Thursday, 7 February 2008


Quote from the Ending Charcoal Blog

'Yes, I am based in Boulder, Colorado. Ephrem Balole is based in Africa and he and I work closely on this blog. At this point, most of our focus is on the Protos project. The reality is, this is a massive project and as such, will probably leave little time to pursue other things such as biodigesters for the time being. Having said that, though, if there is anyone out there that wants to look into technologies such as this, that would be great!

The Relationship Between BSH and WildlifeDirect:

Yes, we are working with BSH on the introduction of the Protos stove in the DRC. Their business model clearly forbids the introduction of the stove in politically unstable areas, however, after hearing about the fate of the mountain gorillas, they agreed to participate in a joint-venture with WildlifeDirect. BSH has generously agreed to donate the first 100 stoves and is providing guidance and technical assistance. BSH is adamant that users grow their own fuels, and do so in a sustainable, eco-friendly manner. They are very serious about this and have actually pulled out of areas that have failed to demonstrate their commitment to this principle.

Current Status of the Protos Project:

Ephrem has the difficult task of doing the required Phase 1 & 2 market research for BSH. He is looking at things such as demographics, supply chains, alternative cookers, costing, household cooking habits, agricultural sectors, and barriers to entry. I will be working on putting together the training program for the introduction. I will most likely get trained in the Philippines and then make my way to Goma to train the trainers and help with the initial introduction, which we hope is in March.

Cost of the Protos Stove:

If brought in from the outside, the cost of the stove will be around US$50-75, 50% or which is transportation cost. Once local manufacturing capability is established, that cost should drop to US$20.

Fuel Types for the Protos Stove:

The Protos stove can burn canola, coconut, Jatropha, palm, peanut, rapeseed, safflower, soy, sunflower, and used cooking oil (biodiesel). One of the most important parts of this project is to grow fuel for the stoves locally. As Paula suggests, it looks like Jatropha will be a great fit in the DRC. We will be making sure NOT to use palm oils coming from any place that has destroyed vital habitat to establish palm oil plantations. This monoculture is a scourge in many places, such as in Indonesia and Malaysia, where it has had a devastating impact on orangutans and other key species. We will be vigilant about using only environmentally sustainable fuel sources.

Fear of Charcoal Mafia Reprisals:

With the crackdown on illegally harvested charcoal, there is clearly a renewed risk to the mountain gorillas. Luckily, this comes at a time when Nkunda and his rebels have agreed to cease hostilities. UN forces are now escorting them out of Virunga NP. This has made it possible for the ICCN rangers to return to their post and resume patrols. This is no guarantee that the gorillas will be safe, but it is a step in the right direction.
Creating New Ways to Make a Living:If we are successful with the Protos project, a whole new sector of the economy will be created. The hope is that the people involved with the illegal harvest of charcoal will see that more money is being made in the plant oils and naturally want to transition into this area.

How you can become involved:

Remember the old adage that only a few degrees of separation stand between you and just about anyone in the world. Think of who you know, and who that person knows, and so on. Rack your brains to think of people that would be willing to help raise funds and awareness to save the last mountain gorillas – and the other critically endangered species of the planet. Think outside the box of what you think is possible!'

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