Who can forget standing in Woolies… plastic scoop in hand… wondering which of the sweets to add to our bag?
This grand old tradition of picking your favorite sweets and paying by weight has spilled over into every facet of our lives from pick ‘n’ mix school menus to pick ‘n’ mix medical cover. Now, in this digital age, we expect even more choice (think multi-channel shopping, multi-plex cinemas and flexible learning)…. we want variety, in any order and any combination…and whenever we want them. Practical Action Consulting (PAC) has also been working hard to create wonderful multi-experiences to learn on and offline about our market-based approaches.
Currently PAC is testing an online learning option in our inclusive markets methodology ‘Participatory Market Systems Development’ (PMSD) to complement face to face training. This focuses on the skills to perform ‘live’ tasks relating to our ten-step PMSD Roadmap …via training and mentoring that is no longer bound by space or time.
Adult learners need to see an almost immediate application for new knowledge and have this information readily available. Digital learning not only frees learners from the traditional training environment – it gives them ‘unbundled’ choices for the delivery of instruction. We are able to break things up into more manageable and digestible pieces at reasonable costs.
The thing about loose sweets is that not only can customers select their favorite ones but they often buy more than they came for. So maybe we can ultimately sell more of our flavors or brands than we intend…
Quality and rich pickings
This is not really about the changing application of technology, it’s what is being ‘unbundled’ that counts. Simply streaming a lecture or sharing digital documents or performing online tests isn’t enough. New kinds of instruction need shaping… we need more variety of awesome quality sweets in our huge party bag.
Choice and freedom of consumption
So here is what we are trying… training is offered firstly via a series of webinars… sure, we make presentations and share web content (think nostalgic and retro sweets such as Bon Bons, Pear Drops and Wine Gums) but we also make full use of chat spaces, interactive whiteboards and combine platforms such as MindMeister and Google Docs to ensure a richer sweeter experience (think fizzy Dracula Teeth and Sour Dummies).
We also harness an online education management system – to streamline interpersonal dialogue, mentor and monitor. We offer online tests but also share resources that capture the voices and evidence of PMSD in our work as well as facilitating discussions and posting homework…all from a single location.
Having it your way
Our virtual confectionery should be coupled with face to face instruction. It’s supposed to complement not replace traditional approaches. Embracing online learning as part of our pick ‘n’ mix mega bag gives us more flexible and cost effective ways to influence more practitioners with our inclusive markets-based approaches and tools.No Comments » | Add your comment
On the 9th November 2012, I was part of a market mapping workshop with Kokkilai lagoon fishers. The discussion was geared towards post-harvest handling technologies for the fish. Everybody’s concern was the inadequate supply of ice due to poor transportation facilities. The whole situation reminded me of some community-invented technologies that I came across three years ago in Sri Lanka and India.
A lack of ice supply was a major issue faced by the lagoon fisheries sub-sector in the post-conflict scenario in Sri Lanka. This was largely due to the inadequate production of ice coupled with poor transportation facilities. As a coping strategy, fishers had invented a simple technology. I first noticed this in Periya Kalapu Lagoon of Eastern province, Sri Lanka. As the following photograph shows, it is a box made of galvanized mesh. Once fish were caught, they were kept in the mesh box and placed in lagoon water. The box was tied to a pole planted on the landing site. The fish were kept in these boxes until traders or villagers came to buy them. When I talked to a few of them, I found that they preferred to purchase live fish. Otherwise, by the time the ice arrived, the fish would have been rotten.
The next case I found among the head loaders in Chilika lagoon of Orissa state, India.The word ‘head loaders’ means, the people, in particular women, who carry fish on their head to nearby markets or consumers. The role of women in fish marketing is very significant in Chilika lagoon. Getting ice to some fish landing centers around the lagoon is out of the question, because the access roads to the landing centers are so narrow and run between the houses, so only a motor bike can barely go through.
When fish are caught, they are kept in different containers filled with lagoon water. Head loaders carry them to nearby markets and sell live fish. As I gather, this is still the practice in some areas around the Chilika lagoon. The following photograph shows one of the head loaders selling fish packed in a lagoon-water filled container.
The resourcefulness of proactive fisher communities could have been the drive that led to this creativity. In community development, have we done enough thinking on the potential creativity of the communities, I wonder?No Comments » | Add your comment
On November 22, 2012 Practical Action Consulting (PAC) Asia embarked on a three day field trip to Chitwan and Nawalparasi Districts. The objective of the field trip was to learn first-hand experiences about some of the projects undertaken by Practical Action and to see which lessons could be used in other projects in the Asian region, mainly India and Bhutan.
In three days and covering hundreds of kilometers, we were able to stuff in as many project sites as possible, learning and understanding Practical Action’s work along the way. We managed to visit the Gravity Goods Ropeway at Fisling, Climate Change Adaptation Site at Jugedi, Early Warning Site at Devghat, Market Access for Smallholder Farmers (MASF) site in Chainpur and Pithuwa, Strengthening Water, Air, Sanitation and Hygiene Treasuring Health (SWASTHA) site in Bagbazar and Renewable Energy site at Hurhure Danda.
MASF site in particular was very interesting to see. The Practical Action office in Nepal, with financial support through the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) implemented the dairy component of MASF in 30 Village Development Committees (VDCs) and two municipalities of four districts in Nepal – Chitwan, Tanahu, Gorkha and Dhading. The objective of this two-year project is to reduce poverty of smallholder farmers in Nepal through improving the incomes of 10,000 smallholder dairy farmers.
We decided to visit a few MASF project sites in Eastern Chitwan. The first site was Panchayan Dairy Cooperative in Pithuwa VDC. The team was able to interact with the cooperative members and observe their dairy resource centre, feed mill and the chilling station. At the dairy resource centre, the cooperative had kept dairy cows and calves of different breeds. The calves were bred there and cows were milked twice a day and sent to the cooperative’s own chilling station. The chilling station and milk collection centre services the surrounding villages. Not only was the cooperative able to collect and chill the milk but they had also installed a feed mill where they made high-quality feed for cows. It was really impressive to see how the project has helped the cooperative to be self-sufficient and it could be seen in the proud faces of the cooperative members. Panchayan Dairy Cooperative is truly an example-setting dairy cooperative that shows the success of MASF project in Nepal.
The second visit was to Kamdhenu Dairy Cooperative in Chainpur VDC and we observed the dairy farm operated by the cooperative. Although smaller in size as compared to Panchayan, Kamdhenu has also, in its own right, made successful gains in milk production and sales. With the help from the MASF project, they have successfully progressed towards more efficient production and effective market access. In the same VDC, the team also interacted with a few Dalit beneficiaries – traditionally regarded as ‘untouchables’. We were able to witness another extraordinary impact from the project. The project had set up a revolving fund which could be accessed by the neediest Dalit families. They would use the fund to buy cows and slowly pay back to the fund from selling the milk. The fund would then help other Dalit families to buy more cows. They were able to purchase dairy cows because of the revolving fund activity without which they would not have had the capital to invest. It was inspiring to see this socially disadvantaged group benefiting from the project and their positive attitude and eagerness to add more cows.
By visiting the field sites, the PAC Asia team has gained first-hand knowledge regarding the projects. We were all able to understand, through interactions with beneficiaries and stakeholders, the impacts made through the work of Practical Action. It was also understood that most of the beneficiaries are happy and are thankful to Practical Action and have invited to do more in their community. We were amazed to meet and interact with the communities we work with and at the same time proud to be associated with the organization that has worked with them to improve livelihoods and change lives! PAC Asia is developing new work and projects in India, Bhutan and beyond, so we need to take these lessons and grow them for an even bigger impact.
The story ends here but the journey continues for PAC Asia especially with two projects already in the pipeline: Gravity Goods Ropeway in Bhutan and Early Warning System in Afghanistan. Here’s to the future.No Comments » | Add your comment
Could better market systems help people rebuild their lives after the disaster of river erosion?
Jashim, Mahbub and I drove to Jamalpur in northern Bangladesh this morning. It was a fine cool morning with sunlight dappling the tree-shaded road – and plenty of activity to admire in surrounding fields, fish-ponds and homesteads. After crossing the mighty Jamuna river near Tangail, we took a relatively minor route snaking along tree-lined embankments between paddies rich with fields of winter rice and freshly planted vegetables. The road was busy with bicycles, rickshaws and small lorries laden with jute, but it was a relief to have few of the heavy trucks and careering buses that terrorise the main road to Dhaka.
An hour after crossing the huge river, we entered Sorishabari near a village called Amtola. Suddenly I was surprised to find the road almost walled-in by sheets of corrugated iron assembled on wooden frames. Walls inset with shuttered windows, and bricks stood piled at the edge of the tarmac. I realised I was looking at dozens of flat-packed houses, stacked more or less neatly at the side of the road, like goods in some unlikely, out-sized IKEA warehouse.
Walking between homes a few yards from the road, we stumbled out of the trees onto a desolate scene. Fertile fields ended abruptly at a plummeting edge: the freshly eroded bank of the river. All around, the sad remnants of homes – foundations torn, walls razed, a lonely tube-well, the pathetic remains of a kitchen hearth. A neighbour explained that the families had desperately demolished their homes to save the materials from the encroaching river. “How far has the river bank moved this year?” Jashim asked. “Two kilometres!” the man replied. “It obliterated four villages.”
Later I learned that during an unprecedented third flood event this summer, the main flow of the Jamuna river unexpectedly changed course at this point. It rapidly ate into land that must have felt safe-as-houses to its residents only weeks earlier.
We moved along the bank a small distance, and met a family whose home, but little of their land, had just about survived the summer erosion. An old man, Razib, and his two sons greeted us warmly – optimistic perhaps that this visiting foreigner was an omen of assistance. The women kept a discrete distance. A young deshi cow and her calf were tethered to a wicker manger full of rice straw, and a couple of fat chickens scavenged as close as they dared to a modest harvest of rice drying in the sun. The bank here was crumbling and vertiginous. I could imagine it too, collapsing and sliding in moments into the muddy abyss twenty feet below. How do they sleep at night?
“What are you going to do?” we asked. The old man pointed through the midday haze – over the abyss at his feet and half a mile across the water – to a vast island of sand and silt emerging mid-river. “We will move there, and start again – on the chars.”
Chars is the Bangla word for the sand-banks, mud-flats and islands that form and re-form in the great rivers of Bangladesh: the Jamuna, Padma, Teesta etc. They accumulate during the summer from eroded sediment washed downstream by monsoon rains, and emerge as the flood-water recedes – sometimes forming islands that endure for ten or twenty years before the meandering river consumes them once more. In recent decades, as population pressures on the mainland have grown, chars land in northern Bangladesh has become refuge and home to more than two million people – mainly victims of river bank erosion. They usually arrive with barely any assets.
Rebuilding a farming livelihood on the chars is desperately hard. Having lost any land they held title to, migrating families are frequently at the mercy of local mastaan (or muscle-men) linked to ‘influential’ land-owners and political chiefs, who control the new chars land. Land must be leased (or share-cropped) from often ruthless ‘land-owners’. Most terrain is liable to flooding during the summer months, but due to low water-retention of the sandy soils, also prone to drought for half the year. Men often have to migrate seasonally to cities and richer agricultural areas for work, leaving women-headed families vulnerable to abuse. Meanwhile, the displacement that drove most households on to the chars often disrupts the social networks that women in poorer households rely upon for mutual support.
On young chars, especially, there is usually no infrastructure: no roads, no schools, no medical facilities, no irrigation, no electricity nor other basic services. Transport of goods to and from markets is expensive and slow. In the summer, when waters are high, boats ply between the chars and ghats (landing stages) on the mainland. The ghats too are controlled by mastaan, who levy taxes of their own devising on the farmers and traders. When the river recedes, transport options are usually worse – with char villages often stranded far from the water’s edge across baking stretches of trackless, sandy soil. As a result, despite large (seasonal) expanses of land, markets for agricultural inputs and services are feeble, the economic output of chars land is low and the poverty of most households is intense.
My companions on the journey today, Jashim and Mahbub, are project officers for a recently started poverty-reduction programme called M4C. Making Markets Work on the Chars – a five year joint-initiative between Practical Action Bangladesh, Practical Action Consulting and Swisscontact, that is paid for by the Swiss government (SDC). We were on our way to Jamalpur to help run a workshop that brought together char farmers (like Razib), input suppliers, traders and agricultural service providers to explore how these diverse ‘market actors’ might work out practical solutions to some of these challenges. The workshop used a process called Participatory Market Mapping: creating a space for people, who do not normally talk on equal terms, to understand each other, discuss how different crop sectors (maize, chilli, jute etc) work, learn what each others’ needs and problems are, and begin to build trust and explore different ways of doing business together to make these ‘market systems’ work better – particularly for poorer farmers.
Unlike many donor-funded projects, M4C will not be handing out money or goods to poor households. It will instead be supporting and relying on the char farmers’ capabilities to work out mutually-beneficial solutions to their problems: to work out better deals with each other, and involve the private sector in innovative ways. Helping farmers work out how to coordinate and bulk up their production is one clear opportunity – since this quickly reduces transport costs for input suppliers and traders, and gives them a good reason to enlarge their business activities and provide better services on new chars. This is a key step in enabling chars households better access to income and opportunities spilling over from expanding markets in the thriving towns and cities of the ‘mainland’.
It take time for people to build trust and devise new ways of working together effectively. M4C’s approach is not instant palliative relief, but a long-term strategy for transforming access to services and income opportunities on the chars. We believe that initiatives that stem from farmers’ and other market actors’ own ideas, and that align naturally with their interests, are much more likely to endure, and spread spontaneously to other locations. Entrepreneurial traders, input-suppliers and service providers will copy business ideas that work, taking good ideas to new chars, and extending the impact of our work far beyond what we could ever achieve directly. With this vision, M4C is geared to achieving changes that are intrinsically long-lasting and reach significant numbers of poor households.1 Comment » | Add your comment
Practical Action’s fisheries project provides some good case-studies on developing non-fishing livelihoods. This one concerns the fishing community at Koggala lagoon in the Galle district of Sri Lanka.
The project introduced an ecosystem management mechanism with the fishermen and women in Koggala lagoon. Developing alternative (non-fishing) livelihoods was part of the work.The project team used market chain analysis along with other livelihood assessment tools to identity possible options for the community fishing in the lagoon.
One of the gaps highlighted in the market chain analysis was net mending. This has to be done every other day after fishing trips. Women in the community, who were part of the livelihood assessment exercises, requested training in net mending. It was high on their list of alternative livelihoods.Other options were available that would generate more income but they were not considered as important.
As a result, the project provided training for women on net mending and net making. Subsequently all twenty of the trainees began to mend and make nets at home, both for their own families and for others. The women who were not trained brought their husbands’ fishing nets to the trained net menders for repair.
After a few months of observation, the project team decided to find out why the women had chosen net mending as their alternative livelihood. A post- training evaluation was carried out with the 20 trained women, which led to a discussion with about the factors that influenced them to choose this training.
It emerged that the reason was that the women wanted their husbands to stay at home after fishing trips. Often, when fishermen returned from fishing in the lagoon, they went away to get their nets mended. While their nets were being mended the fishermen spent their time drinking, resulting in them spending all money they had earned from fishing! If the women were able to mend the nets at home, they could (strategically!) put an end to their husbands’ destructive habit. This was further supported by other women who did not undertake the training, but who were now able to bring their husband’s nets to be mended locally.
The evaluation of the training also covered women around the lagoon who had not been training. This revealed that many families had managed to save money by minimizing the incidents of fishermen’s heavy drinking. Indirectly, this has also reduced the number of social conflicts in the fishing villages.
To find out more about “alternative livelihoods” for small scale fishing communities, please follow this link to the full paper - “Developing non fishing livelihoods for small scale coastal communities”.
As a short aside: If you have never checked out Global Voices before, you should. It is really fantastic. Citizen reporting from all corners of the globe at its best. A small utopian vision of how the world should be: all voices are equal, and all voices are heard.
Julie’s article is about electricity access in Cameroon, and is relevant to my work here at Practical Action for three reasons. If you want this blog in a nutshell, these reasons are:
1) We are both advocating for and working towards energy provision and services that genuinely benefit the urban and rural poor
2) We are both interested in finding ways of measuring energy access from the ground up
3) We have both featured photos in our blogs of giant electricity pylons sweeping past rural African villages (hers in Cameroon, mine from Kenya).
The Government of Cameroon, led by President Paul Biya, apparently have Big Ideas on moving up the ladder to ‘emerging market’ status by 2035. At the heart of this leap is generating electricity to drive growth. Or, more specifically, expanding the national grid through implementing large-scale projects such as the Lom Pangar dam hydro-power project.
However, as highlighted in another blog by Christiane Badgley, it is not clear that this project will meet the energy needs of poor Cameroonians, but will rather benefit big industry such as the country’s largest aluminium smelter, owned by a Canadian firm.
Understanding how (or if) energy reaches, and is used by, people in rural or otherwise marginalised communities is a key component of our series of Poor people’s energy outlook reports. As part of the 2012 report, we have also set up a Total Energy Wiki with Energypedia. The aim is to get people involved in a grassroots attempt to record and measure what access households and communities in developing countries have to different energy services.
Julie Owono is also attempting this in Cameroon, with her involvement in an interesting project called Feowl. This project is using a different method, but the ground-up approach at the heart of it is the same as our Wiki. Feowl is an online platform that seeks to record information sent in by residents of Cameroon’s largest city, Douala. The focus here is on electricity, and residents are asked to send in when they have powercuts, how long for and what the impact is. The platform aims to generate data to build a picture of who is affected, and how, by an unreliable or unavailable power supply.
Getting this information is critical for civil society to understand where gaps in energy supply are, and to advocate to governments and the private sector for change. I look forward to following the progress of Feowl, and also the Total Energy Wiki, and I hope that it enables us all to work towards less photos such as the ones Julie and I have featured in our blogs.
In reality, big ideas can often mean small gains for marginalised people and communities. However, as with everything at Practical Action, we believe that the right idea, however small, can and does change lives. Big data on small-scale energy access can do just that.No Comments » | Add your comment
The development community is gearing up for the target of Universal Energy Access by 2030. A large movement is gaining pace to challenge global poverty through access to energy, with the UN Secretary General at the fore.
But what is “energy access”? And how can every person in the world get it?
Agreeing on a definition for energy access – a seemingly basic task – is actually riddled with difficulties and the subject of much debate. When does a person move from not having energy access to having energy access? Is it when grid electricity arrives at their home? Or does a solar panel suffice? Is cooking on gas or electricity a must, or can we count an efficient wood stove as access? And do we only consider energy access for households, or do we need to broaden the definition to businesses and public services that also rely on energy?
How we define energy access is hugely important in determining how we tackle energy poverty. This is an increasingly important question as the big donors, banks and governments begin to channel vast sums of money and efforts into the Universal Energy Access initiative.
Furthermore, determining a plan of action for how billions of people can gain energy access – whatever that is – in the next 18 years is also a hot topic for debate. What can countries do to make the transition to modern energy systems for a whole population? And how can we ensure poor people are empowered to improve their lives through the process?
Practical Action recently launched the Poor people’s energy outlook 2012 report that helps to answer these questions.
You may have seen the PPEO 2010 that reported on energy use in the home, and how important energy is in improving people’s lives. This year the PPEO looks at the linkages between energy access and earning a living. It shows all the ways that energy is used for people’s livelihoods and businesses, and maps out how people can move from gaining an energy supply to increased incomes.
We hear from business owners in Kenya, Nepal and Peru describe how modern energy helps them increase their incomes. Mrs Sanchez owns a restaurant in Yanacancha village in Peru that gets electricity from the community micro-hydro system: “we’ve got electricity in the store, so I can run a fridge and the lights as well as the television which the customers like to watch while they eat”.
Change in energy access can start with one person, but it must eventually be at the level of the whole system. The PPEO outlines the policies, finance arrangements and necessary skills required to foster the change that could lead to universal energy access.
Practical Action is taking a lead role in contributing new knowledge on the linkages between energy and development, and presenting a poor people’s perspective at international debates. We are working at the highest levels to influence the approach and direction of the Universal Energy Access movement; promoting our understanding of people-centred development and the voices of people we work with.
I have always thought of electricity pylons as giants walking across the land. I am not sure I have ever thought where they are going, just that they look like they have a sense of purpose.
Visiting a rural charcoal producer in Bondo district, western Kenya, made me think again about where these metal giants were off to. They walk through rural Kenya, but they do not stop there. They are striding along to towns and cities where people who can afford to pay for grid electricity access welcome them home.
Households in the countryside sit underneath electricity lines, but they do not benefit from them, relying instead on charcoal for cooking their food, and candles or kerosene for lighting.
Another thought struck me, though, as I stared up at this powerline: Is this energy access? And if so, for who? When it comes to collecting data, the terms ‘access to energy’ or ‘energy access’ are hard to pin down, and there is not one single definition. A government employee may pass through this village and, seeing the electricity lines, record them as having ‘access to energy’- the connection is possible, but, given the costs involved for these households, certainly not probable.
This is the main issue with using supply side data- you can count all the available pylons and the megawatts of electricity running through them until the cows come home, but if people can’t access it, then it’s just numbers really, isn’t it?
With the Poor people’s energy outlook reports 2010 and 2012, Practical Action has proposed a way of measuring energy access from the other perspective. They look at whether someone actually has a light source, and if so, the quality of that source. They measure what people really cook on, and how they keep their food cool. All of this can build up a more genuine picture of how poor people use energy, rather than if they have the potential to do so.
Half of humanity, 3 billion people, cook on traditional fuels every day, and their energy needs are not going to be met through connections to the grid any time soon.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Practical Action has shown for over four decades that off-grid sustainable solutions are possible to provide households with an energy supply.
However, we can’t do it alone. That’s why we campaign for Energy for All by 2030 with a broad network of civil society organisations. Why we have released the Poor people’s energy outlook report 2012. Why we have asked all of you to Make Your Point.
So what are you waiting for? Join us.5 Comments » | Add your comment
I’m lucky enough to be in Kisumu, Kenya at the moment for some PISCES project meetings (more on that in later posts). Today we went to a small town called Bondo to do some research on the charcoal markets and the challenges involved in producing this vital energy source sustainably.
We met a feisty group of young women who sell charcoal in the town market. During the rainy season, it is harder to make charcoal and transport it to town, so these women can struggle to buy any off the transporters and sell it for profit.
In order to combat this, as well as some of the other ups and downs that go with being self-employed, they have set up the Charcoal Sellers Bondo, a 17 member collective of men and women who transport and sell charcoal in the town. If someone doesn’t have any cash due to a sudden shortfall, then the rest of the group can help out, and they hope to put some money into a storage facility so that they can store charcoal in the dry season and sell it in leaner times.
It’s not rocket science, but helping to organise markets more effectively is so essential to their incomes, and something we work on at Practical Action. We left the ladies with a joke about the fact that many of them are unmarried or divorced, so they look after their charcoal better in the absence of a man- we all agreed the charcoal was probably better behaved anyway!
Just as we were about to head out of town, we saw a touch of genius. A gentleman riding a bike, but rather than heading down the street, he was stationary, and using the mechanical power to spin a stone that he was using to sharpen knives. Judging by this photo, you can see he was a bit of a poser, but I would be more than smug with myself if I had cornered that market. What a simple, brilliant use of an everyday technology.
What a brilliant day. Thanks Bondo!3 Comments » | Add your comment
“Practical Action has made an immense contribution to renewable energy in Sri Lanka! Everywhere you go there is solar or wind power and people will say it is thanks to Practical Action,” Professor R. Shanthini enthusiastically told attendees at the International Conference on Bioenergy, organised as part of the PISCES consortium visits. As someone who works for Practical Action, this is always great to hear.
Professor Shanthini is a chemical engineer interested in particular in the link between CO² emmissions and a country’s gross domestic product (GDP), which is one way of measuring how big a country’s economy is. Sri Lanka’s GDP is growing and it now has ‘middle-income country’ status, meaning that average incomes per person have gone up. Whilst this is in many ways welcome, it brings a new set of challenges and one of them is on energy.
As country’s go, Sri Lanka’s green credentials seem full of potential. The Government has a mandate to supply 20% of the country’s energy through renewable sources by 2020. There is an awareness and use of small-scale, off-grid renewables in the country, that Practical Action has, as Professor Shanthini said, made a fantastic contribution to- take a look at a small-scale wind case study here.
The challenge now is keeping this momentum up. As families get wealthier, the status quo is changing, and middle class families’ expectations are turning to energy supplied by fossil fuels. Rather than using an improved cook stove, such as the Anagi II model, kerosene is in vogue.
“We already use renewable energy in this country, and our struggle will be to keep it. Now only poor people use it, or economically disadvantaged people, but if we can make it very hot, or very stylish, if we can do something so that the poor people don’t feel like they are disadvantaged because they are using renewable energy. It is at that scale that we need it.”
Changing attitudes is certainly a tough one, and the need to do so pops up in some unexpected contexts. On our way from Kandy to Colombo for example, we stopped to chat with a lady called Chandrawathi who was cooking corn on a very smoky stove made out of an old oil drum for her roadside business. When we got back in the car, we learnt that sellers such as Chandrawathi were reluctant to use improved cook stoves as they didn’t produce smoke. For hungry drivers, smoky stoves means that food is freshly cooked, and so better stoves may mean less wood use and less smoke in your lungs, but it won’t sell corn.
Making sustainable energy choices is definitely not plain sailing, but it is influenced by government policy, and this is what the PISCES project is trying to do. By taking lessons from the success of the Anagi II cook stove, which is now used in hundreds of thousands of households across Sri Lanka (but not yet, as we have learnt, at roadside stalls), PISCES is now working on national clean cook stove standards, meaning more efficient, cleaner burning stoves for more people. Now that, Professor Shanthini might say, would be green hot!No Comments » | Add your comment