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Experiences with technologies for the utilization of regenerative energy sources in the Special Energy Programme Kenya
by Hans Gerd Huhn and Holger Liptow

The implementation of the Special Energy Programme Kenya began in October 1982. The first one-and-a-half-year’s activities led to interesting experiences in the handling of technologies for the utilization of regenerative energy (RE) sources which are significant not only for the other countries on which the Special Energy Programme (SEP) is concentrating but also for the general discussion of RE technologies. Our contribution refers to the report on the planning stage of the SEP which was published in "gate" 1/82 under the heading "SEP, Analyses and Conclusions of the Planning Phase".

In 1979 the Bundesministerium fur Wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit (Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation) launched a programme aimed at improving the energy situation in rural areas of developing countries. This Special Energy Programme is intended to promote increased and more efficient utilization of regenerative energy sources. It is concentrated on ten countries, including Kenya. The planning phase of the SEP was supervised by Division 21 of the GTZ (GATE). The implementation of the SEP is now in the hands of Division 34 (Mining, Energy) and here of Section 343 (Rational Energy Utilization).
The first experts were sent out in October 1982, and with them the Special Energy Programme Kenya began. In the meantime, six components are being followed up:
1. Advice is being given to the Ministry of Energy and Regional Development.
2. Support is being given to the Ministry of Energy and Regional Development in the carrying out of a programme of measuring wind and solar data.
3. Advice on how to disseminate cooking stoves is being given to the women's organisation Maendeleo ya Wanawake.
4. The Ministry of Lands and Settlement is being assisted in setting up biogas and wind-energy installations.
5. The Ministry of Agriculture is being assisted in its exploitation of regenerative energies in Meru District.
6. The Ministry of Water Development is being supported in the setting-up of a wind-energy installation in Kakuma.
One further, separate component of the Programme is the support being given to the Kenya Industrial Estates in the production, dissemination and maintenance of installations for the exploitation of regenerative energy sources. One part of this component is the technical testing of RE installations offered by Kenyan manufacturers, together with an evaluation of how economical they are. In this context, the setting-up of a test-bed for solar collectors manufactured in Kenya is planned. Market studies aimed at evaluating the market potential of individual RE installations are another feature.
In addition to co-ordinating the SEP Kenya and giving advice to the Ministry in the field of biomass, wind and solar-energy exploitation, Component 1 also contains a number of concrete individual measures:
- The construction of biogas installations and the formulation of dissemination programmes.
- Working out possible improvements in tobacco-curing methods.
- The utilization of timber from land clearance sites and the improvement of traditional charcoal-kiln techniques.
- The identification of small hydropower potentials and their possible utilization.
- The employment of turbine pumps.
The activities of the first 18 months have resulted in the gathering of experience in the utilization of RE technologies which is of importance not only for the other SEP countries but also for general discussions on RE technologies. For some time now such discussions have lacked the initial euphoria, which has been replaced by a more sober attitude. This euphoria had two sources: on the one hand there were many who considered RE technologies to be "appropriate technologies" par excellence; on the other, manufacturers of such equipment in industrialized countries hoped to exploit new, expanding markets for their products. Both expectations overlapped and could not always be clearly separated, despite almost contradictory natures.
The limitations of RE technologies with regard to potential technic, demand, the economy, target-group relevance and socio-cultural acceptance had been underestimated. This description of the SEP Kenya will go into these points individually.
From the beginning, the SEP has been based on a differentiated appreciation of the various RE technologies, in the realization that uncritical over-evaluations of their success in application can do more harm than good. Experience with the SEP Kenya fully confirmed this approach. The following report deals with these experiences:


The emphasis in Component 3 of the programme lies on the dissemination of improved cooking stoves. The counterpart institution is Maendeleo ya Wanawake, Kenya's largest women's organization, with 8000 groups all over the country. The stove dissamination programme is being directed by the two German experts Dr. Agnes Klingshirn and Hilda von Krosigk and two Kenyan women. The fact that large areas of Kenya suffer from a shortage of wood, the most widespread source of energy, and that the work-load of women in country districts in gathering firewood is a considerable burden make it easier to arouse the interest of this target group. Participation of the women concerned in all decisions and measures is of decisive importance to the success of this project. But even this alone is not enough to disseminate new, improved cooking stoves.
On the technical side there is the problem of the lack of durability and fireproofness of the cheapest locally available building material: clay. Before dissemination can begin, various of materials and types of stove have to be tested in order to find an optimal combination which is not too expensive but which will last for at least several years.
Improved cooking stoves have compete with the free, flexible and Indestructible "three-stone hearth". It must also be remembered that new stoves are often not judged by their energy-saving potential alone. The socio-cultural acceptance of new stoves is governed by a whole series of important factors. Depending on specific conditions, these include:
- Smoke-free cooking (health and cleanliness).
- Simple and time-saving stove operation.
- Adaptation to the user's cooking habits.
- Space-heating.
- Protection against burns.
- Making the kitchen more attractive.

Programmes for the dissemination of low-cost stoves are aimed at the non-commercial firewood sector and the rural population, whose money incomes are low. As commercial dissemination strategies cannot be employed, the work of convincing those involved is much harder. Considerable commitment is needed to launch a self-supporting dissemination process as compared with a commercialized charcoal scheme aimed at the urban population.
However: even successful propagation programmes in the firewood and charcoal sectors only reduce the overall wood-fuel consumption to a limited extent. Measures must be taken in connection with other users of firewood and charcoal (improved tobacco curing, for example) and on the supply side (such as afforestation or improved charcoal-kiln techniques) if deforestation is to be prevented.
In the meantime Maendeleo ya Wanawake is, therefore, considering whether it would be possible and practical for village communities and women's groups to plant fast-growing trees for use as wood-fuel. The advisory group in the Ministry of Energy and Regional Development is continuing its work on making tobacco-curing procedures and the traditional charcoal-kiln techniques more efficient.
The improvement of traditional charcoal-kiln techniques will also help utilize wood cleared to produce fresh arable land. This clearly highlights a central factor of Kenya's deforestation problems, namely the deforestation of the highlands provoked by the shortage of arable land. Additional felling for energy purposes can be reduced if we can succeed in using the wood that cannot be processed industrially for energy-production purposes. This factor, however, also clearly shows that the cause of deforestation problems is not exclusively the high consumption of wood for fuel purposes.
The construction of biogas installations is another important aspect of the SEP Kenya in the biomass sector. So far five biogas plants have been constructed. These are gas-bell installations of the type constructed by L. Sasse (BORDA) which have been given the name "Mew Type" because of certain modifications. In Kenya, too, it is clear that although biogas technology fulfills the prerequisites for an appropriate technology in many respects (decentrally usable, use of local resources etc.), there are still clear restrictions on its relevance to the target group. It still is a technology not suitable for poor population groups. The operation of a Meru Type installation requires the stabling of at least four to five cows. Only a wealthy farmer can fulfill this precondition.
But for farmers in this category at least, the Meru Type installation promises to be a success that will catch on without any prompting. This expectation is based on the following points: this type of installation is relatively cheap to build. It can be combined with another GTZ project, namely the introduction and dissemination of stabling cattle. And the training of biogas experts has made a promising start.

Small hydro-power schemes

In Meru District, a potential small hydro-power site was investigated from the point of view of providing electricity for a neighbouring village. Although small hydro-power schemes are generally considered to be a promising option for rural electrification, the result of this investigation was negative in view of considerations of economy. An 11 kV power line connected to the national grid passes close to the village, and a small hydro-power scheme could never compete with electricity from the national grid! This example clearly shows that the economy of an RE technology depends not only on the potential situation of the site in question but also on the concrete alternatives. Which does not, however, mean that the SEP Kenya has struck small hydro-power schemes off its list entirely. The search for suitable sites for small hydro-power schemes continues. Plants for the direct production of mechanical energy such as turbine pumps and mills should be given major consideration.

Wind and solar energy

One aspect of the wind-energy activities of the SEP Kenya was described in detail in "gate" 1/1984. So far, four wind pumps of the Kenyan "Kijito" type have been set up (Component 4). The aim of this component of the programme is to improve the infrastructure of villages in rural areas along the coast which are inadequately supplied with drinking water by providing communal waterholes. The pumps used are manufactured in Kenya. The manufacturer is bent on success, and has thus set up a maintenance service that really functions. The installations can, on the one hand, compete in price and technology with other commercial wind pumps such as Southern Cross, Aeromotor, Climax or Dempster. They are, on the other hand, of particularly simple construction in order to enable them to be operated even in isolated areas of East Africa. These Kijito wind pumps are not, however, low-cost or do-it-yourself installations. A considerable degree of engineering know-how has been invested in their development.
Previous experience with wind pumps and comparable technologies, especially on the African continent. have shown that the manufacturer of particularly cheap installations that require a lot of maintenance and repair are seldom an appropriate solution, even if they have often been hastily classified as "AT".
A Kijito wind pump is certainly beyond the pocket of most small farmers. But this is also true of most "low-cost" installations. Positive results from the development-policy point of view are particularly likely in cases where wind pumps are operated as communal installations, where they make a contribution towards satisfying basic needs, especially in providing drinking water.
In the wind and solar energy sectors, the data available in Kenya is quite inadequate.
This will be improved during the course of the SEP in the form of a multi-phase plan. Measuring devices already set up, together with the material obtained from them to date, will be evaluated and checked by means of reference measurements. The aim of these evaluations is to help provide a clearer picture of the efforts required to obtain sufficiently precise data for site identification and system design (potential - energy converters - storage unit - consumer). In the past, little or no attention was often paid to gauging requirements, including possible alterations in consumer behaviour following the installation of the RE equipment.
AT sites already defined both in terms of known energy requirements (load graphs) and with reference to the existing infrastructure (e.g. wells in operation), the RE potential must be collated via technical measurements. Only then should the decision between the alternative energy sources be made. These may include animal or human muscle-power, diesel motors and solar or wind energy. Then the technical installation can be designed in accordance with the parameters recorded.

Concluding comments

The complexity of the SEP Kenya is the result both of the diversity of the individual measures and the large number of varying objectives set by the counterpart institutions the partners co-operating and the institutions providing the funds.
An unusual amount of advisory work, co-ordination, co-operation, organisation and continued re-assessment of the project contents is involved. This puts a particular strain on the programme co-ordinator, Mr. Trygve Olaf Foss and his representative, Mr. Bernd Renner as well as the other project staff and their partners.
Additional demands are placed on them by the relatively large number of people interested in visiting this programme, which, within the overall Special Energy Programme, has pilot character in view of the wide range of activities involved and the results achieved so far.
Previous experience within the SEP Kenya has shown that a general transfer of already existing concepts on the exploitation of regenerative energy sources is not possible. Only careful analysis of site conditions, the motivation and participation of the target groups will provide the preconditions for the success of such programmes.
The provisional duration of the SEP for Kenya was two years. In view of the promising start, however, it has been decided to prolong the Programme.

Two contributions on exactly the same subject, precisely the same project - a somewhat unusual occurrence. The subject is, however, viewed from two different angles. That of those responsible for the project and the impressions gained by a visitor. The method of presentation which we have selected may not be an uninteresting one for our readers.

Alternative sources of energy - not for poor people

A visit to the SEP team in Kenya
by Beate Worner

"We cannot say that we have found the energy solution for poor people. But in view of the present energy-consumption structure in Kenya we feel we should say that the more energy we can save, whether we start with the rich farmers or with large-scale industrial plants, the more we will be conserving the forests and the more will be left over for the poor people who cannot afford such technologies." Thus Trygve Foss describes the dilemma facing most of those who are Involved in alternative energy sources in or for developing countries. Foss is the coordinator of the Special Energy Programme, SEP for short, being carried out in Kenya by the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ). The programme has been running for over a year already, and the first experiences have been gathered.

Wind energy, solar energy, biogas, possibilities for economizing on wood consumption - they are all included in the programme, for the aim is to take a closer look at the various ways in which these individual technologies can be exploited. Particularly with reference to their suitability for the target group: the poorer inhabitants of rural regions.

Solar energy for heating shower water

The SEP group reports that limited market for solar-operated water heaters has developed. Mainly among the better-off residents in urban districts. Here it is certainly possible to use locally manufactured brands, as such water heaters are already being built by no less than seven Kenyan companies. The raw materials for the solar installations, however, still have to be imported and are subject to customs duties that are not exactly favourable: 60 to 110 percent! The hotels along the coast, under British management, found it cheaper to import the entire installations.

Not exactly cheap either - wind pumps

Four "Kijito" brand wind pumps have so far been tested on the coast within the framework of the "Land Settlement Scheme" also financed by GTZ. A Kenyan product of world class, according to experts, but far too expensive at the equivalent of DM 50,000-60,000 per pump. "The Mercedes-Benz of wind pumps", as Foss says. Something that only very rich large-scale farmers can afford, or perhaps a village pooling its resources to provide a communal water supply or for irrigating small nurseries of young trees. In Kenya, at any rate, the only customer with the necessary financial backing is seen as the Government, which confirms the existing situation. But according to the Norwegian Trygve Foss, even simple, cheap wind pumps do not stand a chance in Kenya. Their spread is hampered by the fact that these models would require a lot of maintenance, a weak point in Kenya's rural regions.

Improved cooking stoves are on their way

Cutting down on wood consumption would appear to be a more promising proposition, as wood is still the main source of energy in rural districts. Reason enough to ensure that the remaining resources are husbanded and that a supply of timber continues to be available. Improved cooking stoves and improved charcoal technology will fulfill the first requirement, planned reafforestation the latter. "On-farm" reafforestation, as it is aptly called. This would make each individual responsible for providing his own firewood.
While it is not yet possible to tell how country-dwellers will react to charcoal, improved cooking stoves provide no such problems. Agnes Klingshirn, with a doctorate in ethnosociology and responsible for this aspect of the Special Energy Programme, is astonished by the enthusiasm shown for the new stoves by Kenyan women. For it is they who suffer most from the "poor man's energy crisis", as the shortage of wood for burning is often aptly described. They have to walk miles to collect the wood, they have to cook on the traditional three stone fire which fills the kitchen with smoke and soot. For here there are no stovepipes to carry the smoke outside. According to experts, Kenyan women in country districts are more prone to diseases of the eyes and lungs. A direct consequence of this traditional cooking method.
In view of this situation it is no surprise that Kenyan women cast flirtatious glances at the new improved stoves. And they are certainly worth having, even though it is not easy for many people to find the DM 20 that such a stove costs, despite all the subsidies involved.
The same enthusiasm with which Agnes Klingshirn describes the interest of Kenyan women for the new cooking stoves is apparent in Trygve Foss when biogas is mentioned.

No biogas without zero grazing

The SEP group is delighted with the news that the Ministry of Livestock Development in Nairobi is trying to convince Kenyan farmers that cattle can be reared in sheds and need not be allowed to graze. The change-over to indoor cattle-rearing is being propagated throughout Kenya as "zero grazing", combined with the cultivation of the fodder necessary, of course. In view of the shortage of land in Kenya, farmers are accepting this change-over in agricultural methods without much hesitation.
Ideal preconditions for the introduction and spread of biogas, as already mentioned. Four to five cows kept inside under special conditions would suffice to produce enough biogas for one family, provided the cows are kept in the shed all day. If they are only indoors at night, twice as many are required.
Local materials are used for constructing the biogas installation, the model of which was designed by BORDA, Bremen. And the installations are constructed by experts trained by SEP staff within the framework of a special programme. There are 36 of them at the moment, including four teachers from a village polytechnic.
All of them have helped into small businessmen and almost more important, have become the contact men for interested farmers, who can visit them and inspect, without obligation, a biogas plant of this kind. Deals are often concluded on the spot. The farmer provides the construction materials, digs the hole for the biomass with the help of his workers and does much of the donkey work. Under supervision of the experts, the brickwork is built within four days. A local mason's wages are between 30 and 40 shillings a day, plus food from the family of the farmer he is working for.
This advanced form of neighbourly self-help drastically reduces the cost of the "Mew" installation, as it is called in Kenya. Costs lie between 5,500 and 6,500 shillings, approximately DM 1,000 to 1,300, in comparison with the installations previously built, the cheapest of which cost about 10,000 shillings, while most of the others were far more costly.

Economy is a convincing argument

The "Mew" plant seems to be really spreading "under its own steam". "In the area where we started we have almost too many inquiries. Farmers are queueing up for advice. And the people we trained have just informed us that they could build dozens of biogas installations every week," says Traygve Foss.
The reason: it is quite simply worth the farmer's while. The wealthier among them spend as much in a year on kerosine and candles to give their children enough light in the evenings to do their homework by as such a biogas plant costs. During the day the children have no time - they have to help out on the farm. Kenyans find it an expensive matter to get their children educated.
Despite the farmers' biogas euphoria, SEP worker Foss has both feet on the ground. The programme is not intended to be a flop, as was, unfortunately, the case with several similar schemes in the past, where biogas plants were simply installed and the farmers left to deal with the problems. Precisely this is what Foss wishes to avoid in Kenya, and he is quite serious about it.


AHRTAG, 85 Marylebone High Street, London W1M 3DE, UK
Tel: 01-486 4175
Telegrams AHRTA London W 1

AHRTAG aims to promote primary health care in underdeveloped countries by providing information and advice on appropriate equipment and techniques.
The Group was established in 1977 in order to take over the health programme of the Intermediate Technology Development Group which sought to promote alternatives to high cost, high technology, hospital-based health services in underdeveloped countries. It is a registered charity and has received support from a variety of government and non-government agencies such as the Commonwealth Foundation, GTZ, ITDG, Oxfam, SIDA and UNICEF. The Group has a central staff of nine people, while others with specialist skills act as consultants for specific projects.
The Group's work falls into three general areas:
- an information and enquiry service;
- the publication of newletters and (2) manuals;
- the identification, design and development of appropriate equipment and techniques.

The enquiry service receives requests for practical information from all over the world. These are dealt with either by using information available in AHRTAG's resource centre, or by referral to other experts or collaborating organisations. Contacts with workers in underdeveloped countries often lead to the identification of resource, technology or information gaps which AHRTAG may try to fill through research and development work and publications. Ideas (3) Oral Health which have been developed in Third World projects are collected, evaluated, and where appropriate modified and field-tested. Information is then disseminated through manuals and newsletters.
At present AHRTAG's work has been focused on three main subject areas:
(1) The prevention and treatment of diarrhoeal diseases:
"Diarrhoea Dialogue"
AHRTAG's newsletter on the prevention and control of diarrhoeal diseases, including oral rehydration therapy, is now produced in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Arabic. Like other newsletters produced by AHRTAG, it is supplied free to health care workers in underdeveloped countries.
(2) Disability prevention and rehabilitation
This programme has been concerned with the identification, and where necessary development, of appropriate designs of rehabilitation aids. Various manuals have been published on low cost aids, and further manuals on wheelchair design and on lowerlimb prostheses will be available in 1984. Further practical information on low-cost aids and disability prevention is provided through the newsletter, "Aids for Living".
(3) Oral Health
AHRTAG provides information for dental health workers in underdeveloped countries and the Group is also examining designs for low-cost basic equipment capable of local manufacture. The "Dental Health Newsletter" was launched in 1982 to spread information about community based dental health care and education.
Other AHRTAG publications include manuals on refrigerator maintenance, on how to make a coldbox, and on how to look after a health centre store.
The AHRTAG library, which contains over 7,000 documents on appropriate health technologies and community health, is open to the public. It is closely linked with the Institute of Child Health in London, with which it operates a briefing service for people preparing for work with Third World health projects.