Shem Women's Group - empowering Tibetan women and their communities through grassroots development

Reports

Solar Cooker Projects for Tajie Village
Project Manager: Drolma Hlajyid (LhasaLucy)

lproject manager

This project is to provide 145 solar cookers for 145 households in Tajie village in order to decrease women’s burden and increase local people’s income; lead the villagers to save money, which was formerly used to buy fuel; increase school attendance and improve local people’s living conditions.

The TRA Fund funded this project

Drolma Lhajyid (Lucy) is from Tajie Village, Zhaxue Township, Mozhu County, Lhasa City, Tibet Autonomous Region of China. She is currently working in Lhasa Teacher’s School. She started to learn English in September 2003.

What? Provide 106 solar cookers for Tajie Villlage

Who? Tajie Village, Zhaxue Township, Mozhuongka County, Lhasa City, Tibet Autonomous Region.

Photos of project implementation

photo1
The Solar cookers transport to Tajie village
.

photo 2
The solar cooker truck arrives in Tajie village and the villagers are unloading the solar cookers from the truck.

photo 3

Some of the villagers are displaying the solar cookers on the ground.

Project Summary

Project title: Solar cookers for Tajie village.

Project goals: The immediate goal of the project is to provide 106 solar cookers for 106 households in Tajie village. The overarching goal of the project is to decrease women’s burden and increase local people’s income. This will lead the villagers to save money, which was formerly used to buy fuel. This available money will increase school attendance and improve local people’s living conditions.

Location of the project: This project is located in Tajie Village, Zhaxue Township, Mozhu County, and Lhasa City, Tibet Autonomous Region, China.

Project beneficiaries: In Tajie Village around 986 local villagers directly benefit from this solar cooker project.

Implementation organization/ individual: Drolma Lhajyid, Whuser, Thuodro, Baisang, Suonag Zaxi and Shem Women’s Group.

Contact Group: Shem Women’s Group

Contact Number: 0971-6302115

Funds received: Source, Amount, and Date Received
TRA Fund donated 4,116 dollars=28,043rmb on 4th August 2008.

Detail steps of the project

1.  On July 12th , 2008 held a meeting with the villagers (men, women, and children), and discussed each person’s contribution of labor ( e.g. carrying solar cookers to the village, unloading them from the truck and setting them up for each family, taking responsibility for not damaging the solar cookers)

2.  From July 12th, 2008, I contacted the company and discussed when they could transport the solar cookers.

3.  From July 12th to August 27th I called the head leader of the Solar Cooker Company many times to confirm that they could transport the items to the project location, (During that time I waited for several weeks, because the leader said that there were no workers in the company, because they were on holiday and still had not started work).

4.  On August 27th the company started to transport the solar cookers to the project location. Two drivers, and one representative of the company transported the 106 solar cookers in one truck.

5.  On August 28th the project manager called the villager leader and told him to be ready as the truck would arrive on August 30th, and asked him to have a meeting with the villagers and to remind them of their labor and fiscal contributions.

6.  On August 30th the truck of solar cookers arrived in Lhasa and the project manager took them to the project location.

7.  On August 30th 2008, the project committee, Weise, Suonang Zhaxi, Ciyang, and Zhaxi collected the local contribution and distributed the solar cookers to each family. The project committee gave villagers instructions on how to use the solar cookers and how to protect the solar cooker from being damaged.

8. On September 3rd 2008, the project manager interviewed the villagers and took pictures.

9. On September 8th 2008, the project manager started to work on final report.


Project Finances

Original Budget

Actual Cost

Recei
pt #
Item Donor Contri
bution
in rmb
Local Contri
bution
in rmb
Shem Contri
bution
in rmb

Total Cost
in rmb

 

Donor Contri
bution
in rmb
Local Contri
bution
in rmb
Shem Contri
bution
in rmb
Total Cost
in rmb
#1 Solar
cookers

15,950

7,250

0

23,200

13,250

5,300

0

18,550

#1, #2 Transpor
tation
fee

14,500

0

0

14,500

14,793

1,360

0

16,153

Project manage
ment expenses

500

350

0

850

0

1,820

0

1,820

Project manage
ment payment

0

0

500

500

0

0

500

500

Total

30,950

7,600

500

39,050

28,043

8,480

500

37,023

Explanation for the Budget
Firstly there is a big change in the rate between the US dollar and Chinese Yuan, when I finished the proposal 1 US dollar equaled 7.5 Chinese Yuan but when this project is funded the rate changed a lot like 1 US dollar equals 6.8 rmb. So, the project manager only received 28,043 rmb instead of 30,950 rmb.Secondly, the price of each solar cooker had increased; before the price for each solar cooker was 160 rmb plus the 100 rmb transportation fee. The total cost of one solar cooker plus transportation was 260 rmb. However the price for each solar cooker had increased since the date of the original proposal. The actual cost for each solar cooker is 175 rmb and the transportation fee is about 152 rmb. In total we spent 327rmb on each solar cooker.

Because the price of solar cookers and transporting solar cookers had risen, I reduced the number of the solar cookers and bought 106 solar cookers from Dahejia Solar Cooker Factory in Gansu Province.

In addition, in the original proposal each household had to pay around 52 rmb as a local contribution for one solar cooker, transportation fee and project management expenses but later the project manager collected 80 rmb in total for each solar cooker, transportation project and management expenses fee from each household due to changes like rate between US dollars and Chinese Yuan and the increased price of solar cookers.

List of recipients

name 1

name 2

Delays, Difficulties, and lessons learned

Delays
During the implementation of this project, one relatively long delay was due to the project manager’s job requirements. I, the project manager, worked as an English teacher in a private school, Lhasa city.  Lhasa is a fairly long distance the project location. It was almost impossible to take some days off for the project, so I waited until the summer holiday.

Also as I contacted the Solar Cooker Factory in Gansu, they said they could only transport the solar cookers after one week and it took several days on the way because of the distance. Additionally, it rained very often so the factory could not transport the products to the project location in a timely manner.

Difficulties
A call from Shem Women’s Group brought me good news that the project was funded by the TRA Foundation. But after this problems came along, because the US dollar rate is rapidly decreasing day by day, so I received much less project funding compared to what I proposed in the original proposal. Also the price of each solar cooker was increased as well as the transportation fee for the solar cookers from Gansu Province to Tibet Autonomous Region. Those two problems made me worried very much that I could only buy fewer solar cookers and less people could benefit from the project.

Originally we planned to purchase 145 solar cookers for 145 households, but due to lack of money, only 106 households received solar cookers. The
remaining 39 households told me that they would really like to have solar cookers. However, I was not able to help with that and I felt sorry for them
because they are really in need of solar cookers.

Lessons learned
The most important thing to do a small-scale development project in local area is to have very good connection with the village leaders and the local villagers, because in this way it is much easier to carry out the project activities and the village leaders can assist the project manager to finish the
different project activities successfully. Also the local people listen and will do what the village leaders day. It is very convenient and easy for the
project manger to do the project with the help from village leader.

Additionally, we should be aware of and be careful with the change of the product price, because the price of products is changing frequently. So when we design the proposal we should be concerned with this fact. It is better to write the budget a little bit higher than the actual cost at that time. In this case even if the price changes we will not have a big problem

Interviews of the beneficiaries

1) Yundan Cuomu
Yundan Cuomu is 69 year old woman. I asked her several questions like how you feel when you have the solar cooker to use. Firstly, she really appreciated the donor’s help, and then she told me during the four different seasons, her biggest concern is the fuel problem. In winter she has to get up at 6:00 in the early morning to collect the yak dung. After collecting one basket of fuel, she can return home and has her breakfast, and then
she needs to collect one or two more baskets of dry dung in one day. “During winter I never stay at home without collecting fuels even one day. Sometimes the other family members asked me to take a rest. But now we have the solar cooker to use and I do not need to collect fuel every day and I have time to chant Mini. Thank you very much for your help and I will always chant to pray for you to have good luck with everything,” she said.
2)Zhaxi Cirang
Zhaxi Cirang is a 32 year old man and firstly he thanked TRA Fund for supporting  and giving his family such a useful solar cooker. Before, he needed to cut trees from mountains to use as fuel, but recently the government issued a rule that the people could not cut trees from the mountains because of environment protection. So he needs to worry about fuel very often, but now he said he had the solar cook to use. In that way he does not need to worry about fuel very much and he thanked the donor for reducing his burden of collecting fuel. He said “We will not ever forget your  kindness.”
3) Yangzom

Yangzom is a young girl who is a Junior student. She said during the holidays, she had to use her free time to collect dry wood, cow and yak dung as fuel, so she did not have enough time to complete homework and prepare for exams. When her parents asked her to collect yak dung, if she refused because of homework then her parents would be angry and would tell her that they would not send her to school or that if she needs to do homework then she should do it at school not at home. Her parents pointed to a place nearby the stove where they keep the fuel. It was nearly empty. Her parents said that it’s her task to fill up the empty space with yak dung. Then she had no reasons to go against her parents. She said, “Now we have the solar cooker, I can boil water and at the same time I can do my homework. I can use my free time to study and prepare for my exams. I am really happy to have this useful solar cooker and I will study hard and be a useful person for my community like the project manager.”

Letter of appreciation

thank you letter 1


Translation of the thank you letter

Dear TRA Foundation,

Those 106 solar cookers that you gave us made our life condition better because solar cookers can solve many problems like lightening women’s burden, improving student’s exam scores and local people’s health condition, and protecting the natural environment.

Because of your help, we don’t need to worry about the fuel problem very much, and we can send our children to school instead of staying at home and collecting fuels. Therefore, we really want to say thank you very much, we know just saying thank you is not enough, so we would like to pray for
you with all of our heart and your great help, and we will remember your compassion and kindness forever. We want to say we are really grateful and you will get rewards for your kindness.

Finally we wish that everything you are doing and your expectations will be successful and can help many people who need your help just like us.

All the best wishes,

Tajie Villagers

Receipts

receipt1

33,920 rmb is the price of the solar cookers includes the transportation fee.

receipt2

The company and I decided that the solar cookers plus the transportation fee would total 33,92 0rmb. However when on the way when we were transporting the solar cookers, the driver complained about the road conditions and the distance to the project location, so they wouldn’t continue transporting the cookers, if I did not add 783rmb for the transportation. In order to get the solar cookers get to the location early, we paid this money.

Originalproposal

Project Location
This project will be located in Tajie Village, Zhaxue Township, Mozhugongka County, Lhasa City, Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Tajie Village is located in the southeastern part of Mozhu County, approximately, 170 miles from the provincial capital city, Lhasa (Tibet Autonomous Region). About 130 miles of the route are paved road, and the other 40 miles are dirt road.

Population
Tajie Village is composed of four small villages, all of whose residents are Tibetans. In Tajie Village there are 145 households with 986 people. There are 315 men, 295 women, and 376 children.

Education
Within the village, most elders never attended school. Adult villagers have been educated only to the primary school level. In Tajie, children begin attending school at the age of 9 or 10. In total number, there are approximately 282 school-aged children, with 184 students who attend school. These students are comprised of 95 children attending primary school (56 male students and 39 female students), 64 students in junior school (36 male students and 28 female students), 18 students in senior school (12 male students and 6 female students), and 7 students in college (4 male students and 3 female students). Lack of education is prevalent among women especially, with most housewives in Tajie village being illiterate.

Cash income
In Tajie, the average annual income per family is around 1,500 rmb. Each family spends around 1,000 rmb per year on food (rice, flour, meat, butter, vegetables, white sugar, salt, and fruit) and goods like medicine, soap, clothes and other needs. Moreover, a school fee costs an average of 1,200 rmb per semester for each family with less than three students. The only way villagers can earn money is by digging caterpillar fungus. The caterpillar fungus is a traditional medicine that has been widely used as a tonic and/or medicine by the Chinese for hundreds of years. To start digging, villagers need to borrow money from the bank or relatives to pay land fees. After they pay the property owner fee, some people have only 700-1000 rmb to take home – not sufficient to buy clothes, salt, tea, medicine, and pay for electricity. In addition, some families have to buy barley or seeds, depending on their crop success.

Taxes
Each family has to pay about 500 rmb in taxes per year. After the villagers finish the work of harvest in late fall and early winter, they are asked to sell their barley, wheat, and rapeseed to the local government for a reduced rate of around 30 rmb per pack of rapeseed.

Agriculture
On average, there are 10 mu of farmland per family. Local people usually grow barley, potatoes, beans, rapeseed, and radishes. Generally, the climate in Tajie village is not very good, with periods of drought, a harsh burning sun, and storms with hail and flooding.

Herding
90% of the villagers own livestock. On average each family has 5-7 livestocks including yaks, cows, sheep, goats, and horses.For the local families, it is necessary to have more than two yaks to plow the fields. In summer, the village elders herd yaks in the mountians for three months.

Weather
Tajie village is the highest plateau in the area at an ellevation of 4800m. At such an altitude, solar cookers are very appropriate with lots of direct sunlight. Also, as the village is situated on a flat plain, the sun rises very early and sets very late, allowing a long period of time available for using the cookers.

Project Goals and benefits

  • The overarching goal of the project is to decrease women’s burden and increase local people’s income. This will lead the villagers to save money, which was formerly used to buy fuel. This available money will increase school attendance and improve local people’s living conditions.
  • The immediate goal of the project is to provide 145 solar cookers for 145 households in Tajie village.

Problems

The heavy burden on women
In Tajie village, every woman, no matter how old are they around 55-65 must get up around 5:00am to do all of the housework, such as collecting dry fuel, cleaning, fetching water, feeding livestock, and making breakfast. After finishing the morning housework, women must plant crops in the fields with men, weed the fields or work on the harvest in the fall. Depending on the weather, women may have to work on crop irrigation. After a full day’s work, women often spend their nights weaving sweaters for their family members for winter and making Tibetan robes, trousers, and coats of sheep’s wool. On winter days, women must collect dry yak and cow dung and dry firewood from the hills or grasslands to be used as fuel. These tasks leave women with no time for leisure activities and sometimes without even enough time to eat with the rest of the family members. In addition, women are responsible for all the cooking, which involves keeping watch on the stove, food, and children’s safety.

Low exam scores
Collecting fuel causes student’s exam scores to go down, as they must spend their time collecting dry yak, cow, horse, and sheep dung instead of doing homework or studying for their exams. Some students must skip school to collect fuel for their families. Students must contribute their weekends and holidays to collecting yak and cow dung everyday, leaving no time for study or relaxation.

Decreasing local people’s income
Forced to travel about 27 kilometers from their home to cut trees and collect branches and straw for fuel, the villagers need to rent tractors, buy gas and pay money for the drivers. Due to a new government rule, each family is only allowed to cut trees for four days per year, usually split into two days in summer and two days in winter. With such a limited time period for tree cutting, villagers now need to pay around 900 rmb for fuel per family per year.

Destruction of the natural environment
The villagers cut down many trees which are growing around the village, for use as fuel. Especially in winter after finishing threshing, the villagers need to travel far away from home (almost 25 miles away) to cut the trees. The children must go with their parents to collect the dry wood and the pieces of wood that fall from the trees cut down by their parents. Braving the cold weather, the villagers must do this wood collecting work for one week to twelve weeks per year. This practice of fuel collection causes a great deal of destruction to the forest and surrounding environment, damaging not only the trees, but also the soil and pasturelands. Although the local government does not allow the Tajie villagers cut trees for fuel as before, problems of environmental damage remain.

Health and safety problems
Collecting yak dung in winter exposes village children to extreme cold and icy conditions. Children have been known to fall through the ice and suffer other injuries, while out collecting fuel. Village adults, especially women, use winter as a prime season for collecting fuel, as it is the only time that there is access to the other side of the river that runs beside Tajie. Anxious to collect lots of fuel from the other side of the river, people treat the frozen waterway as a sturdy bridge, forgetting the dangers that it may hold. Sometimes the river path breaks, injuring or killing the villagers as they attempt to cross.

Another health problem stems from the burning of yak dung and wood for fuel. Women often have eye damage, or even go blind from the smoke that constantly streams from the fire. This smoke also negatively affects the village women’s lungs and throats.

Benefits

Lighten women’s burden
Using solar cookers, local women’s burdens will be lessened. Women will not need to collect as much fuel as in the past, allowing them to do other things, such as cleaning the house, washing clothes, and weaving sweaters and finish their work earlier than before. This will provide the village women with leisure time, where they can do things that they want to do, like forming women’s groups to chant, learn scripture, and share their ideas with one another. Moreover, solar cookers will decrease the risk of little children getting hurt while they are near the stove, which will provide much relief to women. Using solar cookers is more convenient, efficient, and clean than the traditional stoves. These solar cookers will be especially useful for all the hot water that the village women must constantly provide.

Improve student’s exam scores
Using solar cookers will greatly reduce fuel usage and lessen the need for children to spend lots of time collecting dung and wood. This will allow students more time to complete their homework, prepare for exams, review what they learned in school and preview what they will learn. From interviews with the village children, I learned that if their families had solar cookers, then they would like to spend much more time doing homework and studying. If the students have more time to study, their test scores and accumulation of knowledge will be greatly improved.

Increasing local people’s income
If there are solar cookers, the villagers in Tajie village, they will not need to travel about 27 kilometers from their home to cut trees and collect branches and straw for fuel, also the villagers will not need to rent tractors, buy gas and pay money for the drivers. Therefore, the local people can save some money in order to pay for the fuels, they can spend the money to buy some necessities for their daily life which they really need. By saving money from the fees for fuels, it will increase the local people’s income gradually.

Protect the natural environment
Using the solar cookers will decrease the need for fuel, so the villagers will not need to cut down the forests. This will help to prevent erosion and flooding, as well as maintaining the natural beauty of the area.

Improve local people’s health
By using solar cookers, the Tajie villagers will be able to avoid the risks involved with gathering fuel. Without the need to gather fuel, men in Tajie village can spend time going to other areas and finding temporary jobs to earn money for their families. Women can spend their time on other chores like weaving, cleaning, washing, and taking care of children and elders, which are much less dangerous than crossing the frozen river to collect fuel. If villagers have solar cookers to use, then they do not need to pay money for fuel. Instead, they can spend that excess money to buy things for daily life or other things that are really needed.

Gender equality
This project will significantly reduce the amount of work women and girls do collecting fuel. Collecting fuel is a time consuming and difficult burden for all women in Tajie village. As a result, some girls do not go to school or drop out of school early because they are needed at home to help with the housework. Women spend a lot of their time collecting fuel, which could otherwise be used on other important tasks or on much deserved leisure time. Successful completion of this project will alleviate these burdens, allowing girls more opportunities to go to school, and giving women more free time. This time can be used on leisure and in ways that alter gender perceptions (such as paid labor).

Governmental support
On February 20th, 2007, I met with the village leader, Dorje, and discussed this project. He is very eager to help his village and agreed that solar cookers are a pressing need. He then gave me permission to write this proposal and promised to help me collect the local contribution for this project.

Project steps

1. The project manager’s brother held a meeting in November 2006 to discuss the village problems and potential solutions. (done)

2. The project manager holds a meeting with township leaders in February 2006, which results in government leaders’ agreement in favor of the project. (done)

3. Got permission for the project from Tajie village leader. (done)

4. Planed and design the solar cooker project proposal. (done)

5. Write and complete the solar cooker project proposal. (done)

6. Receive donor funding for the solar cooker project.

7. Collect the local contribution from the families who will receive the solar cookers

8. Purchase solar cookers in Dahe Jia in Qinghai Province, Xining city.

9. Transport the solar cookers to Tajie village in Lhasa.

10. Distribute the solar cookers to the families. Teach them how to use them.

11. Take pictures.

12. Interview the local people (women, men and children).

13. Interview the village leader.

14. Write a final report.

15. Send final report with pictures, and receipts to donors.

Timeframe

This project will take a total of 30 days to complete.

10 days: Receive funds. Purchase solar cookers from Xining Solar cooker Company in Dahe Jia .

10 days: Transport the solar cookers to Lhasa and then carry them to the project location of Tajie village.

10 days: Set up solar cookers in each household and teach the villagers how to use them.

Detailed Budget

Items Item price (RBM) Number of items Donor Amount in RMB Local Amount in RMB Shem Amount in RMB Total cost in RMB
Solarcooker 160 145 15,950 7,250 0 23,200
Transportation Fee 100 145 14,500 0 0 14,500
Management Payment 0 0 500 500
Management Expenses Phone
calls
developing photos, transportation fee (for me to get home and come back)
500 350 0 850
Total 30,950 7,600 500 39,050

Donation requested 30,950 RMB

Donation requested 4,126 US$

Explanation of the budget

The cost of buying a large number of solar cookers in Xining,Qinghai Province and transporting them to Lhasa is cheaper that buying the cookers in Lhasa. In Lhasa there is no solar cooker wholesaler, which significantly raises the price for each unit. In Lhasa, each solar cooker costs 350 RMB. In Xining, the cost is 160 and transport is 100 extra, which makes each unit cost 260 RMB.

Sustainability
This project is extremely sustainable. The solar cooker company will guarantee the quality of the solar cookers and will repair the cookers if there are problems. Solar cookers have a life expectancy of at least ten years. Also before many Shem members did get the solar cookers from that company and they found the quality is good .

Additional information
In 2006 I successfully completed a second-hand clothing project for the several poorest families in different Tibetan areas and it benefited 20 people, and I produced well-organized final report with pictures.

Map of the project location
map.jpg