Entrepreneur launches sawdust stove

Janet Ziguyo (34) of Maonde suburb in Mutare is about to prepare her family’s evening meal. The power suddenly goes off, plunging the house into darkness, leaving her no choice but to reach deep into her pockets to buy firewood - or the family will go to bed on empty stomachs.

Godfrey Mudariki shows how to use an OB Stove.
Godfrey Mudariki shows how to use an OB Stove.

The self-employed mother of three often joins other women to fetch firewood in the nearby forests as she cannot afford to meet the daily cost of buying a bundle of firewood for $1.

“Since the introduction of incessant load shedding by Zesa, we spend more money on alternative source of energy. I am paying an estimated bill from the power utility as well as buying firewood and candles,” she lamented. Ziguyo spends $40 on electricity, $60 on firewood and $7,50 on candles every month.

It is against this backdrop that Mutare- based inventor Godfrey Mudarik, came up with a Zero Budget (OB) Stove, which uses sawdust instead of firewood to allow families to save money and protect the environment.

“It defies logic for the authorities to denounce people for cutting down trees without offering them an alternative. People are forking out $2 every day. This means people are spending $600 a year on firewood and at the same time paying for electricity. The OB Stove only costs $20,” he said.

Realising that even this modest amount is beyond the pockets of many, Mudariki has proposed a unique scheme whereby the city council will make the gadget available to residents for $2 and guarantee the balance – to be paid when they settle their bills with the council.

Environment Africa Country Director, Barnabas Mawire, said they had already devised a mechanism whereby residents will acquire sawdust freely from timber firms.

“We are closely working with Mudariki as an environmental action group, teaching people how to use the stove properly,” he said.

Trading as Chikago Wego OB Stove Engineering (Pvt) Ltd, Mudariki has manufactured three types of the stove – the Bachelor Zero Budget (BOB), Marriage Zero Budget (MOB) and Industrial Zero Budget (INDOB).

According to Mudariki, the OB Stove has a five-year lifespan. He said sawdust is a heat insulator and does not affect the stove, which is made of scrap metal, making it long lasting. The heat emitted by the stove is three times more than that of wood fires.

He has already distributed 800 stoves in Sakubva and Hobhouse low-income suburbs, and plans to distribute 4,000 to Dangamvura, Sakubva and Chikanga. Mawire said use of the stove would sharply reduce the number of families depending on firewood. Statistics released last year indicated that firewood constitutes 49 percent of the total energy used in Zimbabwe.

Post published in: Environment
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