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Appropriate Technology for Tibetans' Integrated Health and Sanitation Project for Tibetan refugees has been established for many years in Ladakh, north India near the Tibetan border.

Just outside Leh (in Ladakh) in the Choglamsar Camps, buildings with passive solar heating transformed the lives of many Tibetan refugees last winter. As people here cannot afford to heat their homes, these are places where mothers, babies and old people can gather to keep warm. Through the winter of 1994-95 (with lowest recorded temperatures ever of 40°C), there was a 100% reduction in pneumonia amongst the 1,400 people of Agling Camp!

At Agling there is a workshop sponsored by Aide l'Enfence Tibetaines (AET) where young Tibetans - and Ladakhis - are trained to build a range of improved chulas ('smokelessh fuel-efficient cookstoves) under the expert guidance of Dorje Namgyal. teacher and workshop director.

Three different stove designs have been developed with inputs from the end-users: the 'Modified LNP' for the tiny kitchens of the

Choglamsar houses; the 'Upper Changthang Oven', a stove for semi-nomads' and the 'Changthang Box', a yak portable box stove for nomads. The original LNP (Leh Nutrition Project) stove was designed for Ladakhis who have access to fuelwood, whereas the Tibetan refugees have to burn whatever brushwood and dung they can find.

The chulas were distributed after lively camp meetings to decide jointly who should have the chulas provided by the project. Each family is asked to contribute to the cost on a sliding scale, the poorest families receiving the highest grant subsidy and the first chulas. The old box chulas, made of thin sheet steel, were still in use, often with several cracks through which fumes escaped. They required constant feeding with brushwood and animal dung. Unused to the smoky atmosphere, I was soon coughing and my eyes were watering. Some families cook inside on open fires!

Where families had received one of the stoves the air in the tent was really clean. my eyes didn't run, and I had no fits of coughing. The owner was happy and relaxed - she didn't have to put fuel in the chula once while I was in the tent. A huge difference has already been made to this family's life. This winter their tent will be smoke free, their stove will give out more heat for less fuel and family members can even keep warm at night hugging stones heated in the tiny oven.

As well as providing cookstoves which are smokeless, save fuel and generate more heat, ApTibeT is working to assist the Changthang nomads with portable, photovoltaic lamps and tent fly-sheets to provide insulation in winter. Just a little help can make a big difference to these people's lives.

ApTibeT solar programme

Solar cookers

ApTibeT solar cooker loaner programme has resulted in demand far outstripping supply after participating in a short education and trial programme. Staff visited homes, helping cooks understand the use and limits of their solar cookers. Ten-day 'test drive' users could decide to purchase a cooker or return it to ApTibeT. This allowed the people to learn the new skills needed to use an unfamiliar technology - without the worry about wasting their meagre incomes.

ApTibeT is currently researching whether Indian Government solar cookers can be made more cheaply locally, as well as designing a model which will cope with larger pots and thus be more suitable for large families. One answer may be a parabolic solar cooker, similar to a prototype developed by Solar Freedom International of Saskatchewan, Canada.

Solar water heating

The Tibetan carpenter constructing simple solar water heaters is also unable to keep up with demand. The project is prioritizing water heaters for clinics, baby rooms, residential homes and co-operative kitchens this year in an attempt to essen life-threatening illnesses which increase greatly in winter months as children wash with freezing water. In summer, the water heaters pasteurize water, offering the only source of safe drinking water in the refugee camps, and so greatly reducing sickness and death from waterbourne diseases. The programme makes use of the numberless, water pasteurization developed by Bob Metcalf of Solar Cookers International (Sacramento, CA.). The next challenge for the carpenter and ApTibeT project staff is to design a water heater that can pasteurize water in the sixmonths-long winter. Solar water heaters can save fuel by providing hot water to start cooking on the biomass stoves. (see articles on pages 23 and 25)

Solar space heating systems

Passive solar space heating systems (see above) have been built in the form of two baby rooms, two health clinics, two greenhouses and five community centres. All used new designs, which maximize winter solar gain and minimize summer heat (when the temperature can reach +40 gr. C in Ladakh). The buildings also add humidity to the air as lack of air moisture is a major contributor to upper respiratory infections in children. These structures represent the first public buildings in the camps that stay above freezing in winter. The greenhouses are producing fresh vegetables - the first time the refugees have been able to eat fresh vegetables in winter.

Solar photovoltaic lighting

The solar component of this project delivered a real treat to Tibetan settlement office staff when offices were electrified and staff had electric lights for the first time in the 31 year history of the settlement. A Tibetan youth was trained at the Ladakhi Social Works and Research Centre in installation, maintenance and repair of solar lighting.
Last edited by Miriam Hansen .
Page last modified on Monday October 4, 2010 12:04:22 GMT.
  • A practitioner's journal on household energy, stoves and poverty reduction.



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