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.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


How could you not love a country with a currency called birr? (pronounced beer).

This consultancy is with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – a field trial of 60 stoves in ten refugee camps.
First trip to the field was to Jijiga, in the Somali region of Ethiopia, very close to the Somali border. We installed stoves in three camps – Aw barre, Shedder, and Kebribeyah – with a total population of about 45,000. These camps are well-established, and the Somali residents are probably not going home anytime soon. Somali shelters are a unique shape and construction – very colorful and distinctive.

                                  Somali refugee shelter (F.Colgan)

The region is hot and dry –very similar to the scrublands of Arizona. People here scrape by raising animals – cattle, sheep, goats and camels – and growing two crops: sorghum and qat (or chat, a mild narcotic plant). There is a persistent drought and conditions are dire. UNHCR is trucking massive amounts of water and scrambling to build sustainable water delivery systems.

Firewood depletion is a huge problem. There are not many trees to begin with – only scrubby chaparral – but it is increasingly difficult to find wood.  Women are routinely subjected to rape as they cross large distances in search of wood.   Yesterday at the camps, the last day of a week-long series of events around Human Rights week, were big rallies equating women’s rights with human rights, and calling for a stop to rapes of women in the camps.

                                 Firewood vendors (F. Colgan)

We installed stoves in three school feeding programs and trained cooks and focal point people in installation and use of the stoves. In two of the schools, the cooks have been provided kerosene stoves which are problematic – they take three hours to boil water, and often don’t work at all if the kero is not really pure. In all instances they were thrilled by the stoves. In one demonstration a doctor was present, who left saying he’s going to figure out a way to get an autoclave here – he said every clinic in Ethiopia has “got to have one”

Tomorrow we travel to Dollo Ado where UNHCR has 140,000 Somali refugees in camps. Again we will install 22 stoves, train cooks, and train UN personnel in all of the above. The final field work will be in Shire in the extreme north, at Shimelba camp for Eritrean refugees.  

It’s a delight to work with UNHCR. They are a totally competent organization delivering massive support systems to 31 million people around the world and doing a great job of supporting refugees everywhere.  Our stoves arrived in perfect shape, and were carefully stored in the warehouse in Addis Ababa. Four truckloads have gone out to arrive in the camps before we do, and generally things have been very smooth.

                               Stoves in Addis Ababa (F. Colgan)

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