Saturday, November 17, 2012

Muddy Muddy Mud Stove

There is something about making mud stoves (in my mind at least) that is just feels so very much a “Peace Corps Thing”

I seems like Peace Corps volunteers have been building stoves with mud.. well since the beginning of time. Peace Corps volunteers all around the world make mud stoves. It is one of those projects that kind of tie us all together... that and teaching kids.

Which is why I think it is very interesting that in Benin in the year 2012 only the environmental volunteers are trained in doing so --- YES I know the teachers don't really have the time... and maybe the health volunteers shouldn't be getting so dirty.. and we all know the business volunteers don't like to get dirty.. so in that sense maybe it is a good activity for the environment volunteers since no matter what we will be playing in the dirt. I am not complaining ... I enjoy being in the sector of the mud stove. 

This week I had the wonderful opportunity to go to the “near by” community of Djigbe to teach them how to build mud stoves. This is not my post it is a group that another volunteer works with. They process manioc. I have been having a rough time at post getting some of the people to seem even the slightest bit interested in the fact that I am here... and the people in Djigbe were a much needed dose of the exact opposite. They were excited to meet me... interested and attentive.. and they were friendly too!! [They also loved that I was using my limited Goun abilities with them]

We made 3 mud stoves... I made the first one with their help – they made the second with my help – and the third they made completely on their own. 

Confession: These stoves aren't "exactly" like the ones that we made during training :-/ so I am interested to see going into the future how well they hold up. They wanted them built into the wall.. and I had never worked with their style of marmite either (so the actual structure was a bit different).. most concerning to me however was that they kept widening the opening every time I tried to make it smaller (having a wider opening in the front will cut back on the fuel efficiency of the stove.. and I wasn't able to fully encase the marmite in mud :(... the mud SHOULD go all the way around the marmite leaving only an opening for the wood to enter... BUT I WON'T BORE YOU WITH ALL OF THAT) – here are some pictures!! 

If properly made the mud would
 wrap all the way around at the top.
Curious Kid
Working On Their OWN

These stoves could last up to three years if they keep them and good condition and keep them protected from the rain. Luckily if they need to build a new one.. I taught them how!

The reason that the Peace Corps builds these stoves is that they are considered more energy efficient... and MUCH safer than the traditional “3 stone method.” Since it is enclosed it is much harder to fall into the fire.. or have a child fall into the fire. Each stove is made specifically to fit the marmite that you made it with.. As long as you use the properly fitted marmite.. heat will be kept in the stove.. and the owner of the stove will begin use (up to 70%) less wood. Which is good both for the wallet and for the forest.

With Mud,


  1. Well i suppose it is safer to have a contained fire under the grass roof then an open fire but it still looks questionable I believe that after it is realized how much wood and money is saved it could be possible to explain why the opening should be smaller. I looked up marmite because i did not know what it is. I still do not know unless you are building the stove out of a yeast food?
    with love

    1. it is the name for the big metal pots that the ladies use to cook beans... i am not sure if it also the name for this type of basin-y thing used to process manioc.