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Two groups trying to help the world on inexpensive products

Two groups trying to help the world on inexpensive products

By WTMJ News Team. CREATED Jan 27, 2012 - UPDATED: Jan 27, 2012

MILWAUKEE - You hear people say it all the time: "I'm going to help save the world."

It's seems like a unreachable dream - but TODAY'S TMJ4's Courtny Gerrish shows us how some groups are trying to do just that - one cent at a time.

All it takes is some simple and inexpensive products to help people living on less than $2 a day.

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

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

"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 of the Darfur Stove Project.

The best part?  Each stove costs only $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," said Sosler.

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.

Like these peepoo bags--used in Indian and Kenyan slums.  The bags not only sanitize human waste, but can turn it into useable fertilizer.  And they cost only pennies a piece.

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, the program manager of Global Envision.

A "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 the sOccket ball - that harvests the energy of a soccer game and turns into useable electricity after the game.  Or this clean birth kit to help rural midwives deliver healthy babies. 

"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," said Springer.

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.  The groups say another way to help is by spreading the word on social media.