| Boiling Point No. 26 - December 1991 |
FROM PAKISTAN TO TUNISIA by Jurgen Usinger, IHES Staff member, Gate/G7Z
The technology itself is only one pre-condition for the transferability of an appropriate stove design and a single stove design cannot completely replace all three stone fires in use. This proves to be true for bread ovens as well.
For more than three years I worked on fuel saving concepts for the domestic sector in northern Pakistan. The major biofuel consumer there was the traditional bread oven, the so called tandoor. This cylindrical oven, known since the Egyptian times, is used for a flat bread called nan. It provides tasty bread, but has a very low PHU (Percentage Heat Utilized) between 2% for small households and a maximum 10% for big bakeries. The majority of households in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) are equipped with this type of oven. In a pilot phase, three different strategies were followed:
• The improvement of individual ovens at home.
• The introduction of community bakeries, a centralized oven used by many women, who brought dough and baked it themselves.
• The introduction of commercial bakeries, baking breed brought by surrounding households.
An evaluation indicated that the replacement of the traditional ovens did not work successfully, basically because of social barriers. The new oven design worked well in the laboratory and was easily constructed by traditional oven builders, who supplied most of the households with ovens. However, despite many promotion activities, there was no awareness and concern about the need to save fuel and the new oven was not utilized economically.
The reasons for the lack of interest on the part of the women were that baking is considered unhealthy and dirty and so is one of the lowliest jobs in the household. Besides this, women in this region of Pakistan are generally not allowed to leave the family compound. Both these factors made community bakeries unviable. For the men, who are responsible for supplying fuel for the household, it was actually easier and cheaper to pay for bread to be baked than to organise and pay for the collection and supply of fuelwood. As a result of these and other considerations, the programme's efforts were concentrated on the promotion of commercial bakeries except in situations where fuel was collected free.
Later, a report about the Pakistani bakeries was published in the GATE journal. It attracted the interest of people in the Special Energy Project in Tunisia, which is concerned with rural energy planning. Superficially, everything in their region looked very similar to the Pakistani conditions. Households were using the same type of oven, baking a similar type of bread and had the same religious background. Being attracted by the results in Pakistan, they decided to start a similar programme in Tunisia.
In 1989 I took part in a baseline study in the El Kef region in Tunisia. Soon, during the baseline survey, it became obvious that the conditions were very different from those found in Pakistan.
The first obvious difference was the very scattered settlements in rural areas, which did not allow commercial bakeries to operate economically. Only a few concentrated settlements were found which were suitable for bakeries. But the biggest difference was found in the women's attitude towards fuel and ovens. Because women inTunisia are free to work outside the compound, they are the ones who collect and take care of the fuel.
They usually build their ovens themselves and they are very proud of making bread. This is regarded almost as a measure of success in life. Within one compound, it is likely that mother, daughter and sister-in-law will each build her own oven and use it separately.
A community oven in such an environment is as difficult to establish as commercial bakeries. A completely new oven design would exclude those women who insisted on building their own oven. Therefore, technical modifications were introduced to make the ovens more efficient.
Since most of the fuel is consumed to heat up the oven, the design of a metal cover with a fairly sophisticated flue channel inside, which is used while heating up, improved the heat transfer considerably. First field tests showed fuel savings between 30 and 60 percent for those using such a cover.
If these results can be verified by a larger sample, the strategy will be completely different from Pakistan. Instead of introducing a new oven design or commercial bakeries, the commercial dissemination of oven supplements will be promoted.
The variation between two societies with the same technology and food, having similar eating habits and a comparable religious background, but differing largely in their social, economic and cultural behavior, is a phenomenon which is not only restricted to countries. It can happen from province to province and even from village to village within the same country. The awareness of decision makers about these variations and their impact is usually limited. What is needed, therefore, is some kind of systematic guidance to help them understand the complexity and impact of technology transfer and how to assess its regional limitations.
Consequently, guidance and aids for technology transfer should illustrate the process of assessment, adaptation and the importance of various design components in a socio-economic/cultural context, rather than simply the uncritical technical description of successful projects.
However, the transfer of technologies through information channels alone is of dubious value, and sometimes dangerous. A weak point of many publications is that they create the impression that stove programmes are a type of Do-it-yourself project. Information on technology transfer has to demonstrate that successful models and approaches exist, and encourage others to start their own process of adaptation, but should make them aware of their limitations and put them in a position to identify their need for assistance from personnel experienced in the assessment and design of projects.