Ethiopian Ingenuity: Turning Mortar Shells Into Coffee Makers

There’s an interesting story on the BBC about an Ethiopian gentleman who is taking war’s leftovers and converting them into coffee machines.

He uses old mortar shells, which stand about one metre high, to make his coffee machines.

He cuts off the pointed ends, seals them and puts holes into the aluminium cylinder. The cylinder channels the water, coffee and milk.

Read the rest of the story

Making Coffee Machines from Old Mortar Shells

(hat tip Elizabeth)

Kenya Ceramic Jiko

The larger part of Africa’s population do not have access to “processed” fuels like natural gas or modern cooking equipment. This means they are primarily dependent on open wood fires, a method of cooking that it extremely inefficient and harzardous to the environment.

The Kenya Ceramic Jiko (“jiko” is the Swahili word for cooker) solves two problems simulataneouly by addressing the issue of high cost of raw material for making the cooking equipment as well as reducing the amount of biomass required to cook by using available energy more efficiently.

Kenya Ceramic Jiko

Kenya Ceramic Jiko

This ingenious application of appropriate technology is composed of a fired ceramic heat containing liner fitted inside a metal housing. This housing is typically made from metal sheeting from discarded packaging – such as the ubiquitous 55 gallon steel drum – that would otherwise have ended up as hazardous waste in the environment. The liner essentially acts as an insulator when burning wood or charcoal containing the heat generated to ensure that it goes to cooking rather than escaping into the environment. This means that the ceramic cooker typically uses between 25 to 40% less fuel than a regular jiko.

Kenya Ceramic Jiko

You can find more information about this ingenious invention at the following links:

– Daniel Kammen’s Cook stoves for the developing world.
– Equator Initiative’s A burning concern.

Hugh Allen has also published a handbook of making Kenya Ceramic Jikos through the Stylus publishing house.

Kenya Ceramic Jiko in use

Making Tools from Scratch

Tools for specific needs can be expensive or hard to come by in some places in Africa. It could be something as simple as a certain sized wrench that is needed to remove a particular bolt.

I decided to take a short walk in Nairobi and just see what caught my eye. Bernard runs a small engine repair shop on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. Mostly, he fixes lawn mower engines for the wealthy people living nearby, however he also fixes about any other small engine that you can think of.

The tools shown below are just what he works with. Many times he has to fabricate pieces that would be impossible to buy, or to expensive for him to make a profit on. It is really amazing to see him work, and to watch the problem-solving take place. As Bernard shows us in this video and pictures, your imagination and ingenuity are the only things holding you back.

Tools Made from Spare Parts

Below, a piece of rebar is bent, and the end hollowed-out to make a specific sized wrench:

rebar wrench Rebar Wrench 2

Below, a bolt from a truck tire is welded to a piece of metal to make a specific sized Allen wrench for small engines:

Truck Bolt = Wrench

A video explaining how Bernard created the tool.