Everybody needs food, water, and shelter to survive. When any of these are at risk, the bulk of an individual’s attention must be spent on seeking sources for these needs. In developing countries, often there are not readily available sources to meet these needs and people suffer from malnutrition, disease, and exposure.
To combat issues related to food security and potable water, three simple technologies look especially encouraging.
The Science and Promise of Evaporative Cooling
The promise of evaporative cooling lies in applying science to devices that will diminish the level of food insecurity in developing nations. These devices operate without the need for electricity.
The science behind evaporative cooling is simple. The process involves evaporation, whereby liquid changes into gas. This change absorbs heat from the surrounding environment. The absorption results in a cooling of the surface involved. You’ve experienced it yourself on a hot day, when you perspire your body cools down.
One type of device, dating back to the Egyptians and reinvented by a Nigerian teacher, is a Zeer Pot. With this type of pot, evaporation does the work of keeping the contents of the inner pot cool. This extends the life of the food inside the pot.
This short video demonstrates this clever technique:
Solar Cooking and Water Purification
Sunlight is a virtually unlimited source of energy. Even on the coldest day, the energy from sunlight can be used to cook food and heat water to the purification point. All that is required is a shiny surface to direct the light to a dark cooking vessel. The energy heats the cooking pot and the food within.
In the developing world, the need for this alternative to cooking over a wood fire is urgent as wood becomes more and more difficult to obtain. One successful type of solar cooker is the sun oven which involves a box, the oven, with a glass lid surrounded by reflective panels.
Moringa oleifera Seeds for Water Purification
The World Health Organisation estimates that each year, the lack of access to clean drinking water causes 1.6 million deaths. Chemical treatment of water requires resources and funding that is not readily available in developing nations. Heating water to the necessary purification point requires fuel for a wood fire or a solar cooking apparatus.
Researchers at Penn State, led by Stephanie Butler Velegol, looked to the past for successful water treatment methods. They discovered that Moringa oleifera seeds (Drumstick Flower seeds) could be used to kill waterborne bacteria.
The Moringa oleifera plant can be cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions and often grows wild . The seeds are just one part of this plant that is a common food source. As far back as the Egyptians, the seeds were rubbed on the inside surface of a dry clay pot. When the water its added, the material in the pot will purify the water.
This simple, low-tech method holds great promise for those who face a lack of potable water.
These three simple technologies show how it’s very possible to address food security and potable water in developing nations. Imagine the impact they’d have if everyone had access to them.