Despite Nguruman being an area flowing with water throughout the year, its high temperature is one unique feature that cannot go unnoticed. This feature makes demand for cold drinks go high at the center and its environs and this has caused business people to adopt a technology that will ensure there is always a cold drink whenever it is needed despite the fact that there is no electricity at Nguruman.
One of the well stocked shops at the center, ‘The Wendo junior shop’ set up the phase and so far, the technology has been replicated by many another shopkeepers. A charcoal cooler or a ‘fridge’, as they call it addresses the need for refrigeration in areas where electricity is unavailable. It is a small box that at a far distance could make you think that it provided shelter to young chicks, but the closer you go to it, you are convinced otherwise.
From the side, the structure is covered with wet sisal sacks. Every morning, Miss Lillian, the shop attendant wets the sacks and the charcoal to ensure that her customers get their favorite drink at desired temperature through out the day.
A charcoal cooler uses the principal of evaporative cooling to maintain a cool interior temperature for refrigeration and food preservation. The device is constructed from an open timber frame with charcoal filled sides, which is kept continually moist. As warm, dry air flows through the moist charcoal, water is evaporated into the air and it is cooled. Evaporative cooling has an added benefit of increasing the air moisture content, preventing food from drying out and further extending shelf life.
The charcoal cooler can hold up to eight crates of soda and several boxes of distilled water and this has met the needs of people and at the same time bringing a lot of income for the shop owner due to high sales for these drinks as Miss Lillian narrates “.... After I introduced this technology, I am able to sell three times more than I used to sell before”.
After inquiring where she got the technology from, this is what she had to say, “…. I adopted this technology from my aunt who is always outgoing and has visited many countries of the world including Sudan where she borrowed the technology and uses the same to preserve drinking water and fresh vegetables at her backyard. I then decided to replicate the same at Nguruman to help people fight high temperatures by ensuring they obey their thirst by always having cold drinks”.
This technology is cheap to adopt since it is made from locally available material, and occupies small space. It also requires very little attention i.e., pouring some water every morning. It is a technology that can be adopted by farmers in this region to preserve their fresh produce giving it a longer shelve life and preventing their produce from spoiling due to high temperatures. Bearing in mind that Nguruman area produces almost all vegetables and fruits consumed in Magadi, Kiserian and some parts of Nairobi like city market, this technology can be very helpful to farmers. In hot climates where electricity is unavailable, refrigeration of food is a developmental need.
In Sudan, for example, tomatoes will only last 2 days in the hot sun. Preservation of crops through refrigeration can help fight hunger and starvation in the developing world by keeping foods fresh longer. For example, when housed using a similar evaporative cooling device, the life of tomatoes can be extended from 2 to 20 days as well, this may apply to other vegetables and fruits. Farmers are therefore encouraged to embrace the technology to ensure that, they preserve their surplus fresh produce for their families and for a longer period of time.