Burundi Institutional Peat Stove Programmes
by Chris Adam, BP 1019, Bujumbura, BURUNDI
This article originally appeared in BP 10 ( 1986) and has been updated by the author.
The stove programme is connected to Project Tourbe II, a multilateral cooperation between USAID, ONATOUR and the Irish Government. This is a project for the exploitation of peat (a kind of young coal) as an alternative fuel. Around 800 tons of peat per month have been sold in Burundi during the past few years. This is equivalent to about 600 tons of wood. As Burundi is a relatively small country (27,000 km²), this peat project has become an important factor in saving wood and forest reserves.
In the past, most of the peat was sold to the army camps since they did not require specially designed stoves and fuel efficiency was not a major factor. The first attempt to enter the private household market with peat failed due to improper stove design and the fact that at the time (1982), charcoal was still cheaper than peat.
Since the beginning of 1985, peat has been actively marketed as an alternative fuel to institutions like restaurants, canteens of schools, hospitals, prisons and small industries. Although these institutions were buying mostly wood for fuel purposes, they were able to switch to peat easily when it proved to their advantage to do so.
Since few places had proper stoves in which to bum peat, the project offered the client a free stove when he agreed to buy one tonne of peat. A tonne of peat costs about $ 70 US/800 FBu in Bujumbura and about $50 US/550 FBu in the interior near the peat bogs. The peat is delivered at no extra charge as a service of ONATOUR. The client signs an agreement by which the stove may be taken back if he does not continue using peat.
Within a very short time, the Stove Team had a two month wailing list for people ordering stoves. The team consists of three masons who are building four stoves per week. The stoves are especially designed for burning peat but can be used for wood and other fuels as well. The two types of stoves being promoted are the Burundian Community Stove (BCSt.), designed for large pots about 50cm in diameter, and the two pot stove for casseroles up to 27cm.
The stoves are built with bricks in a kind of sandwich construction. A strong and heavy cast concrete top plate (5 to 7cm thickness) keeps the stoves together. The bricks between the two plates and the ground foundation are laid with adobe (clay or red earth). Only the ground bricks for the foundation are laid with concrete to protect the stove from ground water. The joints between the bricks are scaled with mortar which gives a strong outer shell to the stove. 25-35 kg of cement and 350 bricks are used for one stove. Materials and labour costs about X00 FBu which is about the same price as one tonne of peat.
The stove contains a lot of hollow spaces for insulation. The side and back walls are double walls, filled with ash for insulation which enables the firebox to heat up quickly. This is necessary as peat burns smokeless only in a hot fire chamber. The percentage of heat utilised (PHU) in the BCSt. is about 29% as the pot is mainly sunken.
Burundi Community Stove
The life expectancy of the stoves seems to be long. After nearly one year of use, the stoves are showing no corrosion. Some restaurants in the suburbs of Bujumbura report that they arc spending half to three-quarters of what they were spending on wood fuel which was burned on a three stone fire. In most places, the fire is kept on for three hours to keep big pots (40 litres) of beans boiling. A European biogas project is using peat stoves to make food for 20 persons daily. They are using about 15kg of peat per day.
The project was taken over in 1986 by the Burundi National company ONATOUR. It is now operating well and has built hundreds of community stoves for burning peat. It has also developed a multi fuel bread oven, and since 1988 has been producing bio coal briquettes.