| Boiling Point No. 22 - August 1990 |
By Josephine Mutagaywa, ITDG Project Officer, Kenya
The traditional 3 stone fire has long been the only method of cooking in the rural parts of Kenya and has served many purposes. The improved wood burning stove is quickly replacing this as it saves fuel, time and money. It is making it possible for users to improve their health and living standards in general.
Although most parts of Kenya are hot, evenings are usually cool and people warm themselves by sitting around the fire. Kitchens (round and mud walled with thatched roofs) are always warm and mothers and their daughters spend most of the evening around the stove. Quite a number of things go on around the stove
• During the long rains (March-June' houses get cooler and a lot more wood is used to keep them warm.
• The Maendeleo stove has proved to be ideal for this as it remains hot for a long time.
• Users are sure to have fire around most of the time. This is quite important because many rural households do not have matches and depend on small fires from neighbours.
• Warming in the evenings, especially during the rainy season, is significant for health reasons. In the rural areas where coats and warm blankets are not easy to come by stoves play a big role. Heat generated from firewood while cooking helps to keep profile warm.
• Mothers work long hours in their fields and there is very little time for cooking food. Left-over loud is kept warm for a long time and children going back home from school for lunch eat hot food without mother leaving her work to go and cook.
• Although it is usually hot and things dry fast, there is often a need to dry clothes In the night. Most children have one uniform which is used every day during the school term and is dried on a line hanging over the stove. The line is also used for drying baby clothes.
• Fuelwood is also dried using the stove. Because of the scarcity of firewood women now collect both dry and wet wood. The wet wood is stored on a rack above the stove and is used during the wet days.
• Millet and wimby used for preparing porridge are also dried on the roof. For food preservation the improved stove is used to dry the common!! used leaves of cow peas which err picked during the growing season (wet weather) and used during the dry weather when none are grown.
• Fish is smoked and preserved over the stove. It is placed in open baskets hanging above the stove and heat and smoke from the stove during normal cooking helps to preserve it.
Quite a variety of uses of the improved stove are mentioned by users when follow up visits are made, which show its popularity in the countryside.