An Atlas of Local Solutions in Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Merchant mothers, Congo River: Fresh fish in Maluki, Kinshasais is always in high demand. One of the constraints that fishermen must overcome is keeping the fish fresh while carrying it up river. The canoes they use for transport don’t have freezers, so a group of merchant mothers figured out a solution: install portable freezers in the canoes using a generator. This simple innovation has allowed them to increase the amount of fish they take to market.
  • Murhula Zigabe and his ecological charcoal bricks: Deforestation is massive in the immediate vicinity of Bukavu and Kahuzi Biega Park is at risk. The disappearing forest inspired Murhula to find an alternative source of energy that his neighbors could use. The result was a recipe to use organic waste to produce charcoal bricks for cooking. Around 25 people work for him now in Makala Bio, his company. They collect cardboard waste from the streets, markets and households, dry it on the road and carbonize it in a local furnace. Once carbonized, they mix the waste with water, create a paste, press and dry it and then the brick can be used to cook meals on a stove. This way of making charcoal from waste has also expanded to Kinshasa, where his partner Ray Mawa has also started to produce these ecological charcoal bricks.
  • Brasero Oven: In the Central Kongo province, near Kasangulu, this organization has trained farmers to assemble ovens that use briquettes made from bamboo. In the region, farmers do not have access to electricity which is needed to run refrigerators to keep foods fresh. These bamboo ovens can cook food while also smoking meat or fish for later consumption.
  • Traffic robots: Thérèse Kirongozi, a congolese engineer is the brilliant mind behind the robots that regulate traffic in DRC. The first ones were placed in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. These humanoid bots can rotate their chest and raise their arms like human traffic officers. Some of them can even detect pedestrians and let them know when to cross the road. Their claimed advantage is that, unlike local traffic police, they are immune to bribery! Also, their human-like appearance encourages drivers to slow down more than an analog traffic sign.

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