MIAMI (CBS4)- Social innovations are inventions that make cooking easier, carrying water a breeze and can even put human excrement to good use, all the while, saving lives.
Women living in refugee camps in Darfur spend the day gathering firewood so they can feed their families. The trips in the war-torn region are very dangerous.
“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 a scientist.
So a scientist from Berkeley, California created a special stove from simple steel that requires less wood to cook food and also helps the environment.
“They reduce pressure on forests by reducing the amount of trees cut down and it is also reducing the emissions of greenhouse gasses,” the scientist said.
Each stove costs $20 and their assembly creates local jobs for the community.
“So each one might seem to be small, but when you look at all of them together the impact is enormous,” the scientist said.
The stoves are just one example of a growing trend of social innovations. Anti-poverty pioneers are creating simple, inexpensive products that pack a life-changing punch.
For example, “peepoo” bags, used in Indian and Kenyan slums. The bags sanitize human waste. They can also turn it into useable fertilizer. They cost only pennies a piece.
“So after someone uses this, the bag is biodegradable and they can either sell it or use it in their own farm or in their own garden,” the scientist said.
These small inventions have a huge impact.
The “Hippo Roller,”for example, 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.
Then there’s the Soccket Ball that harvests the energy of a soccer tournament and turns into useable electricity after the game.
Also, the Clean Birth Kit to help midwives deliver healthy babies. In India alone, 78,000 women and one million babies die from childbirth complications each year. Many of t hose deaths that can be prevented with this $2 kit.
So far, the Darfur stove project has supplied 20,000 stoves and hopes to increase that number to 900,000.
“Some people have even started calling the stove the stove of hope because it helps women so much,” the scientist said.
Since none of these social innovations cost a lot of money, experts say a small donation can make a big impact. They also encourage you to donate in a different way, by spreading the word through social media.