Ndaïdoura is the name of Envodev Chads new oven which in the local language of Laka means “Above the Limit”. Ndeïdura was fabricated to enhance the process of carbonization—an important stage in the production of eco-charcoal. The old model took approximately 46 minutes to produced 1kg of biochar (biochar is the product produced after biomass--rice or sesame stalk—is put through the process of carbonization or the technical term “pyrolysis”).
Envodev needed a way to increase the efficiency of their carbonization process, Ndaïdoura was the solution. Ndeïdura has the capacity to produce roughly 10.5kg of biochar in roughly two hours. This is a great achievement! The idea for the new oven was locally inspired by Envodev Chads Aquilas Dadje and Ghislain Rodoumbaye with assistance from Envodev Chad volunteers—Nathan Schmidt, Rodrigue Mbailassem, and Mahamat Youssouf. It was constructed by local welders at their workshop. It has a total volume of 1.36 meters cubed. The successful results of the new oven have been a great encouragement and victory for Envodev Chad.
In this photo the smoke that is being emitted carries away the humidity of the sesame biomass as well as harmful carcinogens. The process is being conducted outside of the city of Moundou where fewer people will be affected by the smoke. The chimney has been a recent addition which helps disperse the smoke further away from the oven so that it is safer and more comfortable for those performing the process of carbonization.
The oven has been taken to Envodev Chads community group in a village called Domane which is an hour outside Chads economic capital, Moundou. The community group will use it to repurpose field waste such as sesame stalk into a much needed environmentally friendly fuel source. In this photo the group is being trained how to properly use the larger oven. Ndaïdoura functions under the same principles as the old oven, however the time required and the amount of biomass converted with each cycle is different. The members understood the training very well and greatly appreciated the time together. We are optimistic and hopeful that Ndaïdoura will continue to advance the good work of Envodev Chad—supplying a sustainable fuel source for Chad.
Chad is a country which relies heavily on the export of oil and gas, however the majority of citizens lack an adequate cooking fuel. Wood and coal charcoal are the only sources of fuel for 90% of the urban population, and 100% of the rural population. The cities are particularly effected and vulnerable to the lack of viable alternatives. In attempt to reduce the exploitation of wood and coal charcoal, ENVODEV-TChad has created two types of improved cooking stoves.
These cook-stoves are made primarily with recycled materials such as empty paint and milk cans. However, there are also some non-recycled materials used like iron rebar which form a grill for the charcoal to sit on. Compacted clay and sand are used to provide an insulating barrier which improves the efficiency of the stoves. The stoves have a number of advantages which include: directing heat more efficiently which reduces cooking time, reducing heat loss which reduces the amount of charcoal used, and reducing the potential for burns thus increasing the safety for the user. All together, these advantages contribute to the protection of the environment because of the reduced need for fuel which decreases the rate of deforestation and desertification. Since 2014 until the present, more than 1,300 improved cook-stoves have been produced and are being used.
Two years later in 2016, we have developed a new model of cook-stove called “Am-al Yaal” (ام العيال) which means “mother’s children”. These new cook-stoves serve the same purpose as the old models however can be used with both charcoal and wood. ENVODEV-TChad hopes to increase its rate of eco-charcoal production to provide a fuel alternative however the reality is that many people are forced to use wood and coal charcoal. Thankfully, the new stoves will reduce the rate of wood and charcoal consumption.
We want to express our gratitude for the continued support from Mennonite Central Committee and also your prayers. This support has enabled more than 1,300 cook-stoves to bring a positive change to the centre of many families.
Aquilas and Ghislain went to visit Domane and left there some presents... Domane is delighted! and eager to start a production. They are hopeful, thankful and incredibly motivated!
I could repeat here the post I just wrote on my blog, but don't you agree I would save time just leaving the link?... then, if you're interested, just click on it and discover about the saturday at Domane and see the pictures that Ghislain managed to upload and send after some failed attempts (pictures are hard to upload and be sent to and from Chad... the internet connection is tough, but with persistance and hope, things eventually hapen!)
AKUNA MATATA (that's Aquilas parting phrase, after he saw for the first time the Lion King Disney film that I passed him while in Chad, last february)
Lapia, my friends!
We all missed ENVODEV... so we're back!
We're back with good news and good hopes about the future of our incountry partners. We also want and believe their work and efforts deserve to be shared, so we're going to be posting on their behalf.
The most exciting news to be shared about the ecoCharcoal project is that, after a considerable interregnum on the activities, Aquilas and Ghislain are now very busy taking care of equiping and organizing production in Domane, and preparing further testing on other biomass and equipment design.
ENVODEV prepared a good way for the organization Menonnite Central Committee (MCC) to assist the ecoCharcoal project.
In february, Carolina Marques, our former architect intern, had the opportunity to visit Moundou and get in touch with the project personally. She understood the need to assist the local team on communication. During her stay, an ecoCharcoal production demonstration was organized in Belaba and Jonathan Austin, MCC's representative for Chad, and other colleagues and MCC's friends, came along to learn about the ecoCharcoal. They were all very excited and demonstrated a bona fide interest on the project.
About a month ago, MCC formalized an assistance programme with ENVODEV-Tchad.
As such, an action plan was established and, on the current month of July, activities were officialy launched.
We are looking forward to sharing some photos, but as you know, photos coming out of Chad can be quite a challenge. At least we know that activities are doing fine, and Aquilas and Ghislain are profoundly excited about the work and the future of the ecoCharcoal project.
We'll keep posting about the progress of the activities on the ground.
All the best to the team and a big Thank You MCC!
One last remark. Carolina Marques will be ENVODEV's voice. She'll be sharing and posting as Project Coordinator. She is currently following and coordinating all the ecoCharcoal activities and communication from Portugal. You can learn more about her implications on the project by visiting the blog she keeps since the beginning of her work with ENVODEV.
I have dedicated the past five years to developing meaningful and lasting vocational opportunities for the people of Southern Chad. Many of you have joined with me in this endeavor, and in the process we have learned about a place and people that few take time to notice. Thank you for your encouragement and your generous financial support.
I'm very proud to see the seeds we have planted in and around Moundou begin to sprout. To date, 70 people in five surrounding villages have been trained and equipped to convert agricultural waste into a source of energy. In Moundou, where this energy is highest in demand, 15 people have been trained to convert charred waste from the pyrolysis process into a charcoal that competes with wood in both quality and price. We've experimented with two types of improved cook stoves, and these will be produced and sold on local markets, creating jobs for masons and carpenters.
While I am obviously extremely attached to the work I have been involved in since 2009, the time has come for me to step back and allow local leaders to take the helm. In many ways, ENVODEV has worked itself out of a job! After much consideration, our various programs will be turned over to in-country partners. Aquilas Dadje, our Chadian program manager, has literally bought into the idea, buying out the charcoal project and implementing the new cookstoves to reinforce his enterprise. We are preparing the way for a local organization called the Menonnite Central Committee (MCC) to stay alongside Aquilas and his employees over the coming months and years. I know Aquilas well and know his determination to see meaningful change in his country. ENVODEV would be nothing without him. Many others will follow his lead. I have little doubt that each year we will continue to see more and more eco-charcoal in Chadian marketplaces.
All great news, yet it is with extremely mixed feelings that I am writing this letter. A new door has recently opened, one that would allow me to put my experience to use in another context. After much deliberation, I've decided to walk through that door, and will be joining Water for Good (previously known as ICDI). Water for Good works in the Central African Republic, Chad's neighbor to the south. Water for Good drills and repairs water wells, providing clean water to remote villages across the country. Then they use that work as a catalyst to start community development projects in agriculture, sanitation, hygiene, and small business development.
After much consideration as to how to proceed, the ENVODEV board has decided that it would be best to dissolve the organization. The remainder of our funds will be used to tie up loose ends, ensure a stable transition, and finish well the work that was started 5 years ago.
As of this month, I have accepted the role of Director of Community Development for
Water for Good-bringing with me the wealth of experience gained from our work in Chad, and applying that to Water for Good's model in the Central African Republic. As I launch into life's next chapter, I sincerely hope you will consider joining me.
I would be honored to have you continue your financial partnership, and I look forward to introducing you to my new co-workers, and the incredible work that Water for Good has been doing in Central African Republic.
Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any concerns, or would just like to chat about these changes.
Water for Good
Director of Community Development
I arrived in Chad around 11pm Sunday before. Slept in N’Djamena and then awoke in the wee hours of the morning (4am) to catch the first bus leaving the capital. It took nine hours traveling in 106F/41C heat, sweat gluing us to our seats, for us to arrive in Moundou. Later, after we recovered a bit from our travels we met with Aquilas and Ghislain, two Chadians who work for ENVODEV. We made plans and laid out our goals for the next two weeks: test the Eco-Charcoal’s efficiency, streamline production of the Eco-Charcoal, and make a high efficiency cook-stove to better utilize the Eco-Charcoal. Sounds like an easily achievable list, right? Unsurprisingly, our plans didn’t quite work out the way we had anticipated. But, then again, this is Africa. Things not going according to plan almost becomes the plan if you catch my meaning.
First of all, let me tell you about the charcoal project. While we thought we would be streamlining the production process and testing the Eco-Charcoal, Chance granted us a new opportunity by damaging 14 bags of bio-char with flooding. How lucky is that? Having discovered the sopping bags we immediately dried the bio-char in the sun. We are now getting to test the viability of the bio-char after it has been exposed to water. While, on our own, we wouldn’t have thought to douse the bio-char in water, Chance thought it might be an innovative idea. Imagine, either we find out that the bio-char is unusable (which would be an unfortunate waste), or we find the bio-char is resilient after being soaked. While we didn’t plan on conducting this experiment, hopefully the latter result will prove true thereby transforming a setback into an opportunity. Yet, life wasn’t done playing with us yet. We were also given a turn to test our reflexes and ingenuity when violent storms hit Belaba during our fourth day of production, which was the first day we were there to actually visit. When we saw the clouds come, our lightning fast responses were matched only by the lightning itself as we rescued all the drying bio-char from the rains and stored our workstations. The storm was violent enough that it ripped the doors right off their hinges at our production site. Such storms have continued to test our ingenuity and perseverance as they have repeatedly crashed over our production site.
We have also had the opening to ferret out the best workers in Belaba. After utilizing a team who were not able to meet the production quota, we have streamlined our crew. Now we have an Eco-Charcoal production crew who, if they aren’t the fastest this side of the Atlantic, Pacific, Southern, Arctic, and Indian Oceans, are at least the best in Chad. Yet, even the most dedicated crews can’t function in a production line if they aren’t communicating with one another. One such issue with the line of communication presented itself when we came upon our bio-char crew lounging around waiting on manioc paste. The paste takes about forty –five minutes to make, and no one had told the paste maker that they needed paste until they needed paste. This left them with about forty-five minutes of wasted production time waiting while the paste was made. While these disturbances can be frustrating, the experience we are getting from all the errors we’ve observed, like the manioc paste not being ready on time, ultimately helps us as we continue to refine our methods.
Overall, though it has been quite fun to smooth out the production process as well as play dodge with the weather systems, we have decided to begin the process of taking the next step in equipping and empowering the local community. We are currently finding a local business to partner with who can provide a production site as well as a staff to oversee the process. This business will take over the entire production process, as well as full charcoal program responsibilities, and eventually become financially independent. While production this year will be ending soon as the rainy season approaches (the rainy season lasts from May-October) operations will begin again at the end of October, beginning of November.
Another exciting development that occurred in Chad this week was the completion of our first high efficiency FIRES (further improved rammed earth stove). These cook-stoves cut down on household pollution (which therefore reduces local risks of pneumonia, chronic pulmonary disease, lung cancer) while also dramatically increasing the efficiency of normal Chadian cook-stoves, which lose 80% of their total energy load. While we are excited to have finished this F.I.R.E.S. we have also found a local woman who builds stoves of her own, which allow for a 50% charcoal efficiency increase. This discovery provides us with another opportunity to partner with local community members by possibly creating a partnership with this young lady who has struggled to sell the cook-stoves on her own. Potentially, our facilities could offer two forms of cook-stoves, the rammed earth version, as well as this young woman’s.
Lastly, let me give you an update about our valiant Henry Hilux, our faithful truck, who has been wheezing as of late. With the driving we have had to do for the production season, as well as preparing a mould for our efficient cook-stove; Henry has been creaking under the strain. As a temporary solution we began using moto-taxis to get around. While good in theory, it proved dangerous in practice. Motorcycle accidents are all too frequent in Moundou, and the hazards became all too real after our Envodev team member, Ghislain, was involved in an accident. Thankfully he came out unhurt, but we (Envodev and Henry Hilux) realized that we couldn’t continue to risk people’s lives in order for Henry to get a break. Unfortunately, after that resolution, Henry’s alternator took a turn for the dead when Chuck, Aquilas, and Ghislain were in Belaba testing charcoal. This required a large group of people to push Henry for awhile before they could call him back from the grave. Henry has told us that, while he’s happy to help, his 20 some years of faithful service are weighing heavily upon him, and now he just wants to rust in peace. You can help us put Henry out to pasture today by donating at our GlobalGiving page.
Well, that about sums up my past two weeks. Our time in Chad has been encouraging as I continue to see this Eco-Charcoal project take on its full body as well as see the first production of our F.I.R.E.S.
Till next time!
-David De Armey, International Director, ENVODEV
Partner with us today and support the successful work we are doing in Chad! You can do this in a variety of ways:
1) Sponsor our growing projects by contributing at our Global Giving page.
2) Share our project by emailing or ‘liking’ our Global Giving page, following our Twitter feed (@ENVODEV), subscribing to our blog, or ‘liking’ our Facebook page. (Also, tell all your favorite friends about us!)
3) If you are savvy enough to have a personal website, why not help a friend out and embed our project widget onto your homepage? It’s extremely easy (especially for an informed individual like yourself) and is a fantastic way to raise awareness among family, friends, and colleagues!
Belaba / Chad. ENVODEV is proud to see Eco-Charcoal see the light! After many months of preparation, trips to train villages, follow-up work, communication, we finally see the first briquettes being made! The time is just right. The rainy season is approaching, and with rain comes a higher demand for cooking fuel. Thank you to all who have been supporting this project! The charcoal program has a bright future ahead, and our team in Chad is very thankful for the care and attention all of you have demonstrated these past months to make this possible.
This is the first official production of Eco-Charcoal since we launched the charcoal program in December 2012. The bio char being used comes from Domane and Badéi. Moundou, fuel is on the way!
Biochar in Moundou
Moundou - Chad / ENVODEV received its long-awaited first shipment of bio char from the villages of Badei and Domane. The bags were brought to Moundou at the end of the month of May. Nearly 1000 pounds of bio char were shipped to our centralized production site on local transportation, consisting of a pick-up truck that routinely drives through remote areas to pick up and drop off all different types of goods and fresh produce.
Each bag of char was purchased from the trained teams in Domane and Badei, giving the team members a new source of income they never could have imagined before. Once Eco-Charcoal is produced and introduced on the local market, the profit will be reinvested into the program. The ENVODEV team is thrilled to see that production is finally happening.
But our program has not been without its challenges. To name a few:
1. Our vehicle, though completely repaired two years ago, needs to be replaced. Our Toyota Hilux is taken to the repair shop after each trip to a village. We are exploring different ways of obtaining a new vehicle that will garantee the expansion of our program in the coming months.
2. Part of training a team in the pyrolysis process is insisting that kilns be left to cool off completely before opening. This garantees full carbonization. If the kiln is opened prematurely, there is a risk that a small amount of biomass ignites upon contact with oxygen. Even just a pinch of ember will slowly but surely consume the entire bag of bio char. The team at Domane learned the importance of respecting cooling instructions the hard way. After losing a few bags of bio char to combustion from within the bag, Domane made sure to give kilns enough time to cool. Fortunately, the biomass used is free, and all they really wasted was time.
3. The biochar has been transported out to Belaba, where production will have to take place for some time. The property we have been using has been partially taken by the City of Moundou for the expansion of the nearby bridge. The team we trained last year in Belaba will oversee production and help with sales. The team, Association pour la Protection de l'Eco-Système (APRO-ECO), has been waiting for this moment for a long time. Unable to collect enough raw material around the Moundou area, they knew it had to come from rural areas. (See picture of the property during the construction work).
But challenges are to be expected. Good things do not come without problems. In fact there is a saying in Chad. If a project doesn't come without problems, it's not a real project.
We still need capital to pay APRO-ECO members for the upcoming production of Eco-Charcoal. Please continue to support our project! Here is how you can help!
1. Continue to engage in our project by making another donation.
2. Share our project by emailing or 'liking' our GlobalGiving page.
3. If you have a personal website, embed our project widget, it's easy and can really help us raise awareness among contacts, friends and family. (see instruction on this page)
As the month of May begins, we are pleased to give you a report on our charcoal project. You can read the regular field reports on the Global Giving page of our project.
Since the official launch of the Eco-Charcoal project in the first week of December 2012, the preliminary phase of our program is drawing to an end with the approach of the rainy season. ENVODEV has reached out to five different communities that have either received full training in the pyrolysis process (carbonization of biomass such as rice- or sesame-straw) or a preliminary demonstration in how pyrolysis works. Nya, the area that represents the greatest potential in terms of biomass availability, got a demonstration. Though showing a strong interest and readiness to learn, the group at Nya was not organized enough to receive the full training and equipment, according to the criteria our Chadian staff requires for any group that wants to participate in the project. Participating groups must have a well-organized structure, financially participate in the training we offer, and demonstrate the capacity to manage the transactions of raw materials from their pyrolysis site to our production center in Moundou. We are confident that by the beginning of the next dry season, the group in Nya will be ready to receive training. Nevertheless, the amount of exchanges as well as our demonstration in December have already prepared the ground for Nya to be part of the 2013-14 program.
Our team has done tremendous work to bring pyrolysis demonstrations and full training to three other village groups. Tilo, Badei and Domane are three new villages within our program. We have had the opportunity to work with organized groups within these three villages, to train and fully equip them (see pictures below). Each group has gained experience in the pyrolysis process and has already begun to send carbonized biomass to our production center in Moundou, though still on a small scale. Our production center in Moundou will receive a first shipment of carbonized biomass from the most recently trained group in the village of Domane.
Where does Belaba fit in the picture?
Back in November, we had the great pleasure of inaugurating the charcoal project at Belaba. Authorities, friends, press, and representatives of businesses and organizations were all invited and present. The group at Belaba, called APRO-ECO, has played an important role and will be among the villages that participate in the pyrolysis process (see map below). Christine Dadje, president of APRO-ECO, is among the members of the group that has accompanied ENVODEV in the training of the groups in Tilo, Badei and Domane. APRO-ECO will remain as a source of training power for future groups, and continue to directly contribute to the production process.
Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have regarding our program. We will be glad to give you more information. Thank you to all of you who have financially participated in this phase of the program, to all of you who have been following us, sharing our efforts in Chad to friends and family. We're eager to see the production phase take shape in the days and weeks to come!
- David De Armey
Meinhild Selbach has been volunteering for ENVODEV since May 2012. Based in Lyon, France, she assists David De Armey in administrative and accounting activities. She has helped develop a valuable system to enhance communication between France, the United States, and Chad. In February 2013, ENVODEV had the privilege sending Meinhild to Moundou to meet and train our staff.
Meinhild shares her impression of Chad and the Eco-Charcoal project:
Meinhild Selbach - During my visit to Chad in February 2013 I had the privilege of joining ENVODEV’s administrator Ghislain to the village of Tilo – about 20 km (13 miles) east of Moundou.
Leaving Moundou meant also leaving the asphalt road. The road out to Tilo was just sand.
Very early during my stay in Chad I observed that Chadians are very willing to learn and later I discovered that they are fast learners.
I think the opposite is actually true. Chadians are able to deal with difficulties and are most of all able to learn new things.
They have to change paradigms. They need to learn to think outside of their “box”. Traditionally, rice straw is burned since it withers very slowly. That’s what everybody knows. When kids living in Tilo started playing with the straw and setting it on fire, they did not think of it as a bad thing. The youth needs to learn about carbonization and the need for it. Living in the village, they do not necessarily understand how valuable briquettes made from rice straw are to people in the nearby city of Moundou. Only when they know the value of the straw, they will understand that they have to protect it.
ENVODEV’s activities have been expanding around Moundou this year.
The day after our visit to Tilo, I joined Ghislain and ENVODEV’s Tchadian Director Dadje Aquilas to the village of Badeï. Badeï is about 16 miles west of Moudou.
Again, soon after leaving Moundou, we left the aspalt road and continued on a sand road.
The goal of ENVODEV’s visit to Badeï was to show the process of carbonization to a “groupement” of women. This time sesame straw was used.