With Only 1 Litre Water A Week, Mini Solar Tent Preserves 200+ Kgs Of Fruits & Veggies For 10 Days

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“What water is to a tree, education is to poverty” – reads the motto for Baraa Primary School, located in the outskirts of Arusha, Tanzania. The school educates children from one of the most impoverished communities in the area. A survey by a medical team revealed that a major percentage of the students were undernourished, lacking vital nutrients and vitamins. The school authority came up with a unique solution – planting an organic vegetable garden on the school grounds, maintained by the students themselves. However, the problem prevailed in storing the fresh produce of fruits, vegetables and leafy greens. In an area where electricity is a luxury, keeping a refrigerator was out of the question. Inevitably, food was being wasted, even with persistent malnutrition.

No one has ever become poor by giving
-Anne Frank

The solution came in 2015 through Wakati – a solar-powered innovation that performs effectively stores fresh produce for up to 10 days with zero power consumption. Designed by Arne Pauwels from Belgium, Wakati does not deploy any cooling process, rather it keeps the fruits and vegetables hydrated, powered by a compact 10 Watt solar panel.

The first-of-its-kind product, which seeks to solve food spoilage and wastage in countries plagued by the food crisis, has drawn inspiration from primitive sustainable coolers, where water played a major role in preserving the harvest for years, even centuries, reported Fast Company.

How Wakati works

Remember the movie The Martian? The science-fiction showed stranded astronaut Mark Watney growing potatoes on a planet hostile to life, using some ingenious techniques. In reality, the preservation mechanism in a Wakati device works in a similar manner, where a humid microclimate is artificially simulated inside a small tent-like structure.

“I would try to preserve fruit and vegetables in a hot, extremely humid microclimate,” Wakati founder Arne Pauwels shared with Fast Company about how he conceptualised the invention. After a few rounds of experimentation, Pauwels came up with a medium-sized tent with a solar-powered evaporator installed inside it. The interior humidity from the evaporator keeps the produce fresh alongside saving water, using only one litre of water in a week. In addition, the system is antifungal and self-sterilising, negating the need for any manual intervention. One Wakati unit can preserve up to 200 kg of fruits and vegetables.

The working principle of Wakati, as described in their website, works in three distinct ways.

“1) Increasing the humidity to keep cell structure intact

2) Ozone sterilisation to reduce mould growth

3) Oxidising storage”

Several Wakati units have already been installed in rural interiors of developing nations like Tanzania, Haiti, Uganda and Afghanistan, which are enabling farmers to ensure a longer shelf life of their harvest of toil.

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Agriculture undoubtedly occupies predominance in a country like India, with tremendous population pressure. However, the absence of proper storage facilities leads to wastage of a whopping $14 billion worth of food every year, while 194 million Indians go to bed hungry, states a 2018 Reuters report. A system like Wakati can resolve farmers’ woes to a large extent, especially for those who travel for days to export their harvest from one town to another.

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

5 Hours, 12 People & A Conscious Kid: That’s All It Took To Clean Up A Lake Choking With Plastic Waste

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A small, unkempt water body adjoining a bustling railway station failed to catch the attention of the passers-by as well as local residents. The tiny lake next to Sheoraphuli railway station in West Bengal was officially the property of Government Railway Police (GRP), but over the years it had turned into a garbage dump, thanks to negligence from the authorities and localites alike.
It could have stayed like that until plastic completely choked it up, had it not been for a group of local youths, who decided to dedicate only five hours on a Sunday morning to clean it up. Now, the lake is greeting everyone with its newfound grace, adorned with seasonal blooms of water lily and lotus.

That’s what it all took – a group of barely 11-12 people and five hours of a single day.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

How did the lake turn into a dumping zone

Talking to Efforts For Good, Bivas Gupta, one of the volunteers in the cleaning drive, shares, “Even a year ago, the lake was comparatively cleaner. It would be covered with water lily throughout the year. You could even spot fish playing in the clear water. But, once people started throwing plastic, it did not take long for it to turn into a foul-smelling, dirty eyesore in the middle of the town.”

The rushing crowd of commuters, to and from the railway station, would not mind throwing their share of plastic packets and bottles into the lake. In the evenings, the area around the lake became an adda zone for the local youth, who would unabashedly continue dumping plastic, food packets, cigarette stubs etc. into it.

Nobody seemed bothered about the worsening condition of the lake, as they were accustomed to seeing such clogged up water bodies all around.

Taking responsibility in their own hands

“Our repeated appeals to the authorities went unheard. So, we decided to take the responsibility upon ourselves. My friend Tandril gathered some volunteers from neighbouring areas, and we set to work at around 5 AM on a Sunday morning,” Bivas shares.

The group used some fishing nets and also handpicked the plastic waste from the lake, before disposing it of in the municipal garbage vans. Alongside the grown-ups, 7-year-old Rumjan, who calls the railway platform his home, also lent his helping hand tirelessly for four and a half hours.

By 9:30 AM, the lake was spick and span, with its clean water glistening on the surface. To the delight of the volunteers, within a week, water lilies came back to the lake and fish were spotted again.

To prevent future inaction

The group has also submitted a mass appeal to the concerned railway authorities requesting proper management of the lake henceforth. They have also put up posters all around the lake, prohibiting the public from dumping plastic into it.

“We were astonished by the outcome. We would love to continue our work with other water bodies in our area. If young people everywhere can take some time out of their PUBG matches and sharing memes, we can do so much for our environment,” Bivas asserts with an earnest appeal to everyone.

Efforts For Good take

From Bengaluru to Kolkata, every major Indian city which was once dotted with lakes, ponds and pools is now dealing with the problem of dying water bodies due to human negligence. It begins with a single plastic cup or plate, and it ends with choking up the lifelines of a city.

The volunteers at Sheoraphuli has set a blazing example of how a little bit of effort from a few conscious citizens can do wonders in no time. Efforts For Good urges all their readers to devote just a few hours of their free time and clean up a dying water body near them.

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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