Posts

Women in Africa
In recent years, people have made many efforts to help women in Africa complete their daily tasks faster and more efficiently by providing tools and technology. However, there is still a long way to go until these extraordinary women will have tools on par with what is available to women in western countries.

Water Collection

In 24 sub-Saharan African countries, adult females are usually responsible for water collection. About 14 million African women trek over 30 minutes, either barefoot or in rubber sandals, across rough terrain daily. Many of these women carry a bucket or Jerry Can, which is a container to carry fuel or water. These can hold around 40 pounds of water that they balance on top of their heads.

Recently, a project in Mozambique helped nearly 4,000 people by allocating an innovative technology called the Hippo Roller. The Hippo Roller is a South-African-made drum that helps users roll up to 20 liters of water on the ground instead of carrying it on their heads. This allows women in Africa to carry or roll up to five times more water than they usually would. This technology empowers women in Africa by allowing them more time to focus on other necessary tasks, like education, social development and local entrepreneurship. Hippo rollers go to the neediest in the communities first, but with a cost of $125 each, there are rarely enough to go around.

The Search for Firewood

African women walk for hours each day to collect branches and roots for firewood. Over 80 percent of Africa’s energy supply comes from wood and African women spend more than 20 hours per week collecting it. This wood is necessary for women in Africa to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for their families. African women may spend several hours searching for wood which prevents them from accomplishing other tasks that would benefit and empower them.

Green Energy BioFuels is a company that produces the KIKE Green Cookstove and an ethanol cooking gel that is safe for women in Africa to cook meals for their families without creating the health hazards that current traditional methods do. So far, Green Energy has sold over 200,000 cookstoves in West Africa. Cookstoves that do not rely on wood fuel can help save over 4 million lives annually. In addition to this, African women can worry less about their health and have a more positive outlook on the future.

Investing in African Women

In sub-Saharan Africa, female entrepreneurs hold the highest rates of entrepreneurship globally at 25.9 percent. Many of these women have small businesses that can help them accrue enough income for survival. African women account for nearly 40 percent of the SSA workforce.

The Economic Commission for Africa and its partners started the African Women Leadership Fund which aims to aid the growth of African women-owned and operated businesses and provide services that will help these women be successful. Over the next 10 years, the fund will invest in over $500 million into African Women-led companies.

African women have extraordinary abilities that help them complete difficult daily tasks. However, they cannot achieve these tasks without great risks to their health and well-being. The support that many are implementing to innovatively assist African women will empower them and enrich their lives.

– Lisa Di Nuzzo
Photo: Flickr

Hippo RollerAlmost 1 billion people in Africa struggle for access to water. According to the Water Project, this is equal to one in eight of the world’s population. Water supplies are often many miles from the village. Women and children must travel to collect water and carry full buckets back home.

However, solutions like the Hippo Roller are helping revolutionize this process.

When water supply points are as far as 10 kilometers (6 miles) from home, water is often carried in 20-liter (5 gallons) buckets balanced on top of heads. The Hippo Roller is a simple solution that allows the people who collect water to collect up to five times more.

The Hippo Roller is a 90 liter (24 gallon) container that is rolled along the ground. The water collectors are usually elders, women and children. Instead of being carried on the head, as usual, the water is rolled–either pushed or pulled. This allows more people to access water, which improves food security and income generation.

Two South Africans, Pettie Petzer and Johan Jonker, invented the Hippo Roller in 1991. They both knew the water crisis’ effects on daily life. The Hippo Roller Project was established in 1994 with the mission of “helping communities to improve access to water–90 liters at a time.”

As of Sept. 2015, there had been 46,000 Hippo Rollers distributed in 20 countries. This has helped 300,000 people in families where the average size is seven. The ability to roll the water instead of carrying it reduces injuries and gives more time for school and other activities.

Grant Gibbs, Project Leader for Hippo Water Roller Project explains that women in rural Africa can spend up to 26 percent of their time collecting water. This automatically includes the children. When women can collect more water at a time, they can spend more of their day on other important tasks. When children are needed less to collect water, they can go to school.

The innovation of transporting more water more efficiently makes more “time available for education, household tasks and food production.” The design allows for hygienic collection and storage of water and even irrigation of crops.

Rhonda Marrone

Photo: Hippo Roller

Innovations_Poverty
Today there are countless new innovations that can be used to improve the lives of the world’s poor. Below are just 5 unique inventions that have the potential to vastly change lives.

  1. The Hippo Roller – The Hippo roller gives people better access to water sources by allowing them to roll water containers across the ground. The trek to find water is a task that thousands of women and children must perform daily. They frequently walk long distances with heavy cans and containers to bring water home. The long walk is usually inefficient and arduous, and can often lead to spinal injuries as well. The Hippo Roller is an innovative device that allows people to roll 90 gallons of water across the ground. It consists of a barrel-shaped container that can be placed inside a rolling wheel. The container requires far less energy to move and can maximize the efficiency of carrying water.
  2. The XO Laptop – The XO laptop is part of the One Laptop per Child campaign. It is a small computer specially designed for children in developing nations. The purpose of this computer is to give children across the world the opportunity to learn more, in addition to connecting them to the rest of the world. This durable, low cost machine is wireless and has a powerful screen that can be read in direct sunlight. The laptop is rugged enough for children who go to school outdoors and durable enough for children in the most remote regions. By giving each child an XO laptop, One Laptop Per Child hopes to promote self-empowered education.
  3. The Peepoo Toilet – The Peepoo toilet is a slim biodegradable bag that can be used in the absence of a toilet or bathroom space. It is 10 grams in size and contains an inner layer that unfolds to form a wide tunnel. The bag has a urea liner that sanitizes the pathogens within human excrement. Within 2 to 4 weeks, the contents of the bag can be transformed into a fertilizer. Sound silly? In actuality, basic sanitation is something that 2.6 billion people in the world lack. Without proper latrines or hygienic facilities, humans can both contaminate the environment and transfer diseases to each other. The Peepoo toilet is just one way to protect environment and manage waste.
  4. PlumpyNut – PlumpyNut is a ready to eat and ready made food that can be used to fight child malnutrition. It is basically comprised of peanut better, powdered milk, powdered sugar and vitamin and mineral enrichments. One serving of PlumpyNut contains the nutritional equivalent of one glass of milk and a multi-vitamin. It requires no water and no cooking to eat and a day’s supply costs only $1. The product supports rapid weight gain and its sweet taste has proved to be extremely appealing to young children. The organization Doctors Without Borders has seen the tremendous impact that PlumpyNut has on severely malnourished children in Niger, Africa. The nutritious peanut flavored paste has brought back countless children from the brink of starvation.
  5. Jet Injection – Jet injectors use pressure to deliver vaccines and other immunizations directly into the skin. Rather than using needles, these medical devices provide vaccination through a fine stream of fluid that passes through skin into tissue. The model for the jet injector was actually used as early as the 1940s. Now they are disposable, and single use jet injectors help to eliminate the risk of re-using needles, particularly prevalent in low-resource regions. Regular needles run the risk of transferring diseases and can be easily misused. The Jet Injector allows for safer vaccination. Furthermore, jet injectors use 80 less vaccine than needle injections and therefore reduce waste and improve efficiency.

Grace Zhao

Sources: One Laptop Per Child, PeePoople, The Borgen Project, Jet Injector, CBS, Hippo Roller
Photo: Good Ventures