MacGyver Without Borders

Five cool ideas for saving the world on a shoestring.

The developing world has contributed just 23 percent of the global carbon emissions since the Industrial Revolution, but in 2004 it was responsible for 73 percent of worldwide emissions growth. Luckily, there's a bevy of low-cost, low-tech ways to improve living standards—carbon free. For the price of a 14-day ecosafari to Kenya and Tanzania ($4,976), you could buy...

1/3 of a PlayPump
($14,000 per merry-go-round, PlayPumps International)
what: Kid-powered merry-go-rounds pump clean groundwater into elevated storage tanks.
where: Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia

24 Two-Stroke Retrofits
($200—$250 per engine, Envirofit International)
what: Kits for injecting fuel directly into engine cylinders reduce motorcycle and taxi emissions by as much as 90 percent.
where: The Philippines

A year of high school for 32 African girls
($156 per year per girl, Camfed International)
what: Send a girl to school and she'll be half as likely to give birth by age 18—good news for her and for Africa's dwindling natural resources.
where: Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania

71 Q-Drums
($70 per drum, Q Drum Ltd.)
what: Doughnut-shaped rolling water barrels carry up to 19 gallons of water.
where: Kenya, Namibia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Angola

199 LifeStraws
($25 for a family straw good for three years, Vestergaard Frandsen)
what: Straws filter bacteria, viruses, and parasites out of water from streams and rivers.
where: India, Pakistan, Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Turkey, Indonesia, Kenya, Burma, China