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Kisangani Smith Group, Tanzania

Blacksmiths develop wood-saving stoves

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A blacksmith using hand-operated bellows to get the charcoal furnace up to temperature

Sometimes you solve one problem only to create another. KSG was set up by a group of rural blacksmiths in the southern highlands of Tanzania to tackle youth unemployment. Metal working skills were taught to the youngsters who used small charcoal burning furnaces to produce tools. Which was fine, except for the fact that using charcoal added to the problem of deforestation.

However, KSG saw the problem as an opportunity. At first they planted trees to replace those destroyed. Then they got to the heart of the issue. They would apply their blacksmithing skills to building stoves that cut the use of wood.

Two stoves were developed, one burning the abundant sawdust left over from the local timber industry, the other a much more efficient wood burning stove. Both were huge improvements on their predecessors. The sawdust stove costs US$32 and fuel-saving repays the cost in four months.

By 2009 a total of 4620 stoves had been sold and 142 blacksmiths trained in their manufacture. As importantly, the stoves have been improved and a larger sawdust stove developed for institutional use. All of which emphasises that the KSG, is continually evolving, something KSG had first realised when they began to train the local unemployed in metal work skills.