| Boiling Point No. 06 - April 1984 |
The following account is extracted from an unpublished article by David Ward, co-ordinator of AT at HLEKWENI Friends Rural Service Centre in Zimbabwe.
Hlekweni is a rural training centre situated in the southern half of Zimbabwe. Since it started in 1968 there has always been an interest in stoves. Various ideas have been tried - from brick, to sheet metal and oil drums. Usually the efforts have got no further than the training centre.
Between 1982 and 1983 further efforts were made to develop a simple low-cost stove which would reduce wood consumption. In July 1982 a prototype multi-pot stove with a chimney was built using burnt brick walls, rammed earth interior, and a soil/sand/cement top slab.
Simple boiling water tests were carried out using the prototype and traditional open fire. The new stove used approximately 60% of the quantity of fuel that the open fire used.
However, during discussion with visitors to the centre it became obvious that the concept of deforestation was not easily understood. Firewood collection had always involved several hours work a week and was often the children's responsibility, who used the time for playing as well as work. One old man was asked by a stove promoter if he resented his wife now having to spend more time collecting firewood. "No" came his firm reply. "Well what will you do when she spends all her day collecting and has no time to cook your food?" persisted the stove promoter. "Take another wife" said the old man.
After experiences like these the centre considered promoting other aspects of the new stove which were more immediately relevant to -people's problems, of which burns and scalds to young children were found to be an important one. As a result village health workers were invited for training in stove construction with the emphasis in the new stove's potential for reducing injuries, by means of enclosing the firebox and having stable pot-holes.
The results so far in terms of implementation are mixed. At least ten stoves have been built in rural hospitals and stove building is to be included in school timetables. The project is planning a more extensive evaluation of its impact in 1984 and we look forward to including the results in 'Boiling Point'.