NYEGINA is one of the villages in Musoma District, Mara Region. The village is located some 16 kilometres from the town centre.
I recently visited the village, to pay homage to my ancestral home. It had been ten years since I last visited Nyegina Village. Not so much has changed except for more brick houses and the availability of electricity in some few houses.
However, what caught my attention was not this change but a cooker that uses solar energy. It's just not the solar cookers that we know about but a much simpler cooker. So many Tanzanians struggle to make the ends meet in providing their families with the daily basic needs.
Some of them succeed, but others barely make it. This cooker is an example of a cheap technology that will help the majority of population that struggles to meet its daily basic needs. It is another invention that would simply make life less miserable.
The cooker only needs a few materials to be made, which can be easily obtained; box materials, aluminum, and cloth used for book binds like those used on counter books. The cooker is designed in such a way that a cooking pot with food is simply placed inside it.
Depending on the size, even two cooking pots painted in black colour can be placed in the cooker which is then placed in the sun for the food to cook. The scientific process applied here is that the aluminum material is a good conductor of heat. Thus the material on the inside of the cooker receives heat from the sun and passes it to the cooking pot whose material also conducts heat.
This is because the black colour painted around the pot absorbs heat. Therefore the food is heated in such manner till it is fully cooked. For most of the technology we use today, we consider one important aspect; whether it is environmental friendly. In this case, the cooker serves the purpose.
Besides, environmentalists have always looked for alternative sources of energy other than charcoal and firewood which are largely used in our country. Further, the sun is an energy resource that cannot be overexploited and it never is exhausted.
The cooker also uses cost effective materials, no installation costs are incurred and the operation is easy. One only needs to place the cooking pot inside the cooker and place it under the sun It is suitable for rural areas where people spend most of their time on the farms and come back late in the evening.
Therefore, the food can be left in the cooker and can be removed in the evening when it will definitely be ready. In addition, the cooker is useful for foods that take long hours to cook such as makande and beans. However, despite its usefulness the cooker has its disadvantages. Perhaps it could be modified to improve its functioning. The cooker is time consuming since it takes long hours for food to cook.
During the rainy season or when sunshine isn't sufficient the cooker is not useful. And in rainy areas the cooker can get destroyed since it is made of boxes. It is also not adequate that once you place the food inside the cooker, one needs to watch for animals since the top of the cooker is not covered.
The question however is do people really benefit from such inventions? It seems the authorities is too busy to realize that such innovations do exist and support for improvement is important. According to a relative, the women in the village were taught by the parish nuns how to make these cookers.
The private sector has played its role inventing and educating the women, what then of the public sector? My aunty does not use the cooker and so do most of the women who attended the one week seminar at the parish church. Projects such as these could be expanded into bigger ones and start them in urban areas too were life is also expensive.