And oth­er lessons being learned in the stove project. We are in the mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion phase doing a final round of sur­veys to try to quan­ti­fy fuel sav­ings after a few months with the effi­cient wood-burn­ing stoves. Since the fam­i­lies typ­i­cal­ly only buy wood once or twice a year, we switched to mea­sur­ing wood usage for cook­ing instead of pur­chased wood quan­ti­ties. So, for each cat­e­go­ry of wood usage (like tor­tillas, reg­u­lar meals, water for bathing) I’m on and off the scale with an arm­load of wood. It was much hard­er last time with the mea­sure­ments for the tra­di­tion­al wood stoves because those were some large arm­loads of wood. I haven’t crunched the num­bers yet, but I’m sure the wood sav­ings are going to be significant.

It also seems like most of the women are actu­al­ly using their stoves. In the first com­mu­ni­ty out of the three, only one appears to be installed incor­rect­ly — gen­er­at­ing a lot of smoke like this:

Where­as, a prop­er­ly installed and main­tained stove pro­duces no smoke, like this fine example:

And the tor­tillas straight off the stove were amaz­ing­ly deli­cious. Chick­en in the cor­ner agrees. The stove does keep the kitchen nice and warm. Also good for jam­ming out some reps while lis­ten­ing to some rockin’ tunes. 

The smoky stove can be fixed. The prob­lem is prob­a­bly how the inter­nal com­bus­tion cham­ber was installed, so it just needs to be opened up and tin­kered with.

The main issue we’ve come to see with the stoves is that they are not large enough for all the wom­en’s needs. For the large fam­i­lies, they make such a quan­ti­ty of tor­tillas at one time that they need a larg­er sur­face to make the tor­tillas effi­cient­ly and to cook the nix­ta­mal, which is a step before the tor­tillas are made when the corn is soaked and cooked. See the huge pot on the right. That is a good exam­ple of the size we are deal­ing with for the nix­ta­mal. The clay pot on the back stove is about the largest size that can be used on the effi­cient cookstove.

So, many fam­i­lies are still using their old wood-burn­ing stoves for the nix­ta­mal and tor­tillas and the new stoves for every­thing else. I’m hope­ful that new stoves will be used going for­ward, and are there­fore a part of the larg­er solu­tion in this project for sus­tain­able liveli­hoods and food secu­ri­ty. There is no one per­fect fix, but the reduc­tion in smoke and wood usage with the new stoves is great to see, and I’m look­ing for­ward to hav­ing the num­bers quan­ti­fied and info­graphi­cized. Of course, that is all my work to do, so I’m also not look­ing for­ward to the data entry.