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A Land of a Thousand Hills - Rwanda

Executive Summary: This beautiful tiny country of 8 million where 88 percent live in abject poverty consume 5,000 tons of fuel wood per day for domestic use (cooking). It is expected that by the year 2020 the populations will double and the wood use will increase to 10,000 tons/day. The government of Rwanda has major planting and reforestation projects with Rotary clubs involved- 5,000 Acacia seedlings were planted by Rotary clubs on one Sunday. Today cutting of trees without permits and firing of kilns with wood is illegal. The Environmental Minister, Drocella Mugorewera, at the opening of the Kigali Solar Cooker workshop quoted the Integrated Cooking Method as one of the best projects for the rural poor and for the protection of the environment. A government committee has been selected to determine the best fuel efficient stoves and fuel wood supplements such as solar cookers with top priorities for study going to the Centre for Research & Technical study located in Kigali.

In July-August 2003, three Pilot Study workshops teaching the Integrated Cooking Method were introduced for the first time in Kinihira and Kigali- Solar cookers, fuel efficient stoves (Rocket stoves), and heat retained cookers (peacemaker)- fuel-wood savings amounting to 30%.and up to 70% when using the haybasket,. One year later, spreading like a wild fire, among the rural population of Kinihira is the extensive use and making of rocket stoves and haybaskets.

People are asking for them in Kigali. We witnessed the people of a tiny country, Rwanda, transferring its ancient, cultural use of cooking food on three stone fires to the latest technology of using solar cookers, rocket stoves, and peace makers(haybaskets). Transfer of Technology from Trainers to end users has been remarkable with occasional Trainers as entrepreneurs building and selling Rocket stoves and haybaskets. In some instances 6 brick Rocket stoves have been simplified into a new one unit rocket stove shaped like a boot built from clay, shavings, sawdust, and water- inside fire chamber and chimney formed by either banana stem or PVC pipe selling for as little as 500F($1) but generally sold for 1,500F to 2,000F. Proper dimensions to scale with the chimney and combustion chamber are absolutely necessary to maintain a smokeless stove- when these dimensions are ignored, smoke is created, the stove is inefficient, expensive, heavy and wasteful of fuel wood. The use of a wind skirt around the pot is essential to directing heat upward and around the pot- At times wind skirts were absent or placed much too low. There is a real need for visiting and monitoring Matching Grant projects on a yearly basis especially in this case with redesign issues by unqualified people.

KIST at Remera , in Kigali, was visited where the center conducts Research and Applied Technology on environmental issues with emphasis on fuel efficient stoves and solar cookers for urban, peri-urban, and rural areas. Experimental models were viewed built from steel and clay with steel being the most costly and dangerous for skin burns. Clay models lack beauty but excel in function. The Director of testing stoves agreed that the Rocket stove, with 500 in use nationwide, is exceptional in economy of cost, with no smoke, burns only twigs and brush in a high temperature combustion chamber, saves 30% wood and up to 70% when used with the haybasket.

Evaluations with 2 completed workshops with support from the Rotary Club Kigali and Rotary Club Fresno, were conducted in November and December 2004 qualified 26 women and men as Master Trainers with leadership skills able to teach workshops in Provinces and Counties of Rwanda starting January 2005. A ‘Solar Cooker Rwanda Association’ was formed, notarized and registered with the local government- Office and workshop space is provided in Kigali as well as in Kinihira. One of the Master Trainers is an officer of Pro femmes composed of 45,000 women who will assume the President’s position. The goal is to encourage the teaching, making and using of solar cookers, rocket stoves, and peacemakers throughout Rwanda reducing firewood use, protecting the environment, and poverty reduction

Of the twelve provinces in Rwanda, Byumba, Kibungo, and Kigali are selected for January workshops and home visits, and six Provinces will be covered during the course of 2005. Sewing machines were bought for three associations in the Kinihira area to answer the demand for the making of peace makers (haybaskets) sewing various sized cloth panels to make pillows that are stuffed with cotton waste and placed in a basket. box or sack. Food is partially cooked in rocket stoves and solar cookers- then pots are quickly placed in peace makers to complete the cooking which takes two to four hours. Sewing machines are desperately needed for this project and for other income producing work in the villages to empower the women and help their extended families.

Marie and I as Rotary Volunteers returned again this year to the Rotary clubs and families, participated in workshops teaching how to make and use solar cookers, rocket stoves, and peace makers, planted trees with Rotary teams, attended Rotary meetings and and an end of year Rotary Gala. On International Handicapped Day, December 5, the Rotary club of Fresno representatives were present as His Excellency, President Paul Kagame officially opened the container load of wheelchairs given by the Rotary club to help restore the dignity of the handicapped- I was honored by a handshake from President Paul Kagame.

Yes, it was an incredible journey of Rotary fellowship and ‘service above self’ in answering the call by serving the poor with the support and encouragement of the Rotary clubs of Fresno and Kigali. One Rotarian stands out for his compassion and generosity to the poor and his committed dedication and hard work, his boundless energy, assistance and cheerful spirit, his determination and focus to make this project a success as he has done with many other Rotary projects- he is Rotarian. A.C. Alles (Cally), Director General of Sorwathe, the largest tea plantation in Rwanda- Thank you Cally.

Submitted by Rotary Volunteers: Wilfred-Marie Pimentel-Jan. 2005 Individual grant 54225 Matching Grant 51316

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