Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Community and School-Based Program in Agro-Forestry!

Check out www.ismtrees.blogspot.com to see what one school and one community did together to learn about trees!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Daniel Mayunga and his solar business in Tabora, Tanzania - a study in solar development in rural East Africa

Tabora Solar Company is an example of a solar start-up project in Tanzania, East Africa. Daniel Mayunga is the person who has started that business venture. He has been a farmer, a carpenter, and a guard. He has studied about building solar cookers as a business opportunity. His small start up company has tried to lay the groundwork for a small solar box cooker factory in Tabora, Tanzania. I lived in Tabora for three years and we were neighbors. Later, Daniel attended a solar cooker seminar at my home in Arusha, Tanzania. During that seminar tried to develop a better design for a solar box cooker and promote his work (We set up a blog and made posters and signs for the office that he had in time at that time. As a farmer, and father of a large family, and community member, Daniel has many responsibilities. Just as most dedicated fathers, Daniel struggles to begin a business and care for his other duties. It is pertinent that a stable full-time job be maintained. A business starts slower this way. I do wonder what things can be done to help a solar business to grow.

Here are some things that I would like to explore with Daniel as I consult with him and encourage him in this solar box cooker business.
(1) Does he have a current working model of a solar cooker, or has he sold all of his solar cooker models for living expenses?
(2) Can he afford to make and keep one for himself, so that he may put it to good use for his own household and have an example in use? Does his wife and his children know how to use the cooker as a supplement to their traditional way of cooking, and can it substitute for certain meals
(3) What research can I make available to Daniel that shows different ways to cook foods in a solar cooker? How can he and his family access and experiment with that information (could it be by Internet postings or by printed email, and interpreted from English to Swahili to him by our mutual friends?)
(4) Is there a business plan that would allow Daniel to make and sell one or two solar box cookers at a time so that he could make profits which could be kept in the business to increase his stock?
(5) I helped Daniel have some cash for the initial start-up. We had no contract or written agreement. We just decided that he would take a couple of experimental designs that I had been working on, and develop those into a solar cooker model that could be sold and built, one at a time. He was able to sell at least six or more in one season. Our goal was that this work would lead to opportunities to make many more cookers and that he would eventually mass produce ovens in a small factory. Later, I moved back to the States and just after that their farming season began. It is time now to revisit our work on this project. I am hoping that I can work on the ideas for this project on this blog. There are many manufacturing, funding, and cooking ideas that I would like to explore with him. It is my hope that we would eventually see him be able to start a solar cooker factory in Tabora.
(6) We experimented with a Rent-to-own plan. Can we develop a marketing plan which includes this sales option so that people can have immediate access to solar cookers in an interest free situation? Might it be possible, for people afford this cooker if they could use part of their monthly charcoal expenses? Maybe for the price of 1/3 - 1/2 their normal bag of charcoal, they could purchase a solar cooker on a monthly basis, esp. if they It would be best to have these ready for purchase at the end of the rainy season.
(7) Many other options need to be explored and are not listed here at this time. (Capital fund-raising, culture, incorporating local materials, business planning, development of factories and cottage industries in rural Tanzania, research in different oven styles, technology transfer, community involvement, community groups, etc)
Do you have any ideas? What CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Send me an email and/or post your comments here.
VISIT www.taborasolar.blogspot.com for pictures of Daniel Mayunga and some of our experimental models for production.

"What are the three factors that need to be in place to make it possible for poor people to solar cook on an on-going basis? "

I posted this recently online. I thought I would reproduce it here as a point of discussion and for review by others who might visit this blog.

This was the question posed

What are the three factors that need to be in place to make it possible for poor people to solar cook on an on-going basis?

Here is my answer:

Based on my experience in East Africa and in the study of Appropriate Technology, and culture, I would recommend the following three things:
An efficent,affordable, working product: There has a to be an efficient solar cooker available to buy or produce in that culture which works safely, and properly and can be produced by local craftsman, local industry, or imported and sold at reasonable cost. Initially there should be a development agency or catalyst who can shepherd a project to introduce solar cooking into a culture. The culture should be studied. The people should have a real or perceived need to adopt this technology, and the benefits should be shown to early adopters, and promoted to people who will be able to use this technology. Early adopters will accept and use the technology, and demonstrations to the general public will cause interest and credence to a product that is being used by the early adopters. The product must work. It must be a viable alternative to traditional methods, and it must be available to buy or reproduce. It takes commitment, resilience, and hard solid work as development workers to help people to try a new product, and to make that product reproducible among the people. There are many books and articles written on the subject of "Technology Transfer". In western cultures this is almost entirely done by marketing of products using elaborate marketing and sales efforts. Development workers should learn from the mistakes and successes of the industrial nations promotion and dissemination of products and services.

Education and Support Groups: People who buy into or experiment with solar cooking will need to be educated on how best to use solar cookers in their home, or in a small business. There will need to be a group of people, probably women, who commit to learn about this technology and try the technology for a period that will produce sustainable results. The group will be able to support one another and disseminate information to other groups.

3) Reproduction of successful products, and practices. Producing ovens at an affordable price and marketing them using an appropriate sales program (such as rent to own, or group purchasing) is not enough. There will need to be the reproduction of practices and the dissemination of knowledge, by various means. Incidentally ALL of this teaching should be oral based with culturally appropriate pictures and diagrams, where acceptable. Written documentation should serve as backup and resource material to the Oral teaching and training that is happening dynamically in the groups One support group could start another support group. Incentives, of status, respect, and other intrinsic and extrinsic rewards should be initiated by the developer or development agency. The initial group could be given leadership certificates which shows that they have mastered (1) solar cooking basics and safety(2) They have learned basic food recipes that mimic their traditional foods and they have developed their own recipes and style of cooking (3) They have taught two or more people how to purchase, and use this oven. A leadership will then be "licensed" or "authorized" to as a certified trainer. There are many variations on how this might be done, or perpetuated. The success of the intial leaderships and their groups reproduction are key to the continued success and rate of dissemination of the technology, or product, among a people group.

Dean White

Question was posted at http://answers.wikia.com/wiki/What_are_the_three_factors_that_need_to_be_in_place_to_make_it_possible_for_poor_people_to_solar_cook_on_an_on-going_basis

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Charcoal and Firewood- Tanzania,E.Africa

Charcoal and firewood are used extensively in Tanzania, even in the towns and cities. At least 85% or more of Tanzania's 36 million citizens use this renewable source of energy to cook their food.
Yet, because reforestation efforts are not agressive and people are not trained in the planting and growing of trees, nor in the effective management and use of local forest resources, it is evident to all that this renewable resource is not presently sustainable. It could be sustainable, however, on a local and village level, and even national level, if people receive training about proper forest management, agroforestry practice, and reforestation principles.
Solar cooking is a positive choice as a supplemental or main cooking source in most parts of Tanzania E.Africa because of the abundant sunshine and economic benefits of solar cooking. People have a good economic incentives to use this product because it saves money and Tanzanians need things that are cost-effective since they live in the second most poorest country in the world. They are rich, however, in many other ways besides money. However it is necessary to mobilize and to use the intangible and tangible resources and riches of the country for the good of all in a way that is non-exploitive of people and their environment.
Solar cookers make good use of wood products and and they conserve and protect resources especially when the box cooker is sold together with trees, seeds, and agroforestry training materials.
Education and training seminars in communities and local schools would be effective in these issues. Training seminars and modules taught in community groups about solar and agroforestry would also help people in the use and dissimenation of these new solar products and the benefit and management of trees and forestry resources.

Craftsman Makes Solar Box Component

A local craftsman (or 'fundi in Kiswahili') made the box component of a solar box cooker. We are researching how to make a new model here in Arusha. Our goal is to make a small example of a solar box cooker factory which utilizes local materials, and labor. We are trying to outsource components and then assemble them in a small 'cottage' factory business. Small craftsman workstations take the product through a 'flex line', just-in-time type manufacturing process. Components are assembled at the small factory, then each unit is quality checked and tested and then sold. The following posts will guide you through the steps to build this first experimental model.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunuser Solar Industries First Blog Post

This is a service oriented site to experiment with volunteer and community development resources that will help people in third world countries. Specifically, Tanzania, East Africa is the focus these days, and you may find more info on the current project, "Solar Box Cookers" at www.sunuser.net. I will be blogging about this current project in Tanzania. Feel free to send comments and/or ideas. I will try to keep a visual journal of our work here on this community development project in Arusha, which will hopefully be used in the more sunny areas of Tanzania, specifically in the Tabora Region.
So stay tuned to the SUNUSER BLOG!