Fish Good Luck Charm for Anemia

Appropriate technology is working tech + local contextual use…

Iron (cc) Jeff Elkins & The Atlantic

Iron (cc) Jeff Elkins & The Atlantic

The Atlantic’s The Good-Luck Charm That Solved a Public-Health Problem: Warding off anemia with small iron fish provides how it (IT – pun intended) can work.

The public health problem:

In 2008, Christopher Charles was living in Cambodia and researching anemia. The condition, which is commonly caused by iron deficiency, afflicts roughly half of Cambodia’s children and pregnant women.


Then there is accessibility and affordability issues in solving that problem:

iron-rich foods and supplements were too expensive for most rural Cambodians. Even cast-iron pots, which safely transmit iron to food as it cooks, were out of reach

There is a potential solution:

wondered whether a small piece of iron placed in a standard aluminum pot would have a similar iron-releasing effect. To test his hypothesis, Charles distributed blocks of iron to local women, telling them to place the blocks in their cooking pots before making soup or boiling drinking water.

But no user adoption (or hilariously unintended user adoption rather):

The women promptly put them to use as doorstops.

Working tech, but no context for use. Then comes an idea:

After talking with village elders, Charles learned of a fish known as try kantrop, which the locals ate frequently and considered a symbol of good luck.

Original solution gets another iteration:

When he handed out smiling iron replicas of this fish, women started cooking with them.

And it worked:

Within 12 months, Charles reports, anemia in villages where the fish was distributed virtually disappeared.

So many things one can learn from such a small article and a simple idea.

This entry was posted in Social Change and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *