Greetings from Tanzania!
For our final days in Arusha, we thought carefully about what the trip to Kigoma entails and how to make it a successful trip. As decided, Dvij and Jun went to Kigoma two weeks before the rest of us to start the briquetting capacity building while we wrapped up the process in Arusha. We spent most of the weekend of July 12-13 on our own getting ready for Dvij and Jun’s Monday trip to Kigoma. We prepared a presentation outlining DHE past and present briquetting operation in Arusha including lessons learnt as well as DHE’s future plans. We hope to use this presentation as an introduction to JGI and also as the start of a future partnership.
On Monday, July 14, we conducted further economic analysis so as to determine the economic feasibility of the briquetting operation. We did runs while taking into consideration the weight of the feedstock used. We also put into account the free feedstock like peanut shells, corn husks and corn cobs. Such feedstock helped lower the briquette production cost. We used an input-output ratio to measure the average yield of a given kiln run. From the average yield, we could determine the average char output per bag of sawdust purchased and the required minimum price per kg of briquettes to make a profit. We obtained the numbers we needed and we are currently in the process of completing the economic analysis.
Part of wrapping up the process in Arusha involved teaching the groups how to build a kiln and assisting them with the process of building a kiln if they express an interest in getting one. We met with Vision 4 Youth to discuss ways to modify their old kiln to incorporate the new kiln design. Their old kiln was well built but could use a lot of improvement to better the primary air flow and also make it more convenient to run. We later met with the group and made some alterations to their old kiln. We also got a chance to do two successful runs with them producing a lot of char. The kiln run was much longer than our regular kiln run. We suspect that is due to the large size of the kiln and the fact that the sawdust was not quite dry.
We also met with Tumaini Center, formerly presumed to be Upendo, to show them the new kiln design, how to run it and make briquettes from the char obtained. We did a run with them and made some large doughnut shaped briquettes. The two women present liked the process and suggested that we do further kiln runs with them so that they could test the quality of briquettes. The two women had proposed that we stop by Tuesday so that we could teach the process to more women from the Tumaini Center. We went to the center this Tuesday but only one of the women showed up to inform us that the group was no longer interested in making charcoal briquettes. This is something that DHE needs into take into account – while some groups are very excited about the prospect of briquetting, not all are. Why is that the case?
We organized a full day of kilns runs and making briquettes with EMORG last Thursday. We did three successful runs, each time explaining the process to the women—specifically focusing on how to pack the retort. The women liked the process except the idea of the retort. They thought the retort took up too much space that could be used to burn feedstock and was quite complicated. We had an interview with Mama Nuru, the head of the group. The group was enthusiastic as usual and we enjoyed working with them. We also discussed the possibility of helping them build a bigger kiln but they said that they were incapable of funding a full scale kiln. After deliberating on the matter we decided to leave one of our demo kilns with them so they can have a model before they can build a bigger one. We tested the kiln and we are confident that it will serve them well.
On Monday of our last week in Kigoma, we met with Lulu Vicoba for the first time. Lulu Vicoba is a large group of about 25 members. We did two kiln runs and pressed briquettes with them. They were pleased with the process and asked a lot of questions. They also mentioned that most members did not have charcoal stoves. We left our last demo kiln with them so they could practice using it more and maybe start a briquetting operation.
As a final wrap-up, we made a Swahili manual that outlines how to build a kiln, how to run the kiln and how to press charcoal briquettes. On our last day in Arusha, we dropped off the kiln manuals to the groups and said our goodbyes.