Monday, March 12, 2012

CTI Volunteer Heads to Ethiopia

By Roger Wilson, CTI Volunteer Project Lead

My name is Roger Wilson, and I've just arrived in Ethiopia, where I am volunteering on behalf of
Compatible Technology International (CTI). I am the volunteer project leader for an Ethiopian-focused project named the “Pepper Eater.”

The Pepper Eater is new device in development that flakes dried Berbere peppers into pieces—an essential step in making the Berbere powder blend that is the staple hot additive for most Ethiopian foods. This flaking is now often done by hand or in a mortar and pestle, which exposes women to harmful pepper dust, causing them to suffer mentally and physically in the days following the processing. 

While in Ethiopia, I will be joined by two engineers who  developed the concept of the Pepper Eater 
during their time at Stanford University. After designing the initial Pepper Eater in Stanford’s Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability class, the students brought the concept to CTI to develop a production version. We will conduct field trials of two prototypes versions of the Pepper Eater in order to inform our final design. We will be hosted by non-profit Project Mercy at their community development site in Yetebon, Ethiopia.

Much of the daily food used in Ethiopia has to be ground: teff (grain staple), peppers & blends, dried legumes, etc. I am going work with the Yetebon staff to evaluate the CTI Ewing IV grinder for the grinding of many of the foodstuffs and its cultural and functional fit in the community. It does take time and effort to grind, but the women now have to either pound to powder in mortar or carry their items to be ground 8-15 miles (one way) to leave at the miller for pickup a couple weeks later. So my hope is that we will be able to enable women to process peppers without the worst of the health problems and be able to reclaim time that can be better spent on other family tasks by using the grinder. And for some, these technologies might provide a core for a micro-enterprise earning them money

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