The Institutional Stove Project of Aprovecho Research Center is moving rapidly to fill the need for institutional size stoves in the developing world. This blog is devoted to charting our events and progress.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Week Two in Timor-Leste

By Fred Colgan

It’s Saturday night here, and we just finished our round of controlled cooking tests – working with cooks using various stoves and measuring the gains made with improved technologies. We’re trying to zero in on a way forward for beginning a collaborative national stoves project, and the combination of testing and focus group conversations with cooks are the baseline information we need for good stove development. This bottom-up approach has been the Aprovecho way for decades. The best stoves in the world won’t solve any problems unless the cooks like them and use them. The world is littered with well-intentioned stoves that quickly became flower pots or were tossed on the trash heap because the cooks were not consulted in the design process.
This week we introduced a couple of rocket stoves – one from StoveTec  and one cheap metal rocket imported from Indonesia of a strange adapted design not seen at Apro – and we built a simple stove here at a metalworking shop - called the “Vita Stove” - based on a pioneering  design by Dr. Sam Baldwin – one of our gurus. All three designs were introduced to cooks in a rural village and in a middle-class neighborhood in Dili. Aside from the indigenous clay stove referred to in our previous blog, there have been almost no improved stoves in Timor-Leste.
(photo: f. colgan)

We did a series of cooking tests at the Roberto Americano fight school in Dili, located at the home of a relative of a Mercy Corps staff member. The boxing coach and his students stood by patiently while we finished up testing in their gym.

Additionally we introduced the 60 liter institutional stove, (which we carried here on the plane as excess baggage) to a school feeding program in a small rural village on the east side of the island.

(photo: f. colgan)

Anybody recognize this stove?? When we finished this rural school test, the cook asked “Can you please leave this stove here?” Unfortunately, we had to bring it back to Dili for further testing.
In a nutshell, the cooks love improved stoves, and especially love rocket stoves. They immediately notice that there is less smoke.  In our focus groups we find the women are all aware of the impacts smoke inhalation is having on them and their kids, and breathing less smoke is of tremendous value to them. I asked one cook about the impacts of smoke on her kids, and she said: “They cry.”
We’re working around the clock to write up our findings preparatory to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves conference here in Timor-Leste week after next. Our vision and dream is that from the conference a new type of coalition – of NGOs, government agencies, private sector businesses, and Timorese universities – will emerge to put a robust stoves development program together to design and build appropriate (and appropriately priced) stoves suited to local conditions. We are pioneering a new way forward here, and Aprovecho is in the fortunate position of technical advisors to the effort.
The conference is on the 9th and 10th of November, and we will be presenting field test results, analysis of potential stove designs which might find ready acceptance, and some suggestions for local production of super -efficient clean stoves. Stay tuned for more from East Timor.
(For my friends who asked for local color, scenery, and more stories – I apologize. You all know once I start talking about stoves all is lost. I’ll try for some variety in next posting.)

Here, however, is one of our clients….
(photo courtesy of my friend George Kvizhinadze)

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