Clay pots meet rural cooling needs

A Nigerian teacher has developed a simple, inexpensive, yet highly effective earthenware cooling system for preserving perishables in rural areas without access to electricity. Aimed at a largely illiterate consumer, he has also come up with a novel idea of marketing the device.
Called Pot-in-Pot, the system consists of two clay pots which {mosimage}A Nigerian teacher has developed a simple, inexpensive, yet highly effective earthenware cooling system for preserving perishables in rural areas without access to electricity. Aimed at a largely illiterate consumer, he has also come up with a novel idea of marketing the device.
Called Pot-in-Pot, the system consists of two clay pots which are cooled with wet sand to such a degree that vegetables and other perishables can be kept fresh for extended periods.
For example, African spinach, a vegetable widely consumed in rural Africa, can be preserved for 12 days in the pot; eggplant for 27 days; and tomatoes and peppers for three weeks or more.The system won its developer, Mohammed Bah Abba, a 2000 Rolex Award for Enterprise. The judges were highly impressed with the simplicity of the technology, which at the same time was “highly innovative and pragmatic.”
Two clay pots of different diameter are placed inside each other. The space between the two pots is filled with wet sand which is constantly kept moist, thereby keeping both pots damp and cool. Items to be cooled are kept in the smaller, inner pot, which is covered with a damp cloth and left in a dry, ventilated place. The evaporation of the moisture causes a drop of temperature of several degrees, destroying harmful micro-organisms and preserving the perishable foods inside the inner pot.
Abba invented the system in 1995 and spent two years refining it before employing unskilled labour to produce the first batch of Pot-in-Pots in the semi-desert, rural state of Jigawa. Initially, he used “town criers” to advertise his invention, but they were not very successful. Then he tried employing people part time to demonstrate the pots from house-to-house. This also proved expensive and unsustainable.
Abba then decided on an educational device tailored to village life and the illiterate population. The campaign consists of a video-recorded play by local actors who dramatise the benefits of the cooler in everyday family life. The video is shown in the evenings, on a makeshift screen and with portable equipment, when farmers are home and keen to be entertained. This has proved so successful that most villagers in Jigawa are now using the system.
Additional factories have been established. The pots sell for 40 cents a pair and Abba hopes that they will soon be introduced in neighbouring states and eventually exported to countries with similar conditions.
ABBA: mobah@hotmail.com Tel +234 64 721030
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