By Ebele Orakpo
These days when the in -thing is to go green and avoid contact with harmful chemicals as much as possible, some students of Yola, Adamawa State-based American University of Nigeria have devised a wood and electricity-free oven for rural dwellers who depend solely on firewood for cooking usually obtained by felling trees with its attendant consequences on the environment.
Instead of felling trees and encouraging desert encroachment, the students decided to make use of the abundant sun in the state. The oven and chicken tractor were fabricated using a design first developed at a Kenyan refugee camp. Talk about bringing something good out of a bad situation!
Solar oven: Living up to its billing as Africa’s first development university whose aim is to raise future leaders who will impact their communities and the continent positively, the students did not only learn the theories but applied what they learnt in their Community Development class, to make their community safer, more environment-friendly and better life foe the people.
Working under the supervision of AUN’s former Director of Sustainability, Professor Charles Reith, Mr Rotimi Ogundijo and Mr. Matthew Abedoh, all of the Sustainability Unit of the university, the students used recycled cardboard, masking tape, glue and aluminium foil to construct the solar ovens. Each oven took them about 45 minutes to construct and it cooks really fast.
The Chicken tractors were made from scrap metal and pieces of discarded chicken wire (poultry netting). A Chicken tractor is a screened-in box or portable bottomless cage or pen used by organic farmers to prepare soil for planting. The chickens are confined in the tractor and they eat all the weeds, bugs, scratch the soil and fertilize it with their guano or faeces (which is a highly effective fertilizer due to its exceptionally high content of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium essential for plant growth.) This is one of many ways organic growers fertilize their farms without using harmful and expensive chemicals.
The students distributed the solar ovens and chicken tractors to villagers in nearby communities as part of their contribution to human development.