| Boiling Point No. 04 - March 1983 |
by Ralph Royer
Church World Service
(Ralph Royer is Consultant for Appropriate Technology and Renewable Energy for the Church World Service in Niamey, Niger. The CWS stove programme began in 1980, and with the assistance of Angela Williams and Djibo Oumarou, the project has introduced over a thousand stoves (mostly Kaya and Banfora types), predominantly into urban areas. What follows are edited extracts from Mr Royer's 1982 annual report.)
Stove Project in Niamey
The number of stoves built in the first phase (350) was attained in December 1981, and with the funds remaining a second phase was launched, for 1982/3 to put 20 stoves in each of the remaining wards of the city, a target total of 440. For this second phase the amount paid by recipients was doubled (to about $9), and the stove shelter was discontinued (except for banco/adobe stoves of which few are built in the city). These changes in the programme had a noticeable effect on the demand for stoves.
There were 315 stoves built in 1982 as part of the project with the Women's Association of Niger (AFN), managed by an AFN-appointed woman director. The stove construction team consists of the Co-ordinator-Animatrice, an Animatrice, 2 mason instructors, a chauffeur, and 2 apprentice masons. This has proved to be a large team to manage and is an area needing improvement. The apprentices are changed about every two months with the intention that they will become stove constructors, but this has not worked well due to the transient nature of most of the apprentices, and the lack of a system to set them up in business. The Animatrice works alone on a follow-up programme teaching women to use the stoves effectively.
Work in Rural Training Centres
20 couples are trained in each centre for one farming season (9 months) to learn improved techniques and methods of farming. Improved cookstoves was one idea to which the women especially, were exposed. Two stoves were built in each of the 7 centres in the Niamey Department and then demonstrations were held for the trainees to show them how to use the stoves, and to learn how to build one for themselves when back home. All the stoves were made of banco (adobe). A similar programme was worked out for the 12 centres in the Dosso Department.
During the first year of this type of involvement, which does not take a great deal of money and yet is an effective means of disseminating stoves, the following lessons were learnt which will enable improvements to be made in future:
1. the stoves need to be strong to withstand institutional use;
2. someone must be appointed at each centre to be responsible for stove maintenance and repair;
3. introduction of a one pot stove is desirable as there is frequent use of only one cookies pot;
4. the length of training period for stove building must be increased to enable trainees to get a good grasp of the process;
5. there is a need for booklets snowing how to build and use the stove - these can be used in the literacy classes and taken home by the couples.
Stove Design and Development
During the year we started work with a one pot stove which is built up from the usual three stones as a base. A banco wall is built around the pot, leaving the 3 stones in the wall. An arched doorway is cut out or left in the wall for insertion of wood. Smoke and heat come up around the pot, and the wall prevents wind carrying the heat away. With some air holes added at the back side it works exceptionally well.
Personally, because of its simplicity to guild, and the Lack of many critical tolerances to contend with, I think it has one of the best chances of achieving 'self-dissemination'. The main disadvantage is the lack of a chimney to carry away the smoke.
Improved Malgache Stove: Following the CILSS regional stove conference in Bamako (Dee 1982) we began working to improve the locally made metal ring that is used to support pots while cooking. We raised the sides to give wind protection and put in a grate to help improve combustion. These modifications have not been tested yet. We feel that something of this nature may help reduce fuel costs for those who cannot afford our other stoves, have no place for a more massive stove, or who do not want to pay $9 rent for a stove they cannot take with them when they move.
In addition, we have begun work with local manufacturers of cast aluminium pots to incorporate a ring or collar into the pot to allow it to be suspended or supported by this ring. This will open up the entire bottom surface of the pot to the fire and thus allow better heat exchange. We have just finished building several stoves adapted for use with the special pots. Several stove experts have suggested the principle in the past, and it turned out to be relatively simple to put into practice. Considerable interest was shown when we displayed out first model at the Bamako stove conference.
Work on protective coverings for banco stoves continues. So far old engine oil rubbed into the stove seems to be the most effective. A mixture of fresh cow dung, ashes, and clay, also worked fairly well.
An evaluation of the project was carried out during July and August, 1982. It was pleasing that we were able to get various government services, international organisations, and individuals together to work out the methods to be used and also to carry out the evaluation. We hope that this augers well for cooperative interest and work with stoves.
Among the things pointed out by the evaluation team were:
1. So far we are only touching the upper levels of urban society. The poorer sector' who rent rooms, do not have space for a large stove nor do they want to invest in something which they may have to leave behind.
2. The stove is frequently used incorrectly mainly as a result of using only one pot at a time, and so we are working on one pot stoves.
3. We found that there had not been enough teaching and training in the use and maintenance of the stoves, and so we are increasing the extension staff.
4. The chimney is one of the weakest points of the stove, it being too easily broken and needing cleaning on a monthly basis.
One of the concerns I have is for maintaining standards as the wave of interest in stoves mounts. We find that even though we are building a relatively simple stove, there are a host of complex factors that play a part and several critical dimensions that must be respected. As training goes from one person to the next, little errors creep in which can alter drastically the performance of the stoves.
Consequently, I am thinking more and more about the value in promoting for the time being one of the simplest ways we have of reducing fuelwood consumption, which is simply protecting fire from the wind and forcing the hot air up around the cooking pot. On the other hand we must continue to search to improve the efficiency of woodburning stoves and at the same time look at other possible areas to find sources of energy to meet this basic need of mankind. We have done some work with the coal found in Niger, and in future would like to work with solar and possibly bottled gas.
One tendency I note is the acceptance of a certain model of stove or organisational structure, and then to stick to it rather than continuing a flexible position or attitude, always looking for improvements. The state of the art is still in its infancy and we must do what we can to keep all avenues open to see which has the best chance of success.