Last year, a study was conducted in Nyumbani Village on the efficiency of traditional cooking stoves. The study and testing, undertaken by Fabio Parigi, Michele Del Viscio, Simone Amicabile, Matteo Testi, Sailesh Rao, and H. S. Udaykumar was summarized in an academic paper titled, “High efficient Mewar Angithi stove testing in rural Kenya“.
The project aimed to evaluate the efficiency of traditional cooking stoves and test low-cost low-tech stove solutions for rural areas in Kenya. There are many concerns to be had when using these traditional stoves. Methods for cooking using biomass (wood, animal dung, crop residual, and coal), especially when indoors, can result in respiratory illness and air pollution. Nyumbani Village‘s residents rely primarily on wood to power their outdoor stoves, specifically wood collected from the surrounding terrain. Relying so heavily on wood, has depleted the supply in and around the Village and dramatically increased the walking time needed to find fuel. Fabio and team came to the conclusion that replacing the traditional inefficient cook stove with an improved one can drastically affect the health of the people positively. As Fabio and team noted in their report:
An inefficient cooking stove or heater wastes fuel and dissipates heat to the surroundings, instead of delivering it to the desired purpose. This increases the required fuel to accomplish the same task and negatively affects the environment, including deforestation. Also, open fires or rudimentary cooking devices can cause safety risks, especially for children, such as scalding and eye injuries.”
In late 2014, a $1 device, the Mewar Angithi (MA), was developed that converts a traditional inefficient cook stove into a high efficiency cook stove. The aim of the insert is to increase the efficiency of wood burning stoves, traditionally used in much of rural Sub-Saharan Africa. The MA is minimally intrusive and is designed to be inserted directly into a traditional cooking stove. Tests done at a university in India, found that the MA reduces wood usage by 63% and decreases soot by 89%.
Fabio and his team set out to test the MA insert in rural Kenya to study the potential for mass utilization in the Sub-Saharan region. Lucky for us, Nyumbani Village, was selected as the site for the MA trial. It was an ideal location not only because of the residents longstanding tradition of wood-burning stoves, but also because of its arid climate and unpredictable rainfalls. The device had the potential to increase the efficiency of the Village’s stoves, reduce the amount of wood collected, save residents time, and increase quality of life.
The experiment involved comparing the efficiency of the three different types of stoves used by Village families (see picture): the three stones kitchen (3SS), horseshoe kitchen (HSS), and simplified horseshoe kitchen (SHSS) with and without the MA. The horseshoe kitchen was the most efficient of the three stoves and ultimately the horseshoe kitchen with the MA was the most efficient combination. The study predicts that if the HSS with MA’s was implemented in all the Village’s kitchens, it could save up to 66% of firewood and 70,000 square meters of local forest per year. The benefits, if this method was used across the country, could be exponential.
Over the summer of 2016, a group of Spanish student volunteers from Comillas University in Madrid, carried out the implementation of horseshoe kitchens and MAs in all the Village stoves. It was a great project and an amazing contribution to the Village and its children and grandparents.
Thank you to Fabio Parigi and team for their amazing research and generosity! Nyumbani Village is grateful to have been the participants of their research. The work they are doing is extremely important in relation to the environment and our use of renewable and non-renewable energy, especially in arid climates like that of the Village and the majority of Sub-Saharan Africa.
The video below captures an educational fundraising event held in Italy on the stove research and implementation in Nyumbani Village:
To read the academic paper in its entirety, click here.