On a Sunday evening we arrived at KITA. The first days we were introduced to KITA, the
students, the teachers and the other volunteers. The students, involved in this project,
showed us the Ghanaian way of life. They taught us how to buy food at the market, how
to do your laundry and how get around. We learned that Nick, an American volunteer
at KITA, would be our supervisor and we arranged to have a meeting with everyone
every Wednesday morning.
After a few days of acclimatisation we started with the first part of our project: the
research phase. We went to the kenkey makers in Apromase to make an appointment
with them. However they were not pleased with the fact that we arrived with a lot
of questions and nothing for them to benefit from. It turned out that KITA is doing
research for this project for already four years and the kenkey makers never saw any
results. This is why we decided to use the data that was already collected in the past
few years and to start with drawing a new design for the cookstove.
On Friday in the first week we discussed with the KITA students and George to talk
about the new cookstove. George, the person who was involved in the project already
from the beginning, was very enthusiastic and wanted to immediately start building a
new cookstove. He was in such a hurry, because clay needs to dry for a whole month.
Last year the drying of the clay was one of the reasons that they did not have time
left to improve their design. However we thought it was important to first think of
a good design, before we started building a cookstove. So we sat together with the
KITA students to think of a new design. We came up with the idea to use metal for the
combustion chamber instead of clay. This has a few advantages. First of all, a metal
cookstove would be lighter and thus more portable. Secondly, it would be much faster
to produce, because it does not have to dry like clay. Furthermore, it is possibly more
efficient, because there would be less mass to absorb the heat. Lastly, we thought it
might be cheaper to make a metal cookstove instead of a clay one. Last year, they used
clay because the material is much cheaper than metal. However, the processing costs
of clay turned out to be higher than expected. We decided to find out if it is possible
to make a metal cookstove that is cheaper than 150 Ghana cedi’s (around € 38,-). In
‘Design process’ the whole process of designing the cookstove is described.
In the second week we went to two metal dealers to find out what materials are available
and what the costs would be. It turned out that using a metal pipe to construct
the combustion chamber was out of budget, but a large barrel could be used. After this
research, we decided what materials we wanted to use and started collecting these.
The used materials can be found in ‘Design process’. Now only an appointment needed
to be made with the welder to construct the parts for the prototype. The welder did
not speak English very well, so the KITA students had to do all the communication. Unfortunately
the KITA students had exams in the third and fourth week, so they did not
have a lot of time. However, they managed to construct the combustion chamber out
of a dirty paint barrel in the weekend after the second week.
The third week was used to construct the outer part of the cookstove and to combine
the combustion chamber and the outside barrel. The welder in Anwomaso did all the
welding. We had to visit the welder two times. The first time there was a power cut, so
only the holes could be made into the outer barrel. We had to go back a second time
to weld everything together and finish the metal part of the cookstove. Now only the
insulating materials had to be placed in. Next to constructing the first prototype we
spent a lot of time brainstorming about the continuation of this project. One of the
difficulties we encountered was the fact that KITA is a college and not a company, but
it wants to play the role of a company in this project. KITA wants to start a cookstove
business, but they do not have the facilities, people, money or knowledge to do so. We
thought of the option to deliver a cookstove design and create a workshop on how to
build this cookstove. This workshop could be an optional course for the KITA students
and they would be able to earn some money by selling the cookstoves that are made
during the workshop. However, learning how to build and weld a cookstove does not
match their field of studies, since KITA is an agricultural college. That is why we thought
about partnering with another organization that could run the business. Therefore, we
wrote some e-mails to other cookstove initiatives in Ghana to ask for advice.
Before we could start testing we had to write a plan on how we would test the cookstove.
We based our plan on a document about the water boiling test (Bailis, R., e.a.,
2007). We used the fourth week to collect everything that was needed for the testing
like a pot, wood and measuring equipment. The KITA students still had exams in the
fourth week, so this made it more difficult for us to collect everything. We had to find
everything ourselves. One of the things we learned was that you have to keep on asking
for something you need until you get it. For the testing we needed the KITA students,
because they are more experienced with lighting fire. Since they were not available, we
made all the preparations for the testing in the fourth week, but decided to do most of
the tests in the fifth week. However, we started the first test with the prototype. From
the first test it resulted that the wood inlet was too long, this made it difficult to keep
the fire going.
We also had a meeting with Nick to talk about the continuation of this project. He
shared our concerns and together we made a new plan. We will test this prototype and
make an improved design based on the results. For KITA we will write a building plan,
which describes exactly how to build the cookstove and what the costs would be. This
plan will also include a business model. Since KITA is not able to start a big cookstove
business, a business model will be written that is applicable at KITA.
The fifth week was mainly used for testing the cookstove and to improve the design for
a next prototype. From the results of the first test we decided that it would be better
to cut off a part of the wood inlet. The water boiling test was performed again after
the wood inlet was cut off. The results of this test can be found in the fourth chapter
‘Results’. With the results of the water boiling test the first design was improved.
On Thursday we planned on finishing the second design and we wanted to make a
manual on how to build the cookstove. We had to postpone this, since we found out
that George arrived at KITA the night before. George came to see the progress of the
project, at least that is what we thought. When we had a meeting with George and the
KITA students, he told us that he wanted us to continue with a clay cookstove. He did
not pay any attention to our first prototype. To convince George of the fact that our
prototype had some advantages over last year’s prototype, we tested last year’s cookstove
in the same way as we tested our first prototype. It turned out that both stoves
were comparable in efficiency, but our prototype gave less smoke. Besides this, our
prototype was not tested properly, since we did not have a big enough pot to test it.
Our second prototype is designed for the pot that is available at KITA, so it will probably
be much more efficient than the first prototype. George was not completely convinced
of the advantages of a metal cookstove, so we came to the conclusion to continue with
our design, but also look into the options of making a combustion chamber out of clay.
None of the NGO’s we contacted in week 4 responded. We discussed this with Nick and
he told us he knew an NGO that might be interested. He would contact them and we
decided to await their response.
On Friday we started to construct the new prototype at the welder’s place. The manual
had been given to the KITA students, so we could test if they understood the manual
well. The manual was written in English and to make everything more clear, we made
drawings as well with all the sizes in inches and centimetres. We hoped that KITA and
the welder would use the manual to build the cookstove and we would only be present
to check if they understood everything right. However they are not really used to working
with a manual and instead of using it they asked us everything. At the end of the day
the wood inlet and the combustion chamber were constructed.
The sixth week was the last week before the Christmas holidays and that is the reason
why we really wanted to finish the second prototype and test it. The first days of the
week were spent at the welder’s place in order to construct the remaining parts of the
prototype. The KITA students and the welder understood the manual quite well, but
they only used it when we gave it to them and they did not try to follow the steps in the
right sequence. It might be a good idea to discuss with the students how the manual
should be written.
Right after the prototype was finished, we started with the first test. It turned out that
this prototype was five minutes faster than the first one or the cookstove of last year’s
internship. However, the prototype did not look very pretty yet and so we decided to
paint the cookstove in order to make it more attractive for the kenkey makers. After the
Christmas holidays we can visit the kenkey makers and let them try the cookstove, so
we could learn from their feedback and use their input for the business model.
Week 7 and 8 were holidays.
Week 9, 10 and 11
The last three weeks are mainly used to collect the last information, write
the business model, write the report and edit the movie about the project.
During this weeks the cookstove was used by some women who cooked for the
people following a training at KITA. She was very positive about the cookstove. She
used it to cook several dishes and told us that it was certainly suitable for kenkey
making. She gave us some good feedback that can be used to improve the final design
of the cookstove. Since only small adjustments need to be made and because
there was not too much time left, we decided not to construct a third cookstove. Instead
we wanted to focus on the business model and the continuation of the project.
In the eighth week the business model was written. Because none of the NGO’s we contacted
responded, we decided to adjust the business model in a way it can be applied
at KITA. We discussed the business model with the KITA students, since they know KITA
better than we do. For them it is easier to see if the plan is feasible.
In the ninth week we had a meeting with Lovans about the continuation of the project.
He is going to make an engineering course available at KITA. In this course he also wants
to draw attention to durable energy and sustainability. Lovans is going to be responsible
for the clean cookstove project once we’re gone. He already gave the KITA students
the assignment to construct a cookstove with only the help of the building manual. We
told him our recommendations and we gave feedback on the program. We told him
that for a further continuation of this collaboration with the TU Delft, it is important
that KITA shows that they are also making progress on their own.
In the rest of this week the draft version of the report was completely finished, we
started editing the movie and we prepared our presentation for the TU Delft. At the
end of the week we handed in the building manual and the report that we made for
KITA containing the business model. With the building manual the KITA students succeeded
in building a cookstove on their own.