Imagine a woman and children spending a significant part of the day in the kitchen in remote areas or in a rural set up to be precise. This is where traditional stoves and use of wood fuel are common. The image of a woman cooking, a baby strapped to her back and the little ones gathered around the fire is one that is immediately familiar to all of us. Then try to imagine the amount of soot clinging on the thatched roofing to the ones likely to be found on both the woman’s and the baby’s respiratory tract. Then finally think of the health and environmental implications.
“This is what led to this wonderful innovation and with the help of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund we see ourselves reducing the risks posed on women and children while cooking and the conservation of our environment” said Godfrey Ong’ale the director of Energy Solutions Center and Technology (ESCAT) during the National Youth Enterprise Fund exhibition at KICC Nairobi.
“I was further moved by the innovation during my training in the year 2000,after we were referred to the Delhi magazine, the leading magazine publishers in India, which depicted grim figures lost due to smoke from firewood and stove” he added.
Through a donation of 20 thousand shillings from the Youth fund Ong’ale and his fellow youths have been able to make a living from modifying the traditional stoves to save the environment and citizens from the ever skyrocketing prices of fuel and cost of living while improving the health of women and children in the kitchen.
In his designated tent he sampled out the various types of stoves the center produces and he is happy with the interest displayed by those who visited the tent.
“Every stove is designed for its purpose and to suit different tests exhibited by our customers” explains Ong’ale as he tries to respond to multiple questions from the visitors. “We have the rocket stove which can either be portable or stalled depending on the customers preference, the fireless which does not require fire and Uhai available in different designs as you see,” Described Ong’ale, pointing each of them.
The portable rocket stove can use either wood fuel or charcoal, can be moved around and is made of thick insulating metal for durability and preventing excess heat from the stove. “It is facilitated by ceramic and fireproof cement that ensures normal room temperature and the efficiency of the stove to cook faster” said Ong’ale. Some rocket stoves have small placement area for fuel which limits the user on the amount, while some are designed according to the size of the sufuria to keep the latter at bay. the stove also has an opening at the bottom that allows oxygen circulation to ensures the fuel is completely burnt. This also regulates the amount of smoke produced by the fuel.
The fireless stove on the other hand is available in different sizes for specific needs. “these do not need fuel to cook, what you need is to boil your githeri for about thirty minutes, place it in the stove while covered the cover the stove with its lid the carry out your other chores” explained Ong’ale. The stove is made of papyrus reeds and insulating material made from polythene papers and blankets which maintains a constant energy.
“the stove relies on the energy from the boiling and the insulating materials assists in maintaining the energy” he said.
Uhai on the other hand is the improvision of the common charcoal stove, only that the top finishing is different. Ong’alo says that the V-shaped functions as the normal stoves however it saves fuel than the latter. The U-shaped on the other hand ensures no energy loss is experienced and maintains a continuous burning.
Located in Kakamega near the old police station the director said that they have realized benefits from the project as it has has exposed them to the international markets, improved their financial status and has also see them train other youths in an aim to see Kenya embrace green technology.
“since we started we have collaborated with Afia 2, Nature Kenya, Ministry of Agriculture, gtz and EU to train their groups,” said Ong’alo. “ESCAT has so far trained 20 groups of twenty five each,” he added.
The innovation seeks to reduce costs and heat loss by 60 percent.