| Boiling Point No. 21 - April 1990 |
by Cema Bolabola - University of South Pacific, Fiji (summarized)
Historical records on Fiji show that lomestic and c~remr\nin1 cranking
along with fuelwood collection, were exclusively the work of men. The introduction of pots and pans by the missionaries and the colonial women, coupled with the demand for male labour in plantations and their drift to urban employment, are factors that have forced women to take up domestic cooking. Some 15-20 years ago, concerned locals including nutritionists, environmentalists and energy conservationists got together to discuss their concerns with the popular open fire methods of cooking. Overseas experts were brought in to introduce their prototypes of woodburning stoves addressing concern with the removal of smoke from kitchen, efficiency in burning of firewood, speed in cooking, reduced firewood use and general aesthetic qualities of the technology. Women's groups were the major target groups for the introduction of the various versions of the woodburning stoves.
The Popular Promotion Strategies
The two main ways of promoting the various models of stoves are by demonstration at organised public activities or by training adult non-formal groups in selected communities.
No one has really measured the impact of demonstration. If is however concluded that displays are good publicity and public relations for the organizations rather than the stove technology, and with very little outreach as the benefits only accrue to the viewers most of whom are in organised tours for school children. The number of adults that view the display is very limited and the demonstration is not long enough for the viewers, to really understand and learn how to make a stove as the models of stoves demonstrated take 2-3 days to cast and assemble.
2. Community-based Non-formal Training and Workshops on Stove Making:
Training programmer are offered to rural communities, mostly women's groups, some youth groups and other requesting organizations. The training is mostly a demonstration to the participants (some participants providing the labour) on the construction of the hardware of the stove with the trainer supplying all the training materials. The one or two stoves produced in the training are left in the group to be used in many cases by the group leader, the village chief or the local church officiak In some cases vernacular instruction material is distributed to the participants. This method is locally called 'the beginning and the end' of stove dissemination in the community or the group. Training is rarely followed up by a community stove project to make the stoves available and used by all members of the trained group. The reasons range from the unavailability of shop-bought materials (cement, reinforcement, chimneys, mou]d) and the fact that stove making skills are shared by the many participants, but no one person has received enough thorough training to control quality of the product. Numerous stove training courses have been funded and workshops held but very few households are using the technology. We have estimated that about half a million Fijian dollars have been spent on such stove training workshops, yet less than 1,000 households own and use woodburning stoves.
The radio is the only media that has a national outreach and all stove promotion is exclusively carried out in the vernacular broadcast in the forms of interviews with personnel working with stove technology or as news items of a stove workshop. The radio publicity does sometimes lead to a few letters of inquiries on how to acquire the technology. The problem arises when the response to the letter states that a group be organised for a community stove dissemination project.
The Various Strategies Developed and Used by the Fiji Centre
We have only worked with the promotion of 'smokeless' woodburning stoves since i985. The impact of our strategy has not been too successful more due to the limited purchasing power of the target population rather than the strategy or methodology for dissemination we have developed. In Raiwaqa, a low income housing area in Suva, many of the women complained about small kitchen space in the flats, the high cost of kerosene as the popular cooking fuel and costly stoves. The Fiji Centre discussed with the women the possibility of working together to pilot a communal kitchen to house a number of woodburning stoves. This pilot project was carried out by the community with the Fiji Centre acting as the facilitator. Young men in the community were trained in a workshop to construct the stoves and then made the required number of stoves for the communal kitchen. One of them was given enough training to maintain the stoves. Many requests have been received for similar facilitates from women's groups in similar residential areas like Raiwaqa, with some individual requests for the stove.
Free continuing adult education classes for urban people were set up on stove making offering 4 hours of workshop per course carried out every fortnight. Stove making classes were free to students who enrolled and both women and men of all ages, ethnic groups and professions attended. The course content was focused on skills for the making of the stoves with handouts on the need for popularization of the technology.
Popularising Stoves in Rural Areas
In 1986 the material cost per stove with chimney, was F$18 (current cost is F$25) per stove. A levy of F$7 per household is made as the village stove programme is subsidised by the Fiji Centre. Some 80-909ó of the households in the village raise their levy in 4-6 weeks and the community contribution is sent to the Fiji Centre, which when received guarantees the delivery of enough shop-bought material to the village for their stove programme.
The Fiji Centre schedules two half-day community based workshops on stove making and vernacular instructional materials are given to the participants. The work also covers use and abuse of stoves, care and maintenance and kitchen improvement in general. At the workshop a village stove 'technician" is identified by the community to oversee the village production and installation of stoves. The community take over and continue to make their stoves under the supervision of the "technician" until all contributing households are covered.
Because of the settlement pattern in the villages, all women wish to own similar equipment, so the communal effort in collecting the household contribution. Otherwise the stove technology will be acquired and be in the control of traditional chiefs only.
The Fijian social and religious organizations and structure require that people make exchange visits with other villages. Once the stove programme is introduced to a pilot village, visits by neighbouring commutes always result in generating their interest in the stove technology leading to inquiries on how to acquire stoves. In many cases this has resulted in requests to the Fiji Centre for a subsidised stove programme for new villages. In cases like this, the Fiji Centre contacts the village technician in the pilot village in the neighbourhood to visit the new village and explain the stove package offered by the Fiji Centre. Once the local contribution is received from this new village, the Centre sends the training materials to the village technician who facilitates the discussion and acts as resource person at the stove making workshop.
Is the Fiji Centre pilot strategy realistic for the publicity of stoves in other rural communities?
All models of woodburning stoves promoted in Fiji are made in the community by service organizations rather than retailed by groups or entrepeneurs.
The rural strategy discussed, however, creates a dependency attitude amongst new village communities who wish to adopt the technology. The strategy will only work if stove dissemination and promotion remains a subsidised programme. Quality control of the product remains another problem as the community rush to complete their stove production phase and this results in poor quality stoves which break up when cooking as a result of low temperature firing. Stove publicity in Fiji is still dependent on the few non-government organizations that promote the technology in the country.