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close this bookGATE - 2/84 - Cookstoves (GTZ GATE, 1984, 56 p.)
close this folderUpper volta
View the documentThe Sarvodaya stove project in Sri Lanka
View the documentThe UNHCR Stove Project at Peshawar, Pakistan
View the documentThe Dhauladhar Project in Palampur, India

The UNHCR Stove Project at Peshawar, Pakistan

by Cornelia Sepp

The UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) has been working with Afghan refugees in Pakistan since 1979. The most important tasks in this project are the administration of the refugee camps, food distribution, education and vocational training, providing water supplies, road-building and health care. The UNHCR is not authorized to carry out any work; it merely provides funds, acts as an advisory body and monitors activities. The organization responsible for carrying out the work is the national "Commissionate for Afghan Refugees.'

In order to alleviate the domestic energy supply problem in the camps, a programme for the introduction of improved stoves was launched in Autumn 1983 with the help of the Bellerive Foundation, of Geneva. The foundation's principal task was to create the infrastructural and technical conditions for a stove programme. Once this was done, it was the UNHCR's intention to entrust the running of the project to a suitable organization. Within a month, in a camp named "Kachagari", the team from the Bellerive Foundation had built a stove construction centre and had selected three stove models; they had had 200 improved cooking pots made, built a village bakery oven and improved the existing kerosene stoves. To avoid a vacuum between the departure of the team and the finding of an organization to carry out the programme it was handed over, as an interim measure (initially for three months), to the German-Pakistani Technical Training Program, which is run with the assistance of the GTZ (German Agency for Technical Cooperation). The non-governmental organization SERVE (Serving Emergency Relief and Vocational Enterprises), which was already working with the women in the camp, was sub-contracted to generate awareness among the women, distribute the stoves and to handle follow-up. Talks are now being held with the responsible agencies to decide whether the project could be carried through by GATE.

Principal General Conditions

There are approximately three million Afghan refugees officially registered in Pakistan. Almost all of them live in camps. Many of them have already been living there for more than two years. An infrastructure is gradually developing, with mosques, medical centres, market stalls etc. Only about one-quarter to one-half of the families have work, and 80 to 90 per cent of them receive regular food rations from the UNHCR. The families receive an energy grant in the form of free kerosene, but the amount given falls far short of their needs for cooking.
Almost all the families live in tents, some of which have been made more permanent and/or extended with mud constructions. Large families, with five to ten members, are very common.
As the inhabitants of the camps have no land of their own, and the camps were established in the immediate vicinity of the city, about 90 per cent of the families have to buy wood. They spend between 400 and 600 rupees a month on it.
Until the improved stoves were introduced almost all the households had not only a traditional bread oven - the tanoor- but also a kerosene stove and an open three-stone cooking hearth.
The staple diet is bread, baked in flat round loaves in the tanoors, usually twice a day. There is no doubt that most of the wood used for cooking is fired to bake bread. The bread is usually eaten with stews of peas, beans and/or vegetables; the stew generally contains only a little meat. Tea is made several times a day, and in many households water for it is kept hot all the time.

Choice of Stove Models

Three mud stoves were selected:
1. A simple model with no chimney, for one pot - a shielded fire. This model can be made by using a simple mould, thus ensuring standardization of all technically important dimensions.
2. A model similar to the above, but with a chimney - the Crescent stove. The top edge of the stove is strengthened with a metal ring. This stove also has a grill.
3. A two-pot-hole stove with a chimney - the Pogbi stove. This is an improved version of the Nouna stove which was distributed in Upper Volta. It has a thin metal plate as a top plate, which is placed on the body of the stove.
Special pots which can be sunk deep in the stove are used for all these stoves. The pots can be produced easily in the local pottery works by changing a modelling board.
The two portable stove models are prefabricated in the project stove centre and are then delivered to their new owners. The quantity which can be produced is at present limited by the number of moulds available, as the mud has to dry in the mould for 48 hours. With a sufficient number of moulds a team of four stove-builders could make about 30 stoves a day. A metal worker can make ten rings a day for the Crescent stove or five top plates for the Pogbi stove.
The chimney for the Crescent and Pogbi stoves is also made of mud: to make it a sheet of stamped mud is rolled around a pipe or similar object of the desired diameter. The pipe can subsequently be pulled out of the mud easily if a cloth is wrapped tightly around both the pipe and the mud beforehand.
Pogbi stoves are built in the households using moulds.

Generating Awareness, Dissemination and Acceptance

Since November 1983 450 stoves have been distributed, 116 of them having been sold at the following prices: shielded fire 30 rupees, Crescent stove 40 rupees and Pogbi stove 60 rupees. These prices correspond approximately to the costs of production. Two improved pots are supplied free with each stove. The remaining stoves were given away. Of the total number, 10 per cent were Pogbi stoves, while shielded fires and Crescent stoves each accounted for 45 per cent.
The stoves are distributed by SERVE. This organization has no systematic distribution method, but instead works through informal contacts in the stove store. The American worker who is responsible for distribution selects the families and fixes the prices individually according to her subjective judgment. The stove users themselves have very little say in the type of stove they get. As a result, cases have been heard of families which received a stove without a chimney even though they would have much preferred a model with a chimney; also, some women have permanently installed stoves which they only use in the winter, because they prefer to cook outside in the summer: a portable stove would have been much more suitable for them. In addition, the women were instructed at construct a base for the stove. Many of them stated explicity that they did not want to do this.

Assessment and Outlook

In view of the amount of money the camp dwellers have to spend on firewood, and the ecologic risk to the mountain regions of Pakistan due to the burning of excessive amounts of wood, it certainly makes sense to introduce simple wood-saving stoves in the refugee camps.
Technically the stove models selected are the most up-to-date, and the production system permits simple, rapid and standardized production. So far no appreciable difficulties have arisen in the use of the stoves; the women have expressed satisfaction with them and use them regularly. The range of models available satisfies different requirements. Whether or not the need for special pots - which are a major factor in saving wood - will render large-scale dissemination difficult or even impossible cannot be foreseen, above all because the pots have been given away free stove buyers until now. However, under these conditions the women seem to accept the new pots and use them regularly. The product range of the local pottery works has already been expanded to include this pot, and even fairly large requirement could be met.
Since the improved stoves so far introduced are only suitable for cooking and not for baking, the actual wood saving per household is less than the good test results achieved would lead one to believe. Centralized baking of bread at village or district level would certainly result in a maximum saving of wood, and an efficient model for a village bakery oven has been developed by the Bellerive Foundation. However, it is open to question whether such a reorganization would be accepted by the inhabitants. Simply improving the family tanoor would reduce consumption much less.
At present distribution is not organized systematically. The provisional distribution methods employed by SERVE have a number of deficiencies. In the next phase a distribution system should be built up which allows the women more freedom of choice, and which would enable the programme to become self-supporting; this would also have to include a gradual transition to charging actual market prices (for the pots, too).