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Melat commented on How To "Keep Fresh" Sign

Such a cool idea! You could even start an info-graph movement on how to store fruits and vegetables! Looking forward to seeing the results of this project. Best of luck! 

Dear Mismak,

Your proposal sounds fantastic and Toronto seems to be the ideal city for it! I recently read a book titled 'food' edited by John Knechtel which talks about the food production and industry there, and it was very inspiring! Below are my comments:

While Toronto provides the diversity of food like most cosmopolitan cities, it would be great if your club addresses the food production process including how/where food is produced, transported, and thrown away. I think this understanding will create a more fruitful food relationship within the club members, it could also lead to a more sustainable process where you could promote local and/or organic food production within the city. Are you also in touch with the food banks which are already set up in the city - they could be potential partners to your club.

Keep up the good work, and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of your idea!


Melat commented on Clay Food Storage - the Gulit Project

Hi Chioma!

Thank you very much to you and your team of experts on the feedback you have given us. Below are some of the points that we have tried to answer based on literature review and discussion with various specialists. We hope it helps clarify our points!

(a) Regarding expert advice on food conservation, required temperature, and sanitary issues:

1. Zeer pot ( This clay pot cooler is an evaporative cooling refrigeration device which does not use electricity. It only requires a flow of relatively dry air and a source of water. Such cooling devices are favorable in areas with low humidity (like Addis Ababa) and could achieve temperatures as low as 4.40 C, which is the temperature below which food spoilage bacteria have significantly slowed growth.

2. Evaporative cooler ((Ndukwu. M. C. Development of a Low Cost Mud Evaporative Cooler for Preservation of Fruits and Vegetables. Agricultural Engineering International: CIGR Journal. Manuscript No.1781. Vol. 13, No.1, 2011. Provisional PDF Version):
Ndukwu’s exemplary evaporative cooler is developed with clay and other locally available materials. It has reduced the daily maximum ambient temperature by up to 10 0 C. It was also able to preserve freshly harvested tomato for 19 days before visible colour changes and mould spotting appeared and the weight drastically reduced. On his literature he also quotes various examples for the preservation of fruits and vegetables which include straw packing houses reported by FAO in 1986. Information on required temperatures for fruits and vegetables are attached.
The above mentioned and a few other examples have helped us understand that evaporative cooling techniques can work in gulits. We are currently working with a collaborative of local craftswomen for options to use and also prolong the life of the clay structures. This would be done either through developing a sustainable approach to burn the entire structure or only the surface. There are also ways to work with grease and other locally available surface coating materials that could avoid rodent attacks.
By reducing waste in general, the project also expects to relieve burden on sanitation needs and help to improve overall public sanitation and health conditions. We have discovered that there are SMEs in certain Kebeles who collect organic waste from such gulits, make compost and sell to urban farmers. This could be a way forward in that regards. 

(b) Regarding the project’s relevance to resilience, and its contribution to change economic/livelihood patterns in urban slums:
The temperature in Addis Ababa has been showing increases in past several decades. Meteorological data from 1951 to 2002 shows that minimum and maximum temperatures increasing trends of 0.4°C/decade and 0.2°C/decade respectively (see temperature tables of Addis Ababa attached).
Mitigation and adaptation to this changing climate are already instilled within our project. We will be looking at cooling devices solving: energy, water, and food losses while at the same time benefiting the local vendors in the markets.
Our initial conversations with these vendors, in November 2015 revealed that food preservation and storage are central concerns in gulits. Every evening vendors discard leftover produce, and every morning they purchase new produce from wholesalers creating a cyclical pattern of waste. Looking at the context of city and the rising costs of food, this project looks to explore how storage techniques can help the economic sustainability of the vendors while at the same time help reduce the increasing food waste in markets.

(C)Regarding how cooling mainly needed during the day is combined with the cool nights in Addis:
Evaporative cooling systems not only reduce the storage temperature but also increase relative humidity. Our proposal will work well in Addis Ababa’s climate where nights could be cold and dry. It will increase the relative humidity of the storage system, which is good for maintaining freshness of fruits and vegetables.
The display and storage of goods is a design challenge that we have yet to solve during our prototyping phase - we are now starting with prototyping individually scaled clay based storage units and over the next two months will be holding a design-build workshop between local clay craftspeople and university students. The outcomes of the workshop will help solve the mentioned design questions.

(d) Regarding our intended users:
Small-scale urban vendors and food related business owners are all very excited about our proposal! The Kebeles, of the neighborhoods that we have focused on are also keen to find out the results of the proposal! This is a service desired by all the stakeholders in the gulits throughout the city. This project will have a huge impact in the social dynamics and economical flow. 

We look forward hearing from you!