Mdula – a sustainable modular cooking stove solution for the local environment (Chembe village in Malawi), was developed in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund for nature (WWF) from Finland which initiated the briquette project in Malawi in 2001. Their work with introducing biomass broiquettes is addressing many critical environmental problems in LMNP (Lake Malawi National Park) like deforestation and soil erosion.
The stove concept is made specifically for WWF briquettes, which are bigger in size (16 cm diameter). It suggests local people to make their own stoves out of local material (mud/clay) with a simple wooden mold. The mold provides the specific dimensions for the stove that was studied over several iterations of prototypes.
A Rural Household in Chembe and traditional 3-stone fire
Girls go fetching fire-wood every day at 5 am, on a very far walk (4 hours away) where fire-wood could still be found
We used found clay, some sand and ashes for stove’s durability and insulation. Images of nutritious food were printed on sides. After the modules are drying for a day or two in the shadow, we put them together and fill with clay.
In Malawi, firewood was used to combine it with briquettes in a hybrid fuel solution. In this way, the cultural aspect of maintaining the volume of the fire with pushing logs/sticks in and out of the fire-place is maintained. If the briquettes are of bad quality or a bit wet, the wood keeps the flame going – teh cook avoids the smoke, which proved out as especiallt important in igniting the briquette – the first phase of cooking.
In Malawi, we gave an idea to the local Choir to sing how to prepare pumpkin leaves with groundnut flour, which suggested healthy nutritious food
The mold has changed later (in Ljubljana, Slovenia) to improve the airflow. The clay was mixed with sawdust to improve insulation.
We fired this Mdula in a kiln. Clay was mixed with vermiculite. The stove was decorated with a row of marching camels between the dunes and the sky.
The project was awarded with a Gold Medal award on Biennial of Industrial Design in Ljubljana, Slovenia, an international design competition.