This post covers alternative ways to help developing countries, other than donating to massive charities where you often don’t know where the money goes. Origin (above) is a non-profit fashion label, that uses profits to help launch clay-lined stoves, seamstress schools and HIV clinics.
Fresh Clean Water for Developing Countries
We all know that hundreds of thousands of people die each year, due to dirty water. Over 3.5 million people die yearly from diseases related to dirty water, with half the world’s hospital beds occupied by diseases related to this important issue. There are big water charities which build wells. They do good work, but it’s always a bit iffy when charities are spending a lot of money signing up people via expensive water charities. Are there smaller and more innovative solutions?
80% of all diseases in developing countries are caused by dirty water. Baby Milk Action campaigns against companies that market free formula in hospitals to poor mothers (when they get home, they often use with dirty water or dilute formula, WHO says this causes babies to die). Most mothers (however poor) can breastfeed.
- FRANK Water Coolers are good for offices and schools, profits help fresh water projects in India. This way you avoid plastic water bottles, and people get fresh water, while helping others.
- Hipporoller is an invention to let women and children quickly fetch fresh water from wells, to spend more time in school and work. Carrying water on their heads may look ‘traditional’, but leads to headaches (and joint problems, later in life).
- Lifestraw & Icon Life Saver Bottle (which filter out impurities) are cheap to buy and install. Some people don’t like them saying it’s encouraging people in Africa to drink from filthy rivers, rather than invest in clean water projects. But they save lives, in emergencies. Many international travellers buy a Lifestraw for themselves, then a portion of profits help to fund them for people who can’t afford to buy.
- Inventions like solar water pumps and fog collectors are able to harvest clean fresh water, which also helps local farmers to grow crops to feed local people.
Why Plant-Based Food Charities are Better
It is estimated that despite around 800,000 people being seriously obese in the world, another 800,000 or so suffer malnutrition. Widespread drought caused by climate change is also a big issue (did you know that many parts of Africa used to be lush fertile land, before drought set in?)
One thing that’s not good to do is to focus on donating cows or goats. This just gives another mouth to water and feed, and cause desertification of fertile land. Read 10 reasons not to send farmed animal gifts. Land used to grow plants feeds more people. Did you know that during Live Aid, the UK was importing grain from Ethiopia (to feed our livestock), that land could have been used to grow food themselves instead?
Other Ways to Help Developing Countries
- Power a Life offers solar chargers and camping lights, that are good for the planet, and help fund solar lights for children in developing countries. This helps them to study without pollution and fire hazard risks of kerosene, and stops tree being chopped to make firewood.
- Kitchen Table Charities Trust is a small charity set up by former newsreader John Humphries. It funds tiny projects (removing cataracts, training people in carpentry) with not one penny being allowed to be spent on UK administration.
- Shared Interest is a building society, where your savings fund one fair loans, to help start businesses.
- Don’t send your trash to Africa, it has enough problems already (fire hazards from dumped waste). One thing that’s good to send is bicycles (free non-polluting transport for people to get to school and work). Send through Re-Cycle.
- Buy organic cotton clothing From Babies with Love, which uses profits to provide homes for orphaned babies. NHS says to avoid ‘sleeping bags’ (and take off hats and coats as soon as you come to warmer temperatures, including in cars). Even if it means waking your baby.