Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mwamgongo Stoves

Finally, we made it back to town (and internet access) and we are slowly reacquainting ourselves with running water, refrigerated drinks and a diet that consists of foods other than rice and beans. It’s hard to believe we've been in Mwamgongo for only 3 weeks; the days move slowly but the weeks blur together. We're slowly becoming accepted members of the community as opposed to the pale skinned "freaks" that make small children cry. We're making friends both old and young, and we're beginning to feel comfortable there.

The trips into town on the “water taxi” are always eventful. The water taxi is the easiest way to reach Mwamgongo from Kigoma, and consists of a 3-3.5 hour ride on a leaky wooden boat that is packed shoulder to shoulder with people, animals and cargo. Being the only Wazungu (Swahili for Europeans) on the boat, we were the topic of almost every conversation. We know just enough Swahili to know that we were being talked about but not enough to know exactly what was said or how to respond.

This trip into town is very special as Revocatus Emmanuel, our translator offered to let us stay at his house, a beautiful compound overlooking Kigoma.

We’ve been enjoying the home comforts and the fact that there are no roosters J. In Mwamgongo, two roosters herald the new day directly outside of our window starting around 5 AM. Aaron and Mitch have cultivated a particularly intense hatred for one of these animate alarm clocks which they named “Carl.” During their recent visit they tried to buy Carl for dinner. Unfortunately, they were unable to consume the flesh of their worthy adversary because Carl’s owner thought he was too special to eat. The owner would probably take a different opinion if it was his window that Carl crowed under. Waking up peacefully in Kigoma sans Carl made the whole trip worthwhile.

We’ve been having a great time in Tanzania and have been working hard on the stove project. As we mentioned in the last blog post, the government has set up wood restrictions limiting the amount of wood that each family can gather each month driving up the demand for a stove that uses less wood. As a result, the government has been extraordinarily supportive of our project, collaborating with us to market and distribute the stove to the community.

The distribution network we have been discussing with the government involves training a small group of 8 women and 4 men how to build the stove. These individuals will help market the stove and conduct seminars in the sub villages, where they will teach other community members how to build the stove. When these stove pupils go to build their own stoves they will be required to teach two other people how to build the stove. This chain of stove knowledge transfer will continue until everyone has access to the technology. The process will be managed by the government and will be overseen by the Dartmouth HELP members in Mwamgongo. A rough timeline has this process starting within the next two weeks.

Precipitating the formalization of the distribution network was a redesign of the rocket stove to better meet the community’s needs. The redesign accomplished several important goals.

|Cooking Performance

The rocket stove dimensions were scaled up to allow the cooks to put more wood in the rocket stove. This enables people to cook for their large families in less time and reduces the amount of time spent adding wood. The new design permits a person to tend the fire only once every ten minutes or so. This management time is comparable to the low maintenance three stone stove which people are familiar cooking on. The stove is still very efficient cooking beans which takes over 3 hours on less than 2 pieces of wood, a feat that amazed our many spectators.


The super structure was redesigned to be more stable allowing people to cook ugali. A more stable super structure will improve durability. In addition, the new design is far easier to put together greatly reducing construction time and complexity.


Improving the aesthetics of the stove was also something that we focused on with this design. We want a stove design that people will be proud to have in their kitchens. Response to this design has been very positive. Improving the look of the stove has increased demand far more than we expected. Aesthetics was a missing specification in previous design cycles.

The result of the redesign has been unbelievably positive. People are really excited about the stove which makes us confident that the technology will spread throughout the community.

In order to disseminate the technology, we hosted a teaching seminar where we taught a group of eleven interested community members how to assemble the stoves from scratch (of course, in typical Mwamgongo fashion, our group quickly grew larger because everyone was curious about the stove that was being built). The participants put the entire stove together in under two hours. The result was an impressive final product. Several people in the group that were taught began building stoves in their own homes the same day. Word about our stove has definitely spread through Mwamgongo we even heard people talking about the stove on the water taxi ride back to town.

The next step in the stove project is to disseminate the technology to the community, come up with a monitoring and management strategy and then focus on working with the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) to promote this stove design in other communities as it is more efficient, and produces less harmful particulates than other designs that are currently being promoted.

We have also been assessing the possibility of getting people to use the composting latrine at the health center. There is a huge lack of understanding about the purpose of a compost latrine, and a plethora of cultural barriers to overcome. The latrine is being used, but not correctly. Here in Kigoma, we’re drawing up posters explaining the proper way to use a compost latrine, and the benefits of composting. Unfortunately, the latrine does require maintenance, and, we’ve found it difficult to shape incentives so that an individual would be willing to manage the latrine in the long term. We have talked to farmers and offered them the compost in exchange for management(putting out buckets of ash and soil to facilitate the compost process) although no one has committed to management at this time. We had a conversation with, Dr. Charles, the regional Medical officer in Mwamgongo who has been very helpful in explaining some of the reasons reluctant people have been reluctant to embrace the latrine concept, and working with us to overcome these problems. According to the doctor, a more comprehensive education program is necessary to make people understand that compost derived from human waste will not taint crops and is completely safe.

Hope all is well back in the states. We are having a great time here and we really feel like we are accomplishing a lot. Next week we have a safari planned which we are all really looking forward to. We’ll hopefully have more good news then.

Zach, Kanika, Wendy

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

20-7-10 “Burn, Baby, Burn”

Today was a very active day here in Kalinzi, as we were able to get two more stoves delivered to test subjects (no mean feat when everyone is operating on Africa time), and got a bunch of testing done in the afternoon. We were pleasantly surprised when we went to deliver a stove to one of our testers, and received an enthusiastic response to the stove not from the volunteer (she was in town at the market), but her husband. Our operating assumption before today had been that we needed to be focusing exclusively on women because men would not be interested, but now we have seen exciting evidence to the contrary. When are neighbor picked up her stove on the her way home from the market, she was very excited and grateful. I can’t help but hoping that the gratitude that she and the other testers have shown doesn’t jinx the stoves or keep them from telling us about problems or suggestions they have with our design. (High quality pictures of our design should be posted soon, pending Parker’s return to high bandwidth internet back in the ‘States.)

Efficiency testing and experimenting with different coffee husk burning strategies took up most of our afternoon, and yielded some very thought provoking results for us to work with. Several packing methods and different inserts were evaluated, and our most promising lead came from a perforated tube inserted vertically in a bed of coffee husks to emulate a sawdust stove. Not perfect yet, but it’s promising.

As we were preparing for our last test of the evening, our friend Fundi decided to stop by for a little socializing. He was very impressed by the quality of our stoves, and refused to believe us when we insisted that we had made them ourselves. He also couldn’t make sense of a bin I had made out of roofing metal to hold our coffee husk supply and chopped up fire wood. Of what I understood of his Swahili (and maybe some Kiha?), he thought it was a baby’s cradle, and rebuked us for having so many sharp edges. Hopefully we will be able to have Fundi make modifications to our stoves for us, to keep him involved and interested.

The progress on the road (bara bara) her in Kalinzi has been rapid, and as close as we are to it, we can occasionally feel the ground shaking as the steam rollers pass back and forth. Paving seems to be imminent, and will bring with it a welcome end to the enormous dust clouds that currently waft up after passing cars and trucks. We’ll see what else it brings.


19-7-10 or “It’s True, a watched pot really never boils!”

We returned to Kalinzi yesterday ( Sunday) after picking up our stoves in the market to start testing our design with the six women who agreed to use our stoves and give us feedback. Yesterday evening, we took the dimensions of each of the stoves and labeled each accordingly.

Today, we met with two of the women, discussed the working of the stoves with them and gave them to test for the next few days. We also did a great deal of testing on our own including a longevity test (keeping the fire going for about an hour and a half) and trying out different combinations of wood and coffee husks. We found that adding fuel while the fire is burning hot is very beneficial.

In the evening, we had somewhat of a spectacle outside of the field station as a herd of goats and a man singing and dancing to gospel music appeared. We were testing the stove during this event and were very happy for the free publicity.


17-7-10 or “Parker, don’t go!”

Today, Parker left Kigoma for Dar es Salaam, where he will be spending two days before returning to the U.S on Monday. We realized how lucky we were to have him here to build on the foundation that he and Zach set up last summer. After shedding tears (jk), we bid him farewell and returned to our lodgings.

While there, we had a chance encounter with a guy from a non-profit called MIBOS. We all visited their headquarters and learned that in addition to running an orphanage, MIBOS also had a parcel of land that they wanted to grow food on. They needed technology for a water distribution system and this is an area where we could potentially do future work.

In the evening, we thought some more about potential business models for our stove once we got a good design. We realized that we have a lot to learn and are trying to make sure that we make use of all of the resources on the ground and at Dartmouth.


16-7-10 or “The day we found out how awesome Tanzanian hospitality is”

Aaron and Mitch decided, in conjunction with government officials, to create a checklist that would help villages better maintain their water systems. As such, they spent the morning printing and copying pamphlets to distribute to village officials.

Tim, Parker, Kevin and Ryan spent the morning at JGI, testing out one of the new stoves that we commissioned from the metal workers. We got some interesting feedback from a JGI employee who liked that the stove produced less smoke than the traditional 3-stone fire. Tim also had some meetings and he tried to gauge, on behalf of the group, the best way of distributing the stoves.

In the evening, we spent a few hours at Jacobston’s beach, where Parker spotted an otter and we all saw monkeys. Later that night, we had dinner, on invitation, with our translator. We were incredibly impressed by the warm hospitality shown by our host and were grateful to eat a delicious meal of pasta, pelau and beans.


15-7-10 or “The day I became temporarily deaf at the metalworkers”

The Kalinzi stove team left Mwamgongo yesterday (Wednesday) for KIgoma via water taxi, which was quite the experience. In addition to our fellow passengers, the boat also contained cargo which ranged from squacking chickens to huge sacks of agricultural produce. Along the way, we spied colobus monkeys and baboons on the beaches of the mainland.

We arrived in Kigoma and headed to the metalworkers at the Mwanga market with the prototype that we built in Kalinzi. They built a replication with a few modifications (such as a horizontal sliding door and slightly thinner outer box) out of stronger metal. We watched ( and listened) intently as they made it and were impressed enough to commission 10 stoves to take back to Kalinzi and test with the 6 women who agreed to give us feedback on our design.

After spending time in the highlands, returning to Kigoma with its modern conveniences (read running electricity and water) and its plethora of people was somewhat of a shock. We were reminded of the contrasts in lifestyles and access to resources that the people of Tanzania face.


13-7-10 or “’What is my name?”

In the morning, we went to one of the Village Executive officers, introduced ourselves and received permission to be in the village. The government seemed excited about the stove and water projects in general.

After our meeting, we had a brainstorming session with Zach with the goal of coming up with a good design for the knobs of the stoves that allows ugali to be cooked. Ugali is a very starchy food and Tanzanian staple, made from cassava flour, that requires a great deal of stirring. Our stove needs be capable of withstanding this intense stirring without the pot slipping or spilling.

We also visited two households that had rocket stoves and did efficiency tests at both locations. We were reminded that teaching people how to use the stoves properly (especially using small sticks and allowing sufficient airspace between the pot and flame) is critical to the success of the project.

In the evening, we spent some quality time with the village kids by the lake, enduring several “What is my name?” questions that were impossible to answer until we realized they were asking what our names were, not testing us. After the kids disappeared into the night, we did some more logistical planning and watched a sapphire-red moon disappear in what we believed to be a lunar eclipse.


12-7-10 or “Hike Till You Drop”

We (the Kalinzi stove team) decided to head to Mwamgngo to join Zach, Kanika and Wendy to do efficiency testing on the rocket stove. Hiking proved to be the easiest and least costly method of getting there and Parker, Kevin, Tim and Ryan left Kalinzi around 8:30 in the morning to begin the 6 or 7 mile trek to Mwam.

Our path involved descending from the valley, ascending another mountain, passing along a ridge to get to the other side and making our way down the newly built “road” to Mwamgango, which was fairly steep and covered with rocks. Our trek afforded us both gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and encounters with goats, cows and much-intrigued locals. MTV (Mzungu Television) was showing all day.

We arrived in Mwamgongo in the afternoon and after a delicious lunch of lake fish, rice, beans and salted tomatoes prepared by Chako, briefed each other on the status of both of the stove projects. Zach was very excited about the potential of the rocket stove in Mwamgongo as a law limiting the amount of firewood that could be bought had just been passed.

In the evening, we watched the sun set from the porch of the field station, which is just on the edge of the Lake and had a Swahili lesson from the kids. Kanika and Wendy have formed really good relationships with the kids, which will prove beneficial for the educational segment of our project.


11-7-10 “Coffee, Coffee, Coffee”

The water crew went out for more water samples with their local guide, the Tanzanian equivalent of Mr. Myagi. A Mr. Myagi that hikes in flipflops, goes all day without drinking water, and smokes cigarettes while climbing mountains.

The stove group started our day with a follow-up visit to Maggie’s to pick up the UCB after its 24 hours of logging. After downloading and resetting the UCB, we did a first visit with Siwema, a delightful woman who lives nearby. We managed to do a much smoother job with our testing, and just as we were finishing up, another of our volunteers, Annetta, showed up to visit. She said she was on her way to a meeting, but despite that took us to her house so that we would know the way. We made our visit brief so she could get to her meeting, but she continued to accompany us on our tour of Siwema’s woodplot, which began to confuse us. As we were finally parting ways, Parker asked if he might be able to buy a half kilo of coffee, to which both Siwema and Annetta cracked up laughing and insisted that such a small amount would be free. I think we were caught off guard by their generosity.

Our authentic Tanzanian Coffee experience started with husking, for which we set up a little coffee sweatshop in the dining room, with all six of us gathered around the table shucking the “parchment” off all of the beans. Tuma saw us and laughed, then put us all to shame by shucking more beans in five minutes than all six of us had in twenty. Our beans roasted during dinner, then we ground it up and brewed our delicious treat in time to head out for the World Cup Finals.

As we walked over to the “Video House” to watch the game, Parker suddenly yelled and took off running, which didn’t make any sense to the rest of us, since we were right on time. It wasn’t until we saw the stream of people pouring out of the only other video house in town that we realized what was happening. We got through the door at the nick of time, and were whisked to the front by some sort of divine power before the mob packed the building in behind us. A noisy (the 4 foot tall speakers were within as many feet of our ears) and cacophonous experience, but one I doubt will be forgotten soon.


10-7-10 “ The Perpetual Combustion Device”

Mitch and Aaron went out to collect water samples from some protected springs around Kalinzi this morning with Rita, so Ryan, Parker, Tim and I spent the morning talking logistics, design, and tried to make a rough estimate of what our stove is going to cost to produce. If we are to produce with brand new sheet metal, we’re looking at 20,000 Tsh (about 13 USD) for total cost, with 14,000 going towards metal and 6,000 going towards labor. Although it may not be quite as long lasting, building out of scrap may be our best method to get our price down to an accessible level for residents in the area.

After lunch, Mitch and Aaron went back out to collect more water samples, and we stole Rita so we could go to our neighbor Maggie’s house to do a “full” test of her kitchen and three-stone stove. We used our particulate monitor (UCB) and carbon monoxide meter in addition to the efficiency testing we have been doing. With so many electronic devices around, evidently we got a little distracted, and when we tallied up our initial and final masses of wood, somehow we had more wood after boiling a liter of water than we had to start with. We were elated at our discovery of a Perpetual Combustion Device, but we were also a little skeptical, because 3-stones are not typically known for reaching efficiencies better than 10%. We decided that we need to perfect our methods, and with more practice and better division of labor, hopefully we’ll get more realistic results.

We moved our rooster and hen (Bonnie and Clyde) out of the storage shed and tied them up outside the field station, which Rita tells us in an important step in getting our chickens to adjust to their new home. The neighborhood bully rooster (Clockwork) wasn’t too happy about Clyde, and we ended up hearing about it all afternoon. Clyde was unable to drive off Clockwork very far due to the string attached to his leg, so he decided to make a bunch of noise to make up for it. Lots of crowing and wing- flapping.

To get away from the racquet, we took our hatchet to the market to get sharpened, and got a definite Mzungu price, but it was cool to watch the guy use his upside down bicycle sharpening device. In wandering around, we also found a shopkeeper who sells hardware and tells us we could get sheet metal up here for 73,000 Tsh per 8”x4” sheet. A bit steep, but it may be an option.

Despite our best efforts to get motivated, by 9:30, none of us were motivated enough to go watch the Germany v. Uruguay game. It’s hard to get excited about 3rd place.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

"Zach returns to town from Mwamgongo, sitting next to our favorite Frenchman on the Taxi"

Mwamgongo Group : Zach Losordo, Kanika Searvance, and Wendy Hado

Greetings from Mwamgono! For those unfamiliar with the Tanzania project, Mwamgongo is a fishing village (pop 4500) located on the shores of lake Tanganyika. It is the site of last summer’s improved cookstove and latrine project which addressed deforestation, indoor air pollution and poor sanitation practices.

This is my (Zach) second time working in Mwamgongo as I took part in the implementation of the stove project last year. For Wendy and Kanika, it is their first time in the village. Our goals are to bring the cookstove project to a point where the community can manage and propagate the stove technology independent of our advising. On the sanitation side of things, the group is going to devise sanitation education programs and continue the promotion of latrine use that was initiated last summer.

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, due to the isolation of Mwamgongo (you can only get there by boat), the only way to access the internet and get cell phone reception is to take the water taxi back to town. This means that blog posts will be few and far between over the next six weeks but we will do our best to keep people informed about what we are doing.

To set the scene, I’m writing this post from a gorgeous conference room overlooking the placid waters of lake Tangyanika at the Jane Goodall Institute(JGI), our on the ground contact in Kigoma, Tanzania. Steep cliffs and rolling mountains line the lake, making the region of Kigoma one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The lake, the longest and deepest in the world, gives life to the surrounding communities and is the central feature of this area.

The village of Mwamgongo is located on the lake, about 15 miles north of the town of Kigoma. When we first arrived in Mwamgongo last summer, the 7 of us were quite a spectacle as the village rarely entertains outsiders. As the main attraction, we had about 60 children surrounding us at all times and our lack of familiarity with the community made finding the right people to work with us difficult. As the village has grown accustomed to our continued presence, the dynamic has changed significantly to the point where we now only have about 10 children hovering around us at any given time. The fact that we returned again this year certainly seems to have inspired the villagers trust, many of whom thought that we would never return despite our assurances that we would. It seems that we are now an accepted feature of the society which, I believe, is conducive to successful working relationships and a successful project. It has taken a year and two trips (summer ‘09, spring ’10) to develop this relationship, and now it is time to capitalize on the resources that weren’t available to us last year.

Although it is Wendy and Kanika’s first time in the village, they are doing great adapting to the local customs. They have both donned the local dress and fit in extremely well until they try to speak Swahili then everyone knows that they are complete foreigners. As a group, we are slowly progressing with our Swahili and have acquired basic levels of communication ability. Our efforts to fit in have not gone unnoticed and are certainly appreciated by the community. I wish I had more time to relate stories and details but I only have a few hours until the water taxi leaves. The next blog post will be more complete and have pictures – I’m bringing this computer back to Mwamgongo with us.

Stove project

This year a government imposed limit on the amount of firewood an individual can harvest has driven the demand for an improved cookstove. A stove that performs better than the standard three stone stove is becoming a necessity in Mwamgono. This increase in demand for stoves and the community excitement surrounding the talk of improved stoves is something that did not exist last summer. Last year we built 25 test stoves and installed them into homes. The first few days of spent in Mwamgongo involved tracking these families down and getting design feedback. Walking around we found that families were not extensively using their stoves. People liked the stoves because they saved wood, but they weren’t nearly big enough to accommodate the large family size you see in Mwamgongo, so a redesign is needed. Over the next two weeks this will be the focus of the project. We will be working with community members that have expressed interest in working to develop a stove. Finding the right individuals is critical to the success of the project and the individuals we have selected to work with are intelligent and hard working.

Once we have a design that the community is comfortable using we will market the technology through public demonstrations of the wood saving capabilities of the stove and the fact that it smokes less. By having the community members market the technology we hope that people from the village will be more comfortable approaching them about the stoves and that they will do a better job connecting with the community. We then hope to have these individuals take orders and produce and install stoves for the community. This entrepreneurial approach will incentivize the production of more stoves and will benefit both the community members and the community as a whole.


We were under the impression that the composting latrine built last year at the health center was not being used; however, we returned this year to find people using it as a normal latrine. Our first priority will be to teach people how to use it as a composting latrine by instituting an educational program on composting. In addition we will solidify management of the latrine. Our primary goal is the stoves at this point but we will be working with Aaron and Mitch (see their post) to come up with education programs that support the work they are doing on the water distribution system.

We are having a great time here and we will stay in contact as best we can.

Zach, Kanika, Wendy

7.7.10 or “The day in which we buy a rooster “

(the Kalinzi crew)

We woke up with the roosters before sunrise, our first day in the village. There isn’t as much commotion without the fishermen as there is in Mwamgongo, but village life starts early. Our group, Kevin, Parker , and Ryan is here mainly to work of the Coffee Stove in finishing the design and working on local manufacturing. There is a man who has been making things out of metal, including stoves, since 1984 who lives real close to the Field Station. We left right after breakfast with the intention of catching the metal worker before he headed out for the day. Turns out he had left, so we called some of the 6 woman who the spring group contacted to start talking to them. We spent a lot of the morning at Hafsa’s house talking with her and her husband and did some testing emissions and efficiency of her three stone stove.

Hafsa uses Mkaa (charcoal) and a mafiga matatu (traditional 3-stone stove) to cook all of her meals. She likes the three stone better because it is hotter and it is harder to get charcoal, because you have to buy it and it is expensive. We had a little trouble explaining this, but if charcoal weren’t so expensive, she still would prefer a 3-stone stove because it burns so strongly. She doesn’t like that the 3-stone produces so much smoke. She always cooks inside. When she starts cooking she says her kids start running because of the smoke. We did a simple efficiency (water boiling test) with her three stone stove, getting an efficiency of 10.5% (which is on the high end of that for 3-stone, but reasonable).

We swung by the Stove Maker’s house a couple of times, but he was off working at his farm all day. We fired up our stove on the front stoop of the field station, with much curiosity from people passing by. We swung by our neighbor’s house (another one of the women who is going to be testing our stove) and talked to her briefly about what we are going to be doing and what stoves she currently uses.

Over dinner with Rita and Tuma, who by the way are absolutely hilarious, we decided that we are going to buy chickens. It all started because the chicken that we were eating was just about to lay an egg before Tuma slaughtered it, plus eggs are good and have protein. Our decision was also helped because the man that sold Tuma the chicken came by with another one and eventually a rooster and we decided to raise chickens. Basically it costs the same as to eat them, and they will give us eggs (which are actually kind of expensive). So we bought our rooster, with the hens coming in the morning. There are already tons walking around, so it’s not like our rooster is really going to add to the noise, plus he has a nice strong crow. He is currently in the closet, because apparently if you keep a chicken locked up for 3 days it forgets where lives and just takes up residence (according to Tuma, our chicken raising master).

After all of this, we still dragged ourselves to the cinema to watch the Germany/Spain game. We all very tired, but the game was exciting and the locals were a lot more excited about it. The place was packed, we better get there early to get seats for the final.

6.7.10 or “To kalinzi.”

The Coffee Stove Group headed to Kalinzi today. For those of you unfamiliar with the project, Kalinzi is a village north of Kigoma and inland from Mwamgongo. It is another of the villages that the Jane Goodall Institute has a large presence in . There is a Field Station there that we stay at while we are here. We filled up the land cruiser pretty good with all of our supplies (putting the giant bags of charcoal on top was fun) and headed off. The new barabara is amazing. More than 50% of the way to Kalinzi is now paved, and what isn’t is nice and flat and looks practically ready to pave. It took no time at all to get there. When Louis was here last spring, it took them a long time because it was all mud, and even last year in the dry season there was obvious construction work, however the road consisted of a single lane serpentine track that weaved along the smoothest parts of a very freshly widened road. It looks like the Chinese company in charge is actually succeeding in getting things done. Aaron tells me that there is also evidence of a road that has been recently cut down to mwamgongo (although he says it looks impossibly steep for a car to reasonably drive on). I still will doubt it until I see it.

We arrived in Kalinzi to absolutely zero fanfare, a welcome change from last summer in Mwamgongo. It was a market day (Tuesday) so the town center was bustling. We also decided that one of the best places for us to start doing our stove testing was with Tuma and the field station stove. In order to test out the particulate monitor, we set it up in the kitchen and got some data on the meals that she cooked us. Once we get a few more supplies we will grab charcoal efficiency numbers using our stove. It is very nice to finally be in the village so that we can start dictating our own schedule (to some extent) and get to work on the work that we came here to do.

We made sure to scope out a place to watch the World Cup game during the day, although it would not have been hard to find it at night since the sounds of Vuvuzelas was blasting throughout the village on loudspeakers from the places with TVs. We headed off to one of the two places in Kalinzi to watch the first semi-final world cup match. The building was set up almost as a church of TV with a center aisle and about 15 rows of simple wooden benches and 100 or so Tanzanians. A pretty equal number of people rooting for the Netherlands and Uraguay (we were rooting for the Dutch).

5.7.10 or “TIA: Ready, set, no go”

First off, a few stories from Mwamgongo. Guess who the first kid to latch himself onto the new wazungu in town was when Mitch and Aaron arrived in Mwamgongo? It was Galai, of course. No sign of any of the other children characters from last summer (although I think I remember Hassim, who Aaron mentioned). When Mitch and Aaron were coming down from the water tank while surveying the water system, Mitch got held up talking to someone. Aaron frustrated with having to wait, taught the gaggle of kids surrounding him how to say, “Mitch! Come On!” which they yelled. Suffice it to say it caught on. However it did give us a new way of dealing with kids who all they know how to say is “Givea me my money” or “what is my name” is to teach them a new phrase that they can say instead.

It’s real hard to build momentum when working in Africa, something always comes up. Clara had said when we met with her on Friday that we would have no problem hiring a car from JGI to take the Coffee Stove Group to Kalinzi. Unfortunately for us, she had forgotten that most of the cars were going to be used for Jane and the people with her to go to Kalinzi for the day. So we spent the morning getting supplies with Rita, our translator, and Tuma (her sister, our cook). We got a ride arranged for first thing tomorrow morning. Parker and Wendy headed north to Kiibirizi to get Wendy on the Water Taxi to join Zach and Kanika in Mwamgongo.

We spend a lot of our time in Kigoma walking and waiting for food to be prepared. We have one room at the Aqua Lodge, because it is right next to the lake and we can swim there and it’s right next to JGI. The second cheapest place is the Zanzibar Hill hotel, which is on top of a very big hill. To get food you have to walk the mile to town. We grabbed a quick meal at the New Modern (Beef and rice was on the menu) and rinsed it down with a few beers at the Zanzibar hill hotel. There we saw a rat that was literally 3 times the size of the cats around here (we found out later this was a Gambian rat, which can grow up to 3 feet long). Thus, Parker and Kevin were a little Jumpy on our walk back to the Aqua Lodge, along a path that Kevin thought smelt strongly of snake musk and swore he heard slithering in the bushes. Kevin is afraid of snakes, but the walk was uneventful.

4.7.10 or “Sunday”

Today was a sort of transition day. We forgot how much closes down on Sunday (even though it is an incredibly Muslim area). The Jane Goodall Institute is closed for the weekend. Mitch and Aaron got back from Gombe. We had heard many rumors, but finally got confirmation that Jane Goodall herself was in town. Mitch and Aaron stumbled across her while she was taking her morning Tea, and got to talk to her. She is keeping an incredibly busy schedule for Africa Time, so I don’t think we will get to meet her. JGI has been in a big bustle getting ready for her. Since none of the people we needed to meet with were available today, we decided to seize the day and head out to Jacobson’s Beach, a beach south of Kigoma that is beautiful and has rocks to jump off of. It was incredibly clear today, we could pretty clearly see the Congo across. For me (Parker) it was crazy since all of last summer we couldn’t see it at all. Suddenly there are gigantic mountains in the distance.

4.7.10 or “Sunday”

Today was a sort of transition day. We forgot how much closes down on Sunday (even though it is an incredibly Muslim area). The Jane Goodall Institute is closed for the weekend. Mitch and Aaron got back from Gombe. We had heard many rumors, but finally got confirmation that Jane Goodall herself was in town. Mitch and Aaron stumbled across her while she was taking her morning Tea, and got to talk to her. She is keeping an incredibly busy schedule for Africa Time, so I don’t think we will get to meet her. JGI has been in a big bustle getting ready for her. Since none of the people we needed to meet with were available today, we decided to seize the day and head out to Jacobson’s Beach, a beach south of Kigoma that is beautiful and has rocks to jump off of. It was incredibly clear today, we could pretty clearly see the Congo across. For me (Parker) it was crazy since all of last summer we couldn’t see it at all. Suddenly there are gigantic mountains in the distance.

3.7.10 or “The WaDuma”

The Coffee stove group met with Rita for breakfast. We gave her “new moon” – she was very excited. We went into the mwanga market with her to talk with the guys who make the stoves. We commissioned a stove so that we could watch him make it from start to finish. With a hammer, chisel, pilers and a piece of railroad track, he was able to do a lot. The basic conclusion was that with the techniques that he uses on the charcoal stove, he could definitely make a gasification stove for us. We told him that we would be back later in the summer to teach him how to build our stove.

Mitch and Aaron had run into a group of 5 women doctors from Vermont, who were also working through JGI and were also funded by Green Mountain Coffee. They were just finishing their stay and had hired a boat to Gombe and invited Mitch and Aaron to join them. Since none of the people that they needed to talk to were around on the weekend, the seized this chance for a free ride.

Tim and wendy flew in and joined us. Dinner was again football centered – at the Mwaka hill hotel. Food as always took forever, but eating out is a good chance to have a group meeting and watch the game.

Anxious to get started with the Rocket stove project, Zach and Kanika packed up their things and headed out to Mwamgongo on the Water Taxi. A three (in the best of times) hour ride north from Kigoma along the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Its real pretty, especially as you pass by the shores of Gombe Stream National Park.

2.7.10 or “Dr. Charles gets red carded for a handball”

We started splitting up into the three main project groups, Coffee Stove, Mwamgongo stove, water. Kevin, Ryan and Parker went to JGI to start arranging our trip to Kalinzi. Rita spilled some hot oil on her foot, so she wasn’t available to start working with us that day. Clara, at JGI, is quite possibly the most useful person we have ever met in Tanzania. She wrote up our letter to the village government and said that we should be able to arrange a ride on Monday to Kalinzi.

Mitch and Aaron have been focusing on the water assessment side of the project in mwamgongo so far. They spent their few days there surveying the system, so they can figure out what improvements we can make on it. They are now in Kigoma trying to track down who exactly built the water system and anyone that knows about it.

Kanika and Zach spent their day finding us a new hotel that we could get cheaper doubles and getting ready for their departure to Mwamgongo on Saturday on the water taxi.

After work we headed to dinner and tried to find a place to watch the Holland/Brazil game. I (Parker) have started to appreciate vuvuzelas a lot more, because they let you know instantly that the World Cup is playing. You just need to follow the sound of bees and you can see the game. I walked into the Lake View Hotel (a small place with local food) and there was a bunch of people watching the game and drinking beer, but no food, so I headed over to the bar to ask the bartender if they were serving food yet. As I am waiting to ask him, I feel someone grabbing for my hand. I turn around and see a familiar, yellow-eyed man sitting there, saying to me, “Do you remember Dr. Charles?” I talk with him for a bit, but tell him that I need to go meet my friends outside. We end up at our favorite restaurant, The New Modern Restaurant which was empty (probably because they don’t serve beer – also a guarantee for no Dr. Charles. It’s our favorite because they cook some food, and then only serve what they have prepared = a quick meal. Plus they have amazing juice and end every meal with a free fruit cup. Yum.

1.7.10 or “Kigoma Kitamu” (Sweet Kigoma)

Parker, Zach, Kanika, Ryan, and Kevin head to Kigoma. Tim and Wendy were not able to make all of the meetings that they had planned for meeting with carbon crediting stuff, so they decided to stay a few more days in Dar to talk with various people involved with Carbon crediting in Tanzania. Flying across the country we could see many of the “wild” fires (aka slash and burn) that across responsible for the haze in kigoma. When we arrived we were surprised to learn that Mitch and Aaron, who had been in Mwamgongo with Rita and Tuma, had caught a free ride back to Kigoma and were in Kigoma.

The seven of us set out to try and find rooms. Unfortunately, the place that we really like to stay at, the aqua lodge doesn’t do reservations very well. They were booked, so we set off to the High Tech lodge, because we knew that they would have enough room s for all of us. Strangely it is more socially acceptable for a guy and a girl to sleep together in a room, than it is for two guys to sleep together in a king sized bed. They wouldn’t budge and we ended up having to pay for singles for everyone, But it was just one night and breakfast was included so we didn’t lose too much. We headed down to the Lake Tanganika Hotel pavilion for many of our first kigoma sunset over Lake Tanganika and to catch some football. We were able to get in contact with Revo, our translator from last summer, and invited him over for dinner at the High Tech Lodge. We knew that it would take a long time to get our food (High tech is famous for it), but we weren’t quite prepared for the 2+ hours that it took, but it provided a good time to catch up with Revo and the other team members.

30.6.10 or “Dirty, Dirty Dar es Salaam”

We’ve had a very enjoyable first few days in Tanzania, In fact for Kevin, Zach, Kanika, Parker, and Ryan they have been remarkably smooth. The flights were largely uneventful . When we checked in at JFK, we got the manager and he gave us all bulkhead, exit row seats (aka 4 feet of legroom=clutch). The Burj Dubai is quite tall. The Dubai airport is quite ridiculous and commercial, although we didn’t see the Jaguar dealership that I remember from the last time I was there, but none the less, the duty free section of our terminal rivaled most American malls. The benefit of flying Air Emirates during the world cup is that they had big TVs at every gate playing the world cup, so we were able to watch most of Netherlands vs. Slovakia game and they also replay the previous day’s game on the next day’s flight. Tim and Wendy seemed to have a nice time during their day-long layover in Zurich.

We show up at the Dar es Salaam airport and I swore we were in some other country other than Tanzania. We were wicked slow in filling out our visa applications (not enough pens) and one of the officials came up to us and asked if we were in a group. She gathered up our passports and crisp 2006 series $100 bills and took them directly to the front of the line, cutting about half of the wazugnu on the plane(ca-ching!). Getting through customs was as easy as walking out the front door, and the taxi ride into town was short and only a bit cramped (5 people + gear + mini-mini-van = “snug”).

We stayed in Dar at the Jambo Inn, which is downtown relatively near to Kariakoo, the main market. In true Tanzania fashion, one of our rooms had no electricity or fan and a toilet that ran all night long. The district we were staying in is very Muslim, with a mosque just down the street (the guy who sang the call to prayer actually had a good voice), a very good restaurant serving Indian food, but no beer anywhere. A local (to Tanzania) delicacy of Stoney Tangawizi was available, and offered a bubbly, strongly ginger alternative.

The next day (30.06.10) it rained, Which for Zach and I was a very new experience. It rained on us for about 1 minute in Dar last summer and some mist for me and Dermott in the mountains. While this kept the dust and heat subdued, they were replaced by mud puddles and a high grime factor, and by the end of the day, we decided that dry weather was better, despite the novelty of rain. After a morning of market window (stall) shopping, we met with Dr. Rajabu, who was on his way to the Saba Saba trade fair, and decided to take us along. The Saba Saba is the holiday of the ruling political power(7/7- the day they took power), and the trade show that occurs in its celebration ramps up from about two weeks before hand, so we hit it at a great size for seeing a lot without being overwhelmed. Many sustainable energy projects, stove companies, and other small industry entrepreneurs had booths set up, and Dr. Rajabu did a great job as our tour guide, explaining/ translating for us, and giving us the inside scoop on what was going on. We also got a great demonstration of a rice-husk batch burning TLUD (Top Lit Updraft Design) system that is being developed at the University of Dar. As we can very well relate to, the stove smoked and sputtered quite a bit due to the number of spectators, but looked like a solid design. Tim had a great talk with an entrepreneur building several sustainable energy products, including an interesting stacking charcoal stove, a biogas reactor, and a charcoal kiln designed for utilizing small size biomass (read tall grass and twigs) to make charcoal rather than large trees, all with the hope of reducing deforestation. After seeing all of the stoves , Dr. Rajabu took us to look at the temporary zoo on the grounds, with a lion, giraffe, wildebeest, lots of birds, and a collection of snakes that sent Kevin running like the wind, probably because he remembered the part in the Harry Potter movie when the snake breaks out of its cage at the zoo, and the cages here in Tanzania were not as robust as those in the movie.

And yes, dermott, “Nimechoka kupiga horn” is still immensely popular

-Parker, et al.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Getting Ready

So with four days left before we're all airborne and Dar Es Salaam bound, it's crunch time at the Hanover ranch. Today has been a bit like A-team coming together and getting ready to demolish anything in their way. Despite a few flight delays and travel issues, things are looking good for a massive meeting of the minds tonight to transfer knowledge from the Spring Team (Annie, Ted, Kathleen, and Steph) to the Summer Team (Tim, Zach, Wendy, Parker, Ryan, Kevin, and Kanika).

Mitch and Aaron are already on the ground in Dar and heading west to Mwamgongo soon.

Tim is getting things lined up for carbon crediting, Zach is working out logistics and details for Mwamgongo, Kanika and Wendy are working on various surveys, Parker, Ryan and I are working on tweaking our design, and we're all working on getting packed up and ready to roll.

We have lots of things to cross off the chalkboard, and lots of excitement brewing for our adventures to come!