Information and news about innovations

Innovation Africa
More than 600 million people in Africa live without access to electricity, and with no electricity, there is often no clean water. Innovation Africa is a nonprofit organization that brings clean water to rural Africa.

Innovation Africa is an Israeli company that Sivan Yaari founded in 2008. Since then it has been bringing solar energy to rural villages all across Africa. The problem that these rural villages face is the access to the technology that would allow them to use the sun’s energy. Innovation Africa is solving this problem by installing solar panels in these villages. The energy provided by Innovation Africa helps pump clean water and bring electricity to villages that were previously without it.

Helping the Local Community

When a rural African village has no access to energy, it means that they are unable to pump clean water into the village. Not having a clean water pump means that villagers have to find other ways of obtaining safe drinking water. Methods include walking miles to the nearest water source and building surface dams or catching rainwater, both of which are very unreliable. A clean water pump, however, is a reliable source of clean water.

When a village has access to energy, it begins to thrive. Not only does health improve with access to clean water, but the overall well-being of the village improves. Women and young girls are relieved of having to walk miles each day in search of water. This allows them more time to pursue other opportunities and allows young girls the time they need to attend school. With a reliable clean water source, a community will also begin to become more economically stable, which allows for brick-making and agricultural projects to increase.

Innovation Africa enlists the help of local villagers to drill wells and install solar panels. Each project hires 10 locals who are paid and trained. Once a well has been drilled and the project has been completed, these locals are given a certificate that allows them to assist in future projects and gives them other career opportunities. A village that was once struggling can now become economically independent with the help of Innovation Africa.

How it Works

The process of installing solar energy and water pumps involves eight steps and ensures that a community has a reliable source of clean water. The first step of the process is drilling the well. Innovation Africa drills up to 820 feet in order to reach the aquifer. Next, a water tower of roughly 30 feet is built. The water tower houses the pump and the water tank. Solar panels are installed on top of the tower, and a solar pump is installed inside. The solar panels harness the sun’s energy and power the water pump.

A water tank is then put on the top of the tower and holds up to 10,000 liters of clean water. The contractors dig trenches that expand in a 4-8 kilometer radius and bring the water to 10-15 taps placed around the village. Next, technology that monitors the water is installed. This Israeli technology can track how much water has been pumped, as well as any malfunctions that may occur. Finally, the locals can enjoy clean and fresh water right from their village.

Innovation Africa has started and completed more than 900 projects in Senegal, Cameroon, DRC, Zambia, South Africa, Eswatini, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia, helping more than 4 million people get access to clean water. Innovation Africa plans to continue providing rural villages with a clean and reliable water source. The organization is able to complete its work through donations on its website, where 100% of the proceeds go toward bringing clean water to rural Africa.

– Jack Wells
Photo: Flickr

Hidden hunger
Hunger is a prevalent issue throughout many developing countries. Numerous studies have shown that hunger can have detrimental impacts, including low health and high child mortality. One consequence of hidden hunger that is less explored is the decrease in productivity that results from a nutritional deficit. Whilst this effect may initially pale in comparison to other much worse consequences, the downsides to lower productivity are critical and can lead to a much larger, intergenerational cycle of poverty than previously assumed.

Studies have demonstrated that reduced calorie intake can lead to significant decreases in productivity, which can create an inescapable cycle. A randomized control trial conducted by economist Heather Schofield revealed that an additional 700 calories each day could lead to a 10% increase in income, due to the increased physical and cognitive productivity gained. So, how can lower productivity create a cycle of poverty?

Nutrition-Based Poverty Traps

A poverty trap is a non-linear relationship between one’s current and future income. There is a strong correlation between malnutrition and poverty, but it is heavily questioned whether this leads to the formation of a nutritional poverty trap.

Much research has been completed surrounding the potential existence of a nutrition-based poverty trap, and some deny its existence whilst others support the theory. Studies completed by economists Duflo and Banerji demonstrate the evident existence of poverty traps such as these, stating there may even be a clear link between income and future income of undernourished parents and children respectively, all because of a nutrient-deficient diet. This is because lower-earning parents tend to consume less nutrient-heavy food, which can lead to stunted development for a child, beginning as early as in utero, thus creating a brutal cycle. This micronutrient-deficient lifestyle can also be referred to as ‘hidden hunger.’

Hidden Hunger

Hidden hunger is when one’s diet is severely restricted, resulting in nutrient-poor food intake. Micronutrient deficiencies include those such as iron and zinc deficiency, which can result in poor body development and health.

Hidden hunger is reinforced in countries where there is heavy reliance on low-cost, low-nutrient foods, such as rice and wheat. This type of hunger is not so much to do with a lack of calories, but more a lack of nutrients, hence it is considered ‘hidden’ due to lack of an obvious problem. Crops such as these, whilst providing energy and sustenance, have a low amount of nutrients. Micronutrient intake for low-income groups is much lower than what would normally be required for a healthy diet, due to challenges of affordability and shocks to global food systems. The long-lasting effects of hidden hunger can be detrimental. There is a high cost to malnutrition; it is estimated that around 149 million children under the age of 5 are stunted, which is roughly 22%.

The Solutions to Hidden Hunger

There are no direct means of tackling hidden hunger; it is a complex issue that requires a multidimensional response in order to ensure that all those in poverty are able to access a nutrient-heavy, balanced diet. Past solutions range from cash and in-kind transfers to innovations designed to increase nutrient and mineral consumption.

While cash transfers can be successful in poverty alleviation, consumers do not always choose to purchase the most optimal foods for nutrient maximization. In-kind transfers would likely be more beneficial in a scenario such as this, due to certain innovations that can facilitate a nutrient and mineral-rich diet.

Innovative solutions to hidden hunger range from food engineering to create additional nutrients, to devices that aim to increase biofortification. Strengthening staple foods is a successful means of food fortification. A few examples of innovations and solutions that achieve this are as follows:

  • Lucky Iron Fish: A Lucky Iron Fish is a reusable and simple method of infusing food with additional iron. By adding an Iron Fish into boiling water for just 10 minutes, a food dish could gain an additional 6-8 mg of iron.
  • Iodized Salt and Oil: Adding iodine to food staples is another way of preventing nutrient deficiency. Iodine is essential for preventing stunted growth in infants and young children.
  • Fortified Fish Sauce: This creation has previously been used on childbearing women in Vietnam, and is another successful method of controlling iron deficiency. This idea includes the fortification of any staple food or condiment with iron but has been specifically trialed with fish sauce, a regularly consumed condiment for many. The results include higher levels of hemoglobin and decreases in the prevalence of anemia and iron deficiency, thus enabling successful development for infants in utero.
  • Plumpy’ Nut and Other Acute Malnutrition Products: Nutriset is a company producing ‘Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods’ (RUTFs), which are food packages specifically engineered for children and adults suffering from severe malnutrition. Their products are compact and simple, containing around 500 calories in a single sachet. Other creations of theirs include ‘moderate’ and ‘acute’ malnutrition treatments, as well as preventative products to help maintain a healthy diet.

Tackling hidden hunger is the key to breaking the poverty cycle created by malnutrition. Innovations such as these, as well as successful foreign policies to tackle hunger, will ultimately lead to a successful eradication of undernutrition, alleviating many from absolute poverty.

– Hannah Bugeja
Photo: Flickr

Innovation in Malawi
Malawi is a country that has long struggled with poverty and under-development — around 70% of the native population lives on $2.15 a day as of 2019. Many struggle without necessary resources such as clean water and food, even with an extensive agricultural sector in the country. In light of these issues, many groups work to improve the lives of the people and actively look to bring new, beneficial developments to the country. The following four groups are making innovation in Malawi a reality.

The Centre For Youth and Development’s Promotion of the SDGs

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) form the bedrock for many poverty-reduction movements in the world. Eliminating poverty, eliminating world hunger and providing clean water and sanitation are just some examples of these development goals. Malawi has struggled to fulfill these sustainable development goals for many years, with clean water proving the most difficult to address. The Centre for Youth and Development (CYD) seeks to make SDGs a major focus for Malawi while inspiring people to improve and empower their communities.

Based in Mzuzu, the CYD is a non-governmental organization that drives people, most prominently women and youth, to lead others in developing SDGs and innovation in Malawi. The CYD commits to this through a series of projects such as its Water is Life program. The Water is Life project seeks to overhaul the local irrigation of the Rumphi district for agricultural purposes and develop hydroelectric power for the area, which will affect 824 lives for the better. Its most recent successes in this project include building a water canal for water transport and farming.

How Converged Technology Networks is Connecting Malawi

Lack of internet access troubles Malawi. At most, 24% of individuals in Malawi had access to the Internet by 2021. This is an issue since many services, such as online banking, are available on the internet. The lack of internet also limits the availability of outside markets to reach the people, which hurts economic investment and limits the number of available jobs. Converged Technology Networks seeks to alleviate this issue by providing broadband internet to the country.

Beginning commercial operations in 2019, Converged is an internet service provider that is working to bring broadband internet to Malawi. The organization seeks to develop Malawi’s digital infrastructure and ensure that even people from more impoverished communities have access to the internet. In 2021, Converged joined forces with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency to provide a grant for a feasibility study in Malawi to provide service to underserved groups in the country.

How mHub Helps Entrepreneurs

As many people live on $2.15 a day, struggles to become financially stable in Malawi are frequent. People need employment to pay for necessities, as well as develop skills in the business and technology sectors to make better, stronger systems for the economy. mHub, based in Lilongwe, works toward providing others with these skills, further facilitating innovation in Malawi.

mHub works as a hub for innovation, seeking to finance aspiring entrepreneurs working in the fields of business and technology. mHub’s work has assisted in creating more than 950 jobs for people within Malawi and has trained more than 40,000 youths in the skills necessary for these two major fields. Like the CYD, mHub uses numerous programs that help to develop communities such as the Jobs for Youth program. This project trains the youth in the tech and business fields to prepare them for future employment, which has helped in making 120 jobs for students after graduation.

The African Drone and Data Academy in Malawi

Keeping people relatively healthy is a difficult task in Malawi, especially due to the lack of sanitation and the need for proper health care facilities. Disease can run rampant if left unchecked in a community, which can put a strain on services to provide for the sick. A way to combat this problem is to collect data on the issues at hand to better prepare a response. The Malawi University of Science and Technology, in partnership with UNICEF, seeks to do this with the African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA).

The ADDA trains around 140 students in how to design and pilot drones, all to apply them to development, humanitarian efforts and innovation in Malawi. This will allow Malawi to employ drones to respond to sudden developments and for data analysis, as well as simpler things such as medical deliveries. Data can be mapped to identify key areas for disease outbreaks, which in turn can help health care standards for people across Malawi.

Bringing Innovation to the People

Institutions such as these can help to inspire others in improving their home and make life better for the country. In the years to come, Malawi can lead the way for its people to innovate in new, unique and creative ways.

– Kenneth Berends
Photo: Flickr

Energy Poverty in UgandaSanga Moses is a social entrepreneur who founded Eco-Fuel Africa (EFA). This Ugandan-based company produces clean, sustainable cooking fuel from agricultural waste to tackle energy poverty in Uganda. Moses’ mission is to empower African communities while promoting sustainable development and reducing the negative impacts of deforestation and indoor air pollution.

Energy Sources in Uganda

In Uganda, most households use charcoal or firewood for cooking. Unfortunately, this practice is not only inefficient but also causes air pollution, which is bad for the environment and the health of people. According to the World Health Organization, indoor air pollution from solid fuels is responsible for about 3.2 million deaths globally each year, many of whom are children. Moreover, deforestation is a significant environmental issue in Uganda, as forests cover only about 12% of the country’s land area.

Moses recognized that agricultural waste, such as maize cobs and sugarcane bagasse, could be transformed into clean and efficient cooking fuel. He started Eco-Fuel Africa in 2010 with the goal of promoting a circular economy that would create value from waste while reducing environmental degradation and improving livelihoods.

Utilizing Agricultural Waste

Eco-Fuel Africa’s process involves collecting agricultural waste from farms and markets, transporting it to the company’s processing facility and transforming it into briquettes through a carbonization process. The briquettes are then sold to households, institutions and businesses as an alternative to charcoal and firewood. The fuel burns longer and hotter than traditional fuels. It produces less smoke, reducing indoor air pollution and respiratory diseases and creating a sustainable solution for energy poverty in Uganda.

EFA has helped disadvantaged women in Africa become micro-retailers of eco-friendly charcoal. Its approach involves visiting villages, identifying these marginalized women and providing them with training. EFA also constructs basic kiosks for each of them to use as retail shops for selling green charcoal within their local communities. To date, EFA has established hundreds of female retailers in Uganda, each earning a minimum of $152 monthly from selling eco-friendly charcoal.

Looking Ahead

Eco-Fuel Africa’s impact has been significant. The company has displaced thousands 0f tons of charcoal and firewood, reduced deforestation and improved the health and livelihoods of thousands of households. Moses’ innovative approach to waste management and sustainable energy has inspired other entrepreneurs and organizations to adopt similar models in Uganda and beyond.

Sanga Moses and Eco-Fuel Africa’s work exemplifies how social entrepreneurship can address pressing environmental and social challenges while promoting sustainable development and economic empowerment.

– Nino Basaria
Photo: Flickr

African Inventions
The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed the way the world operates, forcing the globe to turn to virtual settings and create physical distance in the presence of others. Five African inventions prove useful during the COVID-19 pandemic by strengthening health care responses and offering protection against COVID-19 infections.

5 African Inventions Helping During the COVID-19 Pandemic

  1. Tiba Vent. Kenyan student Daniel Kabugi and a team of 15 others developed the Tiba Vent in 2020, a portable, low-cost “mechanical ventilator” that aids the respiration of patients who have contracted COVID-19 and “other acute respiratory illnesses.” With the Tiba Vent, Kenya is expected to increase its resources from 500 ventilator units to more than 30,000. This low-cost machine comrpises 90% locally sourced materials and was in the process of clinical trials in July 2020. The Tiba Vent has the potential to save millions of lives in Kenya and beyond.
  2. Wellvis COVID-19 Triage Tool. Nigerian Dr. Wale Adeosun is a co-founder of Wellvis, an app that launched in 2019 to facilitate the online sharing of health information and services. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the creators of the Wellvis app decided to integrate into the platform a tool called the Wellvis COVID-19 Triage Tool. The tool uses responses to clinical questions to determine an individual’s COVID-19 risk level. The tool then directs the individual to the “appropriate next steps.” The Wellvis app, in general, allows for the online scheduling of remote appointments. In this way, the app can aid medical professionals by alleviating crowds in doctor offices and hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. The app also provides health information and a “question and answer platform” to combat misinformation and increase access to reliable health information.
  3. Handwashing Machine. Sanitation is important to practice during the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid infection. In 2020, Stephen Wamukota, a 9-year-old boy from Kenya developed a handwashing machine that has become a complete game-changer in his community. Standing as one of the simplest yet innovative African inventions, this basic machine utilizes foot pedals to dispense water and soap so that people do not have to touch any surfaces with their hands during the handwashing process. This process significantly reduces the risk of infection and provides a community with the opportunity to safeguard their health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. Dr. Car Robot. Originally a project from Dakar Polytechnic School students in Senegal, this robot allows for the delivery of medications, takes body temperatures and measures the blood pressure of COVID-19 patients at the hospital without the need for human interaction. Controlled remotely from an app and equipped with cameras, the Dr. Car (or Docteur Car) robot “speaks four languages,” which makes it accessible to a large audience in African hospitals and reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19.
  5. 3D-Printed Masks. With the huge demand for protective face masks across the world, South African innovator Natalie Raphil is using a 3D printer to produce 100 3D-printed face masks per day. Raphil’s idea for 3D-printed masks came about during South Africa’s most intense level of lockdown “when imports and exports were at a standstill and PPE was in demand” for health workers in the country. Raphil’s invention allowed for an inexpensive, efficient way to supply masks to health professionals at the forefront of the pandemic.

A Look Ahead

Amid a global health crisis, African innovators and changemakers of all ages have developed creative solutions to help address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These recent African inventions are proof that when humanity faces a new hardship, innovation prevails.

Kler Teran
Photo: Flickr

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