The clay stoves are designed so that care and maintenance can be carried out by an average Nepalese family: regular cleaning of the fireplace, repairing cracks in the clay, smoothing the holes so that the pots sit flush. These are activities that should normally not cause any difficulties. It becomes more difficult if the chimney outlet is broken and needs to be replaced or if there are problems with the functioning of the stove. By monitoring we also found that there are many older people whose children are not in the house and who are overwhelmed with these tasks.
In such cases a professional can help. For this reason, we have started a pilot project in the Gulmi and Pyuthan districts: Experienced stove builders who have already proven themselves in their jobs are trained to become so-called "Maintenance Experts". The participants learn everything about the care, maintenance and repair of the smoke-free kitchen stoves. They ensure the safety and longevity of the stoves and that they are working properly. The job description is comparable to that of the chimney sweep in Germany. In addition, the participants receive training in basic medical care for acute burns.
The aim is for the chimney sweeps to receive a secure monthly income. In the long term, partial or self-employment should be made possible. Therefore, the knowledge required for this is also imparted in the training.
This saying is particularly true here. Those who have successfully completed an apprenticeship no longer need to be afraid of the future. A secure income and a respected job are a good stepping stone to a happy future. The owners of the ovens are also happy about this innovative project, because regular checks give them the assurance that their ovens are working properly. In addition, a professional repair is possible in the case of defects.
The first 20 stove construction experts from Gulmi and Pyuthan were trained in Autumn 2019. The course lasted five days and was a lot of fun for all of the participants. Roleplays involving real-life villages life situations were presented and there was a practical day during which all future “Nepal chimney sweeps” could offer their services directly on site.
Read the story about one participant - Ambika Pun.
Repairs are carried out now since the end of 2019. To this end, the experts will be offering their services in the vicinity of their place of residence and at the same time train the owners in the correct use of the stoves. We have established that although this service is not free, 50% of the costs is being subsidized by the Ofenmacher e.V. The cleaning and repair of a stove costs 130 to 150 Nepalese rupees, around 1 to 1.20 euros. In some villages, the household's own contribution is taken from the community's environmental budget.
In spite of public life in Nepal being severely restricted due to the COVID pandemic in the months of April to June 2021, in its first year the maintenance experts carried out almost 3,000 repairs or maintenance tasks.