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PHOTOS: Global heat hacks, from jazzy umbrellas in DRC to ice beans in Singapore

Néema Byanyira, 25, a mom of three, is rarely without her umbrella when she's on the move. She brings it to market, to church and to visit her sister.
Esther N'sapu for NPR
Néema Byanyira, 25, a mom of three, is rarely without her umbrella when she's on the move. She brings it to market, to church and to visit her sister.

The world is hot this year. Ridiculously hot. Fry an egg on the sidewalk hot. How are people dealing with the heat?

We asked the photojournalists of The Everyday Projects to make pictures of heat relief strategies in their countries. Their cameras took aim at the cool floors of a mosque's entryway in Kashmir to swimming, kids splashing in a makeshift pool in a working-class Cairo neighborhood, an icy and affordable treat in Singapore and more. Here are photos of the often centuries-old ways the world is beating the heat.

Pool party in a working-class neighborhood

Um Aya and Hussein if Cairo bought this pool as a treat for their children. When neighborhood kids wanted to join in the fun, the couple saw a business opportunity they hoped would benefit their family and their community. Eight years later, the pool is a splashing success.
/ Roger Anis for NPR
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Roger Anis for NPR
Um Aya and Hussein of Cairo bought this pool as a treat for their children. When neighborhood kids wanted to join in the fun, the couple saw a business opportunity they hoped would benefit their family and their community. Eight years later, the pool is a splashing success.

It started as a family project Um Aya and her late husband, Hussein, hoped would bring their children joy and a reprieve from Cairo heat: a plastic swimming pool.

They set it up on the street outside their home in Manshiyat Naser, El-Deweika, one of the city's working class neighborhoods, where the percentage of people experiencing poverty is high. The pool's striking blue plastic is a sharp contrast to the worn brick homes it sits among.

The pool is the only one most children in the neighborhood can afford to use. But even the small fee, 5 Egyptian pounds ($0.14) is too much for some so the exceptions are made.
/ Roger Anis for NPR
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Roger Anis for NPR
The pool is the only one most children in the neighborhood can afford to use. But even the small fee, 5 Egyptian pounds ($0.14) is too much for some so the exceptions are made.

And joy it brought – along with a surprising business venture. When the neighborhood children flocked to the sounds of splashing water, asking for a chance to swim, the couple saw an opportunity to help support their family. They bought a larger pool in 2015 and charged kids 2 Egyptian pounds (6 cents) to use it – an affordable option in a city where the average public pool costs 30 to 60 Egyptian pounds ($1-2) and hotel pool day passes can be upward of 460 Egyptian pounds (around $15).

Bathing suits a luxury, boys splash and play in their underwear; girls just slightly more covered jump from the wall nearby, a makeshift diving board.

Um Aya takes the pool's cleanliness seriously, changing the water regularly and asking the children to wash the dirt off their bodies, especially their feet, with the hose, before getting in. "Even though this is an improvised setup, we still value cleanliness," she says.

Her son, Hassan,15, acts as pool manager, telling kids when their time is up and occasionally letting in a child or two who can't afford the fee, which this year is up to 5 Egyptian pounds — 14 cents.

Hassan also uses the pool, waiting until the younger kids are gone so he can float peacefully on his back. Hassan's friend Shika says they should make a TikTok of them swimming in "El-Deweika" pool and claim they've reached the North Coast, a luxury beach destination for Egypt's wealthy.

A wall acts as a makeshift diving board. The pool owner's 15-year-old son is the designated pool manager, making sure it doesn't get too crowded and telling the swimmers when their time is up.
/ Roger Anis for NPR
/
Roger Anis for NPR
A wall acts as a makeshift diving board. The pool owner's 15-year-old son is the designated pool manager, making sure it doesn't get too crowded and telling the swimmers when their time is up.

Photographs and story by Roger Anis and Karoline Kamel


The upbeat umbrellas of DRC

When a young girl gets married in the Goma countryside, her family gives her an umbrella to protect her skin from the sun. She gets another one if she has a baby – a necessity if she has her child with her when she goes to work in the fields or sells food or wares by the side of the road.

Women in the city find umbrellas useful as well. On hot days the streets are often dotted with bursts of color.

In rural areas of Goma, when a woman has a child, her in-laws will often give her an umbrella to keep the baby out of the sun while she's farming. Mwamini Ndawiha, 40, works while one of her six children plays under an umbrella.
/ Esther N'sapu for NPR
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Esther N'sapu for NPR
In rural areas of Goma, when a woman has a child, her in-laws will often give her an umbrella to keep the baby out of the sun while she's farming. Mwamini Ndawiha, 40, works while one of her six children plays under an umbrella.

Umbrellas likely came from Belgium during the period of colonization that spanned the first half of the 20th century. Now they're often imported from China. At a cost of 11,000 Congolese francs ($5) the umbrellas are affordable to many residents.

Néema Byanyira, from the Lac Vert district, says she always has an umbrella at hand. She bought her current one two years ago and carries it to the market, to church and when she visits her sister. She says it helps her stay beautiful and keeps her make-up from running in the sun.

Néema Byanyira (left) chats with Ange Furaha under the shade of their umbrellas. Byanyira says one reason she uses one is to keep her makeup from running.
/ Esther N'sapu for NPR
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Esther N'sapu for NPR
Néema Byanyira (left) chats with Ange Furaha under the shade of their umbrellas. Byanyira says one reason she uses one is to keep her makeup from running.

Photos and story by Esther N'sapu


Icy desserts are nice in Singapore

Ice kachang often consists of shaved ice, red beans, corn, agar agar and palm seed topped with flavored syrup and evaporated milk which adds to its sweetness. The frozen treat's popularity has spawned many varieties, with fruit toppings like mango, for example.
/ Amrita Chandradas for NPR
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Amrita Chandradas for NPR
Ice kachang often consists of shaved ice, red beans, corn, agar agar and palm seed topped with flavored syrup and evaporated milk which adds to its sweetness. The frozen treat's popularity has spawned many varieties, with fruit toppings like mango, for example.

Close to the equator, Singapore is hot and humid. So Singaporeans are experts on how to cool down. One of their favorite ways: an icy sweet treat called ice kachang or ice beans.

The basic idea similar to shaved ice desserts around the world and has had many iterations over the years. It's called "ice beans" because the recipe uses sweetened Adzuki beans, shaved ice, evaporated milk and flavored syrups.

Now countless varieties of the dessert can be found – often including mango puree and jellies such as grass jelly or agar agar.

Muhammad Azreen (left) and Airul Hizen (right) enjoy sea coconut ice jelly and ice kachang from Jin Jin dessert at ABC Brickworks Market & Food Center. When bought at one of the large food courts in the country, called hawker centers, the dessert is  generally an affordable way to cool down at 2 - 4 SGD ($1.48 to $2.96).
/ Amrita Chandradas for NPR
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Amrita Chandradas for NPR
Muhammad Azreen (left) and Airul Hizen (right) enjoy sea coconut ice jelly and ice kachang from Jin Jin dessert at ABC Brickworks Market & Food Center. When bought at one of the large food courts in the country, called hawker centers, the dessert is generally an affordable way to cool down at 2 - 4 SGD ($1.48 to $2.96).

And even in ultra-wealthy Singapore, these ice desserts are affordable – at least when bought from a vendor at one of the city's many food courts that serve everything from full meals to snacks and desserts. The cost is usually the equialent of $1.50 to $3. Prices at a restaurant are slightly more expensive.

"It is so hot and I've nothing else to do at the moment," said one retired man enjoying an ice kachang. "It's the best way to keep cool, at least for a while."

Photos and story by Amrita Chandradas


The chilling clay pots of Morocco

The <em>golla</em> is the Moroccan term for a clay pot that keeps water cool. Moroccans fill the pots and put them in most rooms in the house for the family to drink from — and set them up outside for community refreshment.
/ Rajaa Khenoussi for NPR
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Rajaa Khenoussi for NPR
The golla is the Moroccan term for a clay pot that keeps water cool. Moroccans fill the pots and put them in most rooms in the house for the family to drink from — and set them up outside for community refreshment.

Many cultures use an ancient vessel — the clay pot — to keep water cool on hot days. Called gollas in Morocco, the pots keep water cool without refrigeration because of the porous nature of clay. An MIT study explains, "The evaporation of water from the outer surface of the clay pot removes heat."

Moroccans keep gollas in their entryways, kitchens, living rooms and on window sills. When someone in the house is thirsty, they just dip in their cup.

Thirsty boys drinking the golla's cooler water on a street in Tangier. Some community members place gollas in public spaces so that everyone has access to water.
/ Rajaa Khenoussi for NPR
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Rajaa Khenoussi for NPR
Thirsty boys drinking the golla's cooler water on a street in Tangier. Some community members place gollas in public spaces so that everyone has access to water.

And they're a practical way to make sure everyone in a community can find a drink. People often place large gollas, equipped with a spout, in public spaces. They keep the vessels clean and full of fresh water.

Clay vessels are also used in hot countries to keep fruit and vegetables cool.

The pots are handmade by artisans – mostly in the coastal cities of Safi and Rabat where the clay is easily accessible – and take days to complete.
/ Rajaa Khenoussi for NPR
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Rajaa Khenoussi for NPR
The pots are handmade by artisans – mostly in the coastal cities of Safi and Rabat where the clay is easily accessible – and take days to complete.

The continued use of these handmade pots also means the artisans who make them can still earn a living.

Photos and story by Rajaa Khenoussi


A dip in Colombia's popular Pance River

The Pance River is a popular place to socialize during a heatwave.
/ Christian EscobarMora for NPR
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Christian EscobarMora for NPR
The Pance River is a popular place to socialize during a heatwave.

When the summer heat hits Cali, locals and tourists alike head for Pance River. The cold, crisp water of the river makes it a popular weekend spot to cool off while visiting with family and friends, playing music or maybe enjoying sancocho de gallina (a potato- or yucca-based broth with chicken).

"It is important to take advantage of these spaces, take care of them and at the same time share as a family beyond cellphones and shopping malls; and nothing better than this to take advantage of the tradition of the Cali people to come to the river," says Juan, who brings his daughters down to the banks to play.

More than just a place to swim, thousands of locals and tourists come to the Pance River every year to play sports, cook meals over makeshift fires and listen to music. The Pance is just one of seven rivers that cross through the city, but it's the most popular.
/ Christian EscobarMora for NPR
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Christian EscobarMora for NPR
More than just a place to swim, thousands of locals and tourists come to the Pance River every year to play sports, cook meals over makeshift fires and listen to music. The Pance is just one of seven rivers that cross through the city, but it's the most popular.

Colombia's recent heat wave, with temperatures close to 104 Fahrenheit in some areas, has made the Pance and the other six rivers that cross through the city less of a weekend hangout spot and more a respite from the heat seven days a week.

"Sometimes there are so many people in the rivers that it is impossible to find a place to cool off quietly," says Jesús Alfonso, a mechanic who works in the city and belongs to a group of cyclists who take advantage of Cali's rivers after their rides.

A cyclist cools off in the Pance River after a two and a half hour bike ride. In this hot summer, it's often hard to find a quiet spot in the river to cool down after a ride.
/ Christian EscobarMora for NPR
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Christian EscobarMora for NPR
A cyclist cools off in the Pance River after a two and a half hour bike ride. In this hot summer, it's often hard to find a quiet spot in the river to cool down after a ride.

Photos and story by Christian EscobarMora


In Kashmir, a mosque's stone floor stays cool in summer

The stone floor in the lobby of a mosque, constructed over a crawl space that lets air circulate, stays cool in the summer. These floors offer a refreshing spot for a chat or a rest during the afternoon heat.
/ Showkat Nanda for NPR
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Showkat Nanda for NPR
The stone floor in the lobby of a mosque, constructed over a crawl space that lets air circulate, stays cool in the summer. These floors offer a refreshing spot for a chat or a rest during the afternoon heat.

The stone floor feels cool to the touch - like a cold Coke bottle fresh from the refrigerator. It's a shot of relief from the blistering Kashmir sun.

Welcome to the lobby of a mosque, where people stop to wash before prayers in the main hall. The space was actually designed to provide warmth during the harsh Kashmiri winters using an age-old technique: Devri stone slabs (a type of limestone) are placed over a crawl space which is usually two to three feet deep. A fire is made by pushing wood through a small opening from the outside of the mosque and lighting it to keep the floor warm.

In summer, the crawl space is well-ventilated so the floor's surface stays delightfully cool on hot days.

The lobby of a mosque is a place to cleanse yourself before entering the main prayer area. The water also also provides cool relief on a hot day.
/ Showkat Nanda for NPR
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Showkat Nanda for NPR
The lobby of a mosque is a place to cleanse yourself before entering the main prayer area. The water also also provides cool relief on a hot day.

During this record hot summer in the city, worshippers — mainly men --lie down to rest directly on the stones while others sit and read or chat.

Photos and story by Showkat Nanda


Shade and spirituality in Botswana

Stepping under the shade of a tree, and out of the sun, lowers your body temperature. A teenage girl does her school work under a tree while watching over a shop selling necessities.
/ Atang L.S Arnold for NPR
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Atang L.S Arnold for NPR
Stepping under the shade of a tree, and out of the sun, lowers your body temperature. A teenage girl does her school work under a tree while watching over a shop selling necessities.

Trees in Africa offer a practical solution to an increasingly hot country: a patch of shade that's going to keep you cooler than if you were baking the rays of the sun.

But trees offer more than just a place to cool down on a hot day. In Botswana, for example, people gather in the shade of a tree to wash laundry, play games or just chat.

In Botswana, people gather in the shade of a tree to do laundry, to socialize and to celebrate.
/ Atang L.S. Arnold for NPR
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Atang L.S. Arnold for NPR
In Botswana, people gather in the shade of a tree to do laundry, to socialize and to celebrate.

Village elders often have discussions or settle disputes under a tree's canopy. In some communities, elders will teach younger generations in the shade.

Trees also offer a cool place for joy and movement. The dancing and singing at weddings, funerals and harvest festivals takes place under trees as well.

Photos and story by Atang L.S Arnold


A bracing Swiss plunge

The waters of Valle Verzasca, a valley in Switzerland, can be as cold as 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit in summer, providing immediate relief from the sun.
/ Mahmoud Khattab for NPR
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Mahmoud Khattab for NPR
The waters of Valle Verzasca, a valley in Switzerland, can be as cold as 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit in summer, providing immediate relief from the sun.

The Swiss Alps conjure pictures of cool streams running through tree laden mountains and green valleys. The real deal doesn't disappoint.

A favorite spot to escape the summer heat is the rivers in Valle Verzasca. Visitors flock to the valley to swim in its waters and play in its waterfalls. Luxury cars sit next to cars and vans with camping equipment.

The water in summer can be only 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit. The cold is like "a shock to your body," says a visitor named Pascale. To warm back up, people often lie on nearby stones heated by the sun.

Photo and story by Mahmoud Khattab

Additional credits

Visuals edited by Pierre Kattar and Ben de la Cruz. Text edited by Marc Silver.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: August 19, 2023 at 12:00 AM EDT
An earlier version of this story misspelled the Pance River as the Pence River.
Suzette Lohmeyer