We have been pretty busy these last few months with work in the village, as well as a bit of sight-seeing. In May, we participated in an enlightening, week-long Appropriate Technology Workshop in Mansa and there was an article written up about our project. Of course, I have to shamelessly promote it here!
Here's a link to the article:
According to Appropropedia.org, Appropriate Technology, "is technology that is designed to be 'appropriate' to the context of its use." That is to say, it's using locally available materials to design low-tech and cheap solutions to everyday challenges. One example is heating your bathwater (like I do) by filling a black plastic bag and letting it sit in the sun all afternoon (a solar shower). Another example is repelling mosquitoes (and preventing malaria) by applying locally made insect-repelling skin lotion from neem and palm oil.
I, my colleague Tiffany and our two Zambian counterparts- ba Martin and ba Musonda- developed the latter during the above mentioned Appropriate Technology workshop in Mansa, Zambia. Check out the link above to read about it. The unexpected side benefit of replacing the lotion's vegetable oil ingredient with the locally available palm oil of northern Zambia is that the red palm oil gave the bazungu workshop attendees a decent fake tan. Who knew?
|From left: ba Musonda, Tiffany, me, ba Martin. We're mixing the insect-repelling neem/palm oil lotion.*|
Also during the workshop:
We made insect-repelling soap from locally available jatropha oil, which serves as a less expensive alternative to using animal fat.
|Tiffany and I making the caustic soda solution for the jatropha oil soap. I was afraid of a chemical burn and over-prepared.*|
We built another design of a solar bathwater heater, using a clear bucket wrapped halfway around the inside with black plastic. We used a clear bucket to allow the sun's energy to penetrate through the water as it was pulled to the black plastic on behind it. This design warmed the water very quickly and by evening, there was plenty of hot water for a nice, warm evening bath.
|Ba Godfrey and I in front of the solar-heated shower we built with our teammates. The bucket to my left with the blue lid is the solar water-heating system described above.**|
We devised a solar water-disinfection system using clear PET-plastic bottles filled with water and exposed to the sun's UV rays for at least 6 hours. The long exposure to UV rays and sun's heat kill dangerous bacteria in the water. This is important because, as you may have heard before, "in wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria." What is also important about this design is that it makes water drinking water without the chlorine taste many Zambians find unpalatable.
We made a groundnut thresher out of a cut bamboo stick that allows the user to pull the groundnut plant through a hand-clamped opening to separate the groundnuts from the plant quickly and easily.
|Everyone busy building the design for their groundnut thresher. Ba Martin is showing ba Musonda, Tiffany and me how he thinks we should saw the bamboo piece.*|
|Demonstration Day: Our group gets feedback (mostly positive!) on the groundnut thresher design we built.*|
*Pictures courtesy of the workshop organizer and trainer Sevren Gorely.
** Picture courtesy of Tiffany Saria
The workshop was a great success. It built confidence among attendees that they can devise new ways to solve old problems by rethinking how materials around us can be used. What an empowering feeling!