The Community Cooker

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Community cooker is a waste-to-energy technology that burns solid waste in an environment-friendly way to generate heat energy for cooking food and boiling water in large quantities. The technology has been incorporated in various communities and learning institutions including vocational trainings centres to revamp solid waste management and reduce overreliance on the usage of firewood as a source of fuel.

HOW IT WORKS

The technology only uses combustible waste as fuel. The structure is made of firebrick to maintain as much heat as possible. The wastes are clumped together to form ball-like shapes which are fed in to the 1st chamber of the structure by the stove operator through a wide metal chute where they are heated to temperatures of about 1,000°C. The heat produced disseminates to the 2nd chamber that has cast iron metal plates (5-6) fitted at the top, which serve as the cooking surface. Temperatures in the 2nd chamber can rise up to 1,200°C. The almost clear smoke is let in to the atmosphere through a chimney fitted to the structure. The community cooker is made from locally available resources to ensure operation, maintenance and repair can be easily carried out by the local community and institutions.

CASE STUDIES:

  1. A VISIT TO KAWANGWARE GARDENS CHILDREN HOME – NAIROBI COUNYTY

  • It is a children’s home with a total of 320 students.

  • Their community cooker has been in operation for three years since 2014.

  • They were funded through a donor called Art of Living Kenya. Theirs operated for 8 hours a day cooking lunch and supper for the students and teachers.

  • It stopped operating in 2017 November due to technical issues which are being worked on by the Community cooker foundation.

  • It costed Ksh.3 million for them to get one. The waste they used was acquired from nearby super markets, city council transfer stations and neighbourhood.

Merits

  • It’s cost friendly in relation to saving fuel cost plus free waste.

  • Keeps the environment clean as it provides a means for disposing waste.

  • Environmental friendly.

  • It’s easy to maintain. Only three times a year.

  • Creates employment.

Demerits/Challenges

  • Technical issues

  • Neighbours living around on storey buildings had an issue with the little smoke produced.

Recommendations

  • Properly construct and maintain the cooker.

  • Sensitize the workers working around the structure.

  1. A VISIT TO MATHARE COMMUNITY OUTREACH CENTER AREA 4B – NAIROBI COUNTY

  • It’s a children home that helps the needy.

  • The purpose of the community cooker is to serve the school and the community around.

  • The community cooker was funded and donated by the Safaricom Kenya. It has been tested and proven to work. The community cooker is yet to be fully used because Safaricom is yet to completely hand the project over to them.

  • The waste is sourced from school and the neighbourhood.

  • The construction cost was about Kshs 2 million to 2.5 million.

Merits

  • Saves on fuel cost for the school and improve the income of the community around.

  • It’s environmental friendly since its limited to smoke

  • Creates job employment.

  • It has been accepted by the community.

Demerits/Challenges

  • The project has not been fully handed over to the community.

  • Inadequate space for the operation of the cooker i.e. lack of space for construction of a waste store.

  • “Financial dependency on donors.” The community has a mind that donors will help them run and maintain the community cooker after it’s fully handed over to the them.

  1. A VISIT TO THOGOTO TEACHERS TRAINING COLLEGE IN KIKUYU – KIAMBU COUNTY

  • Thogoto teachers training college in Kikuyu is a training institute for teachers with a population of over 900.

  • The community cooker was initiated one year ago. It’s been on operation to date.

  • The community cooker serves lecturers and visitors under a population of 200 people at ago.

  • Their main aim of installation was to conserve the environment by reduction of the use of firewood.

  • The community cooker was cofounded by Thogoto training centre (Ksh500,000) and a well-wisher (name withheld Kshs. 2m).

  • They source waste from the neighbourhood, supermarket and from the designated county collection point in Thogoto area.

  1. A VISIT TO MIREMA PRIMARY SCHOOL

  • The community cooker was built in April 2016 and is still operational to date.

  • It serves the school which has a population of about 800 students.

  • It was built to manage the solid waste produced in the institution

  • It was cofounded by the Community Cooker Foundation.

LESSONS LEARNED

  1. The technology can also be incorporated in the school feeding programs in ECDEs to manage solid waste.

  2. Community cooker works best when enough sensitization is done.

  3. You must establish coherent relationships and collaboration with waste producers to have constant supply of waste.

  4. There should be a coherent structure of who manages a community cooker.

CONCLUSION

Stagnating rubbish is a major challenge in our society. The community cooker is a remarkable innovation, that if implemented well can immensely help in environmental conservation through burning of waste and reducing overreliance on firewood and charcoal as a source of fuel thereby greatly saving institutions and the community at large on related finances.

County: Kiambu; Nairobi
© 2020. Maarifa Centre - A Initiative of The Council of Governors (CoG).