One of the objectives while in Chad was to learn more about the improved cookstoves project. I knew that Envodev had developed two different models: one produced with paint buckets, clay and milk cans; and a second and bigger one made out of rammed earth. Before this second trip, I’ve had the opportunity to exchange some information with Charles Dokmo regarding the bucket model. Charles worked on this project with Envodev and he was in Chad for some months last year to develop these models on the ground. This project is, in fact, extremely important for the context of Chad, not only associated with the ecoCharcoal project, but as a project/product in itself. I read and learned a little about these models before my trip, but there’s nothing like going and making my ow exemplar… and, of course, testing it!
So this is what Aquilas, Ghislain and me did one sunny, hot morning in late September: we went to ENABA, and in approximately one hour we had a bucket cookstove ready (it just was not painted). Of course it still needed to dry for the clay was humid.
I found the overall making process of the stove relatively easy, the only challenge lays on the opening of the window on the side of the bucket… the method is still very rudimentary, and the weight may be an issue if people need to move it around (about 20kg). I left them some scissors and knife, but maybe a chisel and hammer would do a better job…
On another sunny, hot morning we set out to perform some tests on the improved cookstoves. So we went again to ENABA for there we had a half bag of ecoCharcoal (Aquilas told me: it was still the ecoCharcoal produced with David de Armey, “Supreme quality ecoCharcoal” he added smilling). We prepared a ganoun (a wired stove; the stove that is typically used in Chad), an improved cookstove, the roughly same amount of ecoCharcoal and wood charcoal, and two little pots half filled with cold water. So we began our first experiment: to register the boiling point on a ganoun and on an improved cookstove both using 6 briquetes of ecoCharcoal. The results were quite encouraging: the water on the improved cookstove took 8 minutes to reach the boiling point, exactly half the time it took on the ganoun!… We were rather excited about the results, so we jumped right the way to the second experiment: to register the water boiling point using the same amount of wood charcoal both in the ganoun and in the improved cookstove. Again, the results were quite positive: it took more 59% of the time to boil the water on the ganoun, and in comparison with the ecoCharcoal the water on the improved cookstove took 5 minutes more to reach the boiling point. So on the overall, the improved cookstove has the potential to reduce in more than half the consumption of charcoal and ecoCharcoal, and, when comparing the wood charcoal with the ecoCharcoal, we may argue that the ecoCharcoal is about 60% more efficient then the wood charcoal. Another aspect that we noticed is that the wood charcoal takes longer to light up (in general, it took one minute longer using the same technique as used to light up the ecoCharcoal _ set the fire on pieces of paper and then mix them with the charcoal). We came to the conclusion that the wood charcoal is more sensitive to the atmospheric conditions (breeze, moisture…).
So after all these great results we ended up on a restaurant feasting on a great sauce poulet together with a guava and banana juice. Delicious!!
I was so excited about these results that I decided to offer an improved cookstove to the CDJD (Centre de Developpement des Jeunes de Doba), a center for homeless children that I had the privilege to get to know on february. So I undertook the mission to carry the improved cookstove to Doba… and I have to admit, it wasn’t easy at all, especially when Axelle came to pick me up on her scooter… I can only imagine for a little what it might’ve looked like to see two nassara (white person) women on a scooter holding a yellow bucket between them, driving all over Doba… I heard a lot of shouts of exclamation and laughs as we passed by! And to make the drive even more difficult and unsafe, it had fallen a heavy rain, so the pavement (dirt) was converted into huge puddles of mud and only God knows what more!… Luckily Axelle has already some months of experience!
We got to CDJD safely, and we delivered the cookstove in one piece! And right the way, the kids wanted to try it, so we decided to boil some water… and for my surprise, it was taking too much time to boil!… What was the problem?!… I figured it was the heavy moisture that was in the air after the storm that was affecting the charcoal, but even so I asked Stéphane (the volunteer at CDJD) to let me know more about its usage.
My second trip to Chad was very important to define functions and understand the real potential of the project. There are certain aspects that need to be improved, but in general the project shows high levels of feasibility and prove to be adapted to the context.
Aquilas and Ghislain will begin an improved cookstove’s production and will, this way, begin to introduce the ecoCharcoal to the general population in Moundou.
I leave here some more pictures, I hope they help illustrate the trip, but most of all, I hope they evidence the reality in which we’re working in… on the XXIst Century!