School Ovens

Very early in April this year we were able to arrange for Andrew Yiga of Uganda Development Services to come to Kisimula village to instruct and assist in installing three new smokeless ovens in the recently completed kitchen building.

As with the other ovens, constructed in October last year, these will need two months to thoroughly dry out before the flues can be fitted and they can begin to be used.


The kitchen/cooking facility at present, cook Vincent preparing beans

The current area being used to cook food (see above) for the school and the children’s homes in Kisimula uses a traditional cooking method, with the pan resting on three large rocks over an open fire. This method of cooking carries both health and safety risks and we are very happy to be improving this situation. The new ovens not only remedy health and safety concerns but also massively reduce firewood consumption.


Preparing the materials

The ovens are primarily constructed from locally sourced materials. Termite hill mud is mixed with cut dry grass, saw dust and water to form a material that is workable for a relatively short period then quickly begins to dry to an impressively hard and heat resistant compound. Once fully dry the ovens are expected to have a lifespan of 5 – 7 years, though with diligent maintenance this could be extended.


Labour intensive

Preparing the mix is a very labour intensive task and while Andrew gets very hands on and right in amongst it he also has the help of some casual local labour to hurry things along. The base of each oven is built from clay bricks, which must be well dried. Formed of only a single course brick enclosure the base is then infilled with broken brick pieces upon which the mix is slowly built up.


The brick foundations of one of the smaller ovens


The broken brick infilling of the larger oven base

The functional aspects of the oven are formed for the most part around sections of banana tree, which are later removed. This includes the combustion chamber and fuel feed. The cooking pot itself is also used in the later stages of shaping the oven to ensure a good fit for maximum cooking efficiency.


The cooking pot is presented to the oven for sizing


Forming the housing for the pot

Unlike an oven hob as we might know them the pans fit into the top of the ovens and so a good fit must be achieved. This must be monitored during the ovens drying period and the pans daily fitted into the oven and modifications made as the shape alters slightly with drying. In the above picture Andrew, in the blue/green t-shirt is forming the recess that the pan will fit into. At his feet, beneath a board, is the yellowy circular section of a banana tree that is being used to form the front opening into which the firewood will be fed.

These ovens will make a huge difference to the efficiency of food preparation, health and safety of both staff and students and reduce firewood use. Andrew will be returning to Kisimula in June this year to fit the flues and give instruction to the staff on proper use and maintenance of the ovens. It’s another small but significant development that will improve day to day life for so many. Thank you all for your support and commitment to see lives changed.