| Boiling Point No. 08 - December 1985 |
By Nick Webber, Action Aid, Somalin (Written at the end of 1984)
During Action Aid's first 18 months of operation within the refugee camps of the extremely arid and barren land of North West Somalia, it became increasingly apparent that the use of wood as fuel was having a very detrimental effect upon the environment, and the distances needed to collect it becoming further from the camps every month.
For almost all the 250,000 refugees wood is the only source of energy for domestic cooking and with distances needed to collect it ranging as far as 8 - 10 kilometers Action Aid set about, after liaising with ITDG and VITA to introduce stoves into 5 camps which would :
- reduce the amount of wood used for cooking and so help save the meagre wood resources in the area.
- save women time, energy and money (if they were buying the firewood).
- improve the traditional unhealthy, inefficient and often dangerous cooking systems.
The introduction of a very simple mud stove (30% sand and 70% clay) was selected as anyone can learn how to make them, they are extremely quick and cheap to make, it is possible to produce them in large numbers in a short time and they are very durable.
The project method is :
- to train 2 technicians in each camp on the methods of mud stove construction, utilization, maintenance, repair and dissemination methods.
- to employ these technicians for a period of one year to train women and disseminate knowledge on stove construction and utilization methods.
- to train 3 women in each camp section in methods of stove construction, utilisation, maintenance and methods of dissemination of this knowledge.(l)
- to provide all the necessary tools and give a care and maintenance service over a period of one year in each camp.
- that the beneficiaries pay the section trainees a nominal 10/= SM (about 40p) for the stove.
(1) Each camp contains between 25,000 to 30,000 persons and each camp is devided into 25 to 30 sections.
The single pot stove (see fig. 1) is built over a period of two days; day one, the mud mixture is moulded round the beneficiaries' most used cooking pot to a height just below the handles and on a base of about 16 cm., (in training, finger spans are used rather than centimeters). The phase takes about three hours then the stove is left for 24 hours to dry out a little before the firebox is carved out along the firebox entrance and side vents. A ridge is left either side of the firebox to support the cooking pot and wet woodash rubbed around the outside to help prevent any cracking and protect against the rains. This last phase takes about two hours and a further 5 days is allowed to elapse before the stove can be utilized. Fig. 2 shows a similar type of stove - a Louga stove from Rwanda described in BP. No. 1.
To date over seventy camp sections have been covered and over four thousand families have received stoves. A recent survey taking 100 family stoves at random has shown that :
- 71% are in constant use.
- 8% occasionally used
- 21% have either been damaged beyond repair and not replaced, not used or the family have moved.
- 34% had been maintained in good condition.
- 47% maintained in fair to poor condition.
- 19% allowed to fall beyond repair.
In Sabacad camp the doctor has noted that the incidence of home fires and burnt children is down and at Damk camp the beneficiaries, early on, modified the stove design by lowering the height of the top rim which enabled the families to cook anjeroes as well. (Anjeroes are a type of pancake normally consumed for breakfast.)
With the stoves using almost 50% less wood than the three traditional stones and cooking time reduced by about 30%, the acceptability of this totally new concept of cooking is increasing all the time. We therefore hope within the next six months to increase the margin of families with stoves who are using them daily from 71% to over 80%.
The wood burning stove being promoted in Somalia by Action Aid is typical of the single pot mud stoves being developed in several countries. Its principal characteristics are : relatively small size as compared with the massive, multipot lorena type stoves; very simple shape for ease of construction and the minimum are critical dimensions (wall to pot gap are obtained by moulding round a pot and distance of hearth/grate to pot bottom); and shape to give good strength and durability (stoves or bricks may be used as mud saving reinforcement).
The most important design element which has come out of tests and field trials of many stove designs in mud, clay or metal is the necessity for the pot to be enclosed in the stove so as to give maximum heat transfer. Only this way can PHU figures over about 25% and fuel savings over about 25% he achieved.
Nick Webbers article does not give any performance figures beyond claiming a fuel saving of 50% compared with 3 stoves. Nor is there any indication of project costing or production/distribution costs per stove for comparison with other designs being tried in other refugee camps in the Sahel.
If the survey figure quoted of 71% in constant use relates to a period of 18 months this indicates a well designed and built stove of good materials. Assuming a family size of 5 people and one stove per family, the 5 camps would need up to 25,000 of which 4,000 have been supplied. The original stoves would need replacing before this number is produced and so a continuing replacement programme of say 5-10,000 a year will be needed if the camps remain.
Stove programmes for refugee camps are extremely important since the environmental impact of wood-cutting around refugee camps tends to be rapid and devastating in the extreme. We wish Action Aid well in their programme with these refugee camps and look forward to hearing more news about their progress.