Global Women, Work and Politics | Global View

Sareke Bello is director of The ColdHubs Project at the Energy Foundation Africa With temperatures at the cold storage facility barely reaching –20°C, the team are processing fresh food in containers – freezing in…

Global Women, Work and Politics | Global View

Sareke Bello is director of The ColdHubs Project at the Energy Foundation Africa

With temperatures at the cold storage facility barely reaching –20°C, the team are processing fresh food in containers – freezing in excess of -50°C before sending it off to market.

The vehicles take up less than a space that would fit a family home for these truckloads of frozen food.

Cold storage facilities are important, but the problem is also accessibility. That’s why forward-thinking technology is being used to meet Nigeria’s demand for fresh food that often remains perishable before it can be sold or eaten.

Professor Mark Studderer, Director, Energy Foundation Africa

From Oxfam to Unicef, finding a way to provide nutritious and fit food to Nigerians on a sustainable, climate-smart and economically-sound basis is a pressing concern in our country.

A needs assessment of over 15 million Nigerians published by AllNigeria.Com over three years ago identified that over 50% of Nigerians were “food-insecure”, with the majority living in communities. The greatest need for good food was for people in rural communities where they often did not have access to farming tools.

Hostility towards health facilities was a real challenge. Even though very low, cold storage facilities in most rural areas are absent and forced to rely on unhygienic backyard production methods which sometimes cause outbreaks of diseases which are largely preventable.

Associate Prof Mike Pumariega, Director, Mass Media Management Research Centre (MMMRC) University of Lagos

This led to the dilemma of creating cold storage facilities which would be socially acceptable but also reliant on the speed and frequency of repairs.

Rapid response

Creating these facilities is essential for maintaining a rapidly growing population in order to meet food needs.

Bella Ndayieka, Head of Health, Nutrition and Finance at Unicef Nigeria

Despite efforts of the Federal Government and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), not all regions have high impact cold storage facilities and, as a result, Nigerians continue to be exposed to shortages of nutritious food.

The Babcock University Innovation Centre (BIUC) and the M.P.R.C. Nigeria sought to address this problem by launching The ColdHubs Project – a prototype cost-effective project to provide cold storage facilities to rural Nigerians.

This project enables cold storage facilities to be created and maintained, and also provides training to staff and relevant capacity building to collaborators. It also supports the building of secure homes and sheds for the storage of heavy goods.

Sareke Bello, Director, The ColdHubs Project, Energy Foundation Africa

Earlier this year we opened the facility in Lagos, and are using it to support the expansion of the project. We are already working on expansion in five other states.

Cold storage is not only critical for access to food but to promoting hygiene, reducing mortality and disease outbreaks, and creating new job opportunities.

Thousands of people gain work at this facility, and huge social impact is being achieved through this project.

The ColdHubs Project is actively recruiting drivers and technicians who work on the cold storage units for fixed incomes. This is because people who are employed are believed to be less at risk of diabetes and hypertension, and so get higher salaries.

The Skills 4 Jobs programme is working on getting young Nigerians into work, especially those who are skilled and have the means to set up their own businesses.

The ColdHubs Project is in partnership with:

BIUC: Babcock University Innovation Centre (BIUC) – Rice Systems, Country, Nigeria

M.P.R.C: Nigeria Economic Summit Group

World Bank DFID/GHI Centre for Child Health

Another goal is to ensure that climate-wise and climate-smart facilities are created in Nigerians’ homes, so that they are easily accessible and easily renovated. We are training not only mechanics and technicians to install these facilities, but also farmers and women to use them to keep fish and vegetables.

The only other solution is not enough people are employed to do this. Climate change is also making it more important to have storage facilities which are climate smart and space efficient.

Professor Mark Studderer, Director, Energy Foundation Africa

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