Think of something helping the poor in Africa. Chances are, you thought of something based in the West such as UNICEF or another charity organization. There is often the assumption that Africa cannot help itself, without the innovation and money of the western community. That may be a half-truth. Africa severely lacks evenly distributed money. Innovation on the other hand is not created by money, but by sharing ideas. Being poor in money terms doesn’t make you poor in ideas.
Ludwick Marishane, 22 years old and a student at the University of Cape Town, came up with the idea of a water-free shower when his friend complained about having to shower. His patented product is odorless and, when applied to the skin, creates a biodegradable cleansing film with skin moisturizers. This will create the clean and fresh feeling of just stepping out of a shower. The greatest benefit of this invention is that with it, washing does not need water, so can be saved for other important tasks such as cooking. Of course water-free cleaning is not just for the misfortunate underprivileged, but also for regular people in need of a quick refresher before a meeting, says Marishane: “DryBath is a rich man’s convenience and a poor man’s lifesaver.“
Yet problems lie ahead. Although this product is meant to be cheap, the information of Drybath’s existence needs to be spread around. Maybe that is where the western organizations come in?
The most dangerous animal in the world is the mosquito. It is responsible for approximately 300 million cases of malaria each year. Moktar Dembélé and Gerard Niyondiko, Students from Burundi and Burkina Faso, have found a solution for that. They are the inventors of Faso Soap. A soap that provides an accessible, low-cost anti-malarial tool. There are of course other ways of avoiding malaria, such as repelling sprays and more but these sprays are expensive, limited in their use and sometimes toxic. According to the two scientists, most of the Burkina Faso population uses regular soap, even those below the poverty line. Faso soap does hence not require a change in behaviour: “We want a simple solution, because everyone uses soaps, even in the very poor communities,” says Dembélé.
In addition to saving lives, Faso soap will reduce several costs, including medical fees and loss of income. It is made by local products and although the recipe is currently secret, it may be possible to make your own anti-malarial soap in the future. Which is good news for remote villages and other non-connected africans.