Some of Kenya’s camels are carrying the solar-powered mini fridges on their backs as part of a test project that uses camels as mobile health clinics. It is hoped that the eco-friendly transport system will provide a cheap, reliable way of getting much-needed medicines and vaccines to rural communities in Kenya and Ethiopia.
The Nomadic Communities Trust has been using camels as mobile health clinics in isolated areas with few roadways in Kenya, but up to now has been unable to deliver medicines and vaccines that require refrigeration. In 2005, Nomadic Communities Trust partnered with California’s Art Center College of Design’s Designmatters and Princeton’s Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM) to create a lightweight and durable solar-powered refrigerator that can be strapped to camels’ backs in order to transport chilled medicines and vaccines.
The mini fridge is housed in a bamboo saddle that is lightweight and durable enough for camels to easily carry it across miles of rough terrain. The solar panels can also be used by the mobile clinics for lighting and refrigeration in the field.
Designmatters‘ executive director, Mariana Amatullo, said the project was designed with a budget of only a few thousand dollars and the device was tested on the Bronx Zoo's camels to save money.
The fridges are currently being tested on camels in Kenya and Ethiopia, but Amatullo says the system could be used by any rural communities with access to camels. If the project gets enough funding, it will be implemented in 2010.