New trend aims to quell poverty worldwide

December 19, 2011 4:09:43 PM PST
Sometimes the smallest ideas can have a life-changing impact around the world. A new trend called social innovation is doing just that for people living on less than $2 a day.

Women living in refugee camps in worn-torn Darfur spend the majority of their lives gathering firewood so they can feed their families, but the trips are filled with danger.

"They were having to walk up to seven hours, three to five days a week, to get the wood. And during these treks, they were often being assaulted," said Andree Sosler with the Darfur Stove Project.

So a scientist from Berkeley decided to help by creating a special stove from simple steel that requires less wood to cook food.

"They reduce pressure on forests by reducing the amount of trees cut down and also reducing the emissions of greenhouse gasses," Sosler said.

And the best part? Each stove costs only $20, and their assembly creates local jobs for the community.

These stoves are just one example of a growing trend of social innovation. Anti-poverty pioneers are creating simple, inexpensive products that pack a life-changing punch. These small inventions have a huge impact.

"Families who live on a dollar a day consume very few products and so small inventions that can improve their lives really can make a big difference," said Kayla Springer, Program Manager for Global Envision.

For example, the Hippo Roller allows African women to change the way they carry water. Instead of a five-gallon bucket on their head, they can roll 25 gallons across the ground. Or there's the Soccket Ball, which harvests the energy of a soccer game and turns it into usable electricity after the game.

"The anti-poverty pioneers, as they're called, who create these inventions are really people like you and me. You don't have to be an Albert Einstein or an Alexander Graham Bell to change the world. You just have to have the passion and make the right kinds of partnerships to make that happen," Springer said.

So far, the Darfur Stove Project has supplied 20,000 stoves and hopes to increase that number to 900,000.

Since none of these inventions cost a lot of money, experts say a small donation can make a big impact. Or, if you're feeling the economy's pinch, they encourage you to donate in a different way -- by spreading the word through social media.

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