Among the items on display during this year’s Youth Empowerment Conference held at the Machakos People’s Park on February 19 was a locally assembled refrigerator.
The brains behind the innovation is credited to Joel Kimeu, aged 25 and Angie Mwende, 20, both students at the Vyulya Vocational Training Centre situated at Masii town Mwala Sub-County in Machakos.
When KNA inquired from the duo the motivation behind the innovation, they said it was to help the rural folk acquire cheap equipment that can help them in preserving their foodstuff and drinking water owing to the hot climatic conditions of the area.
Similarly, according to Mwende there was a feeling that since the area was not connected to electricity, an improvised refrigerator that employs use of locally available materials would be the ideal solution to the residents of the Sub-county, majority of whom are low income earners, eking out a living by tilling their small farms and keeping a few livestock.
“We felt the need to come up with an alternative way of preserving food in our homes in a more affordable method without necessarily having to depend on modern refrigeration appliances which are out of reach for many rural families. Moreover, our object was to ensure our product runs on a locally available fuel which is not only readily accessible but quite affordable to many rural folk,” explained Mwende, during the interview.
To put the idea into reality, the two budding engineers were assisted by the staff of the institution alongside a host of other things.
The small refrigerator is designed just like a contemporary one apart from the fact that this one is constructed using iron sheets, wood, and wire mesh and runs on charcoal as opposed to electricity or solar.
It is designed just like an ordinary refrigerator with both the inside and outside of the apparatus fitted with paneled sheets with a narrow lining in between for the charcoal and a wire mesh.
Pieces of wood are then used to hammer the entire covering into place meaning the equipment can always be disassembled if need be.
The upper side of the fridge is then stuffed with a layer of charcoal and is fitted with a lid which you can always remove to add water to keep the temperature low.
However, according to the two youthful innovators, the amount of water is proportionate to how cold one wishes her foodstuffs to remain. It takes a maximum of three working days to make a single unit.
“The water amount varies according to how cold you need your food to be. On average one can use at least 6 to 7 liters of cold water in order to attain the desired temperature. But again this will depend on what one intends to preserve,” she continued.
The charcoal can be removed by turning the fridge upside down for maintenance purposes after it has absorbed much water.
Usually, maintenance can be done after every month when a fresh supply of charcoal can be added. One who acquires this locally made equipment can either use it for keeping fresh fruits ,vegetables ,water ,meat or even cooked food for use at a later date.
So far the institution has already managed to sell four of the units to the public each retailing at Sh.15,000.
The product retails at Sh. 15,000 for the largest model and four units have already been sold out.
“This product is suitable for areas with no electricity connection and also to those intending to go the natural way in preserving their food items. The product is not only effective in performance but also cheap to maintain,” added Kimeu.
He is now calling on young people to invest in their God given talents not only to attain their goals in life but also to provide solutions to the challenges that face the world today.
Kimeu says the success of the project is not only an idea worth celebrating but it is a rallying call to young Kenyans to take up the challenge by doing something that can change the world around them.
By Samuel Maina/Nelius Muthoni/Christian Nguzo