Even by the standards of East Africa, Julius Radol Gwada is poor. His yearly income hovers around $175. Until recently, his hut in the rural Kenyan village of Komonge was roofed with thatch. When it rained, water seeped through the roof. When it rained at night, Gwada would gather his wife and children in the driest corner of the hut, and they would pass several miserable hours under a sheet of wax paper. Late in 2012, two strangers came to Komonge. They went from hut to hut, collecting...

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