February 25, 2014

Follow-up course: solar dryers and improved Lazola box cookers

In January 2014, Hans-Georg Klaphake went to Kenya again for another course at the Kiini training centre. He wanted to do a quality check of the Lazola solar box cookers which had been built since his training course in August 2013 and make a few alterations to the design of the cooker. In addition, he was going to build solar dryers with the trainees. 

The activities at the training centre in the meantime had attracted a lot of attention. In November a member of a Swiss organization visited Kiini. He gave a very positive feed-back. On November 19th, the German and Kenyan representatives of the Senior Expert Service - the organization which MKICDO requested to send H-G.Klaphake - came to see the project. They signaled that they were willing to send him again. 
Meru county politicians realized the potential of the Kiini centre to promote appropriate technologies and provide technical training for school leavers. They are interested in cooperation and have promised their support.

Maintenance of the Kiini training centre and payment of the employed craftsmen is one of the big challenges of MKICDO. In the long run the organization wants to become independent of foreign donors and generate their own funds. In order to accomplish these goals, the MKICDO board of directors decided to offer a variety of courses at the centre, e.g. carpentry, metalwork, masonry and computer skills. In addition, they were going to make furniture on order. Production for customers would be an integral part of the courses.
Mugo had requested to use part of the donations we had sent to purchase a planing machine and a lathe for the Kiini workshop. When H-Georg arrived at Nairobi they went to a part of town where enterprising craftsmen (re)produce all sorts of goods. 

inside a workshop

Final touches: The lathe still needs some spray-painting. The planing machine is already packed on the pick-up in the background.

ready to leave

outdoor upholstery

polluted river - a negative side-effect of economic growth

During H-Georg Klaphake´s assignment at Kiini, the Minister of Training, Industries and Cooperatives came for a tour of the centre. He had a great interest in advancing the economic development of the region and brought up a number of ideas on how the Kiini training centre could play its part: production (and export) of dried fruits, manufacture of thermal collectors for hospitals and other institutions that need large quantities of hot water, ... His ideas were quite overwhelming to Mugo and to us as well. After all we need to set priorities and consider carefully what is realistic and affordable. And we should always keep in mind that whatever we do should serve the people and the protection of the environment.

 The Minister of Training, Industries and Co-ops meets MKICDO board members.
demonstration of the new planing machine

in the workshop: bending and drilling machines

Mugo explains how the retained-heat (basket) cooker works ...

... and demonstrates a Lazola cooker.

The tree nursery at the centre is well-established.

In the course of his stay, H-G Klaphake had several opportunities to promote the Lazola cooker. Together with some MKICDO board members he went to a regional teachers meeting. From there they were given a chance to visit two schools.

The students are curious what the shiny box is all about.

The teachers want to find it out as well.

The headteacher of the next school gives an introduction to the children.

Ivonne explains how the basket cooker and the solar cooker work.

One highlight was a visit to a mango plantation. The owner had worked with the German GTZ for 12 years. When he retired he bought a piece of land, planted mango trees and built a solar dryer.

Now we know how they grow.

Hmmm, delicious mangos!

The mango farmer shows his visitors the solar tunnel dryer.

After Georg´s demonstration the farmer bought a Lazola.

On a Sunday, the County Economic Advisor, Mr. Mputhia, took Georg and MKICDO members on a trip up the Mount Kenya forest.

Mugo and Mr. Mputhia

in the forest

another interesting project

traditional bee hives

At the Kiini training centre Georg built two solar dryers with some of his former trainees. As the workshop was not yet fully equipped, a welding machine and an angle grinder had to be rented.

the frame

in front of the workshop

What´s next?

making trays for the dryer

lunch break with maize and beans

When the dryers were finished, they were tested by the MKICDO board members. The first results - dried mangos - were quite tasty.

Mission accomplished!

Thank you, bwana George.

Two dryers were taken to the members of Rev. Nkanya´s group who live in an area where people grow a lot of bananas. They want to dry the fruits as well as the maize, beans and vegetables they harvest.

banana plants everywhere

happy recipients

September 23, 2013

The Lazola cooker construction course

In June and July, everybody worked very hard to finish the preparations for the course. Mugo organized, travelled, lobbied, got required information and worked tirelessly. The Kiini property had to be connected to the water supply and to the electricity grid. Due to a three-weeks teacher strike, schools were expected to remain open until mid-August. Therefore the dormitories and kitchen at Kiini secondary school could not be used by the trainees. Mugo mastered the situation by having an improvised kitchen built next to the workshop and bunk beds which were put into the office. In July, applicants for training were interviewed by MKICDO board members and by the end of the month the construction of the workshop was completed.

the workshop under construction
metal bars and doors for security

interview of applicants

 In the meantime, in Germany we solicited funds to finance the construction, the equipment of the workshop with machines and tools and the purchase of materials for the first training course. Thanks to generous donations from friends and well-wishers and a grant from the Bingo - Environmental Foundation of Lower Saxony, Germany we were in a position to support our Kenyan friends. 

On August 4th, Hans-Georg Klaphake flew to Kenya. He was accompanied by Marek Senicky, an experienced metal worker and member of Lazola e.V., who was to support him during the course. Mugo and a representative of the Senior Expert Service (SES) welcomed them at the airport. They got all the machines, tools and materials they had brought from Germany through customs without any problems. What a relief to all of us! as that issue had been one of our greatest concerns.

We had decided to buy most of the machines and tools in Kenya. So the following day the team was accompanied by MKICDO board members to do some shopping in Nairobi.
They left the city after dark and by the time they got near Mugo´s place it was already past midnight. When they were in the middle of Mount Kenya forest there was a problem with one of the front wheels. They were forced to wait in the car for one hour because a scout they had sent ahead reported elephants in the forest. Finally they walked the rest of the distance and reached Mugo´s home at about 4 a.m. 

the next day - car repair

Hans-Georg´s and Marek´s first week in Kenya was spent with course preparations: plywood, sheet metal and other materials for building Lazola cookers had to be bought and worktables and shelves for the workshop to be built.

Nkanya (MKICDO treasurer), Micheni and Marek shopping

By the beginning of the second week all trainees had arrived and the course started. On Tuesday they had a special guest. The District Youth Training Officer of Maara and Meru South districts, Mrs. Rose N. Karinga, came to see the workshop and was very impressed with the ongoing activities. She suggested that the facilities should be utilized for further youth training courses and promised her support.

Marek explains a machine to the District Y. T. Officer

the trainees and their trainers with invited guests and MKICDO board members

In the first week of their training the 12 participants worked in two groups and finished building one small and one large Lazola box cooker each. In the remaining two weeks each trainee worked with one partner and by the end of the course 12 cookers had been built.

cutting sheet metal with table shears built by Marek

at the circular saw
first results - well-done!

The trainees not only learnt how to build a Lazola cooker. They also got an introduction on how to use it. You can tell by their faces that  cooking with the sun was a new experience to them. But the solar cooked rice was tasty.

rice cooked with the sun

At the end of the course the official opening of the new training centre was celebrated. Representatives of several MKICDO member groups and important persons from the area had been invited. There were speeches, dancing and plenty of food and each trainee received a certificate of successful completion of the course.

H.-G. Klaphake addressing the guests

dancing for the visitors

course participants, trainers and MKICDO board members

trainee with his course certificate

Since you should not go to Kenya only to work, Mugo had organized a trip to Meru National Park with his guests. They hired a vehicle and went on safari to see the beautiful African wildlife.


antilope and reticulated giraffe


Everybody is enjoying the safari!