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

Reports

Solar cooker project for Chalitong Village
Project Manager: Gelsang Lhamu (Betty)

betty

This project is to protect the endangered forests around Chalitong village.

The Shambala Connection funded this project

 

Gelsang Lamu is is from Chalitong Village, Yunling Township, Deqin County, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous prefecture, Yunnan province, PRC.  She is currently working towards an associated degree in English in the Qinghai Normal University Nationalities Department’s English Training  Program

What? 80 solar cookers for Chalitong villages including four natural villages (Yongren, Yangza, Guzha and Chalitong)

Who? Chalitong village, Deqin County, Diqing prefecture, Yunnan province, China.

Photos of project implementation:

Dorji is setting up the solar cooker he just got in his family yard.
Dorji is setting up the solar cooker he just got in his family yard.

Right after he finished setting up the solar cooker in the right place, Dorji happily took out a pot to test the solar cooker works
Right after he finished setting up the solar cooker in the right place, Dorji happily took out a pot to test the solar cooker works

Right after Gelsang finished his installation, he started boiling a big pot of water with the solar cooker and saying that he would try to cook a lunch then after
Right after Gelsang finished his installation, he started boiling a big pot of water with the solar cooker and saying that he would try to cook a lunch then after.

Project summary

Project title: Solar Cookers for Chalitong Village

Project goals: to protect the natural forest in the mountains around Chalitong village and provide a safe environment with less natural disaster as flooding for the villagers.

· to find a new source of fuel for the villagers to use

· to protect the mountain forests

· to provide a much safer environment to live in

· to give local women more time to participate in local community activities

· to reduce the workload of collecting and transporting all the wood from the mountain to each house in the mountain valley.

· to give school children more time on studying in order to improve their grades.

· to reduce or delete the dangerous process of using flying fox to transport the firewood.

· to provide the villagers a more efficient and cheaper way to cook.

Location of project: This project was located in Chalitong village, Diqing prefecture of Yunnan province, which is in the southwest of China. To reach Zhongdian, the biggest city in our prefecture, it takes eight hours by bus. The cookers were distributed to 80 households in Yongren, Yangza, Guzha and Chalitong natural villages which including in Chalitong village.

Total beneficiaries: This solar cooker project benefited a total of 510 residents with three full villages and four other households in another village.

Implementation organization/individual: Gelsang Lhamu (Betty), Ago, Dorji, village leader and Shem Women’s Group.

Contact Group: Shem Women’s Group

Funds received: Source, Amount, and Date ReceivedThe Shambala Connection gave 14,800rmb on Friday, 21st of June 2007

Details of project activities

Originally planned project activities:

1) Call my village leader and some other villagers (both men and women) to gather necessary information for my project proposal. (Completed)

2) Write project proposal. (Completed)

3) Call the solar cooker factory that is located in Kanding of Sichuang Province. I’ve visited there during this past winter holiday, which takes two and a half days of journey to my place. The leader of the factory is a graduated student of my school and we are good friend. We had an agreement that his factory will send a truck with my cookers to my place in 2 days with adding the transportation fee into the price of each solar cooker that I’ll purchase. (Completed)

4) Once the funding is secured, go to the factory on the way to my home during the summer holiday of this year. (Done)

5) Once I get home with the cookers, hold a meeting with the villagers then starts managing the project immediately. Collect the local contribution during the meeting. (Done)

6) In two days, the solar cookers will be in use in the village. (Done)

7) Complete the project. Show the villagers how to use and care for their solar cookers.

8) Interview the villagers (women and men) and gather information about the effectiveness of the solar cookers. (Done)

9) Take some pictures

10) Write final report.

11) Send final report with all pictures and receipts.

Activities realized in the framework of the project:

1. On July 26th, 2007 got in Kanding prefecture in Sichuang province, there I contacted Derek (the company leader). But it didn’t go as I planed in my proposal that I would bring all the solar cookers to my village on my way to home because the factory wasn’t ready for all the 80 solar cookers that I needed at that time. So I went home first myself with an agreement with the leader that he would sent a driver to transport all the cookers to Chalitong Village on 5th of August 2007.

2. On July 29th, 2007 I got in my village, and then held a little meeting with both male and female villagers in the meeting hall, and meanwhile collected all the contribution during the meeting periods, and also remarked to all the villagers that the solar cookers would be transported in Chalitong village on 5th of August.

3. On August 8th, 2007 I distributed all the cookers to the villagers and taught them to use the cookers at the same time.

4. On August 9th, 2007 I interviewed several of the villagers including male, female, old and young to get information about the cookers’ helping in their families. And in the meantime, I had taken some pictures.

5. On August 28th, 2007 I started writing the final report.

Project Finances:

Receipt # Total cost RMB Local Contribution RMB Difference (Between original and actual budgets) RMB
#1 4,800 12,800 0
#1 1,200 7,200 -1,200
  500 [1]500 0
  1,100[2] 1,100[2] 0
Total 7,600 21,600 **-1,200

[1] Shem women’s group paid this money

[2] Shem women’s group paid this money

** 1,200 rmb was from local people for transportation fee and the details about this change were in the difficulties

List of recipients:

01

02

List of recipients’ translation:

Niyong Chicu Sina Lhamu Chiding Denzen
Lusong Pencu Shanba Lhamu Dawa Drolma Yuzhui Lhamu
Zanmu Gelsang Lhamu CongCong Rizen Lhamu
A sang Dorji Cering Bie Zhun Gelsang
Sunan Bianma Cering Lusang Cering YangJing
A Qing Ma Gema Cering Zhala Wudui Bemu
Gema Xira Gema Seang Gema Cering NaJu
Lusang Daxi A dorlma Cering Bzhui A dorlji
Sorna Ynagcu Gelsang Wudui Shadu Geding
Dingzen A ba Bubu Tashi Beding
Sina Nima Cering Lhamu A Buji Dingzhu lhamu
A Qingmu Yixi Kanzhu Gedun A Na Jancu
Dorji Cering Dashi Pencu Luzhui Xilao
Pencu Zhadui Gelsang Jiancu A Qu
Qucu Mazhui Yixi Lhamu Sanzhu
Gelsang
Cering
Gelzhui Jacuo Nima
Cering A Ximing Dinba Nima
Abu Zhaba Cering Lusang
Dorma Qibu Cering Sorna
Lhamu Pencu Benzhui Wuqing

Delays, Difficulties, and lessons learned

Delays
On July 26th, 2007 was the end of our last semester and I headed to the factory right after, on 28th I got to the factory but unfortunately the factory wasn’t ready for all the solar cookers that I needed. So I went home first myself in other three days of jurney and had an agreement with the leader that he would send the solar cookers in a truck on August 5th, 2007.

Difficulties
As I illustrated above, I’ve met a lot of problems in this first experience of implementing my first project. First of all, the factory delayed the time of sending the solar cookers to Chalitong villagers. As of the second one, during the distribution periods, a lot of villagers from other non-targeted villages wanted the solar cookers and they strongly asked me. But due to the factors that illustrated in the proposal, I couldn’t give them. One other problem happened with my poor camera, it just stopped working properly and I’ve only got several of the pictures which I used in this final report, and all the others were mysteriously exposed with empty films. And another main problem that I encountered is the most unexpected one, which relates to my project a lot. It rains a lot during the holiday periods in my home areas, and one day the road beside my village leading to my county town was collapsed, and the truck from the factory was stuck in the place where the road was collapsed, leaving me in a situation of nowhere to begin solving the problem, because all the big trucks from my home areas were out to convey mine for the mine station. Then in the end I found four small trucks to transport all the solar cookers from the collapsed road to my village, but the factory rejected me of paying the transportation fee from the collapsed road to my village (which is 40 kilometers long) by saying that it wasn’t their problem. So I collected 15rmb from each household and paid the four small truck drivers 1,200rmb. And also in the meantime, three of the solar cookers were little bit broken. In the last place, I found that a lot of more people surrounding my area want the cookers as the targeted villagers do, and I could only reply them that I would try to write another proposal to help them the next time.

Lessons learned
As the reporting time is coming last, I started realizing that to implement a project is not as easy as I expected before. In the first place, I thought a solar cooker project would be a lot easier than the other potable water or bridge projects(which are more complicated than a solar cooker project), but in the meantime I’ve still met a lot of unexpected problems ahead and sometimes it really feels helpless. But at last I succeeded and I brought 80 solar cookers to my villagers as the first figure in this path throughout my areas. I was really proud of myself and I will be continue doing these tasks for my future and accomplish as much as I can. I know there would be a lot of problems waiting ahead of me even worse than that of the first one, but I do believe that as long as one is willing to accomplish, one would be succeeded anyway in the end.

Interviews:

A Zong
A Zong is a middle aged woman who has a family giving a big burden on her, her husband is a drunken and is always wondering around everywhere around the village without helping anything with the family chores such as the house works, collecting the fuel, and taking care of their fields. She has to go collect the fuel herself besides doing all the housework each day, and even sometimes go work in the field. The two daughters of the family are in a middle school in the prefecture city, so she was very appreciative of the solar cooker that she got and remarked that it helped her spear leisure to enjoy in her own interest or sometimes joining some community meetings.

Gelsang
Gelsang is a 68 year old man who has a huge family of children and grandchildren. Last year during the fuel collecting periods, I was helping my family in the flying-box loading site in the valley, and he was there at that time. All in a sudden, he looked up to the mountain forests with a pair of disappointed eyes and remarked profoundly in a half signing voice, “not before 50years, the whole mountain was covered by trees and it was beautiful. But look at the mountain now, it’s half empty and people are still cutting trees. I believe that the whole mountain forest would be gone not after 50 years if people continue doing this.” Then in this holiday, when I brought back the solar cookers to my village, he looked very happy and said, “Gelsang Lhamu, what a great job you have done, thank you for saving the trees.”

Dorji Cering
Dorji Cering is a middle aged man, his wife escaped with some other men two years ago by leaving their two little children behind for him to take care. For him, cutting the trees in the mountain becomes really a hard task because he has to do all the other things in his family, such as feeding animals everyday two times. So he was very grateful of the solar cooker that I brought. He said it was more convenient for him to cook for the animals than with fire, which takes more time and a lot of fuel.

Letter of appreciation

APPRECIATIVE LETTER

Translation
Dear The Shambala Connection:First of all, we want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts to you warm-hearted people, for providing financial support on purchasing solar cookers for us. We never know that solar cookers can due such a great aid to us, in sunny days we can boil big pot of water to cook for our animals and for ourselves. Sometimes, we can cook a dinner or something on it as well. Consequently, as women we have more leisure on our own interests. And our children have more time on their school works, instead of helping us with the family juggle chores. Above all, the most important thing is that we believe that these cookers can certainly reduce the logging of the trees in the mountains, which is essentially important to our security of life and beauty of our home as well. Thank you very much!All the bestVillagers from ChaLiTong Village

Receipt:

receipt

Orignal proposal

Project location
This project will be located in Chalitong village, Diqing prefecture of Yunnan province, which is in the southwest of China. It takes almost one hour to reach the township by bus from Chalitong village. To reach Zhongdian, the biggest city in our prefecture, it takes eight hours by bus.

Population
Chalitong is mainly an agricultural village, and is situated beside the Langcang (Mekong) River. Continuous lofty mountains surround it. It is a rather small village that holds 34 households, with 77 women, 75 men and 58 children. The total population is 210. All of the villagers are Tibetan.

Education
Of all the villagers, 70 percent are illiterate, with women accounting for 50 percent, and men 20 percent. There are 19 girls and boys whose ages are around 12 to 19 years. Only eight of them are going to middle and high schools in the county town and prefecture city. Of the 19 teenagers previously mentioned, there are 11 girls, only four of whom attend school. The other eight boys all go to school, and began studies at their local primary school. Before now, most parents had difficulties affording tuition fees when their children started going to middle school. It used to cost them more than 1,000rmb per year. Nowadays the government provides free compulsory education, so that children can attend school for free until they graduate from their middle schools. Parents these days still need to pay for many school-related services, such as food, insurance and class money (a small amount of money which is collected from everyone in a class, usually 100 rmb, to spend on class activities like picnic). In total, one school semester costs parents between 1000 and 1200 rmb. However, parents usually keep their children at home in order to help them during busy work times. This is especially common during times when families collect a special kind of mushroom to sell and when they need to collect fuel in the mountains. People traditionally believe that girls can be better assistants to their parents. All the 39 school-aged children in the village attend the primary school because tuition is free, and because it is compulsory. So far, there are only two high school students who are boys, one college girl (myself) and seven middle school students (three girls and four boys).

Cash income
Due to the environmental conditions (the village is surrounded by big mountains covered with a lot of trees), Chalitong villagers only own a little land. Several families only own 0.9 mu, which is certainly not enough for them to eat and feed their animals. So, the villagers do as much as possible to earn money in several ways, which will be outlined below.

Firstly, during the three months from July to October, villagers go up to the mountain forests to collect a special kind of mushroom. In years past, the villagers could find more than 10 kg of mushroom in a day, and sell them in the small market at night that is near the village. At this time one kg of mushrooms could sell for around 180 rmb, with the price decreasing to 30 rmb per kg towards to end of the season. In more recent years, the forests have become smaller since people cut down the trees as their main fuel. In order to find more mushrooms, people now dig big holes, sweeping away the important surface of the earth in the forests. Last year, my father told me our family earned only 500 rmb throughout those three months. But previously, every family could earn more than 3,000 rmb in the same time period.

Secondly, if a family has more than two members capable of performing laborious tasks, usually one is sent away from the village to earn extra money. Usually these people work as construction laborers and miners. These families can earn 1,000-3,000 rmb per year. In families who have no extra laborers, very little extra money is made at all.

Finally, as of last year, the government enacted a new law – environmental resettlement. The villagers gave up working on their infertile fields and instead planted walnut trees. According to the magnitude of contributed land, the villagers receive money at the beginning year from the local government. The average amount is 1300 rmb.

As I mentioned before, due to environmental factors, the villagers need money to buy barley, meat, wheat and rice. This costs each family at least 1000 rmb per year. The families with students have to find extra money all year around to support them. On average, each family has to spend more than 600 rmb on everyday expenses per year, as well as at least 15rmb per month for electricity. In total, families have to spend around 2,500 rmb per year, as well as keeping 1,000 rmb aside for emergencies. For families with high school and college students, 8,000 rmb is required per year. As a result, these families have no money to spare, and lack even enough money to use for their own needs.

Agriculture
People harvest twice in a year in Chalitong village. They grow corn, wheat, potatoes and many kinds of vegetables. A rich family owns 6 mu of fields, and a poor family owns 0.9 mu of land . On average each family owns 2.2 mu of arable land. Every family harvests around 1000kg of wheat and corn in each year, with the two-harvests.

Herding
Chalitong villagers only raise domestic animals, such as pigs, donkeys, horses, cows and bulls. Usually each family owns between one and three domestic animals, and this number is related to their income. Rich families with many animals can earn 1000rmb per year from selling butter, cheese, and meat. Poor families have no such cash income. Usually family elders or children herd these animals during spring, summer and autumn time.

Weather
The weather in Chalitong is rather warm the whole year-round, and rains a lot in spring and summer. This weather is ideal for crops and forest mushrooms. Unfortunately, the land at the top of the mountains is barren where people have cut all the trees down as their main source of fuel. Because it rains frequently, floods come often, which creates a rather dangerous environment for the villagers.

Project goals and benefits
The immediate goal of this project is to buy 34 solar cookers for the villagers to use as a beneficial cooking tool, which can lead to a safer environment and protect the trees as well. The overarching goal of this project is to protect the endangered forests around Chalitong village.

Problems
Villagers have to find a new source of fuel. One month before every New Year Celebration (a very important festival) people collect fuel for the coming year. At least two members from each family (usually the parents) will go up to the mountains surrounding the village. In more than seven days, during the daytime they stay in the dense forests and cut as much wood as they can. Within this time, around 10 trees will be cut down for each family. In total, there are more than 300 trees disappearing each year.

Villagers need a much safer environment to live in. Chalitong is located in a big valley beside the Langcang (Mekong) River. Countless tall mountains that are covered with evergreen plants surround the village. It is hot, humid and rainy all year-round, especially during the summer time. Whenever the rain comes, it runs down from the barren land where the trees have been cut down. Then the water rushes right down into the middle of the village, eroding all the earth with it and making a deeper channel every time it rains. Right now, the average depth of the hole that has been caused by the annual flood is six meters. The damage being done has recently intensified, and the hole is getting larger and deeper, the hole looks like a huge dragon that is sleeping right in the middle of our village. Some villagers have been forced to move from their houses and rebuild far from the hole. This is because every time the flood comes, their houses shake and nearly collapse due to the rushing floods.

Women need more time to participate in local community activities. Females in Chalitong village complete all housework. These tasks include cooking, feeding the animals, sewing and washing. Furthermore, some women share extra outside chores with their husbands equally, like cutting trees on the mountains. As a result, women have no opportunity to participate in community activities as the men do. Using solar cookers would make cooking a much more convenient and efficient task for village women compared to cooking with a wood burning fire. They would also not need to collect fuel in the forests if they had solar cookers. As a result, with solar cookers, they will have more leisure time to spend on other tasks and local community activities.

The villagers’ workload should be decreased. Villagers who cut down wood for cooking fuel spend two hours every morning traveling to the forest site. They work all day until sunset when they must spend a further two hours returning to their homes. After they cut enough trees, they must transport all the branches to the flying fox loading site. This process of carting the trees to the flying fox loading site takes more than three days. Everyday, villagers use donkeys and horses to carry the branches over more than seven return trips. After more than two days, villagers undertake the most dangerous process, where they use the flying fox to convey all the branches down to the valley. From here it takes another three days (at least) to transport the firewood to each family’s yard. Often the time and effort needed to transport the wood varies according to the animals and the laborers that each family has, which means that for some the task is even more difficult.

Children who attend primary school are too busy studying while their parents collect firewood in the mountains. At this time, housework usually becomes the responsibility of the children, and chores must be carried out when they return from school. This leaves students with no time to study or do their homework, particularly in the case of female students, who usually are responsible for most domestic labor (e.g.: cooking, cleaning and feeding pigs). Male students come home to feed the family’s cattle and horses, which results in their study also being affected. Some families keep their children home from school permanently in order to do the housework. Students may also be in the position where they must stay at home watching the house while their parents are absent collecting fuel.

Using the flying fox to transport firewood is too dangerous. The process of transporting wood is very risky both in the upper areas of the mountain and down into the valley. The location of the upper flying fox loading site is above a rather steep hill. The villagers must carry bundles of branches tied with steel wire toward the flying fox . Then they attach the bundle to a hook, which then sits on the flying fox . This is a delicate process, as it is easy for wood to fall from the bundle as it speeds down the mountain. Each family carves a sign on the hook for people at the bottom of the valley to recognize their wood. The people who wait in the valley must be very alert in order to avoid the flying pieces of timber, while at the same time searching for their family’s carved symbol.

Villagers need a more efficient and cheaper way to cook. Using wood as their main source of fuel requires very hard labor for all those involved in its collection. Moreover, the collection process is dangerous both for the environment around the village and for the villagers themselves. Electricity is not a viable option because using electricity to cook would be too expensive. The villagers also cook for animals such as pigs and cows two times a day, in order to make some profits though selling them or eating the meat and milk.

Benefits of project
·
Villagers will have a new source of fuel for their cooking needs. The dense forests that surround the village will be saved from logging and unnecessary damage. It is estimated that at least 300 trees will be saved from logging each year.

· If deforestation is decreased, villagers will have a safer and secure environment to live in. They won’t need to worry about yearly flooding or the possibility of being forced from their homes by the eroded hole that the floods have created. Instead they can spend their money on rebuilding their houses towards a better standard of living.

· Women will have more time to participate in local community activities. If there are solar cookers, women can complete their housework more quickly. If women use wood stoves, they spend time tending to them continuously. The time that women spend cutting down trees could also be used for leisure.

· Villagers will be spared from the large amount of effort that is required to fetch a regular supply of firewood. They will be able to use their valuable leisure time to relax or take part in income generating activities, instead of spending so much time cutting trees in the mountains.

· The village’s school-aged children will have more time to study and play. They will have enough time to finish their homework and work on extra study for school. Solar cookers will provide time for the school children enjoy their own interests after school instead of doing laboring in their homes. This will also improve student enrollment rates during the wood-harvesting season, as parents will not have to keep their children at home to do chores.

· The dangerous and difficult process of collecting wood via the flying-fox will be no longer necessary. If this project is funded, villagers will not need to risk their lives to use the flying-fox . Consequently, people’s living conditions will reach a higher level.

· Solar cookers are cheaper and easier to use as a new source of electricity-free fuel. They also make environmental regeneration possible, at the same time as giving villagers a safer and more comfortable standard of living.

Gender Equality
As a young girl and the manager of this project, I wish to change people’s perceptions about gender roles. People in my area will be impressed if my project succeeds, because most people in my home area traditionally believe that sending girls to school is somehow less useful than sending boys. People believe that girls are better at doing housework and helping their parents when they are busy. I’m currently the only college student in my village, and the only woman to ever go to college. There are some male college students who have already graduated. Most girls in my area obey their parents’ plans for arranged marriages. They give birth to children at a very early age. Hopefully, my project will be funded and consequently people will start to believe that girls can do the same things as boys, perhaps even better. In the long term, this could mean that more girls will be sent to school. If ideas about women change because of this project, then women will have the chance to join in local community activities and share their ideas in activities like meetings.

Project Plan

1) Call my village leader and some other villagers (both men and women) to gather necessary information for my project proposal. (Already done)

2) Write project proposal. (Already done)

3) Call the solar cooker factory that is located in Kanding of Sichuang Province. I’ve visited there during this past winter holiday, which takes two and a half days of journey to my place. The leader of the factory is a graduated student of my school and we are good friend. We had an agreement that his factory will send a truck with my cookers to my place in 2 days with adding the transportation fee into the price of each solar cooker that I’ll purchase. (Already done)

4) Once the funding is secured, go to the factory on the way to my home during the summer holiday of this year.

5) Once I get home with the cookers, hold a meeting with the villagers then start managing the project immediately. Collect the local contribution during the meeting.

6) In two days, the solar cookers will be in use in the village.

7) Complete the project. Show the villagers how to use and care for their solar cookers.

8) Interview the villagers (women, men and children) and gather information about the effectiveness of the solar cookers.

9) Take some pictures (the mountains, the flood’s hole, the forests and the solar cookers).

10) Write final report.

11) Send final report with all pictures and receipts.

Time frame
This project will take a total of 13 days to finish: Once the project is funded, it will take 2 days for me to get to the cooker factory by train and bus from my school, and then I’ll purchase the cookers there and take them with me to my place in 3 days. From then, the villagers will need two days to set up the solar cookers . Then I will go back to Xining in five days and finish the final report.

Detailed Budget

Item

Price per item rmb

Number of items

Donor Contribution rmb

Local Contribution

rmb

Total cost

rmb

Solar cooker

160

80

8,800

4,000

12,800

Transportation fee

75

80

6,000

 

6,000

Management fee      

500

500

Management costs   Phone calls, photocopies, developing photos, transportation fee (for me to get home and come back)  

1,100

1,100

Total cost in Rmb  

14,800

5,600

20,400

Total amount requested from donor : 14,800 RMB=$1,897 US

Sustainability
This project is very sustainable, because it protects the trees and the environment. The solar cookers are being purchased from a good company in kanding of Sichuang province, since there are no companies that sell solar cookers (the same price and quality as my classmates are purchasing) in my county town, prefecture town and Kunming, the capital city of my province. People in the company reported that the cookers are of the best quality. They will last for a minimum of 5 years.

Governmental support
On May 7th 2006, Gelsang Hlamu (Betty), the project manager, called the village leader Agao, and explained the project in detail to him. The leader responded that solar cookers were items that villagers needed to protect themselves from environmental disasters such as floods. He also said that their use would be very beneficial to the surrounding forests. Moreover, he hoped that I could try my best to get the project funded, and bring a higher standard of living to the villagers. The local government agrees with my project in its entirety.

Map of Deqing County

Deqing is my county that belongs Diqing Prefecture of Yunnan Province.


The mountains beside Mekong River, which had dense trees on it before 50 years, but nowadays, it has becoming a bare land with very few trees on it. And whenever there’s a rain there would be water running on the surface of the bare land. And brings big disasters to the residents beside the river.


This is the mountain right across from my village on the other side of Mekong River, and it has very little surface with trees on it. But a lot of big and small flood holes all over it.