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< prev - next > Social and economic development discovering technologists (Printable PDF)
Gender and Technology Training Guidelines
How can I teach them to use this machine , (specify a relevant piece of
technology hardware or technique) when they can hardly read or write.
SESSION 13 - Video (Discovering Technologists)
SESSION 14 - DIH Posters
SESSION 15 - DIH Case Studies
1. Salt extraction from Sierra Leon.
Sierra Leoneans use salt for food preparation, preservation of fish, meat and oil, and
to treat wounds and injuries. Even though it plays a vital part in their day to day life
and they have a long coastline, only 35% of the required salt is produced locally.
Small-scale producers who are all women do this.
Most women living in the coastal low lands practise salt processing as their primary
occupation and the main source of income for their families during the dry season.
Women join this informal industry as soon as they are of age and they have usually
mastered the difficult skills involved in producing a marketable product by their early
At first women processed salt by boiling sea water in earthenware pots over traditional
3 stone fires and sun drying it. They had to work in temporary huts built on the
beaches. This system had many problems, as salt concentration of the sea water was
low. Hence a lot of fuel was consumed to evaporate large quantities of brine to get a
little salt.
Women solved this problem by collecting brine from ponds. Boreholes were dug along
the tidal path, which filled with brine during high tide. At low tide the brine was
collected and evaporated until the salt crystallised. This method took a shorter boiling
time and also cut down repeated journeys to the sea.
The appearance of salt crystals on the leaves and stems of a particular tree species
led women to discover a method of extracting salt from the silt at the base of this tree
in the months of February and March. For this they used the perforated baskets
traditionally used by women soap makers. Later women developed the design of the
basket to a conical shape to solve technical problems. But this reduced the silt
holding capacity. The funnels couldn't be enlarged because they were not so firm,
and it required women to be in impossible physical positions as well. Finally women
came up with the rectangular shape for the funnel which enabled faster and more
productive filtration.
The stoves used for evaporation have been developed from the 3 stone open fire to an
efficient wall-protected fire. This stove developed by women is widely used as it
needs less fuel and it could accommodate an evaporating dish of any size or shape.