September 23, 2013

The Lazola cooker construction course

In June and July, everybody worked very hard to finish the preparations for the course. Mugo organized, travelled, lobbied, got required information and worked tirelessly. The Kiini property had to be connected to the water supply and to the electricity grid. Due to a three-weeks teacher strike, schools were expected to remain open until mid-August. Therefore the dormitories and kitchen at Kiini secondary school could not be used by the trainees. Mugo mastered the situation by having an improvised kitchen built next to the workshop and bunk beds which were put into the office. In July, applicants for training were interviewed by MKICDO board members and by the end of the month the construction of the workshop was completed.

the workshop under construction
metal bars and doors for security

interview of applicants

 In the meantime, in Germany we solicited funds to finance the construction, the equipment of the workshop with machines and tools and the purchase of materials for the first training course. Thanks to generous donations from friends and well-wishers and a grant from the Bingo - Environmental Foundation of Lower Saxony, Germany we were in a position to support our Kenyan friends. 

On August 4th, Hans-Georg Klaphake flew to Kenya. He was accompanied by Marek Senicky, an experienced metal worker and member of Lazola e.V., who was to support him during the course. Mugo and a representative of the Senior Expert Service (SES) welcomed them at the airport. They got all the machines, tools and materials they had brought from Germany through customs without any problems. What a relief to all of us! as that issue had been one of our greatest concerns.

We had decided to buy most of the machines and tools in Kenya. So the following day the team was accompanied by MKICDO board members to do some shopping in Nairobi.
They left the city after dark and by the time they got near Mugo´s place it was already past midnight. When they were in the middle of Mount Kenya forest there was a problem with one of the front wheels. They were forced to wait in the car for one hour because a scout they had sent ahead reported elephants in the forest. Finally they walked the rest of the distance and reached Mugo´s home at about 4 a.m. 

the next day - car repair

Hans-Georg´s and Marek´s first week in Kenya was spent with course preparations: plywood, sheet metal and other materials for building Lazola cookers had to be bought and worktables and shelves for the workshop to be built.

Nkanya (MKICDO treasurer), Micheni and Marek shopping

By the beginning of the second week all trainees had arrived and the course started. On Tuesday they had a special guest. The District Youth Training Officer of Maara and Meru South districts, Mrs. Rose N. Karinga, came to see the workshop and was very impressed with the ongoing activities. She suggested that the facilities should be utilized for further youth training courses and promised her support.

Marek explains a machine to the District Y. T. Officer

the trainees and their trainers with invited guests and MKICDO board members

In the first week of their training the 12 participants worked in two groups and finished building one small and one large Lazola box cooker each. In the remaining two weeks each trainee worked with one partner and by the end of the course 12 cookers had been built.

cutting sheet metal with table shears built by Marek

at the circular saw
first results - well-done!

The trainees not only learnt how to build a Lazola cooker. They also got an introduction on how to use it. You can tell by their faces that  cooking with the sun was a new experience to them. But the solar cooked rice was tasty.

rice cooked with the sun

At the end of the course the official opening of the new training centre was celebrated. Representatives of several MKICDO member groups and important persons from the area had been invited. There were speeches, dancing and plenty of food and each trainee received a certificate of successful completion of the course.

H.-G. Klaphake addressing the guests

dancing for the visitors

course participants, trainers and MKICDO board members

trainee with his course certificate

Since you should not go to Kenya only to work, Mugo had organized a trip to Meru National Park with his guests. They hired a vehicle and went on safari to see the beautiful African wildlife.


antilope and reticulated giraffe


Everybody is enjoying the safari!

July 17, 2013

A new training centre

In April, Mugo went to the Murugi Youth Training Centre to check on their progress in getting the new buildings ready to be used. He learned that there had been various problems in the parish, building had come to a stand-still and the instructors had left the institution.
At an emergency meeting, the MKICDO board members discussed how to deal with the new situation. With the solar cooker training scheduled for early August, a new location for the course had to be found. And that is how a new idea was born: MKICDO needed its own workshop, equipped with machines and tools to do the training. We would no longer have to pay rent to other institutions; instead, we would have our own place for future training of members. The workshop would be built at Mugo´s former homestead in Kiini which had been handed over to our organization by the elders of his clan.
The idea was well-received not only by the board members but also by all Germans involved in the project. The headmaster of Kiini Primary School offered his assistance in accomodating and feeding the course participants and expressed the great need of the area for vocational training institutions for school leavers.

So a new project was started that proved very challenging to everybody envolved. In Kenya, Mugo had to organize the construction of the workshop, get water connected to the property and apply for access to electricity. In Germany, we had to raise funds and make a list of the machines, tools and materials required for the training. The MKICDO board members assisted in getting quotations for machines to be bought in Nairobi and in checking the availability of course materials.

All of us are full of hope that the training workshop will be ready by early August.

one of many small board meetings

the location of  the future training centre in Kiini

Mugo gives some of his trees for construction...
...and a skilled craftsman splits them into timber.

one of many truck loads of building stones
lunch break

renovation of the future "office"

visiting board members

By late June, the construction of the new workshop was in full progress.

hard manual work

Can hardly wait to see it finished!


Basket cooker promotion

During the April school holidays Mugo went to Nairobi to get blanket waste. He took it to Isiolo by public transport and handed it over to the officials at the Isiolo Cooperative Development Office. With the chairman, the treasurer and the secretaries he discussed strategies to promote basket cookers. They agreed that one of the Gaketha women would come to train members of local women´s groups how to make baskets into `fireless cookers´.

From the muddy backroads of Nairobi... the bus station.
Mugo hands over the blanket waste.

Another group that is going to be trained is that of MKICDO board member Ivonne. They received blanket waste as well as baskets. In addition, they were given 20,000 Kenya Shillings (approx. 200 Euro) from MKICDO´s newly established revolving fund for the women to start table banking.

blanket waste and baskets
Ivonne´s group
money for table banking

February 16, 2013

Preparations for Lazola cooker construction in Kenya

H.-Georg Klaphake, a retired German technical teacher, is planning to train a group of skilled Kenyan craftsmen on how to build Lazola solar box cookers. In December 2012, he went to Kenya for two weeks. Mugo and other board members of MKICDO had made arrangements for his stay in a host family and to take him to various places. H.-Georg visited the Murugi Youth Training Centre where he met with the staff and some of his future trainees.

H.-Georg with his hosts Mr. & Mrs. Miriti (left), trainees and Mugo

H.-Georg shows a sample of the inner part of the cooker

explaining the construction process

H.-Georg and Mugo went to hardware stores in Chuka to check upon the availability and cost of galvanized metal sheets. In addition, they made several attempts to find a source of affordable offset printing plates in Nairobi. These plates are used to make the inner part of the box cooker.
The technical facilities at the Murugi Training Centre are still very limited. Therefore the manager of the centre, Mugo, Miriti and H.-Georg drove to the Don Bosco School in the town of Embu. The school has  well-equipped metal and carpentry workshops and allowed them to use their machines to cut and bend metal sheets for H.-Georg´s demonstrations.
In the long run, however, Murugi Training Centre will need their own equipment to successfully build solar cookers and provide training. Materials need to be stocked so that - once the training starts - several cookers can be produced at a time.

During his stay,  H.-Georg joined Mugo and members of the Gaketha group for a Lazola promotion in Isiolo district. The area is semi-arid and hot. Cooking fuel is in high demand and firewood, charcoal and gas are very expensive. So it is not surprising that many people were interested to learn about cooking with the sun. One man wanted to buy the Lazola straight away. He didn´t even bother to enquire about the price of the cooker. But alas, we cannot give away our (so far) one-and-only!

on the way to Isiolo

serving solar cooked food ...

... and enjoying it together

bags of charcoal at the market

roasted goat meat, "nyama choma",  is very popular in Kenya

                                            H.-Georg also visited the Gaketha group and saw some of their projects. 

at the tree nursery

Gaketha group members at Mugo´s place

One day, when H.-Georg and his host were driving up to Gaketha on the road that leads through the Mount Kenya forest he had a rare chance to see elephants. (I am really envious because during all my visits to the place I have only seen the traces they left behind, but never a single animal.)
He also saw the peaks of Mount Kenya which most of the time are hidden in the clouds - signs of welcome to the visitor.

feeding elephants

Mount Kenya - Kirinyaga "God´s resting place" - 5,197 metres

When H.-Georg got back to Germany he began to look for support and raise funds for the Lazola project.

We are both members of the organizations L-H-L e.V (Lernen-Helfen-Leben / learn-help-live) and Lazola e.V. and very thankful for their advice and support.

On the website of the organization betterplace, H.-Georg set up an appeal for donations. Both of us have approached friends as well as organizations to support the project - and we will continue to promote the use of appropriate solar technologies in Kenya.

The innovative Lazola Solar Box Cookers have been developed by Jo Hasler of the German non-profit Lazola Initiative for Spreading Solar Cooking ( Lazola e.V.).

Three different models of the cooker are available:

- The Lazola 2 is an efficient and durable high-tech manufactured cooker of high standard which is mainly sold in Europe.

- The Lazola 3 has the qualities of the Lazola 2 but was especially designed for serial production in countries with low financial capacity. It performs well in tropical and non-tropical countries.

- The Lazola 4 is of the same high standard as the Lazola 3 but was developed especially for tropical countries. It does not have a slanted front like the latter but a flat top instead. Thus it can be built more easily and within a shorter time.

The manufacturing concept of the Lazola 3 and the Lazola 4 is aimed at serial production and differs completely from piece production: Every step is standardized and supported by templates and jigs. The manufacturing process is explained in an explicit construction manual.

It is comparatively simple to build a Lazola box cooker and can be done by anybody who has basic mechanical skills. The full-scale templates and jigs facilitate most operations and lead to results of high precision. This way a high standard of quality is ensured for every single cooker.

A workshop that implements the LAZOLA concept should be supervised by a manufacturing manager who has some kind of technical and mechanical skills as well as job experience. The Lazola Initiative Germany offers courses in which all skills required for the construction of Lazola cookers are trained.

Lazola 4 and Lazola 3 (closed)

Lazola 4 and Lazola 3 (open)

large Lazola 4