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The Zambian Charcoal Stove

By Azel Bande, National Energy Council, P O Box 37631, Lusaka, Zambia

Introduction

Looked at globally, Zambia does not have a woodfuel crisis since the deforestation rate is a mere 1.26% per year measured in growing stock. However, a problem exists in urban and pert-urban areas where about 80% of the inhabitants are dependent on woodfuel. This is because all non-gazetted indigenous forests within a radius of 50 to 70 km in these areas, have been exploited. Compounding the problem are the unfavourable charcoal prices which have let to artificial shortages in most urban areas.

The Population

Zambia spans over 752,614 sq km and has a population of about 7 million people. Forty per cent of them live in urban areas, four fifths of whom depend on woodfuel for their domestic energy requirements. On the average, there are seven people per household and the population grows at 3.6% annually.


Fig 1 - The Traditional Stove

Woodfuel Production

The ungazetted multi-species indigenous forests which cover 90% of total forest land are the main source of woodfuel in Zambia. Supply areas include:

(i) Tsetsefly control cutting areas
(ii) Agricultural clearing areas
(iii) Industrial forest clearing
(iv) Saw milling residue (not sawdust)

Notes:
Capacity = 2kg charcoal
Cost = US$ 4
Size: = Height 395mm Diameter 300mm
Drawing not to scale


Fig 2 - The New Mbaula

Charcoal burners are allocated coupes (6 hectares of forest) by the Forest Department at about US$ 1 (ZK 8) per cubic metre of wood extracted. All the charcoal is produced in the traditional earthclamp kiln by the stack method.

Charcoal making is labour intensive requiring only a spade, hoe and an axe as the basic tools. Transportation is by bicycles and trucks.

Efforts to improve production of charcoal by the Forestry Department did not yield the expected results as their Mark V portable metal kiln proved to be too expensive (US$ 625 at 1983 prices) for charcoal burners.

Charcoal Pricing

To produce woodfuel from plantations a stumpage fee varying from US $ 0.02 (ZK 0.15) for 0.007 cubic metres to about US$ 1 (ZK 6.80) for 0.279 cubic metres worth of produce is exacted from the charcoal burner. Furthermore, a levy of US$ 0.01 (ZK 0.09) is imposed on every 90 kg bag of charcoal so produced.

This made it very difficult for charcoal burners to sell charcoal at the Government controlled price of US$ 2 (ZK 15) per 90 kg bag. The result has been artificial shortages of charcoal in urban areas.

Charcoal Use

Charcoal is used primarily for cooking and heating in urban areas. This is achieved by means of a traditional brazier (Mbaula) Fig 1, which is a perforated cylindrical metal sheet with draught holes in the sides. The traditional stove has a high burning rate and a low thermal efficiency of about 10%. Although the traditional stove performs the space heating function well, its low thermal efficiency has resulted in high charcoal consumption which is an economic drain soaring to as much as a third of the monthly income of the low income group.

The University of Zambia produced eight alternative stove designs which were more efficient than the traditional one. After field testing the new Mbaula shown in Fig 2, was selected for nationwide dissemination.

Stove Dissemination

The charcoal stove project of Zambia is a two year dissemination effort funded by NORAD and co-ordinated by the Non-governmental Organisation Co-ordinating Committee (NGO-CC). It will employ 15 full time workers starting in 1988.

Stove production will be undertaken by the traditional tinsmiths using their ordinary tools and will cost US$ 4 (ZK 35) if made from scrap metal. It is hoped that when the project is implemented, where previously three bags of charcoal were used it will be possible to reduce to two for the same amount of cooking. With the prices of charcoal at US$ 2 (ZK 15) per 90 kg bag it will be possible to save US$ 2 (ZK 15) per month in foregone expenditure.

Training of the tinsmiths will be an essential part of the programme. Incorporated in the programme is the information and training of women in the correct use of the stoves.

A constraining factor to the programme is the lack of a ready supply of cheap scrap metal sheet for stove production.

Alternative Stove Development

A briquette development project with the aim of introducing coal briquettes and clay stoves for domestic use is continuing by National Council for Scientific Research (NCSR) and funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Research On Electric Ceramic Stove

Zambia has excess electric power which needs more load to be fully utilised but this cannot be obtained through lighting alone. Electric appliances such as one and two plate stoves would be required to increase the load. However, at present these appliances are very expensive and cannot be afforded by the lowly paid people.

Policy Framework

Zambia has no Energy Policy as yet but efforts continue to be directed at promoting conservation, efficient generation and utilization and creation of alternative energy sources. It is also realised that the charcoal stove project is only one of the many measures necessary to curtail charcoal consumption and the devastating effects of deforestation and its concomitants.

Management

The programme will employ fifteen full time workers for the whole two year project period.

These will include:

1 experienced project organiser, 1 experienced field worker, 1 bookkeeper/secretary, 1 office orderly/cleaner, 1 driver, 4 instructors for tinsmiths, 4 instructors for women, 2 social scientists.

The management and co-ordination of the project will be the responsibility of these project staff.

* The copper mines use it as a reducing agent in the copper refining process.
**A 90 kg bag contains about 40 kg of hardwood charcoal. The Department of Energy has proposed a study on a low cost stove whose main body and hot plate would utilise the readily available cement and ceramic materials. A research study will start as soon as funds are available.

Note: Figures for stove performance not given.