Alternative Cooking Solutions for the Redevelopment of Monwabisi Park

Buyiswa CookingOur project focused on providing safe, affordable, and sustainable options for cooking in Monwabisi Park, an informal settlement in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa.  We have looked into various alternatives ranging from wood burning stoves to safer paraffin stoves and have narrowed down the options based on the needs and desires of the community. We also worked with companies selling these stoves to make them available to the informal settlement of Monwabisi Park.  In the end, we presented our ideas to the community to get their feedback as well as to raise awareness on various aspects of cooking.

Mission and Objectives

The primary goal of this project was to offer a better means of cooking for the residents of Monwabisi Park, South Africa that would best satisfy the following criteria: safe, healthful, accessible, inexpensive, socially acceptable, and sustainable.  We also looked to teach members of the community ways to reduce energy consumption that would better their health and safety with respect to energy use.  Our objectives were as follows:

  • Understand the existing energy practices in Monwabisi Park.
  • Plan and design sustainable and healthful alternatives to current cooking methods.
  • Test and present the new alternatives to the community for feedback.
  • Develop a plan for making these alternatives available to the community.

Motivation for Project

Because of current circumstances, the residents of Monwabisi Park commonly use unsafe paraffin stoves, which are dangerous for a number of reasons:

  • Stoves can easily be knocked over causing fires that spread easily due to the close proximity of the houses and the building materials used.  According to UNICEF, burns are the fourth highest cause of death in children under fourteen in South Africa (Ward, 2008).
  • Toxins are emitted by these stoves at unsafe levels which can lead to respiratory illnesses.

It was clear that there were serious problems with the current cooking techniques and that a new system should be established.

Basic Methodology and Analysis

Eating Homemade PapWe wanted to find answers to the following questions:

1) What cooking methods are the community currently using?

2) Are the residents aware of the risks involved when using paraffin?

3) What is holding the community back from practicing safer cooking methods?

4) How would possible cooking solutions be received within the community?

These main questions motivated us to find and analyze several new and safe cooking methods to suggest to the community of Monwabisi Park.

In order to answer these questions, we followed a methodology of researching, testing in the community, and giving recommendations. First we established a relationship with the co-researchers which then helped us to interact with the community. The information we learned through interviews helped us determine our course of action which narrowed down our scope to finding a safe way to cook with paraffin. We then tested the options we discovered by conducting experiments and surveys and then presented the ideas to the community.

Major Accomplishments

Through our work, we were able to narrow down several cooking alternatives and let residents test the stoves we were thinking of proposing.  We held a presentation for some community members to better gauge their opinions on these options, and determined that the Arivi Safe Paraffin Stove would be the ideal stove to introduce to the settlement if it could be made more affordable for residents.  A more in depth look at our accomplishments can be found here.

Learn More…

Our 2009 Executive Summary [PDF]