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How Innovation Can Alleviate Poverty in Africa

According to the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD), endorsed by the United Nations, innovation and technology can go a long way toward alleviating poverty. Here are some surprising innovations that are making life more profitable for everyday Africans.

Phones for all, even farmers

The iCow app is a particularly innovative concept created by a Kenyan farmer. The problem is that small dairy farmers, especially those in remote districts, don’t know the latest price of milk or cows. They also don’t keep records, which can lead to inbreeding and disease. The app aims to use phones to help farmers run their business and increase milk production. The app works even on the phone models that farmers are most likely to own. It registers each cow and gives reminders and tips on nutrition and breeding.

For the average African who needs money in a matter of hours, M-Pepea is there to help. Smaller loans and credit cards are not widely accessible. The alternative is often dangerous loan sharks. With that option, borrowers pay up approximately 50 percent in interest. M-Pepea provides loans by partnering with employers. They then approve money for up to 20 percent of an employee’s salary. Through a special code that comes to their phone, the borrower gets access to money in cash machines. There’s also the possibility to collect the money through a branch of the mobile phone company Safaricom.

Audiobooks for depression

Poorer people are often not able to access solutions for mental health issues and depression. The Speaking Books initiative is free books that deal with issues like suicide prevention. It has also expanded to deal with health issues like malaria, HIV, and AIDS. Each page of the book has audio buttons that talk to the reader.

The Hippo Water Roller

Water is a major issue on the continent, and this invention, the Hippo water roller, allows more people to get more water, more quickly. The alternative is a long trek to a water source, and the heavy water container is usually carried on the head. This can injure spines and also stops women and children from economic opportunities. The roller is filled with water and then is carried by either pushing or pulling on its handle. This allows five times more water to be carried than a normal container. It weighs in at half the amount of that container, too.

The straw of life

A miraculous straw that allows you to drink dirty water?

Not science fiction, it’s real life, and it’s called the LifeStraw. A staggering 2.1 billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water. Many of those people are in Africa. The results of drinking dirty water can be life-threatening illnesses and diseases. Children are especially vulnerable. This invention uses a simple filtering system made of cloth. Even the dirtiest water can be made safe to drink. The company that makes it also donates larger systems to filter communities’ water.

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