Refrigeration Challenge – community research

Centre for Appropriate Technology Discussion General discussion Refrigeration Challenge – community research

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    Kawa Kurdistan

    Hi guys,

    My team and I are working on the refrigeration challenge for Cape York. We were hoping to get information and insight into the communities there that would our project would be designed for. From our understanding there are 17 Indigenous communities in Cape York. Of these communities we imagine there could be crossover in cultural practice, although we would like to probe how much crossover occurs specifically in food storage and refrigeration. Moreover, in conjunction with this area of interest, we were hoping to possibly get answers and/or specific resources on the following questions:

    1. Are our assumptions regarding all 17 Indigenous communities in Cape
    York correct. More specifically is the maximum scope of the project
    for these communities exclusively? Which resources would give the
    most precise information regarding those communities?

    2. What are the crossovers in cultural practice of the 17 Indigenous
    communities if any, especially regarding food consumption. (as
    earlier stated)

    3. What are the common cultural practices of those communities in
    refrigerating and more broadly, preserving food, and
    what major ways are these practices failing to meet food security
    for these communities.

    4. Are there specific challenges that make it harder for some
    in particular, that put them at higher risk of food scarcity or
    spoiling? (i.e. some communities may be coastal, increased flooding

    5. And finally can you recommend a resource page, or several that have
    accurate and up to date information, especially regarding the issue
    of food refrigeration?

    I greatly appreciate your help, and I extend that from my team. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Rachel Alford

    Hi Kawa,

    Thanks for your questions! I’ll answer them below individually.

    1. Across the Cape, there are different clan and language groups, however for the purposes of refrigeration, it’s appropriate to assume similarity.

    The scope of the project depends on you and the type of solution you design. Whilst the solution does need to be appropriate for the Cape York context, it is up to you to decide the scale of your design proposal. One desire that community members have expressed is for fridge/freezers to have greater capacity to hold meat from the large game that they hunt – you could consider modelling your design based on this. It’s also important to consider that CfAT also works in remote areas of Cape York, such as ranger stations and homesteads. 

    In terms of resources, as I mentioned in my email to you, I recommend taking a look at the resources listed in ‘Tips for Getting Started: Explore the Community Context’ and expand on your research from there. You could also look at the Cape York Land Council website. We have a huge range of resources available on the EWB Challenge website that I suggest you explore, and then search externally depending on what kind of information you are looking to find out more about. 

    We can’t provide you with hyper-specific information about specific communities, as we have agreed to protect their anonymity, however you will be able to find enough general information to make some informed assumptions. Ideally your design will be modular and flexible so it can be deployed in a variety of contexts. 

    2. As mentioned in the answer to question 1 above, you can assume relationships to food consumption are very similar across Cape York. 

    3. Currently food storage in Cape York is done with typical fridges and freezers, similar to the rest of Australia. The main concern is the availability of power, as fridges and freezers are quite power intensive. Due to the remoteness of Cape York, many residents will do a bulk shop, and store food for the long term, which requires continual electrical access. As energy is limited and can be unreliable in Cape York, there is an interest in alternative methods of preserving food. Another concern is that the currently fridge and freezer capacity can be too small to store whole carcasses of animals that have been hunted. 

    4. The main concern for communities regarding food storage is the availability of power and capacity constraints. Coastal flooding is not a big issue in Cape York because of the protection offered by the reef.  Flooding and weather related concerns are relevant across the Cape, so your design will need to be resilient against these factors. 

    5. We have a huge number of resources available on our website which I encourage you to explore, however there is also an expectation that you will conduct your own wider research relevant to your design proposal. There are also a number of really great questions and answers on this discussion forum relating to alternative methods of refrigeration that I encourage you to explore.

    Part of the EWB Challenge is researching and understanding a context to design an appropriate solution for – all without visiting it. We understand that not all information is readily available and that you will have to make some assumptions as you go through your design process. I recommend taking a look at our FAQs: Big Tricky Questions document (found in the Resources section), as this explains how you can manage some of the ambiguity around putting together a design proposal for the EWB Challenge.

    Good luck!

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