26 January 2010

Uganda and food.

This is a project from fall of last year (junior year). In our program we have been lucky enough to work with many companies in sponsored projects. Battle was one of our first, and it was an amazing experience. Battelle is a not for profit organization that works in so many areas. Trying to help those that need it.

We were able to work with their design department for most of the semester. Our objective was to find a problem in the world ( preferably in a 3rd world country) and design a solution to that problem. It was nice to hear how surprised they were at what problems we had found and the solutions that we ended up coming up with.

It was a great experience to work with them and get their feed back. We even go to see a little bit where their projects are in the Battelle Studio.

My research brought me to Uganda where there are massive problems with their government as well as with drought. As of now their food is mostly received rotten. If it gets there by chance and is not rotten when it gets there the massive amount of heat and the fact that the market are set up to be food on a board on the ground makes it go bad quickly. All of the nutrients in the food is gone by the time that people can buy i and eat it. money is so scarce there as well that one they buy the food that they can afford they need to go home and share it all with their families. Any nutrients that are left in the food wont make a big difference when it is being shared by 4 or more people at a time.

There needed to be a way where the markets could keep the food fresher for as long as possible, and there to also be a way for families to keep food as well at home. This is what a set out to do. Not to give a country electricity and any other unrealistically plans to change their way of life. But I wanted to make it better!

My ideation was driving by the fact that I wanted this to be made for Ugandans by Ugandans easily and with out the need of help from the government. This was going to prove to be hard. At the time I was taking Ceramics with Mr. Kaname Takada. We spoke about ceramics and how common it is around the world. I found that ceramics can work as a type of refrigeration system when sitting indies each other. This can be done only with a catalyst. Wet sand. My design was simple: one large basin. and inside that fill it with 1/4 wet sand each day. inside this the people at the market would place in to large jugs. over that a lid to cover all the extra open space and two lids on the jugs. I recommended that they place the basin half in the ground. ( the markets are on the same places regularly so this wouldn't be an issue) BUT when this is done the sun would hit unit, and causing the water in the sand to evaporate - this then would start to cool the inner areas of the basin as well as the jugs. This could make it so that the temperature inside the unit is 30 degrees cooler than outside.

The jugs could be taken home at the end of the night and placed in holes to make sure that there was no stealing but also to make sure that the food still stayed fresh for as long as possible.

Complicated I know.

The best part about this was that everything could be made by Ugandans as needed. Molds could be made easily with river clay, the "kilns" to fire they would use pit firing. Knowing that their water is typically contaminated there is a safe and natrual glaze that can be made and applied to the system to make sure that nothing harmful can leech in to the food.

It isn't going to change the world but it is something that could help. No government aid needed. I am in contact with some traveling groups to share this with Ugandans.

I feel so lucky to have gotten to do this project and would love to do more. If you would like any more information please contact me.

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