In the Heart of Bagan
In Myanmar, they say that the house has a heart that keeps alive the household. In the center of some houses, it beats at the rhythm of the flames, and if the fire dies the household dies. Thus, the embers can’t be given, borrowed or extinguished.
However, these open fires are not good for human health, neither for the environment, and that’s why the government decided years ago to spread more efficient and cleaner stoves for free. Its name is A1 and it is produced with clay and metal. This device was designed in a time when metal was very expensive and there is no more than two circles of metal that maintains the stove. A device can last from 1 to 4 years, according to how the end-user utilizes the stove. Today, the government is involved in a new program with EGG (Ever Green Group) and GERES (StovePlus), to improve the stove design and up-scale the adoption of the devices.
About 40 kilometers from Bagan - the city of the 2200 temples -there is a village where you can’t access some days during the rainy season if you don’t have a boat. In this village, people live together in traditional Burmese style.
There is no cold season in the Bagan area but a very hot one, so they don’t have to heat their home. If the weather is too cool, people sit around a big fire outside when the sun is setting.
Very near the village is a river where women can gather wood to feed the fire that cooks their meals during the day. In the kitchen of these houses, you will find most of the time an open fire or a A1 stove.
If you sit down at their table, you will have soup, fried dishes, rice, spices, salsas and tea. Thus, they need some powerful devices to fry and some less to cook the rice.
We have met some people from the village to better understand what they are looking for and what kind of devices they use. We have found the A1 stoves in 3 places out of 4.
The first woman uses a 3stone fire. She cooks in a room separate from the house, with three wooden walls, it’s the kitchen. The second woman, Taw Moae Moae explains that she needs half an hour to cook each meal. Obviously, she doesn’t use only the cookstove. Indeed, cooking the rice is very long. She smiles and shows us her rice cooker. The electricity comes until the village, but the recurrent power outages don’t allow the population to rely on it.
The third woman, Mahnayn, needs half an hour to cook meals with her A1 stove and also uses a rice cooker. However, she prefers to cook with the A1 cookstove. It’s a traditional habit (very similar to a traditional cookstove) and she prefers the taste of the meals cooked on this device.
The fourth woman uses an open fire to cook with her mother-in-law. It’s 8.30 in the morning. They are sitting, peeling and chopping the vegetables in front of the open fire. The flames are burning and will continue until noon. Boiling, baking and frying vegetables, meat and rice to prepare a meal for 10 people will last 3 hours.
Users’ needs, different tastes, and the opportunities to introduce one technology or another are some of the essential inputs to implement the project and to up-scale the improved cookstoves adoption. The Baseline Assessment will answer to all these questions and thanks to the data collected and analyzed, the team will adapt its services offer to the field.
This project is funded by the European Union, by the FFEM, the Fondation RAJA and the Fondation Lord Michelham of Hellingly