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Seeing is Believing

Robert V. Lange
Robert V. Lange 

I'm almost through my stay in Tanzania for this season. Kisioki and I have more to accomplish, and the time feels short. But we are getting things done.

Earlier this season we were again honored with the Uhuru Torch award. This time it recognized our electrical grid work as well as stoves. Read below for more.

We are field testing three stove designs up in Juu. We are very excited about the initial feedback on one of the three, and are pleased to share the latest with you.

In collaboration with our colleagues at Last Kilometer Solutions, we are exploring applications for portable folding solar panels. Read about our mobile solar powered pumping capacity developments.

We will soon install solar powered micro-grids in more bomas in the Rift Valley. Many of these already have their stoves. We are also adding a village near our Monduli headquarters.  

Right from the start we've been working hard on our new social enterprise project, Maisha Bora Collective Enterprises. We're very pleased to announce that we've hired a new manager to oversee the Collective's comprehensive activities.
It is your support that makes these life improvement efforts possible.  
With appreciation,  

Robert V. Lange
September 2016

 One, two, three stoves in testing phase
We are visiting test site homes for our first two prototype vers ions of the new stove designs. 
Maasai Stoves _ Solar Project 
Meela's home with two chimneys and solar panel-Version II test site

This photo pictures Meela's home where she is testing Version II. There are two chimneys because she is using the test stove right alongside her existing model to make solid comparisons for us. Meela also houses the electrical center for half of her large boma, and you can see the solar panel on her roof.

Last week we installed the first examples of Version III. It is different from our current stove in many ways. It uses only one fifth the steel,  takes much less time to produce, and is easier to install. In addition, it features a way for the cook to adjust the draft.  
But stove design is not easy. It requires a lot of trial and error. We are very happy to be getting good reports on one of the three versions. In fact, it is the one in Meela's house. 
We look forward to sharing the test results with you. 

Next steps with the Rural Energy Agency

Kisioki and I traveled to Dar es Salaam (shown here on the eastern coast) and met with the Acting Director General of REA, the Rural Energy Agency. Four of his staff experts also attended the meeting.

When we last visited, the former Director General was planning to fund their part of a cost sharing plan we devised. The plan would electrify 200 bomas, providing power for about 18,000 people. But he is now retired and the process must again be put in motion. 
The new Acting Director General is in favor too, but there will be some delays and adjustments. The Agency has a solar technical training program. Since we also train our villagers and staff in solar grid installation and trouble-shooting, we are trying to link the two. This combined effort would begin to build our partnership with REA,  in practice.
 Uhuru Torch recognizes our work

The Uhuru Torch is one of Tanzania's national symbols, representing freedom and light. It travels around the country once a year and honors special efforts like ours.

 This year we were invited to meet the torch at the town of Makuyuni. Representatives from our women's teams demonstrated stove installation to the public.

Government officials participated,  including the new Monduli District Commissioner. A huge crowd of enthusiastic participants surrounded us. 

We are honored to receive a visit by this beloved symbol of Tanzania, once again.  This recognition is important to us, and indicates that the government knows what we are doing and values it.
Seeing is believing
The next village scheduled to receive the Project is Orkaria in the plain southwest of Monduli. In this photo, Kisioki is describing how installation will work in the village. We will begin with micro-grids and homes getting stoves in five of their

Meeting with Orkaria leaders
Here are nine leading women and five men, including the Village Chairman, who is very enthusiastic about the Project. The Chairman will lead the men as they prepare to pay their share of the costs. 
 After this meeting, we all traveled to Monduli Juu to visit two bomas  we've already equipped with stoves and grids. 
The women met with leaders of the
These meetings and personal connections are a key to organizing the people for life improvement work. Over and over, we hear, "Seeing is believing".
Bringing portable solar to remote locations 
We've been working closely with colleagues at Last Kilometer Solutions. They've introduced us to portable folding solar panels that have excellent electric properties. 
We're experimenting with their many possible uses. For example, they could recharge equipment for traveling doctors and game wardens. Or they might be used to power pumping where installing a permanent pump is neither possible nor affordable. 

Customized trailer under construction to be pulled by a motorcycle to bring pumping to remote locations
We are close to completing a motorcycle-pulled trailer that can travel over the region's rough terrain.

It is equipped with solar panels, batteries, pumps, and hoses. This setup will allow cattle watering and small plot irrigation, even in remote locations.

This has been a challenge, and we are working with two of our most talented stove factory staff.

Here is an example of how that pumping might be put to use to improve cattle operations without stressing the environment.  

It is going to be possible to bring pumping to remote locations like this
We'll be joining Last Kilometer Solutions for a fundraising and outreach event on November 5 in Detroit, Michigan. We look forward to  introducing individuals and organizations to the possibility of  participating in this type of work. 

Maisha Bora moves forward

We've hired a new manager for our Maisha Bora Collaborative Enterprises (MBCE). Together with investors Peter Jepson and Nadine St. Armant, Kisioki and I hired Tereaveli Aremu.  He is an outstanding leader, especially experienced in project planning and agriculture. 

Our two initial enterprises are already doing well.  We completed construction of the new grain storage building. Maasai women are buying the grain for us, and storing it for resale. 

Grain stored for resale in Maisha Bora's new storage building 
The other enterprise,  bull fattening, started with a pilot of 50 bulls,  now successfully sold. Using Kisioki's expertise in the bull business, we are ready to start the second cycle in November, this time with 200 new young skinny bulls.

Our new manager will hire Maasai herders and all profits will be plowed back into the enterprises. We are always on the lookout for new local employment opportunities, and this is a good one.

The team is analyzing other  potential enterprises. We are considering a fish farm and a sewing center where town women can make their own clothes.

We are also considering briquette manufacture.  Last week we visited a very large rice mill center about two hours away in Magugu. We found there are plenty of rice husks we can have for free as raw material.  And the dust from sawmills is another material we are considering.  But briquette production is not simple and we are still very much in the study phase.