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.


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