Sawdust Stoves – A sustainable way to save our trees.

Trees are rapidly disappearing from urbanized areas and its surrounds where local communities are using firewood as a main energy source for cooking.  In the city of Mutare which is situated in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, a local community group have developed a low cost, environment friendly stove which utilizes sawdust.  It is easy to construct, compact and efficient.  The stove is made from recyclable materials which consist of scrap metal sheets and round bars which are often found and collected from the nearby dumpsite.  The sawdust is a waste product from the well established timber industry in the area and the Timber Producers Council has encouraged the community to take the sawdust.  It is a mutually beneficial co-operation, as the sawdust is free for the community and it reduces the negative impact of the waste product on the environment.

A number of designs of the sawdust stove have been developed from a small one, named ‘The Zero Budget Stove’ by local youth, to a family size one and a larger version that was built for an orphanage and provides cooking facilities for over 30 orphans.

The sawdust stove has been replicated in other parts of timber plantation areas throughout Zimbabwe such as in Lupane within Matabeleland North where a youth group has started producing the stoves as a small income generating project and are selling them locally. At the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair the sawdust stove was exhibited and attracted a great deal of interest from the general public.

Environment Africa has fully endorsed the sawdust stove because it is:

v  Environmentally friendly – utilizing waste materials that would otherwise pollute our landfill system

v  Energy Efficient

v  Simple to use

v  Compact and easy to store away

v  Safe, does not use flammable fuels

v  Easy to construct and uses recyclable materials

How to make your own Sawdust Stove

Using round bars, construct an outer frame measuring approximately 24cm x 25cm x 30cm, with an inner attached frame measuring 18cm x 18cm x 23cm.  Make an inner sleeve from scrap metal sheets (box shaped, open at the top and with a small opening towards the bottom on one face) measuring 16cm x 15cm x 20cm.  The box fits into the inner frame.  Place a small glass bottle in the centre of the box and pack sawdust around it until it is compacted.  Lift the bottle out, so it creates an air hole and light the sawdust.  Your stove is ready for cooking!

Sustainable energy and reduction in deforestation are major benefits of the sawdust stove and fits in well with the UN declaring 2011 as the ‘International Year of the Forest’.

 

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