Mobah Rural Horizons. (DRAFT). On the real condition of the majority of northern Nigeria’s rural poor:
I saw the agony and helplessness of the people who produce what was not enough to sustain them yet, lose them as they spoil. I discovered that their major problem was their inability to store the crops (particularly the perishable ones) they have produced which made them to sell at give away prices to avoid their spoiling. I saw girls who ought to be in school hawk food and perishable farm products around communities. At times, when they have nobody to buy them, they spoil and still have to live with the odour and the health effects. After much agonizing, I thought of and found a way out to help these people. My vision of what I could do is the mission of Mobah Rural Horizons.”
(Rolex Awards, 2005; Worldaware, n.d.; Ashoka, 2008)
With successful trial runs and marketing, he established Mobah Rural Horizons the next year in Kano, Nigeria.
(For more details on the physical process, see links on technical information section of References.)
Images taken from:
http://www.jumpjet.info/Emergency-Preparedness/Emergency-Supplies/Zeer_Pot.pdf. See Final Slide (Technical Information Links).
The success of these activities affirm Abba’s conviction that the ressources in Northern Nigeria could be mobilized to help generate and spread rural development.
Despite elements of hardline patriarchy in northern Nigeria, Abba has also worked to expand the technology and practice to women in northern Nigeria.
From Worldaware: “One of his aims is to improve the situation of married women who, traditionally, cannot leave their village. He runs education centres for them and has found that his desert coolers help them earn the money to buy soap and other things they need.” (Worldaware, n.d.)
By spring 2005, over 90,000 zeers were sold. Mobah Rural Horizons now sells around 30,000 coolers a year to farmers and others who seek to preserve food cheaply (Rolex Awards, 2005; Ayllu & CSTS, n.d.).
Awards for the invention of the zeer and the work of Mobah Rural Horizons include:
(Ayllu & CSTS, n.d.; TIME, 2001)
The freshness of most produce is extended by 5 to 10 times thanks to the Zeer
Negative health effects due to the prevalence of rotting or moderately spoiled food has also been reduced.
Darfuri women training to produce Zeers (Practical Action, n.d.) The technology has expanded into Sudan with the support of Practical Action and local groups. It has also reached Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Ethiopia, and Eritrea (Tech Museum, 2011).
Because vegetables are preserved for longer farmers no longer have to rush as before and can sell to demand. In the case of Darfur, they can make an additional 25-30% income (Node Africa, 2010). Money is also saved in that unsold food can be consumed as opposed to thrown away. Mobah has also provided employment and new local industry for potmakers.
Taken together, the improvements depicted can be seen as an outgrowth of Abba’s belief that our purpose is to make good use of the tools given to us by improving the lives of others:
“I felt we all have obligations to mankind at large which are not in consequence to any special voluntary pact, but rather they arise from the relationships of man-to-man and man-to-God.”
- Mohammed Bah Abba (Social Edge, 2007).
For those farmers who rely on their crops for subsistence and income, and who have no other means of refrigeration, the power and value of the invention is apparent. More generally the case demonstrates that local ingenuity and social entrepreneurship, even with minimal recognition or funding in the formative period, can help alleviate poverty even in difficult, stateless environments.
“For a country like Nigeria which has over 140 million people, government can not be the sole provider of everything. So people have to act and act very fast and think of other ways and means through which people can survive. Traditional initiatives, cultural initiatives will help as well, of which the pot-in-pot is one and helping.”
- Mohammed Bah Abba (Rolex Awards, 2005a).
Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. (2008). Mohammed Bah Abba. Last Retrieved July 6, 2012 from http://www.ashoka.org/fellow/mohammed-bah-abba.
Ayllu Initiative and Centre for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University (Ayllu & CSTS). (n.d.). Mobah Rural Horizons: A Power-Free Rural Pot-in-pot Refrigeration System. Last Retrieve July 6, 2012 from http://energymap-scu.org/mobah-rural-horizons/. Rolex Awards. (2005). Mohammed Bah Abba. Rolex Awards for Enterprise. Last Retrieved July 6, 2012 from http://www.rolexawards.com/profiles/laureates/mohammed_bah_abba/project.
Development of a low-cost cooler to preserve perishable foods in countries with arid climates (n.d.) Food Chain Magazine. Retrieved July 6, 2012 from http://www.jumpjet.info/Emergency-Preparedness/Emergency-Supplies/Zeer_Pot.pdf.
Node Africa. (2010). Mohammed Bah Abba Brings Fresh Change with the Zeer Pot (Nigeria). Last Retrieved July 6, 2012 from http://nodeafrica.visualsociety.com/fresh-change-with-the-zeer-pot-nigeria/
Omonona, B. (2010). Quantitative Analysis of Rural Poverty in Nigeria. International Food and Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).Last Retrieved July 6, 2012 from http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/nssppb17.pdf
Oluwasolo, O. (2011). Pot-in-pot Enterprise: Fridge for the Poor. United Nations Development Programme. Last Retrieved July 6, 2012 from http://growinginclusivemarkets.org/media/cases/Nigeria_PotInPot_2011.pdf.
Practical Action. (n.d.) The Clay Refrigerator. Last retrieved July 6, 2012 from http://practicalaction.org/docs/region_sudan/clay-based-technology-refrigerator.pdf
Rolex Awards. (2005a). Mohammed Bah Abba – Overview [Video file]. Last Retrieved July 6, 2012 from http://www.rolexawards.com/profiles/laureates/mohammed_bah_abba/overview .
Social Edge. (2007, December 19). Mohammed Abba – Nigeria [Video File]. Last Retrieved July 6, 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9zKghNEu3M&feature=related .
Tech Museum. (2011, August 18). Mohammed Bah Abba [Video File]. Last Retrieved July 6, 2012 from Youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZCcfci2y1U.
TIME. (2001). Best Inventions of 2001. Last Retrieved on July 6, 2012 from http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1936165_1936254_1936632,00.html
Worldaware. (n.d.) The Shell Award for Sustainable Development – The Winner: Mobah Rural Horizons. Last Retrieved July 6, 2012 from http://www.worldaware.org.uk/awards/awards2001/mobah.html.