Rocket Stoves Project Launches in Zimbabwe

Tikobane Trust, our partner group in Zimbabwe, have developed a new rocket stove-making program. Rocket stoves only use small twigs rather than large logs of wood, thus eliminating the need for donkeys to transport heavy loads of firewood. Instead, light twigs and sticks can be collected by women and children for use in the stoves, which burn efficiently and also release less smoke than traditional open fires.

So far, 57 women in Dete have been trained in how to make rocket stoves and a further 45 have registered for the next training session. The stoves are made using clay, cow manure and ashes, which are mixed together using the feet and hands. They are placed into plastic moulds for 4 days, then dried in the shade for two weeks. It is hoped these rocket stoves will greatly decrease the need for firewood and thus reduce the burden on donkeys, allowing them to spend more time eating and resting instead.

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Along with the rocket stove program, Tikobane Trust have also developed a cart manufacturing initiative, which has the additional benefit of providing previous firewood traders with new skills and opportunities to earn an income. The cart manufacturing program currently includes one qualified welder and three apprentices. The carts being constructed are lightweight to ensure donkeys are not overburdened with cumbersome, heavy carts originally designed for cattle. So far, Tikobane Trust have created 11 lightweight carts, with the aim of manufacturing 23 by the end of September.

It is hoped that the cost of the carts will be affordable for most villagers since, if more people are able to purchase carts, the overall workload for donkeys will decrease. Currently, only a few people are able to afford carts so their donkeys are worked hard to meet all of the transport demands around the village. The dual goal of the cart manufacturing program is to improve the welfare of working donkeys in the region as well as providing work opportunities for young people in rural areas.

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Unfortunately, improper harnesses are still the number one cause of donkey wounds in Zimbabwe as they are typically made from hard rubber tied together with wire. Tikobane Trust are now designing and making donkey-friendly harnesses with removable cushions. These are easy to fit and adjustable, so they can be made comfortable for each donkey. So far, the team have made 23 humane harnesses and distributed these throughout the villages of Magoli and Dete. They have burnt many of the inhumane harnesses but also attempt to recycle or refurbish them to create more comfortable harnesses where possible. These new, humane harnesses are dramatically improving the lives of working animals in this area and Tikobane Trust are hopeful that harness wounds will become a thing of the past.

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Animal Aid Abroad are pleased to support all of these fantastic initiatives improving the lives of working donkeys and people in Zimbabwe.

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Janet Thomas