|Boiling Point No. 34 - September 1994 (ITDG Boiling Point, 1994)|
by Dominic Walubengo
In rural Kenya' separate are used for cooking and space heating whilst in urban areas, houses include a kitchen although chimneys are not often built. In the 1980s, large numbers of improved stoves were introduced - mainly the one-pot, portable Kenya Ceramic Jiko (KCJ) - but they were all without chimneys. It is mostly in institutional kitchens that one finds stoves with chimneys, and where they lead to great benefits. So why are there not more domestic stoves with chimneys? Despite the obvious advantages of smoke removal, there are several reasons why stove makers do not include chimneys in the design of their improved stoves. Many urban Kenyans live in rented houses, and cannot install a chimney in a house that does not belong to them. Stove portability is often of paramount importance and a chimney would make this difficult, if not impossible. If a chimney is poorly installed it can prevent good combustion and even cause back--firing, with the smoke ending up in the kitchen. The chimney may fall off leaving a hole in the roof. It can rust or be damaged by wind and rain and need replacing. This means climbing onto a roof which is not strong and may collapse. A tool is needed to clean a chimney and if this is not done regularly soot accumulates, blocks the chimney, causes incomplete combustion and can even cause fires in the chimney or roof.
For rural houses, chimneys are out of the question. Most people live in mud huts with thatched roofs which are not particularly appropriate for chimneys, catch fire easily, and are difficult to make watertight around the chimney. Realistically, someone trying to promote chimney stoves in the rural areas would have also to present an entirely new house design Hoods also require chimneys, and so their installation faces similar problems. The future for chimneys in Kenya is for institutional cooking, not domestic houses. The smoke problem should be approached through better house designs.
Dominic Walubengo is Associate Director KENGO, and can he contacted at: Kengo, Mwanzi Road, Westlands, PO Box 48197. Nairobi, Kenya.