Earthkeeping Technologies for Afghanistan
The terrorist attack on the US and the military action being taken in Afghanistan have exposed the US population and our students to the desperate conditions in Afghanistan and the hopelessness that is prevalent there. After much prayer and contemplation, I am proposing the following actions that our department can take to help the poor of Afghanistan. All the earthkeeping technologies that are described below have been tested and proven at various places including the appropriate technology program at the Bishop Heber College in South India. I have been a consultant for this program for several years. Some of the proven technologies presented in this paper can be useful for applications in Afghanistan's cities as well as rural areas. In this article, I propose a few of them and hopefully, Messiah College's engineering department can modify them and make them suitable for the particular locations in Afghanistan. It is hoped that in the near future, the government of Afghanistan would allow persons of goodwill to introduce these technologies. Fruits, vegetables and flowers grown in feed sacks, metal, wooden and plastic containers.
Earthkeeping technologies not only consider human beings needs, but also the impact these technologies have on God's creation. These are based on Genesis 2:15 where God commands Adam to "TILL the Garden and KEEP it." Engineers come up with great ideas for creative tilling of God's earth useful for human beings but many times do not consider the keeping of the earth viz., other parts of creation.
Some Examples of Earthkeeping Technologies
We see on TV the arid and barren land that dominates Afganistan. Instead of sending tons and tons of food, we must use container gardens to grow fruits and vegetables. The reasons for using containers are: 1. maximize the use of top soil and fertilizers by using them in container where only plants grow, 2. minimize the use of water as one can see when the container is saturated with water, 3.use of organic waste generated in cities and rural areas as fertilizers.During the past decade, I have tried and successfully established many urban gardens on the roofs of buildings and in vacant lands in many cities in the US and in a few places in India and Central America. You can visit the web site that explains the techniques at www.arts4all.com/elca/ We can also grow fish in three- 55 gallon drums in cities and rural areas.
A low-cost house built with cement boards, straw and old carpet backing as fillers. This house provided good insulation for both cold and hot climates. They can be built without wood and with rebars and/or scrap metals. Last Spring, Messiah College's engineering and business department students constructed a plastered straw shed in Harrisburg using pre-fabricated panels. Last summer, John Paul Peterson, built a solar greenhouse/shed, at a Lutheran Camp in Elizabeth Town. I helped Bishop Heber College to construct two such buildings using rice straw and locally available materials. In India, we have shown that we can build plastered straw building for one fourth of the price of a cement block building. We can introduce this technique in Afghanistan.
Transportation and Energy Technologies
Use of bicycle and modified bicycle (Pedal Cars) seem to be an appropriate transportation system for cities. At Messiah College we will be testing a Pedal Car and modify it to suit the needs of developing countries. We can very easily find millions of unused bikes stored in our garages and put them to use in Afganistan. These bicycles besides being used for transportation can also be converted to generate small amounts of power to operate small implements. I have over two decades developed dozens of use for a bicycle which can be used to power rice threshers, peanut shellers, corn sheller, grinders, circular saw, wood without spending thousands of dollars to install wind and photovoltaics. We can working lathe, water pump, and many other implements. We can introduce these technologies in Afganistan introduce solar and wind energy systems later, but for thenear future, pedal power seems to be most appropriate.
A simple solar still constructed from clear plastic, electrical conduits and locally available materials. A 6 ft. section produces 2 to 3 gallons of distilled water. Many parts of Afganistan seems to be arid and dry. We can use a solar distiller to get 1 or 2 gallons/day using brackish or salt water. Again, a small solar distiller using electrical conduits and clear plastic can be built easily and each family can get one or two gallons of drinking water. We can also use a passive solar water heater to pasteurize contaminated water. Building cisterns to catch whatever rain water is yet another way to develop water resources in Afganistan.