Survival in the Desert Sun: Cool Food Storage

Authors: Dr. Priti Parikh, University of London and Andrew Lamb, Engineers Without Borders

This case study looks at a technology that people who live in the heat and dust of North Darfur use to preserve their food. It is a clay and sand pot called a Zeer Pot. When placed in the sunshine, it uses the phenomena of evaporative cooling to cool the vegetables stored inside it. This is of vital importance to people for their own food supplies and for affordably preserving food for market. The case study is based on work by Practical Action Sudan (Practical Action Nepal, 2014).


  1. The positive impact of even a ‘basic technology’ (uses basic principles) on people’s lives
  2. An understanding of the engineer’s role in technology choice
  3. The challenge and importance of effectively communicating know-how about technology ensure that the technology is used properly


Class Activity: Individual work and calculations about the performance of refrigeration pots for a variety of storage conditions.

Homework Activity: Individual work and a web activity – writing an online guide for making a cooling device.