We discovered a piece of Rwandan technology yesterday for the first time when we visited Mama Melissa at her house. See Mama Melissa's house. Many people, particularly those without an indoor kitchen, cook with charcoal. As the only practical alternative to gas, this has always been relatively expensive but in recent times has become even more so. A bag of charcoal now costs RWF10,000 - two weeks wages.
Mama Mellisa cooks using a specially made stove which burns sawdust and woodchips. She can buy a bag of this rough waste for RWF1,000 or about 90p. Even on her husband's meagre earnings she can afford this.
The stove is filled with sawdust and a metal pipe is used to create a hollow column down the centre. Any piece of lit kindling is inserted into a horizontal tube at the bottom - Mama Melissa used a short length of foam rubber - and the result is a very efficient stove.