Many Nigerians, and Africans for that matter, cook over open fires in an enclosed room. Most of the time these rooms have little or no ventilation with no means for the smoke to escape. Therefore, these rooms quickly become unbearable death traps, with thick choking smoke and intense heat. A typical westerner (myself included) would only last a few seconds in these rooms and yet these women spend hours every day breathing this smoke. It is little wonder that there are many people here with lung disease. The picture on the right is the old kitchen.
Up until the end of last year there was no money to build a new kitchen. However, a church in northern Ireland, who had some members visit the Gyero CARE Center, gave money for the new building. I had been researching alternative wood burning stoves and was ready and anxious to build the new kitchen. I found a design call “The Rocket Stove” on the internet for a virtually smoke free wood burning stove and adapted it to the conditions and materials found in Nigeria. I had a hard time finding the same building materials but in the end I think we did a great job.
This project was a stretch for my Nigerian masons since it was a totally foreign design for them. There were also many curious onlookers as we built the stove. They had a hard time imaging what we were building or how it would work. However, when we tested it and there was practically no smoke they were amazed.
The picture on the right is of the new stoves. There are 3 stoves, the wood goes in the slots on the floor and the fire is completely enclosed under the pots. The heat from the fire will hit the underside of the pot and travel around the outside of the pot thereby heating the underside and the sides of the pot. This will make for a much more efficient stove which will use much less firewood.
This stove will be a radical change for the cooks, but if they can adjust they will have a virtually smoke free environment that is much cooler and more comfortable to work in.
So far we have only done small-scale tests, but it should go into full-scale operation in the next week or so. I am looking forward to see how it will work and praying that it will be a blessing to cooks. If this works then we will make plans to build similar stoves in our other CARE Centers.