SEATTLE — Ever heard of a Zeer Pot cooler? Most likely, the answer is no. This device, uncommon in the United States, is making big strides in poverty-stricken countries like Sudan.
A Zeer pot is a “clay evaporative cooler,” or a refrigerator that does not require electricity. This natural chiller has proven effective in helping produce and other foodstuffs stay fresher longer, a big step in working to end global hunger.
The creator of this tool is an organization called Practical Action. Based out of the U.K., Practical Action is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that works toward technological solutions to the globally poor’s problems.
In 2001, the NGO looked into how well their invention actually preserved food. They found that the Zeer Pot did, indeed, increase the lifespan of produce and crops. Practical Action’s webpage on the Zeer Pot states that instead of lasting four days, “using this simple technology, the same vegetable can last for up to 20 days.”
Just as the results seem simple and clear-cut, so does the process of building a Zeer Pot. It was important to Practical Action that poor families could easily make their own refrigerators. However, if the materials are not available, the Business Fights Poverty website says “the cooler costs around $20 to buy in Sudan.”
To construct a Zeer Pot, three materials are needed: one big clay pot, one smaller one to be placed inside the larger one and wet sand. Once the smaller pot is placed inside of the larger one, a layer of wet sand is packed between them.
The wet sand seeps through the smaller pot, creating the cooling effect. Water must be added twice a day to keep the sand wet and the food inside the pots cool. This is a relatively simple process for such a large impact.
What is the impact of a carrot being edible for a few more weeks? Quite simply, this device is helping to end world hunger. The device has had a tremendous impact on one Sudanese life. Hawa Abbas says after being introduced to the Zeer Pot, her and her family’s life “has been so much better.”
In hot and muggy climates, like Sudan and Nigeria, the Zeer Pot has already changed lives. It has been especially rewarding for the families who have been able to plant and harvest food. They no longer have to worry about wasting the bad food. Instead, they can enjoy all of it and its benefits.
– Sydney Missigman