented.

Since 1993, IDB Lab has deployed more than 2,300 operations across 26 Latin American and Caribbean countries, amounting to more than $2 billion put toward development projects. These have included 161 loans, 144 equity investments and more than 2,000 technical cooperation projects. The creative thinkers who champion these ideas come from universities, non-governmental organizations, private firms, and importantly, excluded populations.

The Process

IDB Lab relies on crowdsourcing so that excluded individuals can voice their challenges as well as their preference and knowledge of solutions. Crowdsourcing is essentially gathering and applying the wisdom of a group, a practice that has become increasingly popular and feasible with the emergence of smartphones and social media.

Crowdsourcing fills knowledge gaps and the people in need of the solutions are engaged in it. IDB Lab follows a seven-step process when crowdsourcing data.

7-Step Crowdsourcing Process

  1. Excluded individuals voice their challenges
  2. The group of excluded individuals ranks these challenges
  3. Creative thinkers supply innovative ideas as solutions
  4. These ideas compete with one another and become solutions
  5. IDB Lab and partners fund the winning solutions
  6. Impactful innovations are generated
  7. The innovations developed ideally solve the problems

Informed Decisions, Effective Solutions

IDB Lab favors interdisciplinary collaboration as opposed to a single-sector approach, recognizing the complexities and varying perspectives present among the challenges faced by traditionally excluded communities. Technology facilitates inclusive communication, thus, the group has a strong tech basis. These technologies also ensure democratic and demand-driven development. Technology also offers efficient tools to tackle international development in inventive ways.

Successful social innovation requires sourcing and employing the knowledge of traditionally excluded populations. The more accurate the understanding of a community’s hardships, the more effective the proposed solutions are going to be. IDB Lab recognizes this. IDB Lab finds those who are experiencing hardship and offers them a voice. Crowdsourcing techniques enable IDB Lab to identify and support the development initiatives that are most relevant, inclusive and impactful.

Margot Seidel
Photo: Flickr

Help People in PovertyMore than 700 million people globally are living in extreme poverty. Through the use of creativity and innovation, individuals and organizations have come up with inventions to help people in poverty improve their living conditions.

The SOCCKET Ball

In 2019, 770 million people globally did not have access to electricity and most of these people reside in Africa. In 2010, four Harvard undergraduates developed the SOCCKET ball so that impoverished people could have an alternative light source in their homes. The kinetic energy stored in the durable soccer ball is generated through kicking. The ball can then be used to power an LED lamp. During the day, children can kick the soccer ball around for fun. At night, it can then be used as a power source. With 30 minutes of movement, the ball can power an LED lamp for three hours.

The SOCCKET ball requires further revision and development because people have reported durability issues. However, the concept can inspire other innovative energy inventions.

The Wonderbag

Open fire cooking contributes to respiratory diseases and greatly impacts the health of people. Unfortunately, more than three billion people around the world do not have another means of cooking. Open fire cooking also means that girls and women lose a significant amount of time and labor that could be better used for educational and developmental endeavors.

The Wonderbag is a non-electric slow cooker created to help eliminate the need to cook over fires. After bringing a pot of food to the boil and placing it in the insulated Wonderbag, the food will continue cooking for up to 12 hours without additional heat. The Wonderbag has a range of positive benefits. It reduces indoor air pollution by 60% and saves 1,000 hours that would otherwise be lost in unpaid labor.

Evaptainers

Since many impoverished people do not have access to electricity, they usually also do not have refrigerators to store food optimally.

The Evaptainer is a portable refrigerator that can prolong the life of food in warmer climates. The eco-friendly container does not need electricity due to its innovative cooling technology. The Evaptainer can also store medicines like insulin.

Liter of Light

Liter of Light is a global, grassroots movement that uses inexpensive materials to provide solar lighting to impoverished people without access to electricity. It began in 2011 with the aim of providing low-income communities in the Philippines a source of light. Recycled plastic bottles filled with water and bleach are secured into the roof to provide lighting daytime. The bottle lights can be upgraded with micro-solar panels and LED bulbs for low-cost night lighting. Liter of Light has installed more than 350,000 bottle lights in more than 15 countries.

Although poverty continues to be a global issue, people around the world are creating new inventions to help people living in conditions of poverty. These small innovations are working to change the lives of millions, one invention at a time.

Camryn Anthony
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare Innovations in AfricaAfrica has struggled with healthcare for decades. Low life expectancy due to poor healthcare and high infant mortality rates are some of the healthcare issues that Africa still struggles with. Healthcare innovations in Africa are helping to improve the health and well-being of African people in several ways.

Medical Drones

Doctors in Rwanda are able to order blood or medical supplies via text message and have them delivered to remote areas via drones. The drones facilitate the timely availability of blood supply for medical use in hard to reach areas. Transfusions of blood are critical for situations involving significant blood loss due to hemorrhage during pregnancy or child delivery. Blood transfusions are also necessary for women with severe anemia. This innovation thus reduces maternal mortality rates in Africa.

Pelebox

Pelebox is a smart locker that dispenses medication for patients. When the patient’s medicine is ready for pickup, they receive a text with a code that opens the locker. Before Pelebox, patients would wait hours in line with other sick people to receive their medicine which would further spread diseases. The hope is that this innovation will also lighten the load for medical staff, allowing them more time to focus on critical needs.

KidzAlive Talk Tool App

The KidzAlive Talk Tool app uses games and animated videos to educate children in South Africa about HIV/AIDS and combat stigma at the same time. The stigma of HIV/AIDS prevents people from accessing treatment. The KidzAlive Talk Tool app seeks to end this stigma and educate children to prevent the spread.

Crib A’Glow

The Crib A’Glow is a portable, solar-powered crib that utilizes LED lights to treat jaundice in babies. Roughly 3.3 million babies in sub-Saharan Africa do not receive proper treatment for jaundice, which can lead to hearing loss, cerebral palsy, mental struggles and even death. A whole 600 babies with jaundice have already received treatment with Crib A’Glow.

With the onset of COVID-19, innovations emerged to address the issue of limited healthcare resources in Africa and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Tippy Tap

The Tippy Tap is a hands-free and water-efficient handwashing station. Making a Tippy Tap is low-cost as it requires only simple materials such as sticks, string, a container for water and soap. The Tippy Tap helps prevent the spread of diseases and is currently helping Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Respire-19 Portable Ventilator

This portable automatic ventilator was created by a Nigerian engineering student. Ventilators are essential to prevent respiratory-related deaths due to COVID-19. The Respire-19 portable ventilator is an easy way to help combat the shortage of ventilators in Africa.

3D Printed Face Masks

South African innovator, Natalie Raphil, is able to create 100 face masks a day from a 3D printer. These masks are then delivered to major South African hospitals to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Around half of all COVID-19 cases in Africa come from South Africa so face masks are especially essential for the region.

With the healthcare innovations in Africa, quality of life and life expectancy will improve. Especially during a global health pandemic, access to these healthcare innovations proves critical to protecting the health and well-being of people. Africa’s healthcare system can develop even further with the help of more healthcare innovations.

– Hannah Drzewiecki
Photo: Flickr