Friday, July 09, 2010

Branching out into the Amazon

AVIF are taking a bold new step into environmental and arts volunteering, joining forces with a deprived riberinho (river people) community in the Brazilian Amazon. Working with world-renowned composer and cellist, Diego Carneiro, founder of AmazonArt, we need volunteer teachers with a love for the arts; musical or simply creative, to help teach in an incredible, small but inspiring school in Combu, reachable only by boat, a relatively short journey from the city of Belém.

Established in 1998 the school sought to provide social and cultural development for the residents and children unable to access facilities in Belém. The school soon became the heart of the community and provides education centred around valuing and protecting the local traditions and environment. Diego Carneiro founded his charity AmazonArt to employ music and art to inspire understanding and promote the protection of the rainforest and river. 

Volunteers can spend time both educating and learning with a view to assisting further development of the school. As can be expected the area is plagued by mosquitos and malaria and the current building needs windows and netting amongst other things.

Photos of the area are available on Panoramia [Rodrigo Macedo Lopes] 

FacebookLinkedInTwitterSecond LifeBloggerBlog RSSFlickr
Contact me: Skype/avif_volunteers_in_kenya

Posted via email from alisonlowndes's posterous

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Love it when a plan comes together!

I've just heard from Carolyn, working with ArrowWeb Hospital in Kayole, Nairobi that fundraising is progressing amazingly. Fundraising for hospital equipment to be shipped over, donated by Aid to Hospitals Worldwide is almost complete but this is just in time for news of a new purpose built hospital which will allow a continual improvement in the quality and scope of services provided to the people of Kayole-Soweto and to other areas within the Nairobi slums.

This is an excerpt from ArrowWeb's new-look blog, many thanks to Carolyn. 

"Staff from the Japanese Embassy Ambassador’s office honoured us with a visit last year and were very interested in our work. We followed this up with a call to the Grants for Grassroots Projects department at the Embassy and were advised to submit a formal application. Bram hand-delivered the Board’s application to the Embassy in April. We are really pleased to let you know that our application has moved on to the final “screening” stage.

The Embassy has asked us to provide more information about how we can ensure the long term sustainability of a new hospital. The Embassy has advised us that more detailed plans need to be submitted for the next stage by September, as the decisions about awarding grants are made in December. Bram and the Arrow Kenya Board are working on this.

Nairobi City Council had allocated Arrow Web a plot of land nearby for a new hospital. ..Bram has now registered the plot with the Ministry of Lands for a lease period of 99 years. This makes our position much more secure."

In addition to this, Carolyn, a Dundee resident, has also coordinated NHS Grampian approving a partnership to work together. 2 dundee medical students leave next week on a 6 week voluntary visit with ArrowWeb.

Posted via email from alisonlowndes's posterous

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Biogas from AfriGadget

I'm Posterous'ing this brilliant update from Afrigadget

Poop piki piki for my biogas system

Piki piki means motorbike in Kiswahili

This gadget was created to solve a real problem with biogas – getting the dung to the system quickly and efficiently. Motorbikes are the taxi’s of Africa so why not? Before I tell you about the above gadget I just want to remind you about the problems we have been having to solve to get the biogas to work at home.

Installing biogas at home has a real experience in afrigadget – we have figured out by trial and error how to get the gas under pressure –

At first we tried using water pressure, but when we stepped back and looked at it we realized that it really wasn’t simple or appropriate for bush applications ..

In fact, all we needed to do was to put pressure on the bags.

The pressure wasn’t enough to run the stove until we modified the stove jets by enlarging them slightly.

Next we had to figure out how to get the dung to my digester – you see I don’t own cows but my neighbors who live a few kilometers away do and are selling it at a very nice rate of Ksh 50 (70 US cents) for two large buckets . The owners are happy to see the dung as it  accumulates in the nighttime stockades and attracts annoying flies that carry diseases if left on the land.

The problem I face is common to many folks around here, we rent houses  but we don’t have livestock. But there are huge cattle farms around us. So Dominic came up with a solution that creates jobs and moves poop quickly and efficiently.

So we went to the local juakali welder on the roadside to create a dungmobile ..a trailer designed specially for cow dung!

We tested it with a human load to ensure it is balanced … each bucket weighs about 50 kg.

And the first delivery arrived without a problem! :)   Big Thanks to Dominic Wanjihia who seems to always have a simple solution to any problem.

I know you are wondering, if it’s that easy, then why doesn’t everyone use biogas?

Now that I’ve got biogas running my kitchen I wonder why so few people have done so in Kenya. There are countless articles, publications, websites and people who will tell you that biogas is the most economical and environmentally sustainable way to produce energy. In fact, the benefits of Biogas have been known for tens of years, and hundreds of systems have been built in Kenya. But it hasn’t really taken off –  few of the installed systems are actually working and the uptake of biogas systems at a domestic level has been slower than slow – it’s virtually non-existent.  A review of biogas in Kenya reports that technical breakdowns has discouraged uptake but the main limiting factor is cost.

Here’s a simple comparison of costs – from continuing using charcoal/fuelwood or Kerosene and LPG to using various biogas options.

Options Cost (US$ ) Time to install (days) Labour Maintenance Durability
Fixed dome 1,500 – 2000 21 5 people Low Decades
Floating top 2,000 – 3,500 21 5 people Low Decades
Flexi bag envelope 400 1 1 person Low 10 – 15 years
Fuelwood  or LPG cylinders 200 (per year) 0 0 low Decades

For a simpleton like me these figures are immediately revealing – it takes 2 years to pay off a flexibag digester after which domestic fuel is free for at least the next 10 – 13 years. For the underground systems you have got to be  hugely rich, or suffering from environmental guilt to make the decision to switch to biogas – from an economic perspective it will take 10 to 20 years to pay back. You could grow your own trees and make your own charcoal  in that time frame….

Why is it so expensive for the constructed biogas systems? Because most of the biogas systems  in use are constructed systems requiring engineering and masonry, they are very expensive, take weeks to install, require experts, and intensive follow up. If they go wrong it’s a major engineering task to fix it. This is why we are promoting the flexible bag option for domestic and small industry use.

Congratulations to Skylink Award winning Kenyan  biogas innovators

We would ;like to congratulate Skylink Innovations who have just won a the Ashden 2010 Award for their biogas installations in Kenya.

Skylink recieve the Ashden Award from Sir Richard Attenborough

I thought skylink was an airline… Biogas operated planes???

Human waste digester under construction in Meru Prison

Their industrial scale system costs Ksh 1.6 million (US$ 19,753). Such installations may need to be financed by the Government institutions where they clearly make enormous economic and environmental sense for schools, prisons and other large institutions.

For small scale house hold units, we need solutions that will compete against the cost of installing LPG or using charcoal, firewood or kerosene stoves. When we talked to local Maasai near Nairobi they found the flexi bag systems appealing because they could be purchased with the sale of just 2 or 3 cows, can be rolled up and moved when they migrate, and it saves the women the work of searching for firewood, it’s hygenic because water can be heated for bathing children, while it also removes dangerous piles of rotting cow dung near the homesteads which are breeding sites for biting and disease carrying flies which affect livestock and people.

Posted via email from alisonlowndes's posterous

Delays on drilling

Its looking like we'll only be at "hydrogeological survey" stage by the time our volunteers reach Amboseli. Staff of Hope will be on site but, as with everything, if there aint no cash .....

Its such a hard time to be fundraising right now, but we continue to search for the cash needed to sink the borehole well in Enkito village. If you can help, please get in touch.

Posted via email from alisonlowndes's posterous