Improved cooking stoves
How to conserve fuel and save lives
A shortage of fuel for cooking is one of the many problems faced by people in the developing world. Gathering fuel is generally women’s work but is fraught with dangers; they gamble with the risk of rape and life threatening attacks during their search for much needed firewood, in order to feed their families. In certain areas, local sources of firewood are completely depleted, leading women to travel further and further afield or to dig up tree roots, eliminating any chance of the trees growing again. Even if women survive this, they are still exposing themselves and their children to potentially deadly smoke fumes.
Practical Action are tackling this issue through the use of more fuel-efficient woodstoves, which are both affordable and easy to use; cutting the amount of risky trips for firewood and allowing more trees the opportunity to grow. Subsequently, burning smaller amounts wood fuel means less smoke will engulf their homes and their lungs.
The improved stove has high sides which assist heat transfer. Over 150 women have been trained to use the new stoves and are now able to teach these techniques to others. Essential fuel saving tips such as using dry wood, pre-soaking beans before cooking, using a weighted lid and controlling the air supply to the fire are included in the training programme.
Using just locally-available clay and bricks, the stoves can be made in a few simple steps:
1 A line is drawn around the outside of the saucepan most frequently used in the kitchen to determine the size of the stove.
2 Three brick segments with clay stuck underneath them are placed an equal distance apart inside the edge of the circle drawn in the sand.
3 The whole circle is filled with clay to a depth of about 4cm.
4 The walls are then built up outside the bricks although a small part of the bricks are embedded in the wall. The walls are roughly 4cm thick. The wall is built up until it is flush with the top of the bricks.
5 The pan is then placed on top of the bricks and the walls are built up until they are just under the top of the pan. There should be a finger size gap between the pan and the wall.
6 The pot is removed and using a scraper the surface of the stove is made smooth. An exhaust hole is cut in the side to increase the stove efficiency
Saving firewood in Sudan
“My name is Zienab. I am 32 and married to Osman. Together with our son (7 years) and daughter (5 years), we live in Wau Nur camp, Kassala. My husband is a carpenter in Kassala and I make and sell Zalabia (a crisp, wafer-like pastry with syrup) in Wau Nur local market. Our main hope is to increase our family income so as to improve our shelter and furniture and to secure a good education for our children.
”I gained great benefit from attending a three-day improved stove training course. We discussed issues such as the disadvantages of using firewood and its negative impact on the environment and forests and how it leads to food insecurity. We learnt how to construct an improved stove from mud and cow dung. I made my own stove and took it home.
“I also made another one for my work in the market because I experienced its efficiency and the safe use of energy. I used to buy about five bands of firewood in order to cook five kilos of flour. Since using the improved stove, three bands are sufficient to cook the same quantity of flour. As a result, I’m saving about SDD 70 per day. I save time by using an LPG cooker and improved stove, and now have more free time for other domestic work which I neglected before, such as cleaning, or even taking much-needed rest!”
Download further technical information on improved stoves and ovens from Practical Answers, the technical information service of Practical Action.
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Boiling Point household energy journal
Case study - installing improved stoves in western Kenya