While often associated with a lack of sustainable income, poverty is also a lack of access to education, health services, and essential goods. As a result of inadequate access to aforementioned services, poverty also has economic and social complications. Thankfully, inventions have been cropping up as a means of helping to alleviate poverty around the world.
The Shoe That Grows
Children grow quickly, which often makes it difficult for families to afford new shoes as their children outgrow previous pairs. The Shoe That Grows is an adjustable shoe that grows with the wearer’s foot. For fifteen dollars, donors can provide children with a pair of shoes that can expand five sizes and is durable enough to last for years. By providing more children with access to appropriately fitting shoes, The Shoe That Grows is helping decrease the number of people who develop soil-transmitted diseases and parasites, ensuring healthier children and communities worldwide.
Life Saving Dot
Women in developing countries often suffer from iodine deficiency, which can lead to breast cancer, fibrocystic breast disease, and pregnancy complications. To combat this, the Life Saving Dot combines tradition with life-saving technology. The dot is an iodine patch reminiscent of the bindi, which is a traditional symbol of spirituality, commitment, and beauty. When worn, the patch dispenses the daily recommended amount of iodine—between 150-220 micrograms. At only 10 rupees—or 16 U.S. cents—per packet of 30, the patches are affordable for rural women; these patches are also made available to women via health camps and clinics.
Lucky Iron Fish
Lucky Iron Fish is another invention that helps prevent nutrient deficiencies. The small iron fish is a cooking tool that infuses meals with natural iron to combat iron deficiencies and subsequent illnesses, such as anemia. The company serves a one-to-one donation scale: when a Lucky Iron Fish is purchased, the company donates one to a family in need in a developing country.
While water is a vital necessity, citizens of developing countries lack access to clean drinking water. This inadequate access often leads to people contracting dangerous illnesses and diseases from consuming contaminated water. LifeStraw offers products from straws to bottles that use gravity powered filters and purifies to deliver safe drinking water. While the devices do not remove chemicals or salt from salt water, they can filter out 99.999% of waterborne bacteria and waterborne viruses. With every purchase sold, a child in a developing community receives safe water for a school year.
Though education proves a universal desire, children in impoverished communities often do not have the means to obtain a comprehensive education. One Laptop Per Child is a non-profit that champions self-empowered learning and aims to provide children with low-cost, low-powered laptops. Working with governments and other donors, OLPC works toward distributing millions of laptops to children in need worldwide.
Their XO Laptop is a Linux-based laptop designed especially for connectivity, durability, and functionality. It can withstand extreme environmental conditions such as high heat and humidity, and allows students to share in collaborative activities with their classmates.
While poverty proves problematic for societies, inventors have started to become more conscious, developing inventions that help alleviate poverty-related complications. These inventions, while seemingly small, can help contribute to larger, more impactful changes worldwide.