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Extended Project Brief - Fuel Assessment / Timor-Leste December

Posted by Ryan White Dec 23, 2016

The Social Enterprise

A social enterprise is a business that sells socially beneficial goods or services.

Project Everest is an Australian based company dedicated to the design and development of sustainable solutions through lean social enterprise, to help solve some of the world’s most complex social issues. Through these enterprises, Project Everest aims to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The Fuel Assessment Team in Dili, Timor-Leste was tasked with investigating the viability of a social venture focusing on the supply and consumption of combustible fuels within Dili. Combustible fuels refer to a fuel source that releases heat through a burning process. This project was aimed at addressing Goal Twelve of the Sustainable Development Goals: Responsible consumption of fuels and generation of CO2 within the home. In order to achieve the goal, greater social awareness would need to be increased about the negative environmental impact of combustible and the potential benefits of biofuel alternatives which would reduce social reliance on unsustainable fuel sources.

Design Thinking Cycle

Empathise and Define Stages

December Trekkers were tasked with beginning and completing the Empathise and Define stages of the Design Thinking Process.

The Fuel Assessment Team sought to understand what good or service the Dili community wants, needs and can afford in regards to a sustainable and appropriate fuel source.

This was initiated by establishing as many meetings as possible with potential stakeholders, NGOs in the Dili region, fuel supply companies as well as local businesses and community members in order to gauge an understanding of the types of combustible fuels consumed in the Dili region.

The Fuel Assessment team’s specific ‘mission’ was to understand, in a number of different localities, the situation around fuels, their quality, their supply and cost with specific focus on combustible fuels used in within the home

This stage of the Design Thinking Process was undertaken within the Dili region in order to ensure that there was an underlying social issue around combustible fuels within the home, prior to expanding into the regions and rural areas.

The main questions addressed in the research were;

-       What fuels are used domestically?

-       Who supplies the fuels and where do they source the fuel?

-       How much does fuel cost for the suppliers to source and the consumers to purchase?

-       Are there any supply and demand issues around the availability of particular fuels in the Dili region?

-       Are consumers happy with their current fuel options?

-       Does seasonality affect the supply of particular fuels?

-       What is the relationship between urban and rural areas in regards the supply of particular fuel sources such as wood?

Following this process definable problems began to emerge. These problems are as follows;

-      Communities in Dili need a low cost sustainable fuel alternative that is not seasonally affected. Communities do not have an alternative which meet their economic needs and personal need for a cooking fuel which does not negatively impact the flavour of the food or produce excessive smoke and odours whilst in use. They also desire a convenient fuel that is safe and approved by the government.

Fuel Assessment

During the month the Fuel Assessment team met with NGOs, fuel supply companies, businesses and community members. Through this process an indepth understanding of the local community and their use of different domestic fuels was gained. It research enabled us to develop insights into the key problem areas stated above.

The result of the research is listed in the conclusions below;

The development of a social business around providing or supporting an alternative combustible fuel for consumers in Dili is a highly viable venture. It is apparent that culture and traditional practices that utilise wood prevent a full eradication of the use of firewood, however; there is a clear opening in the market to provide an alternative fuel source at a low cost price and of equal convenience to current options. This fuel source does not necessarily have to be combustible. Whist the Haburas Foundations bio briquettes are a product worth looking into, they are not necessarily the option to pursue, as the demand is for something cheap, easy to use and safe.

It has consistently been found that the most commonly used daily fuel sources in Dili; Kerosene and wood, do not fully meet consumers demands. Wood, whilst cheap in the short term, is expensive for large amounts of people, creates unpleasant smoke and is often only used for cultural traditions. Similarly, Kerosene, the most common daily fuel source, has an unpleasant odour and consumers who use this product have expressed a willingness to try alternatives.

The Fuel Assessment team has further identified that consumers in Dili are receptive to change and alternative fuels; however, they will discontinue using an alternative if it does not exceed the qualities of their current fuel.

It is also apparent that there is a high general awareness of the negative environmental impact that wood has. This can be attributed in part to government awareness programs, general school education and personal observations made of deforestation in areas throughout Dili such as Comoro. It is apparent that consumers would therefore consider a daily fuel alternative that was environmentally friendly if the product met their cost and convenience needs, and their adoption was supported with education around the use of the product.

Proposed Nature of Operations

Future Trekkers will be undertaking the ideate and prototyping stages of the design thinking process.

Trekkers should specifically look into biofuels that are currently of use in the Dili region. It is suggested that a greater understanding of the government’s previous biogas initiative is looked into and contact is made with Aires from Puxin Biogas. Aires is the government contact for the government's biogas initiative and has been in contact with December Project Everest teams.

A strong relationship with Haburas should also be maintained and the success of their bio briquette and stove initiative monitored, as it has been identified as a potentially viable solution. It is to be noted that Haburas foundation also provides environmental education services to students and the community at their facility in Hera, which could be of interest depending on the direction of the alternative fuel source. Fuel alternatives ideally should seek to meet the UN’s sustainability goals and therefore would be considered environmentally friendly and in alignment with Haburas’ message.

Potential solutions should also consider the idea of plastic pyrolysis, which gives off a burnable gas, as the use of plastic could beneficially meet waste management problems observed in Dili. Other biofuel alternatives should be researched and existing projects focusing on fuel consumption in Timor-leste as well as other developing nations should be examined.

Desirable prior learning

It is recommended that future trekkers become strongly familiar with the results of the empathise stage. It would also be of benefit if more surveys or interviews with the community were undertaken simply to provide trekkers with their own emotional understanding of the people and their needs. Empathising for personal understanding is strongly recommended as it will ensure that the Ideate and Prototyping stages of the Design Think Process are accurate in their identification and creation of a solution to the issue.

Trekkers will need to understand how the Timorese in Dili use their fuel. The handover report is key to understanding the empathise and define stages, and the intended future directions of the project.

It is also suggested that Trekkers do research into sustainable fuel alternatives and efficient stoves prior to commencing project.Particularly;

-        Biolite stoves: highly fuel efficient and portable

-        Nazareth stoves: made locally and boost economy by providing jobs, portable, relatively affordable and has a known brand name in Dili and existing relationships with other NGOs such as Mercy Corps, however stoves are known to break after 3 months

-        Haburas bio Briquettes: local brand name, very environmentally friendly, boosts local economy but are known to make excessive smoke

-        Plastic pyrolysis: addresses waste management in Dili due to a surplus of plastic waste

-        Charcoal as a fuel source: lower emission, more efficient than firewood, weight efficient i.e. portable and small

-        Improved Chulha stoves: improves smoke ventilation, easily made from local products such as clay and scrap metal

-        Rocket Stove: Very fuel efficient as more cooking energy is taken from the same amount of wood, which means less wood is used per meal i.e. cost effective and more sustainable

-        Gasifier Stoves: Produce very few emissions and are highly fuel efficient, however requires the fuel i.e. wood to be cut into small pieces and preloaded into stove, doesn't allow more fuel to be added whilst in use


This post was edited on Jan 6, 2017 by (Account removed)

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