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.


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.


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

Evaptainer: How the Science of Sweating Can Increase Food SecurityThe founders of Evaptainers have harnessed the science of sweating into a device that could help the 7 million people in the world who have no access to refrigeration. While the typical fridge requires electricity for vapor compression refrigeration, the Evaptainer uses evaporative cooling to keep food cold and extend its shelf life without any electricity.

The Evaptainer brings modern-day technology to an idea that has been around for several millennia. At its most basic level, a refrigerating device that uses evaporative cooling contains an inner chamber that holds food. The outer chamber contains an evaporative medium, such as sand, between the outer and inner containers. Water is poured over the evaporative medium, which cools as it evaporates.

The science is simple. To evaporate, water must absorb heat energy from the environment in order to become hot enough to change its state, either from solid to liquid or liquid to gas. The heat the water draws from its environment, called latent heat, cools the environment from which it draws heat.

In the case of the Evaptainer, this process cools the inner container that holds the food. Evaptainers can cool the 60-liter inner container by up to 35 degrees Fahrenheit, extending the shelf-life of food from around two days to two weeks, in hot weather.

Bishop Sanyal, a MIT professor not affiliated with Evaptainer, told MIT Technology Review that Evaptainers could help increase food security. However, he sees the $25 unit price as posing a possible problem for families’ ability to access the devices. For example, the average family in Morocco makes $60-$100 per month as explained by Sanyal, so paying $25 upfront could be a challenge. Nonetheless, if families are able to make the investment, having an Evaptainer could save them money in the long run.

Another challenge Evaptainer faces is that humid air can evaporate less moisture than dry air. As a result, in past 40 percent humidity, the device cools significantly less than it would in its optimal environment of 30 percent humidity or less.

For now, at least in optimal environments, Evaptainers have the potential to improve the quality of life of those who have no access to electricity or refrigeration and reduce the amount of spoiled food waste. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, such progress represents about $310 billion annually in developing countries alone.

Laura Isaza

Photo: Flickr