Dr. LeRoy Boikai, VIP CEO, Reporting from Liberia
One of the key activities for this trip was to launch and pilot the cookstove initiative for home use. I purchased two Envirofit stoves to test. We did several water boil and cooking tests where I stayed and in each test category, the Envirofit stove outperformed the coal pot stove. However, family members informed me that they found it difficult to use the wood burning stove because of the difficulty of finding firewood in the city. Using coal is more convenient for these urban dwellers.
Next, we hired a local welder to fabricate two rocket stove designs (a two-pot model and a single-pot model). We built 5 of each to test out in the field. Upon inspection and use, we realized that the stoves were crudely constructed and could serve only as minimum viable products subject to improvement in design. We tested these in two homes in rural Liberia and received initial positive feedback in terms of reduced firewood and faster cooking time. However, there was no appreciable reduction in smoke and because they contained no insulation or pot sleeves, the fire burned uncontrollably on the sides of the pots, thereby reducing the efficiency. We took samples of the two designs to GIZ En/Dev for official testing at their lab and they promised to forward the results to us at a later date.
While distributing lanterns at rural schools, I observed a school feeding program by Mary’s Meals. I decided to visit their headquarters in Tubmanburg (48 miles from Monrovia) to inquire about the need for improved institutional stoves for their feeding program. Mary’s Meals is a large European NGO that is currently feeding students in 506 Liberian schools. They are currently searching for the best improved cookstove on the market and are working with GIZ En/Dev, a German NGO in the renewable energy field to locally produce an institutional stove with a 40% reduction in fuel use. We visited with GIZ and learned that the current three prototypes they have produced fall below their 40% minimum standard.
The second European NGO we visited with a school feeding program is ZOA Liberia. They are on the market to purchase 3 institutional stoves to test for their feeding program. We presented photocopies of two top institutional stoves designed by InStove and Envirofit to see if they would be interested in purchasing if we could deliver.