E.F. Schumacker Lecture at Michigan State


Ever wish you could see E.F. Schumacker, the father of Appropriate Technology, speak in-person? Sadly, he passed away in 1977 but you can watch him lecture in this four-part video from the E.F. Schumacker Society. Learn about the ideas and concepts behind Village Earth’s 1,050 Appropriate Technology Library.

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Appropriate Technology Sourcebook


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The AT Library has been a great resource for us in teaching in all of these areas. We could never have brought all of these resources with us in a printed form, but thanks to the AT Library we had information readily available.

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The following words are defined as they are used in the text.




a priori—at the beginning; given.

abdomen—the part of the body containing the stomach and intestines.

abolition—the banning of something.

abrasives—substances used for grinding, polishing, sanding, etc., such as sandpaper.

abundant—plentiful; available in large quantities.

accessible—easily reached or obtained.

accommodate—to adjust.

accumulated—gathered or saved (up).

acetate plastic—a clear plastic sheet that can easily be marked with a pen or other writing instrument.

acidity—the degree to which a substance has the properties of an acid.

acupuncture—the ancient Chinese practice of piercing parts of the body with needles to treat disease or relieve pain.

acute—severe, serious.


adhesive (solder, glue)—a substance used to permanently join two objects.

adobe—unburnt sundried brick.


adze—a metal cutting tool like an axe, but with a blade at right angles at the handle..

aeration the process of mixing with air or oxygen.

aerial ropeway system—a transport system using a permanent set of ropes or cables to carry goods over rough terrain.

aerobic composting—process of decomposition while oxygen is present.

aerodynamics—the study of the motion of air and the forces acting on bodies in motion (such as windmill blades).

aesthetic—related to taste or beauty.

afforestation—the process of planting trees in an area that does not have them.

agile—quick; able to move quickly.

agitator-type washing machine—a machine in which the dirt is loosened from clothing through the up-and-down motion of one or more pistons or other parts, which serve to move the water.

agribusiness—a term describing highly centralized agriculture operations in developed countries, where agriculture is a business rather than a way of life.

agronomist—a person who is trained in the science and economics of crop production and the management of farm land.

ailment—illness; health problem.

airfoil—the shape of an airplane wing or a wind generator blade; designed for high-speed movement through air.

algae—small water plants, valuable as a protein source and animal feed or raw material for a methane digester.

algae bloom—the uncontrolled growth of algae in a pond.


alienating—causing loss of sense of purpose.

alkaline—having a high level of soluble salts; this can make agriculture difficult.

alkali-puddled clay—a building material; clay is mixed with water and lime to create an easily-shaped material that is durable..

alleviate—to make less hard to bear; to lighten or relieve.

allied—joined together for a common purpose.

all-inclusive—complete; covering all parts or aspects.

allocation—the amount of something set aside for a particular purpose.

alloy—a metal made of a mixture of two or more common metals.

alternator—a machine for changing mechanical energy into electrical energy; a kind of generator that initially produces alternating current.

all-terrain vehicle—a heavy-duty vehicle especially designed to operate in rough and wet terrain (including hills, swamps, and creeks).

aluminized Mylar—a very strong thin sheet of plastic material coated with aluminum.

amateur—a person who is not a professional.

ambient—surrounding, on all sides.

ambitious—demanding great effort, skill or enterprise.


amenities–coAvailable in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MForts.

amenities in the workshop—special tools in the workshop.

ammeter—an instrument which measures the strength of an electric current in the form of amperes (amps).

amortize—to gradually pay off a debt.


anaerobic fermentation—fermentation in the absence of air or oxygen.

analysis— breaking a problem or question down into parts.

ancestral—of anything regarded as prior to a later thing.

anecdote—a short account of some happening..

anemia—a condition in which there is a reduction in the number of red blood cells or of the total amount of hemoglobin in the blood stream, resulting in weakness.

anemometer— a simple device that is used to measure wind speed.

angle iron—pieces of iron or steel with a cross-sectional shape like the letter “L”.

animal husbandry—a branch of agriculture concerned with the raising of animals.

animal power gear—a gear that converts the power of a horse or other animal walking in a circle into the high-speed motion of a drive shaft, used to operate equipment (such as a thresher).

anodize—to coat with a protective film using electric current.

antecedent—any happening or thing prior to another.

anvil—a heavy steel block on which metal is pounded for shaping (blacksmith’s tool).

aperture—the opening in a camera or telescope through which light passes into the lens.

apiary—a place where bees are kept.

apparatus— equipment.

appliance—a small device for performing a specific task; in the U.S., especially household devices that use electricity.

aquaculture—the raising of fish and other marine organisms.

aquarium—a glass-walled container for fish and other animals and plants, which allows careful observation of their behavior.

aquatic—having to do with water (ponds, streams, oceans).

arable land—land which can be farmed.

arbitrary (arbitrarily)— without reason.

arc welder—a kind of welding machine that uses an electric current passing across a gap to produce the necessary heat.

Archimedes’ screw—a waterlifting device that has a screw-shaped rotating blade and axle inside a cylinder..


armature—the iron core with wire wound around it, in a generator, alternator, or electric motor.

array—a regular arrangement or series.

artisan—craftsperson, artist.

aspirations—hopes, desires for the future.

aspirator—a device for moving air or fluids by suction.

assimilation—the process of becoming part of something.

astute— accurate; showing a clever mind.

attached greenhouse—a solar greenhouse attached to a house, where it helps in heating by acting as a solar collector.

attributable to—due to, caused by.

auger—a tool for boring holes.

authoritarian—characterized by unquestioning obedience to authority, as that of a dictator, rather than individual freedom of action.

auxiliary—extra, reserve.

auxiliary generating equipment— additional electric generating equipment; for example, a unit that can be used during periods when there is no wind to operate a wind generator.

axial-flow turbine—a turbine in which water flows parallel to the axis.


backlash—a strong political reaction resulting from fear or resentment of a movement..

backslide—to slide backwards, failing to fully implement a political promise.

backward—from earlier times, not modern.

bacteriological—related to the study of tiny life forms present in all organic matter.

bagasse—the part of sugar cane that is left after the cane has been crushed and the juice has been removed.

baled hay—hay that has been compressed into bundles and tied.

ballyhoo—noise and hollering.

band saw—a saw that has a long narrow continuous band for a blade; the band travels in one direction only, rotating around several wheels.

banish—to send away permanently.

barefoot doctors—local health workers doing preventive medicine and basic health care without lengthy medical training or expensive equipment; originated as a description of local health workers in China.

barometer—an instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure; anything that indicates change.

barrel staves—narrow, curved strips of wood which form the sides of a wooden barrel.

baseboard heating—a space heating system which radiates heat from panels on the wall near the floor.

batch process (methane digester)—a system in which the digester is loaded only at the beginning of a digestion cycle; gas production varies considerably during the digestion period.

BB shells—pieces of metal which serve as a case for steel balls in ball bearings.

beaker—a glass container used in scientific experiments.

bearing—any part of a machine on which another part revolves.

becak—pedicab; three-wheeled taxi (Indonesia).

bellows—a blacksmith’s device for forcing air into a fire to increase the rate of fuel consumption and thus the temperature..

belt sander—a machine with a long abrasive belt that travels around two or more rotating cylinders, the belt is used for sanding and smoothing rough pieces of wood.

bemo—small transport vehicle in Indonesia.

benign—not dangerous; not causing damage or hurt.

bevel gear—a gear wheel meshed with another so that their shafts are at an angle of less than 180 degrees.

biased—unfairly affected or directed; not fair, prejudiced.

bicycle caliper brake—a bicycle hand-operated brake that has two arms that can be forced to rub on the rim of the wheel to slow the bicycle.

bicycle hub—the center of the wheel which revolves around the axle.

bicycle sprocket—a gear.

bikeway—path or lane reserved for bicycle use only.

bilharzia—see schistosomiasis.

bi-metal strip—a device made of two strips of different metals that expand at different rates when heated; the strip bends or curls when heated.

biodegradable—capable of being decomposed by bacterial action.

biogas—see methane gas.

biogas plant—see methane digester.

biological control—control of insects and other pests using natural means (predators competitors, bacteria); non-chemical methods.

biomass—the total amount of living organisms in a particular area or volume.

biomass energy—energy from biological sources.

biotic—of life, or caused by living organisms.

bit—the cutting edge of a tool.

bloat—to swell.

block and tackle—a set of pulleys and ropes for hauling and lifting..

blueprint—a large set of detailed plans.

board feet—a unit of measure of lumber equal to a board one foot in length on two sides and one inch thick.

bona fide— real; made in good faith.

borehole— hole drilled in the earth to make a well.

borne out—proved to be true or accurate.

botany—a branch of biology that deals with plants.

bow saw—a saw operated by a foot treadle with an overhead bow which acts as a spring mechanism; together they pull the saw blade up and down.

brace—a support; also a tool into which a drill bit or auger is inserted for drilling.

brackish— water with a heavy salt content, such as in inland seas.

brazing—to bond two pieces of metal using a metal rod with a lower melting temperature than either of the pieces to be connected; usually uses copper wire, and can be done with a small propane torch.

breastshot (breast) water wheel—a water wheel driven by water entering near the midpoint of the wheel.

bridle—a head harness for guiding a horse.

brittle—easily broken.

broadcast sower—a device which spreads seeds over a small area by throwing them

through the air.

brunt— the major portion of negative consequences.

BTU—British Thermal Unit, a measure of heat energy; specifically, the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.

buffer—a machine for polishing metal.

bulk— greatest part.

bungalow—a small house with a porch..

bunsen burner— a simple gas burner.

burlap—coarse material used to make sacks and bags, usually made out of jute; also called “gunny sacks.”

bushing—a round lining for an opening, used to limit the size of the opening, resist wear, or serve as a guide.

butyl rubber basin liner—a kind of plastic sheet used to prevent liquid from leaking through a basin.

byproduct—other or additional product.


cable plow—a plowing system in which a lightweight plow is pulled across a field by cable instead of by a tractor or draft animal.

cadre—a local-level leader and motivator.

calcium chloride—CaCl2.

calculus—calculation; estimation.

calibrated—carefully and correctly adjusted.

cam—a bump on a turning shaft which lifts or pushes.

campesinos—rural people (Spanish).

canning—the preservation of foods in tightly sealed cans or jars.

capital—money; or equipment that represents an investment in money.

capital formation—gathering resources and buying or making tools, equipment or buildings to be used in production.

capital-intensive—techniques that have a high equipment-to-labor ratio to accomplish a particular task; an automobile is a much more capital-intensive form of transportation than is a bicycle..

carbonized plant material—dry plant matter high in carbon content that will make a building material; straw, thatch, palm leaves.

carbon/nitrogen ratio—the proportion of carbon to nitrogen in the material being placed in a methane digester; there is a proper ratio that allows maximum gas production and a proper chemical reaction.

carburetor—that part of an engine in which air and fuel are mixed.

carding machine—a machine used to prepare cotton or wool for spinning.

cardiovascular—of the heart and the blood vessels.


carrying capacity—amount of life or activity that the ecosystem can support.

caseharden—to harden the outer layer of a piece of metal.

cash crop—a crop that is produced for sale rather than for consumption by the farm family.

casting (verb)—the process of making products from a mold, usually using hot molten (liquid) metal.

casting (noun)—a product made from a mold; the result of the above process.

catalyst—something which acts to help a process take place.

catalyze—to act as a stimulus in causing something.

caulking (caulking compound)—a filling material used to make a boat or other object “watertight” so that water cannot enter or escape.

cellulose—the bulky or fibrous part of plants, consisting of natural sugars.

centralize—to concentrate the power or authority of a central organization; to gather together; to focus on a center.

centrifuge—a spinning machine used to separate particles of different density.

certified—having a license issued by an authority, proving the ability to do something.

chaff—the seed coverings and other material separated from the grain during threshing..

chaff cutter—a tool which is used to chop dry vegetative materials such as straw into small pieces.

chain pump—a pump with an endless chain passing over a wheel at the top and entering a pipe below the water; it is fitted with discs which lift the water through the pipe.

chainsaw—a portable power saw that has teeth linked together to form an endless chain.

channel iron—pieces of iron or steel which have the cross-sectional shape of a channel.

charitable—kind and generous in giving money or help to those in need.

chassis—the part of a motor vehicle that includes the frame, suspension system, wheels, steering mechanism and so forth, but not the body or engine.

chemical coagulation—bringing together suspended particles in water by adding a chemical.

chisel—a tool for cutting grooves or shavings from wood or metal.

chlorination—purifying water by adding tiny amounts of the chemical chlorine to it.

chromatography—the process of separating the elements in a mixture by having a solution flow through a column of absorbent material on which the different substances are separated into distinct bands.

chronic—happening again and again.

churn—a container in which milk or cream is beaten to form butter.

circuit board—an electrical system laid out on a board for use in teaching.

circuitry—the elements of an electrical system.

circular sump—a circular pit lined with bricks, cement, or other material to hold wet material without losing the moisture.

cited— noted, identified.

clarify—make clear..

clear-cutting—cutting down all of the trees and plants.

climatology— the study of weather patterns.

clods— large dried pieces of soil that must be broken up before planting.

clogged— blocked or stopped flow.

closed loop—in a solar energy system, using water or another liquid to move heat from a collector to a storage area, and then returning the same liquid to the collector.

coalition—a group of organizations that agree to cooperate.

coefficients of transmission of heat— generally accepted statistics about the rate at which heat will move through different materials.

coercive—based on the use of force.

cogs—the teeth on the rim of a wheel, for transmitting or receiving motion by fitting between the teeth of another wheel.

coherent—fitting together well; making sense.

collaboration— working together.

collaborative— from working together.

collateral— something of value owned by a borrower, such as a house or land, used as a guarantee to a lender that a debt will be paid; if the debt is not paid, the lender takes the collateral as payment.

colleague—a fellow worker in the same profession.

color patina— surface color of metal, caused by the hardening process in blacksmithing, or long exposure to air.


combustion—the process of burning.


commend—to praise; to favorably point to.

commutator—in a generator or electric motor, a revolving part that collects the electric current from, or distributes it to, the brushes..

compacted—compressed and packed firmly together.

companion planting—a strategy used in intensive gardening in which different plants are raised next to each other to take advantage of nitrogen-fixation, insect-repelling properties, shade, etc.

compatible—going together well; fitting together well.

compelling—convincing, persuasive.


compendium—collection, compilation, summary.

composting—a method for breaking down organic solids (such as leaves, straw and manure) into easily used fertilizer.

compost toilet—a waste disposal system in which wastes break down to become fertilizer.

compounding—adding to.

comprehensive—including all aspects.

compression—being pushed or squeezed together.

compulsory— required.

computing—figuring out using numbers.

concave—curved inward, like a bowl.

concerted—concentrated, deliberate, vigorous.

concientizacion—a group discussion process aimed at creating an expanded awareness of the factors that keep people poor, and stimulating action for change.

condensation—the process whereby water vapor or another gas changes into a liquid as its temperature drops.

condenser—a device for converting a gas into a liquid.

conduit tube—lightweight metal tube usually used for protecting electrical wires.

configuration—arrangement of parts..

congealed—become solid or firm.

conical—shaped like a cone.

connecting rod—a rod connecting by back and forth motion two or more moving parts of a machine; for example, the connecting rod between the crankshaft and piston in an automobile engine.

conscientious—very careful and consistent.

consensus—decision-making by a group in which all members participate and are satisfied with the outcome.

constraints—limits; problems.

construed—understood, interpreted.

contacts (electricity)—metal points which when touching allow electricity to flow through a circuit.

containment—where animals are held inside.

contamination—dirtying or poisoning.

continuous process (methane digester)—a system in which the digester has a small amount of material added each day; gas production remains fairly constant.

continuity—the act of proceeding smoothly over time; ongoing.

contour—an imaginary line around the side of a hill that maintains the same elevation.

convergence—combining; coming or flowing together.

converter—a device employing mechanical rotation for changing electrical energy from one form to another.


conveying—communicating, showing.

cooper—someone who makes or repairs wooden barrels.

cope—to deal with problems effectively..

coppicing—the controlled production of small trees repeatedly from the same stumps (root systems).

copra—coconut meat dried for storage and transport; used to produce coconut oil.

corn (maize) sheller—a tool used to remove the kernels (seeds) from pieces of corn.

corollary—a proposition related to one that has been proven correct.

corrode—to eat into or wear away gradually, as by rusting or the action of chemicals.

corrosive—causing the wearing away of metal or other material by rusting or the action of chemicals.

corrugated—having parallel grooves and ridges.

corrupt—dishonest in handling money; using influence unfairly.

counter-sink—a tool used to drive a nail or screw below the surface of a piece of wood.

counterweight—a weight equal to another, used to balance it.

crankshaft—a shaft used to transfer rotational motion into up-and-down motion; or the reverse.

crannies— small cracks.

creativity—the ability to use the imagination and invent.

creosote—unburned gas from a wood fire that has condensed to form a sticky, dark substance.

crop diversification—the practice of growing a variety of plant crops within a particular area; opposite of “monoculture.”

crop duster—a device for spreading pesticides or herbicides in the form of dust or spray.

crop-lien system—a system in which a future crop is sold at a low price to store owners or other middlepeople, in order to acquire credit for essential purchases by a farm family.

crop rotation—a system of growing successive crops that have different nutrient requirements, thereby preventing soil depletion, and breaking disease cycles..

cross fertilization—stimulation and improvement through exchange (of ideas).

cross-flow turbine—a wheel with curved vanes driven by the pressure of water flowing through it, and in which the water acts on the vanes twice, once while entering and once while leaving the turbine.

crucible—a container used to hold metal while it is being melted.

cube (math)—the product of multiplying a number by itself three times. The cube of the number 2 is 8 (2x2x2=8).

culmination—the highest point, the climax.

cultivator—an implement to loosen the soil and remove weeds while crops are growing.

cultivating—the process of loosening the soil and removing weeds while crops are growing.

culture plates—glass microscope slide plates used to observe blood samples and other very tiny materials.

culvert—a drain that passes under a road, railroad, footpath, etc.

curing (cement)—physical processing with water to help the cement reach its maximum strength.

curing (fish)—to preserve by chemical or physical processing.

curing (hides or skins)—to preserve by chemical or physical processing for future use.

current regulator—an electrical device which controls the level of current (amperes) passing through an electrical circuit.

curricula—plural of curriculum.

curriculum—the set of concepts being taught in a class.

currier—a worker who treats leather.

cutical (insect)—skin or covering of an insect.

cutlery—knives; tools used for eating..

cutout—a switch which cuts the electric circuit to a windgenerator under two conditions: 1) windspeed too low to charge the batteries, and 2) windspeed so high that electrical output threatens to damage the system.

cycle rickshaw—pedicab, three-wheeled taxi.

cyclist—a person riding a bicycle.

cynical—antisocial; believing that all people’s actions are based on selfishness, and thus basing one’s own actions on selfishness as well.

cyst—a growth in the skin.


damper—a piece of metal used to control the flow of air and hot gases in a stove.

Darrieus rotor—a vertical-axis windmachine that has long thin blades in the shape of loops, connected at the top and bottom of the axle; often called the “eggbeater” windmill because of its appearance.

data bank—a place where information is collected and stored for later use.

data processing—a method for evaluating and using information, usually by means of a computer.

dawn on—become clear to.

debilitating—making weak.

debit—amount to be subtracted.

debris—rough, broken bits of material left after a war or other disaster.

debt servicing—interest paid on a loan.

decentralization—a shift in the patterns of decision-making and production so that these activities go on in many more places than before.

decentralize—to break up a concentration of governmental decision-making, industry or population, and distribute it more evenly..

decomposition (bacterial)—the chemical breakdown of organic matter by micro-organisms.

decorative—of interest due to its appearance only.

decoy—a plant which attracts insects away from other, more valuable plants.

deduced—realized; understood.

deep litter bedding—straw, leaves, or wood shavings used in a deep layer to cover the bottom of a chicken coop.

defecation—the act of passing human waste out of the body.

deficit—the amount by which a sum of money is less than the required amount.

deflector—a device that can be used to change the direction of a flow of water in a turbine to reduce the power produced.

deforestation—the destruction of forests.

degradation—making worse; becoming less usable.

dehydrate—to remove water from fruits and vegetables for preservation (drying).

dehydration—the draining of fluids from the body through diarrhea or perspiration dangerous if the fluids are not replaced.

demoralizing— discouraging.

demystify—to remove the mystery from; to make something understandable.

depletion—using up.

deplore—to regard as unfortunate.

derive—obtain, get.

desertification—the creation of deserts.

destitute—very poor.

detention time—the time period that incoming material is retained in a methane digester for processing..

deterioration—the process of becoming worse.


detract—undermine, reduce, subtract.

devastated—having suffered great destruction.

diagnosis—the process of deciding the nature of a diseased condition by examination of the symptoms.

dialects—different forms of a language; local languages.

dialogue—conversation; talking between two people or groups.

diaphragm pump—a pump which moves water through the alternating expansion and contraction of a chamber.

diarrhea—excessive looseness and frequency of bowel movements.

diatribe—a bitter, abusive criticism.

die—a metalworking cutting tool, e.g. for cutting screw-threads in a steel rod.

diesel set—an electric generator driven by a diesel engine.

dietary—related to what a person eats.

differential—an arrangement of gears connecting two axles in the same line and dividing the driving force between them, but allowing one axle to turn faster than the other when necessary; it is used in the rear axles of automobiles to permit a difference in the speeds of the two wheels while turning corners; also has the characteristic that the shaft comes in at a 90-degree angle to the axle, and does not turn at the same rpm.

differentiate—show difference among or between; separate.

diffraction—the breaking up of a ray of light into the colors of the spectrum.

diffusionist—an approach to technological change in which new techniques chosen by central agencies are spread, concentrating on community leaders.

digestion—the process by which organic materials are decomposed by the action of bacteria, producing gas and fertilizer.

digression—a wandering from the main subject..

dilemma—problem for which a solution is not evident.

diligence— hard working, responsibility.

direct gain—solar energy that enters a building without the use of collectors.


discredit—to show reasons for disbelief.

disinfectant—a substance which cleans and kills disease-causing organisms.

dismantle—take apart.

dispel—remove, clear away.

dispersed—spread out.

disposable income—that portion of an income which can be spent.

dissecting tool—a tool used in separating the parts of an animal or plant.


dissolution—breaking apart; breakdown.

distill—carefully select the essential elements of; evaporate and condense.

distilled water—water that has been evaporated and condensed so that all chemicals and salts have been removed; pure H20.

diversified—having many different activities or components.

divert—to move water or resources away from their normal channels.

dogmatic—closely following the rules, unwilling to listen to other ideas.

donor—a group that provides funds.

dosage—the exact amount of a medicine to be given at one time.

double-acting pump—a pump designed so that water is lifted during both the up and down strokes of a piston or diaphragm..

double-digging—a technique used in intensive gardening in which the topsoil is removed, the subsoil is loosened, and the topsoil is then replaced.

dowel—a round length of wood used to join two other pieces of wood.

drag (aerodynamics)—the slowing force acting on a blade or wing moving through air.

drainage—the removal of surface water.

draught—British spelling of draft.

draught chain—a heavy chain used to pull objects, such as harrows.

draw-knife—a two-handled knife used in making precise cuts in wood.

drill press—a machine for drilling holes in metal or wood.

drive shaft—a shaft that transmits motion or power, as from the transmission to the rear axle of an automobile.

dropper—a glass or plastic tube used to pick up and transfer drops of liquid.

drought—an abnormally long period of time with lower than normal annual rainfall.

drudgery—hard, boring work.

dry cell battery—a battery that uses dry chemical activity for storage of electricity; cannot be recharged.

dry steam—high-temperature steam which contains little moisture.

dubious— doubtful; uncertain.

dung—animal waste, manure, shit, excreta.

duplicate—to copy; to do again.

dynamic—moving, changing.

dynamo—see generator.

dynapod— a basic pedal-power unit that can be attached to small machines.

dwindles—gets smaller quickly..


earth auger—a device for drilling narrow diameter holes for wells.

earthen—made of earth.

ecologically-sound—any approach which fully considers and does not affect the natural balance of the environment and ecosystem.

economies of scale—savings that come with increasing size of a business or activity.

ecosystem—a system made up of a community of people, animals, plants and bacteria, and the physical and chemical environment with which it is connected.

edible—that which can be eaten.

effluent—material or waste flowing out.

eke out—scrape together.

electrical conduit pipe—lightweight metal tubing used to protect electrical wires.

electric grid—system of electric lines which distribute and regulate electricity in a community.

electrolysis—the process of changing an electrolyte by passing an electric current through it.

electrolyte—a liquid or solution which conducts electricity and deposits a metal coating; used in electroplating.

electromagnet—a core of material that becomes a magnet when electricity is passed through a coil of wire around it.

electromagnetic device—a core of magnetic material surrounded by a coil or wire through which an electric current is passed to magnetize the core; used in switches..

electronic governor—a device which switches part of the electric current produced by a turbine away from the main line (for example, to heat water) when the electric demand falls; this allows the turbine to be run at a constant speed, avoiding the need for an expensive governor to regulate the amount of water flowing through the turbine as electric demand changes.

electroplate—to coat with metal using electricity passed through a solution.

elicit—to draw out (a response).

emery stone—a stone for grinding the edges of tools to sharpen them.

empirical—based on practical experience and observation rather than theory.

emulsified asphalt—asphalt in liquid form, containing some kind of solvent which breaks it into tiny drops.

endeavors—efforts, projects.


energy-gobbling American homes— homes built in North America that consume enormous amounts of energy in the form of gas and electricity.

enhance—improve, make better.

enteric pathogens—organisms causing disease in the intestine.

entrepreneur—someone who sees an opportunity to start a new enterprise or activity; businessperson.

entrepreneurial—related to undertaking the risks and management of a new enterprise or activity.

environment—the physical and biological surroundings.

environmentally-sound—see ecologically-sound.

envisage— imagine.

epidemic—a disease that is spreading rapidly among many individuals in a community at the same time.

epoxy—liquid material which hardens in the air; used in glues.

equate—to consider the same.

equitable—fair, equal for all.

erosion—the wearing away of land, soil, and other earth formations by wind, water, or ice.

escalating— rising, increasing.

escapement mechanism (clock)—the special gearing inside a clock that allows a sprocket to turn one notch at a time.

ethanol—alcohol made from grain or other vegetable.

euphemistically called—given a nice name.

evaporation—the process whereby water changes from a liquid to a vapor and disappears into the air.

exacerbate—make worse.

excerpt—a piece taken from a longer article or book.

exclusion—the leaving out of something.

excreta—human or animal waste matter; shit.

existential—involving awareness of being a free individual.

exotic—highly unusual; not part of daily life.

expediting—to speed up.

explicit—directly, obviously.

exponential—rapidly increasing.

extraction—the process of taking something out.

extractive—something that is drawn out or removed.

extrapolation—a conclusion reached by estimating beyond a known range.

extruded—to be forced out.

eyebolt—a bolt which has one circular end through which a piece of wire or rope can be passed..


fabricate—make, construct.

facilitate—enable, help to happen.

fad—a temporarily popular activity.

fall prey—become a victim; be taken advantage of.

fallible—possibly wrong; capable of making mistakes.

fallow land—land not planted in a crop for a growing season, to allow improvement in soil fertility.

farrier—a blacksmith who makes horseshoes (metal bands) and attaches them to horses’ hooves.

feasible— possible, practical.

feathering mechanism—a mechanism on a windmill which in strong winds turns the blades increasingly out of the wind; this slows the windmill and protects it from damage.

fecal coliform bacteria—microscopic (tiny) organisms in human waste which can cause sickness.

fecal matter—solid human waste; shit.

feed grinder—a tool used to grind food into very small pieces so that fish or other animals can eat it.

fencerow—a row of bushes forming a fence.

fermentation—the breakdown of complex molecules in an organic material, caused by a bacteria; action of yeast making vinegar or alcohol.

ferrocement—cement-sand concrete reinforced by wire mesh.

fiber—any substance that can be separated into threads for spinning, weaving..

fiberglass—glass in the form of small fibers (similar to hairs), used in making insulation and harder structures such as boats.

fibrous insulation (local)—insulation made of local plant or animal materials such as coconut husks or animal hair.

field (electricity)—magnetic forces created by an electric current; important in the operation of a generator or alternator.

field wash—soil erosion caused by the flow of water.

firebreak—a strip of land on which trees and other plants have been removed, to prevent the spread of forest fires.

firebrick—special brick that will not break at high temperatures.

flagstone—a hard stone that splits into flat pieces.

flametrap device—a unit to prevent the flame from backing up along a gas pipeline towards the source.

flange—a rim for attachment to another part, usually on a pipe or a wheel.

flannel board—a board on which scenes and processes can be illustrated for an audience; the flannel holds the movable pieces in place.

flap valve pump—a simple lowlift hand pump with a valve on top but no piston; same as inertia pump.

flat plate collector—a glass- or plastic-covered metal panel which traps the solar energy that falls on it; this heat is then transferred by a water or air system for hot water heating or home heating.


flow—the amount of water that moves past a point in a given amount of time; often measured in liters per second.

flow regulator—a device that controls the amount of water flowing through a turbine, to match the power needed at any moment.


flue—a pipe through which smoke or hot air passes..

flue duct—an opening to a flue which can be regulated to affect the amount of air passing through; this has an effect of regulating the rate of fuel consumption and the temperature in a fireplace or kiln.

fluorescent tube— an electric light bulb that uses a tube of fluoride gas instead of a wire filament; usually 2.5 times as efficient as a standard electric light bulb—this means that a 40-watt fluorescent tube provides as much light as a 100-watt electric bulb.

flywheel—a heavy, rotating wheel used to moderate any variations in the speed of the machinery with which it revolves.

foam composite—an industrialized lightweight material.

focal point—the central point at which activities are directed and effects are felt.

fodder—plant food for animals, such as leaves and straw.

foliage—plant growth.

forage—food for domestic animals; to search for this food.

forage crops—crops valuable as animal feed.

foreign exchange—money in the form of foreign currency that can be used to buy things from outside the country.

forerunner—one which came before.

forge—a blacksmith’s furnace for heating iron or steel hot enough so that it can be shaped by pounding.

format—general arrangement.

formica—rigid plastic product.

formulation—a theory or plan.

forum—a place where discussion and exchange of ideas can take place.

fossil fuel—coal, oil, natural gas.

foundation (building)—the base on which a structure rests; usually made of concrete, stone, or blocks, and positioned partially underground.

foundry (iron)—a workshop where iron is melted and poured into molds to make tools.

foundryman (foundryperson)—a person who operates a foundry.

foyer—entryway, entry room.

fragile—delicate, easily broken.

fragments—breaks apart; small pieces.

freewheel (bicycle)—an arrangement in the rear hub which allows the rear gear to

either drive the wheel or rotate freely when not being pedaled.

fringe areas—margin; edges.

frugal—economical; not wasteful.

fry—young fish.

fungicide—a substance used to kill fungus.

funnel—a device with a large opening on one end and a smaller opening on the other; used to pour liquid into a bottle, for example.

furrow—a shallow channel made in a field by a plow.

fuse—a wire or strip of easily melted metal placed in an electrical circuit; if the current becomes too strong, the metal melts, cutting the circuit before the entire wiring system is destroyed.


gabled roof—a roof with two sloping surfaces that meet at a line along the top in an inverted “V” shape.

galvanized—coated with zinc for protection from rust and corrosion.

galvanometer—an instrument for detecting and measuring a small electric current.

gas compression—the process of pressurizing gas so that it can be burned effectively..

gasogen—a stove-like device carried by a vehicle, producing gas through the partial burning of charcoal or wood.

gauze—a very thin, loosely-woven piece of cotton or silk.

gear down—to arrange gears or pulleys so that the original speed of rotation of a pedal-power unit, windmill, or water wheel is decreased; for example, to operate a winch.

gear up—to arrange gears or pulleys so that the original speed of rotation of a pedal-power unit, windmill, or water wheel is increased; for example this would be necessary to generate electricity.

generator—a machine for changing mechanical energy (such as the rotation of a windmill rotor) into electrical energy; has a stationary field and rotating armature, and produces direct current electricity.

genetics— the branch of biology that deals with heredity and variation in similar or related plants and animals.

germination—the process of starting to grow or sprout.

germplasm—the portion of the reproductive cells of an organism involved in heredity.

gestation—a development, as of a plan in the mind.

glaze—in ceramics, the coating given before the final firing (placement in the kiln for heat treatment); helps to seal the clay and adds color to the object.

glazing—the plastic or glass covering on a flat plate collector for solar water heating.

gleaned—picked out of.

gobar gas—methane gas (CH4).

gouge—a tool like a chisel used to remove chunks of wood.

governor—a device that controls the amount of water flowing through a turbine, to match the power needed at any moment.

grain silo—a long-term storage chamber for grains; usually watertight and airtight to prevent spoilage and insect damage.

graphic ideation—the use of drawings to express and develop ideas..

grass-roots—local communities; where people live and work.

grass wilderness—a name for rain forest land which has had all of the trees and cover vegetation removed—the soil can only support the growth of hardy grasses, and is very difficult to restore to fertility; sometimes called a “green desert.”

green manure—a crop which is plowed back under into the soil while still green, for its beneficial nitrogen-adding effect on the soil.

greenhouse—a glass- or plastic-covered building used to trap solar energy and protect plants from bugs, wind, rain, cold, evaporation, of moisture; allows a controlled environment.

greenhouse effect— the effect when heat from sunlight is trapped inside any closed container with a glass or plastic cover.

greywater— waste water from sinks or washing machines.

grindstone—a hard stone for grinding grain; or revolving stone for sharpening tools or shaping and polishing objects.

groundwater— water found underground, for example, in a well.

gutted—destroyed by fire.

guy wires—wires attached to a tower, for example, so that it cannot move or shake due to the wind.

gypsum board—a thin board formed of layers of gypsum plaster and paper, used on interior walls of buildings.


hacksaw—a handtool used to cut metal.

halter—a rope or strap for tying or leading an animal.

hamper—to make difficult; to hinder.

hands-on— practical.

handyman (handyperson) skills—general maintenance and repair skills.

haphazardly—in a disorganized way; carelessly.

hard-pressed—faced with a very difficult task.

hardware store—a kind of store in the United States which sells small tools, nuts and bolts, wire, plumbing parts, and miscellaneous metal parts with a wide variety of uses.

harnessing—using to advantage.

harrowing—using an agricultural implement with spikes or discs to break up and level plowed ground.

hatchery—place where fish are raised from eggs to small but viable size before being released to feed and grow larger.

have-nots—those who don’t have enough wealth and income to live at an acceptable standard of living.

haves—those who have enough wealth and income to live relatively coAvailable in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MFortably.

head—the total usable height water falls when used in a water wheel, turbine or hydraulic ram pump; or the distance water is lifted by a pump.

health auxiliaries—health workers who have undergone a short training period, but are not among the categories normally thought of as “professionals.”

heat exchanger—any unit which is designed to pass heat from one fluid or material to another.

heat pump—a device that extracts heat from one location and distributes it to another, by expanding and contracting a fluid; one unit of energy used to operate the pump can allow four units of heat energy to be captured. Due to the unique characteristics of this kind of a pump, heat energy can actually be extracted from a cold area (such as the inside of a refrigerator) and distributed to a warmer area (which seems to defy the normal laws governing the movement of heat energy).

heater duct tape—a wide, strong variety of tape that serves to prevent heat loss in hot air pipes.

hedgerow—a row of bushes forming a boundary or fence.

helicak—motorized three-wheeled taxi (Indonesia)..

helical—winding or circling around a center or pole while getting smaller and smaller; spiral.

hence—therefore, thus.

herbicide—a chemical substance used to kill or control weeds or other undesirable plants.

herbivores— animals that eat only plants.

heritage—something handed down from one’s ancestors or the past.

hermetic storage—airtight storage.

hierarchical—having people arranged in order of rank.

high carbon steel—steel that has a relatively high carbon content and can be hardened for this reason.

high-tech—complicated technology that requires a specialized industrial base to produce and service it.

hinges—metal pieces that connect doors and windows to walls.

hipped roof—a roof with four sloping surfaces coming to a point at the top.

hitch—a connecting device.

hock, in—in debt, with house or land or other asset as collateral.

hoist—a device for raising another object; a kind of winch.

holdover—something staying on from an earlier period.

hollow block mold—a mold used to make hollow building blocks that maintain the strength of solid blocks but are lighter in weight.

honey extractor—a device that removes honey from honeycomb, usually by spinning.

hookworm—any of a number of small parasitic roundworms with hooks around the mouth, that infest the small intestine of humans, especially in tropical areas.

horticulture—the science and art of growing fruits, vegetables, shrubs, and flowers..

horticulturist—one who works with horticulture, especially in gardens or orchards.

host—a plant or animal that has a parasite living on or in it.

huller—a machine used to remove the outer coverings (hulls) from rice, peanuts or other agricultural products.

humidity—dampness or wetness in the air.

humility—humble attitude or approach; the opposite of pride or arrogance.

humus—black or brown decomposed organic matter.

hurdle—a portable frame made of branches, used as a temporary fence or enclosure.

hybrid—a new variety created by plant breeding, often producing higher yields but genetically sterile (the crop cannot be used for seed).

hydraulic—using water or other liquid.

hydraulic ram pump—a device used to pump water with no other power source; uses the impact of the water itself to pump a small portion of the water to a higher level than the original source.

hydraulics—the study of the properties of water and other liquids within engineering.

hydroelectric unit—a unit that generates electricity from falling water.

hydrology—the study of where water is and how it behaves.

hydroponics—the cultivation of plants without the use of soil.

hydropower—energy generated by falling water.

hypothesis—an unproved theory or proposition.
hypothetical—for example; imaginary..


ideologically-tainted —associated with an ideology and therefore appearing biased.

illiterate—unable to read or write.

illiterates—people who cannot read and/or write a language.

immunology—the branch of medicine dealing with immunity to disease and biological reactions such as allergies.

impacted soil—soil which has been compressed to make it firmer.

impaled—pierced through with something pointed.

impenetrable—cannot be entered.

imperative—the evidence that some action must be taken; an urge; necessity.


implicit—suggested or understood though not plainly stated.

imposition—hardship or burden forced from outside.

imprinting—a learning mechanism operating very early in the life of an animal in which a stimulus creates a behavior pattern that is remembered.

improvisation—something made with the tools and materials at hand to fill an immediate need.

improvise—to solve a problem using what is available.

inadequacy—not enough; not good enough.

incandescent light bulb—a light bulb that glows due to intense heat caused by electricity passing through a special wire coil.

incentive—something that stimulates one to take action or work harder.

income disparity—the difference or gap between high and low incomes..

income stratification—the division of a community or nation into several very different income levels.

incremental—involving small changes or improvements.

incubator—a special compartment used to keep chicken eggs or premature babies at a warm temperature.

indigenous—native; originally from an area.

indispensable—something that cannot be left out.

inertia pump— see flap valve pump.

infestation—attack by insects or other pests causing damage to crops.

infuse—to fill with something.

ingenuity—creative ability.

inherent(ly)—by itself; existing in someone or something as a natural quality.

inhibition—a mental process that restrains or suppresses an action.

injurious—harAvailable in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MFul.

in kind—with goods or food, not money.

innumerable—too many to count.

inoculant bacteria—nitrogen-fixing bacteria that are spread on seeds to aid in later plant growth.

inoculation—the spreading of bacteria or other life forms into soil or water for beneficial growth; the injection of a disease agent into an animal or plant to build up an immunity to it.

input—what is put in.

insecticides—chemicals used to kill insects and therefore protect crops.

insolation—the amount of solar energy falling on an area, usually measured in BTUs per unit of area.

insulation—material used to reduce the transfer of heat through a wall, a roof, the back of a solar water heater, or the walls of a fireless cooker..

intake—the place where water enters the pump.

integrate—to mix together, to combine.

intensive methods—gardening techniques used on small plots to obtain high yields; the productive potential of the soil is increased through composting, aeration, and other techniques.

intercropping—planting two or more crops together.

intergranular spaces—the air spaces between the kernels in a pile of grain.

interlocking—linked together.

intermittent—an activity that starts and stops irregularly.

internal combustion engine—an engine in which the fuel is burned inside the chambers in which expansion takes place and moves the pistons.

inter-row cultivator—a tool that is used to remove weeds in several rows at once.

intertwining— interconnecting; linked.

intervening—entering and altering the normal flow of activities in a community.

intervention—a project begun by an outside agent or agency.

intolerable—unbearable; too painful to be endured.

intravenous—directly into a vein.

inventive—skilled in creating processes or mechanisms.

inventory—a detailed list.

invertebrates—spineless organisms.

inverter (electricity)—a device for converting direct current into alternating current by mechanical or electronic means.

invoked—referred to with reverence..


jacks and lifts—devices for raising objects using teeth or threads or a hydraulic system.

jargon—special words used and understood only within a particular field of activity.

jig—a guide for a tool that allows the repeated production of the same cut or part.

judicious—careful; well-placed.



keel—the primary timber or piece of steel that extends along the length of the bottom of a boat or ship.

keen— eager, strong.

kernel—a grain or seed, as of corn, wheat, or peanut.

khadi—a word used by Mahatma Gandhi referring to hand-spun cloth made by small cottage industries or individuals; also used to describe a policy based on village self-reliance stressing local production of food, clothing and other things to meet local needs.

kiln—a structure for the high-temperature treatment of bricks or pottery for hardening; or for the conversion of limestone to lime, used as a cement-like material in building; or for the reduction of wood to charcoal; or for the drying of wood.

kinetic energy—the energy of a body that results from its motion.

kink—a short twist, curl or bend in a rope, wire or chain.

knack—talent, ability..

Ku Klux Klan—a secret society of white men created in the United States following the Civil War in 1865, to reestablish and maintain white supremacy.

kymography—the study of wavelike motions or variations.


labor bottleneck—a period during the season when total output is limited by the fact that all available labor is being used; under these circumstances, labor-saving equipment will not destroy any jobs.

labor-intensive—techniques or projects that have a low capital-to-labor ratio.

laminated blade—a blade made of thin sheets of wood glued and pressed together.

landfill—area that has been filled in with a mixture of soil and solid waste.

landmark—something that marks an important place.

land reform—the redistribution of agricultural land by breaking up large landholdings and spreading them among all of the rural population.

larvae—the young worm-like form of an animal that changes structurally when it becomes an adult (e.g., caterpillars to butterflies).

laterite soil—a red soil formed by the decomposition of many kinds of rocks, and found especially in tropical rain forests.

lathe—a machine which turns wood or metal while it is being cut by a tool.

latitude—a distance measured in degrees, north or south of the equator.

lattice—pieces of wood interwoven together with spaces in between.

latrine—a device for depositing and isolating human waste.

leaching—the draining away of important nutrients by water action.

leap-frog—to jump over.

ledger—list of amounts of money..

legumes—plants that add nitrogen to the soil, such as soybeans or any other beans.

leguminous—of the family of plants that produce pods, to which peas and beans belong; legumes.

leprosy—a chronic and infectious disease caused by a bacterium that attacks the skin, flesh, nerves, etc.; characterized by white scaly scabs and wasting of body parts.

lever—a bar for prying or lifting.


lift (aerodynamics)—the part of the total aerodynamic force acting in a direction perpendicular to the relative wind; opposes gravity in an airplane.

lift (waterpumping)—the height water is raised by a pump.

lime—calcium oxide; a cement-like substance used in building (for mortars and plasters).

lime kiln—a furnace used to make lime from coral or limestone.

limestone—a rock that is formed mainly by the accumulation of organic remains (such as shells or coral); consists mainly of calcium carbonate and is used extensively in building; yields lime when burned.

linkage mechanisms—connecting devices.

litmus paper—paper which is used in a simple chemical test for acidity or alkalinity of water or soil.

load (electricity)—the amount of power moving through an electrical circuit at any moment; or the device which is using this power; or the amount of power that a generator is producing.

loading rate—the amount and timing of loads of material being placed in a methane digester; important in obtaining an optimum concentration of solids.


low-impact technology— technology that fits into the human and biological environment with very little disruption or consumption of resources.

Luddites—a group of workers in England (1811-1816) who smashed new labor-saving textile equipment in protest against reduced wages and unemployment..

lunar—having to do with the moon.

lye (caustic soda)—a strong alkaline solution rich in potassium carbonate, leached from wood ashes; used in making soap.


machete—a large knife used for chopping brush and other heavy cutting.

machining—precision work on metal.

magnifying lens—a hand lens used to enlarge an image for closer inspection.

magnitude—size; amount.

malnutrition—inadequate nutrition.

manipulative—affecting events or other people without consulting them.

manometer—an instrument for measuring the pressure of gases.

manure—animal excreta; shit; dung.

manure spreader—a specially equipped wagon used to spread barnyard manure around the fields.

marine borers—small animals that live in sea water and eat holes in the hulls of ships and in the posts of docks.

mash—mixture of grain or other vegetable, yeast, and water.

masonite—thin board made from compressed wood fibers.

masonry—the fitting together of cut or formed blocks, bricks, or stones.

master—completely understand.

mattock—a tool for loosening the soil.

meager—very small..

mechanization—replacing handtools with machines.

media—various means of communication.

mediate—to act as a communication channel and intermediary between two people or groups.

medicated— containing drugs.

metabolizable energy—food energy which can be converted for use.

metal primer—a first protective layer of paint; usually to combat rust and build a base for additional layers of paint.

metal spinning—the technique of bending and shaping metal by pressing on it while it is turned on a lathe.

metaphorically—using words to create an image in the mind to illustrate an idea.

metazoa—any of a group of very small animals that have cells for different functions; many of these are parasites.

methane (biogas) digester—a device which through biological activity produces methane gas and fertilizer from animal manures and crop residues (such as straw and leaves).

methane gas (biogas)—a naturally occurring gas (CH4) that can be produced using a methane gas digester; this gas burns with about 2/3 the level of BTU’s of natural gas.

methane (biogas) plant—see methane digester.

methanol—alcohol made from wood.

methodology—a system of methods.

Michell water turbine—a turbine with curved vanes and hollow center; water passing through it propels the turbine both when entering and leaving; considered by many people to be the most practical easily constructed water turbine; operates well under a range of head and flow rates.

microbe—a microscopic organism.

microbiological action—activity by tiny organisms; for example, decomposition in the soil..

microhydroelectric turbines— small power systems with generators that use falling water to produce electricity, usually in the range of 1-40 kw of power.

micro-organism—a very tiny organism that can only be viewed through a microscope.

midwife—a woman who assists women in childbirth.

migrant—a farm worker who moves from place to place with the agricultural calendar.

mild steel—low-carbon steel; easily shaped but cannot be hardened.

millenia (millennia)—thousands of years.

milling machine—a metal-cutting machine in which the surface of the work is shaped by being moved past revolving toothed cutters.

mimeoed— printed on a low-cost machine called a “mimeograph” machine.

minimum tillage—an agricultural strategy in which plowing and cultivating are kept to a minimum to reduce soil erosion and encourage micro-organisms.

misconception—mistaken idea.

mitigate—reduce the negative effects of; make less bad or serious.

mocking—showing scorn, contempt or defiance.

mode—method, way of operating.

modes of transport— types of transport; bicycles, cars and buses are all different modes of transport.

modular—made in small units which can be combined as needed.

mold—a container in the shape of a desired product, used to form building blocks or for casting metal parts.

molecular model—a visible model of the structure of molecules, used in teaching.

momentum—the quantity of motion of a moving object, equal to mass times velocity.

monetary—involving money..

monitor—carefully observe.

monoculture—the practice of using only one crop variety in a given area; the crop tends to be more vulnerable to attack by pests and diseases than in a diversified crop area.

monolithic—solid, the same throughout; all of one kind.

moped—a motor-assisted bicycle.

moratorium—temporary halt.

morbidity—the level (incidence) of disease among a population; how many people are sick.

mordant—dye preservative to prevent fading.

mortar and pestle—a very hard bowl (mortar) in which softer substances are ground or pounded to a powder with a hard tool (pestle).

motive power—power to move something, as an engine.

motocross bikes—a heavy-duty bicycle popular among children in the United States, in imitation of motorcycles used in racing over hilly terrain on dirt tracks.

mowing machine—a farm machine with a reciprocating blade that cuts standing grain or grass.

mulch—a top covering of the soil consisting of organic materials (grass, compost, dead weeds) that serves to keep moisture in the soil and reduce weed growth.

multi-blade (fan) windmill—a windmill design, common on American farms, which has a large number of blades and is usually used for waterpumping.

multiple cropping—involving more than one crop.

mundane— common, unexciting, normal.

mutual—involving both or all sides.

Mylar—see aluminized Mylar.

mystification—the process of making something deliberately hard to understand..


natural calamity—a disaster such as a hurricane, flood, or forest fire.

natural phenomena—processes and events that occur normally in nature.


needs assessment—technique for deciding what people need.

networking—the process of making people with similar interests aware of each other, to increase communication and cooperation.

neutralize (magnetic field)—to stop the action of a magnetic field.


night soil—human excreta.

nipples (bicycle)—small threaded pieces of metal which serve to attach the spokes to the rim of a bicycle

nitriding—a process used in hardening forged steel.

nitrogenous fertilizer—fertilizer that contains nitrogen.

nodule—a small knot on a root that contains nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

nonconformist—one who does not do things in the way in which they are normally done.

nonviability— inability to be sustained.

nooks— small hidden places.

novice— beginner.

nozzle—a device at the end of a hose or pipe with which a stream of water can be controlled and directed.

nuisance—a person or thing causing trouble or inconvenience.

nurture—to raise or promote the development of..

nutrient—substance vital for growth and development of organisms, such as vitamins, fertilizers, protein, etc.

nutrient cycling—the process of moving nutrients through the agricultural system, from fodder to manure to fertilizer to additional plant growth, for maximum production and continued fertility.

nutritive—promoting health through a balanced diet.


obscure—relatively unknown.

obsolescence—the process of going out of use.


oil press—a tool used to crush oil-bearing vegetable material to extract the oil.

oilseed—any of a number of plants grown for the oil contained within their seeds.

oligarchy—a form of government in which the ruling power belongs to a few people, families, or groups.

opelet—small transport vehicle in Indonesia.

open loop—in solar energy systems, heating water or air by passing it through or over a collecting surface and then moving it to where it is needed.

opt— choose.

optical—having to do with the sense of sight.

optics—having to do with the properties of light.

optimize—to obtain the most efficient or maximum use of.


organic—of, related to, or coming from living organisms..

organic agriculture—a form of agriculture that uses only natural materials and techniques.

organic gardening—a form of gardening that uses only natural materials and techniques.

organic manures—waste material from natural sources, such as animal dung and decaying plants.

organic solvent—liquid distilled from vegetable matter that can be used in cleaning.

outmoded—out of date; no longer useful.

output—what is produced.

outstripping—surpassing, increasing at a greater rate.


overhaul—to check thoroughly and make needed repairs.

overhead functions—tasks performed which enable other more basic activities to go on.

overriding—extremely important.

overshot water wheel—a water wheel driven by water entering near the top.

overuse—too much use.

oxy-acetylene welding—a welding system that uses compressed oxygen and acetylene gas to supply heat.


paddy weeder—a handtool used to remove weeds between the rows of rice plants in a paddy.

panacea—a cure for all problems..

papier-mache—a material made of paper and glue or flour that is easily shaped when wet, but dries hard.

parabola—a shape commonly used in solar cookers to focus sunlight on a small area so that it becomes very hot.

parabolic cylinder—a solar energy device with a cross-sectional shape of a parabola; sunlight is focused all along the length of a pipe or tube.

parabolic dish—a solar energy device shaped like a dish or bowl, having the characteristics of a parabola and focusing sunlight on a point or very small area.

paradigmatic—showing a model or pattern.

paramedical—of auxiliary medical personnel.

parasite—a plant or animal that lives on or in an organism of another species (the host) while usually doing harm.

parboiling (para-boiling)—a preliminary cooking process which serves to seal the outer surface of a grain such as rice.

parcelization—dividing up into small pieces.

pare—to cut away the outer covering of something.

particle board—board made of small pieces of wood or other material compressed together.

passive solar—any solar technology that uses natural energy flows in the materials and orientation of a building for heating, without the use of special collectors, pipes, and pumps.

patent—a license giving the inventor or patent owner the exclusive right to make, use or sell a particular invention for a period of years.

paternalistic—resembling the relationship a father has with his children.

pathogens—dangerous and harAvailable in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MFul micro-organisms, such as bacteria and viruses; found in human and other wastes, responsible for spreading diseases.

pathological growth—growth or increase in size which is unhealthy, or which is not good for people.

peak power—the highest level of power that can be provided at any time..

pedal thresher—a lightweight machine operated by foot power, that is designed to be carried easily into the fields for use in threshing; mainly a wooden drum revolving at about 450 rpm, driven by a pedal and gearing system.

pedicab—a three-wheeled pedal-powered taxi.

peers—people who do the same work, or are of the same social status or age.

pelton impulse wheel—a kind of waterpower device which is driven by the impact of a jet of water; can be used to generate electricity.

pendulum—a weight hung from a fixed point so as to swing freely under the combined forces of gravity and momentum.

perennial—any plant that produces from the same root structure year after year; important in soil conservation.

perennial crops—crops in which individual plants continue to produce each season for a period of years.

perforated—having holes.

perseverance—continued, patient effort.

pertinent—significant, important.

pesticide—a chemical substance which kills plant pests (insects and rodents).

pesticide persistence—the tendency for pesticides to remain in the soil and water supply after use.

pharmaceuticals— drugs.

pharmacological—having to do with the science or study of the effects of drugs on living organisms.


philanthropic—showing a desire to help humankind by gifts to charitable institutions.

photovoltaic array—a set of photovoltaic cells.

photovoltaic cells—solar energy devices that directly convert solar energy into electricity..

physiologically—having to do with the functions and vital processes of living things.

pickling—a process for canning or bottling vegetables using vinegar.

pictorial—using pictures.

piecemeal—bit by bit; not organized very well.

pioneers—early workers in a new field.

pipe nipple—a pipe connector with threaded fittings.

pise—rammed earth; a construction technique in which earth is pounded inside movable forms to make walls.

piston pump—a pump which raises water by the up-and-down motion of a rod with a valve, on the inside of a cylinder.

pit latrine—a toilet in which human waste accumulates and is buried in a hole in the ground.

pivotal—most important.

plankton—microscopic animal and plant life found in water, used by fish for food.

planned obsolescence—a deliberate attempt by manufacturers to produce an item that will be rapidly out of style or no longer used.

plateau—a high flat or level place.

plight—a sad or dangerous situation.

plowshare—the cutting blade of a plow.

plumbing float control valve—a valve commonly used in flush toilets, which allows water to slowly fill a tank until the floating ball reaches the desired water level and the valve is closed; can also be used in a variety of other systems such as an oil-drum storage tank for a solar water heating unit.

pneumatic tires—air-filled tires.

pole saw—a saw operated by a foot treadle with an overhead pole which acts as a spring mechanism; together they pull the saw blade up and down..

pollination—the act of transferring pollen between the parts of a flower; important in the production of fruits and vegetables, carried out by bees and other insects.

polyethylene—a plastic material used in sheets and waterpipes.

poly-phase electric motor—a motor driven by more than one alternating current.

polythene—British spelling of polyethylene, a plastic used in sheeting.

polyvinylchloride—a plastic material used in waterpipes.

porridge—a soft food made of cereal grains boiled in water or milk until thick.

potable water—safe drinking water.

potter’s kick wheel (potter’s wheel)—a tool used to form cups, bowls and other round objects; a heavy flywheel on the bottom allows smooth work on the clay.

poultry—chickens and similar birds raised for meat.

power co-efficient—the percentage of the total available power in the wind that a windmachine can capture at any specific windspeed.

power drive—the system of spinning shafts and gears used in transmitting mechanical energy.

power output—the amount of mechanical or electrical power produced.

power tiller—a small engine-driven machine for plowing or breaking the soil; usually has two wheels.

pragmatic—practical, taking into account organizational constraints and capabilities; for example, when deciding a path of action; taken too far, being “pragmatic” can mean taking the easier path so that fundamental problems are never addressed.

precarious—dangerous, insecure

precision file guide—a tool that aids in sharpening chainsaw blades.

predators—animals that eat other animals.

prejudice—an opinion held in disregard of facts that contradict it.

preliminary—introductory; coming before or leading up to the main action..

privy—a kind of latrine; usually a platform with a hole over a pit, for isolation of human waste.

producer-gas engine—an engine which runs on gas produced in a charcoal-making process.

product differentiation—marketing technique of making products appear to be different from other similar products with the same function.

production version—the final form of a product to be made in large quantities for the market.

productivity—the amount of product created or work accomplished per unit of something (usually labor time) invested.

proliferation—spread, increase.

prolific—producing a large amount.

propagandistic—involving the uncritical promotion of particular ideas and doctrines.

propagation—the reproduction or multiplication of a plant or animal.

propane torch—a hand-held torch that burns propane gas; used for workshop activities.

propeller—a device with two or more twisted blades that rotate with the hub in which they are mounted.

protective canopy—a plant cover, in the form of shrubs or trees, which protects the soil from the harsh effect of sun, wind and rain; particularly important in tropical forests that receive heavy rainfall.

prototype—an experimental version for testing.

protozoa—any of a group of microscopic animals made up of a single cell or group of identical cells; many of these are parasites.



pulp—a mixture of ground-up wood from which paper is made..

pulse—any member of the legume family (peas, beans, lentils, etc.).

punch—a tool for making holes.

punitive legislation—laws that declare certain activities illegal and create punishments for these activities.

pvc pipe—polyvinyl chloride (plastic) pipe made from petroleum products.


qualitative—not numerical; involving kind or type.

quantitative—numerical, involving numbers or quantities.

quarried stones—pieces of rock cut out from under the earth.

quasi—somewhat; to a certain extent.


radial-flow turbine—a turbine in which water flows around the axis.

radiating plate—a metal plate which serves to pass the heat from a fire underneath to the area or substance being heated; prevents direct contact with the flames and smoke of the fire

rammed earth—a technique of building construction in which earth is pounded inside movable forms to make walls.

rapacious—taking by force, greedy.

rarity—a very unusual thing or event.

rasp—coarse file for removing wood or metal..

rationale—reasons used to support a decision or conclusion.

rattan—a long slender tough stem that comes from a climbing palm and is used in making furniture.

ravine—a small narrow valley with steep sides, created by a stream.

reallocation—spending in a different place, or for a different purpose.


reamer—a tool used to smooth out or enlarge the inside of a pipe.

reaming—work using a reamer to smooth out or enlarge the inside of a pipe.

reap—to harvest.

reaping machine—a machine that cuts grain in the fields.


reclamation—a reclaiming; especially the recovery of wasteland or desert by irrigation, drainage, replanting, etc.

recoup—make up for something lost; recover.

rectifier—a device that converts alternating current into direct current.

recurring—happening again and again.

recycling—reusing; processing in order to reuse material.

reforestation—the process of planting trees in an area that once had them.

refraction—the bending of a ray of light as it passes from one medium to another.

refractory cement—cement that will survive high temperatures.

refractory materials—heat-resistant materials.

reinforcing rod (rebar)—metal rod used to increase the strength of concrete.

refuge—a place of protection against storms, etc.

rehabilitation—repair or rebuilding..

rehydration—the process of restoring the body to its natural balance of fluids.

rejuvenate—to revive.

relay—an electromagnetic device for automatic control that is operated by variation in conditions of an electric current; used to operate other devices (such as switches).

remote—far away.


rendering fat—melting fat until it becomes a liquid.

renewable energy—energy from sunlight, wind, falling water, or biological sources that is continually recharged by the sun.

renovation—the process of repairing and rebuilding.

repatriated—sent back to the country from which it came.

repudiate—to deny; to refuse to accept or support.


reservoir—a body of water held behind a dam.

resin—a solid or honey-like substance from plants.

resistor—a coil of wire used in an electrical system to provide resistance and thus heat.

respiratory system—the system of organs, including the lungs, involved in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide with the environment.

restoration—a putting back into a former, normal condition.

retort—a container in which a material is heated to extract gases.

retrogression—a return to a less complex or worse condition.

revegetation—the process of replanting in an area that has lost most of its plant life.

rhetorical—having unnecessary, exaggerated language or style in making a point.

riddled—filled; filled with holes..

rigorous—very strict, thoroughly accurate.

ripping chain—a tool used on a chainsaw for cutting along the length of a log, instead of across it.

ripple tank apparatus—a device made of glass and filled with water, used to show wave motion.

rivals—is similar to.

rivet—a metal pin used to bind two pieces of metal together.

riveting— binding of metal to metal using rivets pounded on both sides.

roadbed—the foundation of a road.

romantic— without a basis in fact.

roof pond—a shallow reservoir of water on a roof used to collect, store, and release energy to heat or cool a building.

root crops— crops in which the roots are the parts that are eaten; for example, potatoes and carrots.

rotating wooden drum washing machine—a machine that loosens the dirt in clothing by the rotating action of a drum or barrel inside a tub of water.

rote—(to memorize) mechanically and unthinkingly.

rototiller—a small motorized hand-tractor or cultivator usually with rotating blades.

routine—normal, regular, common.

rpm—revolutions per minute.

rubble—damaged building material.

rudimentary—primitive, simple.

rudiments—the elementary steps or information.

runoff agriculture—a form of cultivation totally dependent upon water which can be channeled onto the field during and immediately following rains..


sail cloth—cloth normally used on sailing ships.

sail windmill—a kind of windmill that uses removable cloth sails (usually 4 to 8) as the blades.

sailwing windmill—a kind of windmill that has a small number (usually 2 or 3) of blades that are generally made of cloth and are shaped like an airfoil (the shape of an airplane wing).

saline water—water with a high level of salts.

salinity—level of salt content.

sandcrete blocks— building blocks made of sand and cement.

sanitation—the use of hygienic measures such as the drainage and disposal of sewage.

savannah—a treeless plain found in tropical and subtropical regions; a transition zone between rain forest and desert.

Savonius rotor—a wind machine with a vertical axis, usually made from split oil drums.

sawyer—someone whose job is to saw wood.

scanty—too little, not enough.

schematic drawings—drawings that show the complete layout of a system with all of its connecting parts.

schistosome—a parasite that causes schistosomiasis when it enters and lives in the human body; spends part of its life in the body of a snail.

schistosomiasis—a tropical disease that involves problems in the liver, nervous system, urinary bladder, or lungs; spread by a parasite

scholarly—showing much knowledge, accuracy, and critical ability; presented in standard form acceptable to professors and other academics..screen printing—a method of printing through a piece of silk or other fine cloth on which all parts not to be printed have been coated with film that prevents ink from passing through.

scrutiny—careful examination.

scum controlling device—a mechanism that is used to break up the thick layer of materials that rises to the surface in a methane digester; this layer tends to prevent the production of gas.

scythe—a handtool with a long handle and metal blade, used to cut grain or grass.

sealant—a substance such as wax, plastic or silicone used for sealing, to make a substance airtight or watertight.

seam—the line formed by sewing together two pieces of material.

seasonal—taking place only during certain seasons of the year.

sedimentation—accumulation of mud, sand, and gravel carried by water.

seedbed—the earth in which seeds are planted in a garden.

seed dressing drum—a rotating drum in which seeds are mixed with fertilizers or pesticides.

seed drill—a tool which places seeds into the ground, usually by dropping them through a tube.

seed propagation—the production of seeds for future use.

segregate—keep divided.

self-actualizing—helping people to know themselves better.

semantic—related to meaning in language, the relationship between words and the concepts they represent.

sentimental—romantic, unrealistic, emotional.

septic tanks—large tanks for settling and decomposing human waste.

sewage—human waste material carried away by water.

shanty—substandard crude shelter..

shearing force—a force tending to cause a piece of metal tubing, for example to separate in a direction perpendicular to the tubing.

shears—heavy scissors for cutting sheet metal.

shelterbelt—a barrier zone of trees or shrubs planted to protect crops and soil from strong winds and erosion.

shingles—overlapping pieces of wood or other material used in roofing.

shoot—a new growth, sprout or twig.

shop tools—tools that are commonly found only in small workshops; usually mechanized.

short out (electricity)—to allow the electric current to go in a shorter path, thus preventing the normal action of a circuit, by connecting two wires that are not normally connected.

shrouded windmill—a windmill with a funnel around the outside edge of the swept area which forces wind from a larger area to pass through the blades.

sickle—a handtool with a curved metal blade for cutting grain or grass.

sieve—a device with small holes or screen to separate out larger particles while allowing smaller ones to pass through.

silhouette—outline against a light.

silicone sealant—a plastic compound used to seal a container so that water cannot enter or escape from it.

silk-screen printing—see screen printing.

silt—small particles of soil intermediate in size between sand and clay.

simultaneous—at the same time.

siting—choosing the location for.

sizing—determining the proper size; or separating according to size (for example, “sizing peanuts”).

skewed— distorted in one direction.

skilsaw—a hand-held electric saw with a circular blade..

skylight—a glass or plastic piece of a roof which allows light to enter a house or a room.

slang—popular words not found in dictionaries.

slash and burn shifting cultivation—the practice of cutting and burning forest vegetation to open land for subsistence agriculture in tropical countries; usually by small farmers; the soil is exhausted within five years and the farmers must move on to clear more forest.

slit—a narrow cut or crack through which light can pass.

sludge—the outflow of a digester or sewage treatment plant.

sludge treatment ponds—basins in which sewage, animal manures, and other wastes are broken down.

slurry—diluted waste material as it is placed into a digester.

smallholder—someone who owns only a small amount of land or some product.

smoker—a device used in beekeeping; a hand-bellows with some burning material which produces smoke to force the bees to move out of or into the hive.

soakway—a place for waste water to sink into the ground.

social account—the net economic effects of an investment or other action, measured as they affect an entire community or nation; which investments and policy measures appear wise may be different in social account than when only individual investment-profit effects are considered.

sod houses—houses with roofs or walls made from strips of soil still containing the roots of grass.

soil amendment—a substance that aids plant growth indirectly by improving the condition of the soil.

soil cement—a mixture of soil and a small amount of cement used in making blocks without sand for construction purposes.

soil conservation—a policy of maintaining and promoting the health and fertility of the soil; for example, by planting trees to prevent erosion.

solar distillation—a process in which solar energy is trapped and used to evaporate water, which then condenses as pure water that can be used for drinking.

solar greenhouse—a greenhouse that depends primarily on solar energy for heating; differs from a conventional greenhouse that uses fossil fuel energy to control the inside temperature.

solar radiation—energy from the sun.

soldering—a technique of lightweight metal bonding, by melting a soft metal at a lower temperature than in brazing.

soldering iron—a small tool used in lightweight metal bonding.

Solomon—a very wise king and judge in the Bible.

solvent—a liquid substance capable of dissolving or dispersing another substance.

sowing—planting seed, especially by throwing (broadcast sowing) or use of a mechanical metered device.

space heating—heating the air in a house, room or small area.

spar—long pole which supports a sail.

sparingly—in small quantity.

sparse—not common; few.

spawning—producing or depositing eggs, sperm or young.

species diversity—the number of different species in an area.

specific gravity—the ratio of the weight or mass of a given volume of a substance to that of an equal volume of water (liquids and solids) or air (gases).


spinning wheel—a device used to make cloth thread.

spinoff—a secondary development.

spokes—the bars or wires extending between the hub and rim of a bicycle or cart wheel.

spontaneous—happening suddenly or without an obvious cause..

spoon-tilt hammer—a device that has a hammer at one end, a balancing point, and a bucket-shaped (spoon-shaped) hollow at the other end; the bucket is slowly filled by a continuous flow of water from a pipe or stream; as the water fills this end it begins to drop down, which raises the hammer end; the water is able to escape when the bucket tilts too far, and the hammer then falls; the hammer can be used in a blacksmith’s shop, and the same principle has been used to pound rice to remove the hulls.

sporadic— occasional, irregular.

spring leaf—high carbon steel, tempered to be very hard and respond like a spring; used in automobile springs.

sprung frame—a frame mounted on springs.

squatters—people who have built shelters and houses on land they do not own.

squatter settlements—areas where poor people have moved in to live on previously unoccupied land.

stabilized soil—soil that has had emulsified asphalt, cement or other material added to make it resist erosion; used to make blocks for construction.

stabilizing agent—a substance that binds or makes firm, such as cement or lime; usually used in making building blocks.

stagnant—unchanging; lifeless.

staples—basic foods such as grains, beans, and tubers.

state-of-the-art—latest, most current, most technically advanced.


stator—the fixed outside part of an electric motor or generator.

staves—see barrel staves.

stereotype—a fixed concept about a group of people or an idea.

sterile— free from living germs.

stewardship—taking care of in a responsible manner to preserve quality and benefits over the long term.

stratification—the division into groups of different rank, status, or income..

stricken—affected by something painful or sickening.

striving—attempting; trying hard.

stroboscope—a revolving disc with holes around the edge which allow flashes of light to pass through it at regular intervals.

stucco—a coating for the outside walls of buildings, applied like plaster.

styrofoam—an industrially created material that is used for insulation, floating objects, and packaging.

subscribe (to an opinion)—believe.

subservient—humbly submissive.

subsidy—a grant of money.

subsistence agriculture—a system of farming in which a family produces all or almost all of their own goods, including food, tools, cloths, etc.; there is usually not a significant surplus for sale.

subtropics—regions bordering on the tropics, having a nearly tropical climate.

suction pump—a pump which lifts liquids only by creating a vacuum above the liquid level; used to lift water but only to about 20-25 feet (33 feet is the theoretical maximum).

sugar cane crusher—a tool used to flatten sugar cane stalks and extract the juice which contains the sugar.

sundial—a clock that indicates the time of day using the shadows caused by the sun.

super helicak—small taxi (Indonesia).

superimpose—to place on top of.

superphosphate—a synthetic chemical fertilizer, made by treating bone or phosphate rock with sulfuric acid.

surging—rapidly increasing.

surpass—to be better than.

suspension bridge—a bridge that is hung from cables..

sustainable—that which can be continued indefinitely into the future.

swab—to clean with a small piece of cotton.

swampy areas—land that is always wet.

swell—increase greatly.

swelling soils—soils that expand and shrink under conditions of changing pressure, water content, or temperature.


symptoms—evidence of disease.

synchronous inverter—device for changing direct current.

synergy—parts or ideas working together.

synthetic—human-made; non-natural.

synthetic fertilizer—an artificial substance which helps plants grow and develop.

syringe—a medical device used with a needle to give injections.


table saw—a saw with a rotating circular blade that has a flat surface built around it like a table.

tabular—arranged in a table or chart.

tandem—a two-wheeled bicycle that has seats and pedals for two riders.

tanner—someone who tans (preserves) animal hides and skins.

tannery—a place where animal hides and skins are preserved.

tapered—becoming smaller at one end..

taproot—a large main root found on many plants.

tarpaper—a thick paper product soaked in asphalt; used for waterproofing in roofs and walls.

technical fix—an attempt to solve a social, political or economic problem through a purely technical change, which may simply postpone the problem.

technocratic—of government in which all economic resources and the social system are controlled by scientists and engineers.

technological determinism—a theoretical point of view which holds that technological change is the primary cause of political and social change.

tempeh—an Indonesian food made from soybeans inoculated with bacteria.


temperate zone—either of two zones of the earth between the tropics and the polar regions.

tenant—someone who pays rent to use a house or piece of land.

tension—being pulled apart.

tenure—the act of holding property.

tenurial—related to holding property.

terminology—words from a particular field of activity.

terracing—the building of flat areas along contour lines of a hillside, to prevent soil erosion while allowing productive use of the land.

terrain—the surface of the land.

terrarium—a glass-walled container for small animals that allows careful observation of their behavior.

therapeutic—serving to cure, heal, or improve health.

thermal pollution—heat from a power plant or other source that can disturb the ecological balance.

thermal storage—heat storage during the warm or sunny parts of the day, for use during the colder parts of the night..

thermosiphon principle—the principle that heated liquids tend to rise; in a solar water heater, this principle can be used to enable circulation of water from a flat plate collector to a storage tank located above it, without the use of a pump.

thresher—a machine used to separate grain or beans from the unwanted straw or other plant material.

thriving— growing very well.

tiebars—strips of metal for securely fastening roofing pieces.

tie-ridging—a technique of field preparation in Africa, in which channels between ridges are periodically blocked by earth, to trap rainwater and prevent drainage.

tier— level.

tillage—the plowing of land.

tiller—a device for plowing the soil; a cultivator.

timescale—period of time during which an activity is planned or expected to take place.

tines—the teeth of a rake, harrow or cultivator.

tinkerer—a person who likes to make gadgets and inventions, but not in a serious manner.

tin snips—a tool similar to scissors, for cutting sheet metal.

tip-speed ratio—the ratio of the speed of the tip of a windmachine blade to the speed of the wind; a low tip-speed ratio (such as 1:1 in the Savonius rotor) at a moderate windspeed means the windmachine is better adapted to mechanical applications such as waterpumping; a high tip-speed ratio (such as 5:1 in a two-bladed windgenerator) at a moderate windspeed means the windmachine is better adapted to generating electricity.

tolerance—the amount of variation in the dimensions of parts that is acceptable when constructing a machine.

tongs—a tool used by blacksmiths to pick up hot pieces of metal.

toolbar—a frame to which different tools can be attached for various land preparation activities, such as plowing or cultivating..topography—the surface features of a region.

torque—the force that acts to produce rotation.

torrid—very hot.

torsion—the act of turning or twisting.

totalitarian regime—a government in which one group maintains complete control under a dictatorship.

toxic chemicals—poisons which may be harAvailable in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MFul to plants, animals and humans.

tragedy of the commons—the phenomenon that land, water, air and other things owned in common are frequently abused, polluted, or otherwise damaged, to the disadvantage of all.

trailer chassis—the frame of a trailer.

transaction—exchange of something for something else.

transfer pipette—a tube of glass or plastic used to move liquid from one container to another.

transformer—a device containing two or more coils of insulated wire that is used to change the voltage and amperage levels of an electric current.

transit level—an instrument for identifying a horizontal line or plane.

transmission loss—the amount of power lost between a turbine and the machinery it is operating; or electricity lost between the generator and the point of use.

trap—a plant which can eliminate harAvailable in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MFul insects.

treadle—a foot-powered mechanism that converts an up-and-down motion of the foot on a board into a rotating motion on a machine; commonly seen on sewing machines.

trip-hammer—a heavy mechanical hammer that is regularly lifted and dropped; used in blacksmithing.

Trombe wall—a space heating system that involves a wall covered with glass that traps solar energy and circulates the heat through vents into the building.

tropics—the region of the earth lying between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of

Capricorn, marking the limits of the apparent north and south journey of the sun.

troubleshooting—seeking the source of a problem in a piece of equipment.

trowel (verb)—to apply mortar using a trowel (a flat handtool).

truss—a rigid framework of beams or bars for supporting a roof or bridge.

truss plates—metal plates attached to the beams that support a roof.

T-square—an instrument for drawing or cutting 90-degree angles.

tuberculosis—an infectious disease that affects the lungs.

tubers—plants such as sweet potatoes which can be reproduced by planting pieces of the roots.

tuft—a small piece of wool.


turbine—a wheel with curved vanes on a shaft, driven by the pressure of water.

turbulence (wind)—wildly irregular motion of air.

turnbuckle—a metal sleeve with opposite internal threads at each end, by turning it one can tighten or loosen two threaded rods coming together at that point.

twist bit—the cutting edge of a wood drill; has a twisted blade.



u-bolt—a bolt shaped like the letter “u”.

undermining—removing the justification for.

undershot water wheel—a water wheel that is turned by water flowing underneath it; for example, by a small river.

unduly—unnecessarily..unfettered—without restrictions.


unhampered—not restricted.

unicycle—a pedalled cycle having only one wheel.


updraft and downdraft kilns—the adjective refers to the direction of air movement through the kiln.

urea—a high nitrogen fertilizer made from animal wastes or natural gas using a high-technology, energy-intensive process.

urine—liquid human waste


vaccinate—to give an injection that produces immunity to a specific disease by causing the formation of antibodies.

validity—truth, accuracy.

vane—a thin flat or curved object that is rotated about an axis by a flow of water or wind; for example, in a windmill or water turbine.

vaporizing—converting from a liquid to a gas by heating.

vaulted roof—a roof in the shape of an arc.

veil—to hide.


ventilation—the circulation of air through a room or enclosed space.

verbiage—an excess of words beyond those needed to say what is meant..

verging on—bordering, approaching.

versatile—can function or be used in many different ways.

vertical axis—an axle or axis which runs in a vertical (up and down) motion.

vertical-axis water wheel—a water wheel driven by water coming through a channel and hitting in on one side; has a vertical axis instead of the usual horizontal axis found on water wheels.

vertical-axis windmill—a windmill such as the Savonius rotor which always faces the wind, regardless of what direction it comes from; this differs from the more common horizontal-axis windmills which must turn to face the wind.

vertical shaft kilns—relatively small kilns used in the production of cement, having a vertical main shaft, differing from the more capital-intensive rotary kilns.

viable—successful, possible, practical.

virus—any of a group of extremely small infective agents that cause disease in animals, people and plants.

vise—a workshop device used to clamp or hold objects.

vogue—popularity or fashion.

volatile gas—unburned, energy-containing gases in the smoke of a fire.

voltage—the electric potential between two points, expressed in volts; can be understood as the “pressure” forcing electricity through the lines similar to pressure in a water system.

voltage regulator— a simple electrical instrument that controls the voltage level of the current from generator to battery (as in an automobile or windgenerator system).

voltmeter—an instrument for measuring voltage.

volumeter—an instrument used to measure the volume of liquids and gases directly, and of solids by the amount of liquid they displace.

vulnerability—the state of being open to attack or damage.

vulnerable—easily hurt..


water-borne—carried by water.

water catchment—an apparatus for collecting and storing water.

water hammer—see spoon-tilt hammer.

waterproofing—applying a substance to protect an object from contact with water.

water seal privy (water seal toilet)—a human waste disposal system that has a passageway filled with water which prevents odors, gases, and disease organisms from returning through the passageway.

water turbine—a device powered by the reaction or impulse of a current of water subject to pressure; usually has curved blades; is used to generate electricity because it has a higher rpm than a water wheel.

water wheel—a wheel with buckets or paddles which allow it to be turned by falling water or water moving underneath.

weaning—the process of causing a young child to eat other foods than mother’s milk.

weatherization—the process of sealing air leaks and insulating a house to reduce heat loss.


welding—high-temperature heavy-duty metal bonding; arc-welding uses heat created as an electric current passes across a small gap; oxyacetylene (carbide) welding uses the heat created by burning a mixture of oxygen and acetylene gas.

welding jig—a device used to hold metal that is being welded.

well rings—metal or concrete cylinders placed inside a well to prevent material from the walls from collapsing inward.


wheelwright—someone whose job is the making or repair of wheels or wheeled vehicles.

whole-heartedly— enthusiastically.

winch—a device for hauling, pulling, or raising another object, that allows the operator to slowly move something that he or she would normally not be able to move at all.

winch plow—a plow pulled across the field by a cable attached to a winch.

windbreak—a hedge, fence, or row of trees that serves as protection from wind.

windgenerator—a machine which uses wind power to generate electricity.

winding (wire)—a coil of wire; when electricity is passed through this coil a magnetic field is created, which can be used to operate switches.

windmachine—any kind of machine which gets its motion from the wind.

windmill—originally a machine which uses the wind to drive the grinding stones of a mill to make flour from grain; often used to refer to any kind of windmachine, particularly wind-powered machines for waterpumping.

windwheel—any kind of windmachine which has blades or arms in the shape of the spokes of a wheel.

winnower—a machine used to separate grain from hulls or straw.

wire mesh—wire or steel reinforcing bars in a woven pattern; used as reinforcement in ferrocement construction.

wither—to dry up.

wobbling—unsteady; unstable.

woodlot—land planted with trees grown for fuelwood.

workplace—the site of a job, in this context including a calculation of all supporting capital costs for tools.


yurt—a traditional Mongolian dwelling.

Complete List of Books by Subject in the Sourcebook and the AT Library


 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

Background Reading
General References
The Workshop
Crop Drying, Preservation, and Storage
Water Supply and Sanitation
Water Supply: Pumps
Water Supply: Tanks
Water Supply: Solid Wastes
Water Supply: Treatment
Energy: General
Energy: Improved Cookstoves and Charcoal Production
Energy: Wind
Energy: Water
Energy: Solar
Energy: Biogas
Housing and Construction
Health Care
Science Teaching
Nonformal Education and Training
Small Enterprises and Cooperatives
Local Communications
Small Industries
Disaster Preparedness and Relief

Background Reading
Appropriate Technology for African Women
Appropriate Technology: Problems and Promises
The Barefoot Book
Coming Full Circle
Design for the Real World
Experiences in Appropriate Technology
High Impact Appropriate Technology Case Studies
Introduction to Appropriate Technology
Paper Heroes
Participatory Approaches to Agricultural Research and Development
Questioning Development
Radical Technology
Repairs Reuse Recycling
Rural Women
Sharing Smaller Pies
Strategies for Small Farmer Development Projects
Technology and Employment in Industry
Technology for the Masses in Invention Intelligence
Towards Global Action for Appropriate Technology
Village Technology in Eastern Africa
When Aid is No Help
The World of Appropriate Technology
General References
Appropriate Technology and Research Projects
Appropriate Technology Directory
Appropriate Technology for Rural Development
Appropriate Technology Institutions: A Directory
Appropriate Technology Institutions: A Review
Appropriate Technology: Directory of Machines Tools Plants Equipment Processes and Industries
Bibliography of Appropriate Technology Information for Developing Countries
The Book of the New Alchemists
China at Work
Dick’s Encyclopedia of Practical Receipts and Processes
Economically Appropriate Technologies for Developing Countries
Fichier Encyclopedique du Development Rural
Field Director’s Handbook
Field Engineering
The Formula Manual
Foxfire Book 1
Foxfire Book 2
Foxfire Book 3
Foxfire Book 4
Foxfire Book 5
Foxfire Book 6
A Guide to Appropriate Technology Institutions
Guide to Convivial Tools
Guide to Technology Transfer in East Central and Southern Africa
How to Build Up a Simple Multidimensional Documentation System on Appropriate Technology
Intermediate Technology in Ghana
Introducing Family Planning in Your Neighborhood
The Journal of the New Alchemists Volume 1
The Journal of the New Alchemists Volume 3
The Journal of the New Alchemists Volume 4
The Journal of the New Alchemists Volume 5
Knots for Mountaineering: Camping Climbing Utility Rescue Etc.
Liklik Buk
The Mechanical Engineers’ Pocket Book
Mini Technology II
Mini Technology
More Other Homes and Garbage
NonAgricultural Choice of Technology
One Hundred Innovations for Development
People’s Workbook
Pictorial Handbook of Technical Devices
Simple Technologies for Rural Women in Bangladesh
Simple Working Models of Historic Machines
Soft Tech
Teknologi Kampungan
Tinker Tailor Technical Change
Traditional Crafts of Persia
The Use of the Radio in Family Planning
Village Technology Handbook
Visual Aids Tracing Manual
World Neighbors in Action
Local Self-Reliance
Alternative Development Strategies and Appropriate Technology
Another Development: Approaches and Strategies
Appropriate Technology in Social Context
The Breakdown of Nations
A Landscape for Humans
Learning from China
Local Responses to Global Problems
Rural SmallScale Industry in the People’s Republic of China
Rural University
Small Scale Cement Plants
Soft Technologies Hard Choices
Technologies for Basic Needs
Technology for Ujamaa Village Development in Tanzania
Towards Village Industry
4Wheel Band Saw
Inch Table Saw
Amateur’s Workshop
Basic Machines and How They Work
Bearing Design and Fitting
The Beginner’s Workshop
Blacksmithing Welding and Soldering
A Blacksmith’s Bellows
DeCristoforo’s Book of Power Tools Both Stationary and Portable
Electric Motor Test and Repair
Electroplating for the Amateur
Equipment for Rural Workshops Fabricating Simple Structures in Agricultural Engineering1
Fabricating Simple Structures in Agricultural Engineering
Farm Shop and Equipment
Foundrywork for the Amateur
Gear Wheels and Gear Cutting
General Metal Work Sheet Metal Work and Hand Pump Maintenance
Handtool Handbook for Woodworking
Hardening and Tempering Engineers’ Tools
Heavy Duty Drill Press
How to Make a Folding Machine for Sheet Metal Work
How to Make Planes Cramps and Vices
How to Make Twelve Woodworking Tools
How to Mill on a Drill Press
How to Use Metal Tubing
How to Work Sheet Metal
How to Work with Copper Piping
Lathe Sanders
LeJay Manual
LostWax Casting
The Making of Tools
A Manual on Sharpening Hand Woodworking Tools
Metal Bending Machine
Metal Turning Lathe Built from Stock Parts
Metalworking Handbook
The Modern Blacksmith
Motorize Your Hacksaw
A Museum of Early American Tools
Oil Drum Forges
Practical Blacksmithing
The Procedure Handbook of Arc Welding
The Recycling Use and Repair of Tools
Scroll Saw
Sharpening Small Tools
Sheet Metal Brake
Sheet Metal Former
Shop Tactics
Small Scale Foundries for Developing Countries
Smelting Furnace
Spring Design and Calculation
Stocking Spare Parts for a Small Repair Shop
Technical Drawing
Technology Metal 1 Fundamental Skills
Three Welding Jigs
Tools and How to Use Them
Tools and Their Uses
Try Your Hand at Metal Spinning
TwoSpeed Bandsaw Cuts Wood and Metal
The Use of Hand Woodworking Tools
Welding Craft Practices
Wood Planer for $100
Workshop Exercises Metal Fundamental Skills
Agricultural Extension
Agricultural Extension: The Training and Visit System
AgroForestry Systems for the Humid Tropics East of the Andes
An Agromedical Approach to Pesticide Management
Alternative Agriculture
Animal Husbandry in the Tropics
Approved Practices in Soil Conservation
The Art of the Informal Agricultural Survey
As You Sow
Backyard Composting
The Basic Book of Organic Gardening
Basic Soil Improvement for Everyone
Better Farming Series #1 The Plant: The Living Plant The Root
Better Farming Series #2 The Plant: The Stems; The Buds; The Leaves
Better Farming Series #3 The Plant: The Flower
Better Farming Series #4 The Soil: How the Soil is Made Up
Better Farming Series #5 The Soil: How to Conserve the Soil
Better Farming Series #6 The Soil: How to Improve the Soil
Better Farming Series #7 Crop Farming
Better Farming Series #8 Animal Husbandry: Feeding and Care of Animals
Better Farming Series #9 Animal Husbandry: Animal Disease
Better Farming Series #10 The Farm Business Survey
Better Farming Series #11 Cattle Breeding
Better Farming Series #12 Sheep and Goat Breeding
Better Farming Series #13 Keeping Chickens
Better Farming Series #14 Farming with Animal Power
Better Farming Series #15 Cereals
Better Farming Series #16 Roots and Tubers
Better Farming Series #17 Groundnuts
Better Farming Series #18 Bananas
Better Farming Series #19 Market Gardening
Better Farming Series #20 Upland Rice
Better Farming Series #21 Wet Paddy or Swamp Rice
Better Farming Series #22 Cocoa
Better Farming Series #23 Coffee
Better Farming Series #24 The Oil Palm
Better Farming Series #25 The Rubber Tree
Better Farming Series #26 The Modern Farm Business
Better Farming Series # Freshwater Fish Farming
The Book of Geese
China: Recycling of Organic Wastes in Agriculture
Code of Practice for Safe Use of Pesticides
Composting for the Tropics
Composting in Tropical Agriculture
Composting: Sanitary Disposal and Reclamation of Organic Wastes
Conservation Farming for Small Farmers in the Humid Tropics
The Design and Optimization of Irrigation Distribution Networks
Environmentally Sound Small Scale Agricultural Projects
Farm Management Research for Small Farmer Development
The Farmer’s Guide
A Farmer’s Primer on Growing Rice
Fields and Pastures in Deserts
Friends of the Rice Farmer
Gardening for Better Nutrition
Gardening with the Seasons
Goat Health Handbook
Growing Garden Seeds
Guide for Field Crops in the Tropics and Subtropics
Guide for Small Holder Coffee Farmers
Guidelines for Watershed Management
Gully Control and Reclamation
Handbook of Tropical and Subtropical Horticulture
The Homesteader’s Handbook for Raising Small Livestock
How to Grow More Vegetables
How to Make Fertilizer
How to Perform an Agricultural Experiment
Illustrated Guide to Integrated Pest Management in Rice in Tropical Asia
Insights of Outstanding Farmers
Integrated Farm Management
Integrated Pest Management: A Catalogue of Training and Extension Materials
Integrated Pest Management
Intensive Gardening for Profit and Self Sufficiency
Intercropping in Tropical Smallholder Agriculture with Special Reference to Wes tAfrica
Introduction to Soil and Water Conservation Practices
Irrigation Principles and Practices
Jojoba and Its Uses
Jojoba Happenings
Jojoba: A Guide to the Literature
Keeping Livestock Healthy
Leucaena Based Farming
Lost Crops of the Incas
Managing Pests and Pesticides in Small Scale Agriculture
Manual for Calculation of Check Dams
More Water for Arid Lands
The Nursery Manual
Operation and Maintenance of Small Irrigation Schemes
Permaculture II
Pigs and Poultry in the South Pacific
A Planning Guide for SmallScale Livestock Projects
Practical Poultry Raising
The Rabbit as a Producer of Meat and Skins in Developing Countries
Rabbit Production
Raising Goats for Milk and Meat
Raising Healthy Cattle Under Primitive Conditions
Raising Healthy Goats Under Primitive Conditions
Raising Healthy Pigs Under Primitive Conditions
Raising Healthy Poultry Under Primitive Conditions
Raising Healthy Rabbits Under Primitive Conditions
Raising Poultry the Modern Way
Raising Rabbits
Raising the Home Duck Flock
The Samaka Guide to Homesite Farming
The self-sufficient Gardener
Sheep Health Handbook
Simple Assessment Techniques for Soil and Water
Small Farm Development
Small Farm Weed Control
Small Plastic Greenhouses
Small Scale Irrigation
Small Scale Pig Raising
Soil Conservation
Soil Tillage in the Tropics and Subtropics
Soils Crops and Fertilizer Use
Surface Irrigation
Technology Applications Gap
Test the Soil First
Training and Visit Extension
Tropical Feeds
Tropical Legumes
Tropical Vegetables
Try the Rabbit
Two Ears of Corn
Underexploited Tropical Plants with Promising Economic Value
Understanding Small Farmers
Understanding Traditional Agriculture
The UNICEF Home Gardens Handbook
Vegetable Production Under Arid and SemiArid Conditions in Tropical Africa
Vegetable Seeds for the Tropics
Vetiver Grass
The Water Buffalo
The Winged Bean
Agricultural Tools
Adjustable Width VDrag Ditcher/Bund Former
The Agribar Operator’s Manual
Agricultural Technology for Developing Nations
American Farm Tools
Animal Power in Farming Systems
Animal Traction in Africa
Animal Traction
The Animal Drawn Wheeled Tool Carrier
Animal Drawn Wheeled Tool carriers: Perfected Yet Rejected
Appropriate Industrial Technology for Agricultural Machinery and Implements
Bell Alarms and Sack Hoists in Windmills
Cassava Grinder
Cereal Processing
Chain Link Fence Making Machine
Chitedze Ridgemaster Toolbar
Clod Crushers Two Designs
Dibble Sticks Donkeys and Diesels
The Draft Horse Primer
Eight Simple Surveying Levels
The Employment of Draught Animals in Agriculture
Farm Implements for Arid and Tropical Regions
A Feeder to Improve the Performance of a Hand Operated Groundnut Sheller
Foot Powered Thresher
Guide Book for Rural Cottage and Small and Medium Industries: Paddy Rice Cultivation
The Handcart Handbook
A Hand Operated Bar Mill for Decorticating Sunflower Seed
A Hand Operated Winnower
The Harness Maker’s Illustrated Manual
Harnessing and Implements for Animal Traction
The Harnessing of Draught Animals
Horse Drawn Farm Implements
How to Repair Briggs and Stratton Engines
IDC Weeding Attachment for EMCOT Plow
IDCBornu Groundnut Lifter and IT Groundnut Lifter
Introduction of Animal Powered Cereal Mills
IT Expandable Cultivator
IT Granule Applicator
IT High Clearance Rotary Hoe
Kabanyalo Toolbar
Lightweight Seeder/Spreader
Making Coir Rope
Mechanics in Agriculture
MultiAction Paddy Field Puddling Tool
Oil Extraction
Oil Soaked Wood Bearings
Old Farm Tools and Machinery
OxDrawn Tie Ridger/Weeder Implement
A Pedal Operated Grain Mill
The Potential for SmallScale Solar Powered Irrigation in Pakistan
Prototype multipurpose OxDrawn Tool
The “Rasulia” Bladed Roller Thresher
Repair and Maintenance of Stationary Diesel Engines
Rice: Postharvest Technology
Root Crop Processing
Rotary Corn (Sorghum) Thresher
Rotary Weeder for Row Planted Rice
Rural Africa Development Project
The Scythe Book
Seed Dressing Drum (Hand Operated)
Single Row and ThreeRow Rice Seeders
Sled Type Corrugator Irrigation Furrow Former
Small Farm Equipment for Developing Countries
Small Gas Engines
Small Scale Maize Milling
Small Scale Oil Extraction from Groundnuts and Copra
Small Scale Processing of Oilfruits and Oilseeds
SmallScale Solar Powered Irrigation Pumping Systems
Solar Photovoltaics for Irrigation Water Pumping
Solar Water Pumping: A Handbook
Tools for Agriculture
Tools for Homesteaders Gardeners and SmallScale Farmers
Treadle Operated Peanut Thresher
The Tropicultor’s Manual: Field Operations
The Weeder Mulcher
The Winnower
Winnowing Fan
Crop Preservation
Appropriate Technology for Grain Storage
China: Grain Storage Structures
Construction of a Brick Hot Air Copra Dryer
Cookbook for Building a Solar Crop Dryer
Domestic Grain Storage Bins
Dry It You’ll Like It
Drying and Processing Tree Fruits
Drying Equipment for Cereal Grains and Other Agricultural Produce
Evaluation of the Bissa
Fish Processing
Food Drying
Fruit and Vegetable Processing
Guide to the Manufacture of Metal Bins
Handling and Storage of Food Grains in Tropical and Subtropical Areas
Home Scale Processing and Preservation of Fruits and Vegetables
How to Build a Solar Crop Dryer
How to Dry Fruits and Vegetables
How to Make a Solar Cabinet Dryer for Agricultural Produce
How to Salt Fish
Manual on Improved Farm and VillageLevel Grain Storage Methods
Postharvest Food Losses in Developing Countries
Potential of Solar Agricultural Dryers in Developing Areas Preservation of Foods
Principles of Potato Storage
Rural Home Techniques: Food Preservation
Simple Grain Drier
Small Farm Grain Storage
Small-Scale Processing of Fish
Solar Drying: Practical Methods of Food Preservation
Solar Grain Drying
Stocking Up
Storage Management
Storage of Food Grain
Storing Vegetables and Fruits in Basements Cellars Outbuildings and Pits
Sun Dry Your Fruits and Vegetables
A Survey of Solar Agricultural Dryers
Agroforestry Species: A Crop Sheets Manual
Barnacle Parp’s Chain Saw Guide
The Chainsaw and the Lumbermaker
China: Forestry Support for Agriculture
Constructing and Operating a Small Solar Heated Lumber Dryer
Crosscut Saw Manual
Environmentally Sound SmallScale Forestry Projects
Firewood Crops
Forest Farming
A Forest Tree Seed Directory
Forestry Case Studies
Forestry for Local Community Development
Frame Saw Manual
Land Clearance
Make Your Own Precision Milled Lumber from Logs and Trees: Alaskan MKII
Manual of Reforestation and Erosion Control for the Philippines
Natural Durability and Preservation of One Hundred Tropical African Woods
An Overview of Possible Uses of Sawdust
People and Trees
Planning for Agroforestry
Planting Tree Crops
A Pocket Directory of Trees and Seeds in Kenya
The Propagation of Tropical Fruit Trees
Reforestation in Arid Lands
Savanna Afforestation in Africa
ShortRotation Forestry
Small and Medium Sawmills in Developing Countries
Timber Drying Manual
Tree Crops
Tree Planting in Africa South of the Sahara
Wood Harvesting with Hand Tools
Aquaculture Practices in Taiwan
Artificial Salmon Spawning
Better Freshwater Fish Farming: The Fish
Better Freshwater Fish Farming: The Pond
Elementary Guide to Fish Culture in Nepal
Fish Catching Methods of the World
Fish Culture in Central East Africa
Fishing with Bottom Gillnets
Freshwater Fish Farming: How to
Freshwater Fish Pond Culture and Management
Freshwater Fisheries and Aquaculture in China
Making Aquatic Weeds Useful
Pair Trawling with Small Boats
Practical Shellfish Farming
Profitable Cage Culture
Raising Fresh Fish in Your Home Waters
Salmon Rancher’s Manual
Tropical Oysters
Water Supply: Background
Environmentally Sound Small-ScaLe Water Projects
Guidelines on Health Aspects of Plumbing
Water for the Thousand Millions
Hand Pump Maintenance in the Context of Community Well Projects
Rainwater Harvesting
Using Water Resources
Design Problems for a Simple Rural Supply System
Gravity Flow Water Systems
Hand Drilled Wells
Hand Dug Wells and Their Construction
A Handbook of Gravity-Flow Water Systems for Small Communities
Manual for Rural Water Supply
Manual for Water Systems and Pipe Work
Public Standpost Water Supplies
Public Standpost Water Supplies: A Design Manual
Rainwater Harvesting for Domestic Water Supply in Developing Countries
Residential and non-residential Drinking Water Installations and Drainage Requirements in Buildings in Nepal
Rural Water Supply in China
Rural Water Supply in Developing Countries
Rural Water Supply in Nepal: Concrete
Rural Water Supply in Nepal: Construction Design Course
Rural Water Supply in Nepal: Hydrology and Water Cycle
Rural Water Supply in Nepal: Pipes and Fittings
Rural Water Supply in Nepal: Stone Masonry
self-help Wells
Small Community Water Supplies
Village Water Systems
Water Supply for Rural Areas and Small Communities
Water Wells Manual
Well Construction Using Curved Hollow Block
Wells Construction: handgun and HandDrilled
Water Supply: Pumps
Chinese Chain and Washer Pumps
Community Water Supply: The Handpump Option
A Comparative Assessment of Photovoltaics Handpumps and Diesels for Rural Water Supply
The Construction of a Hydraulic Ram Pump
Hand Pumps for Use in Drinking Water Supplies in Developing Countries
Handpumps Testing and Development: Proceedings of a Workshop in China
Handpumps Testing and Development: Progress Report on Field and Laboratory Testing
Hydraulic Rams3
Hydraulic Rams: Consumer’s Guide
Laboratory Testing of Handpumps for Developing Countries
Manual of Information: RIFE Hydraulic Rams
A Manual on the Hydraulic Ram Pump for Pumping Water
Popular Mechanics Hydraulic Ram0
Pump Selection Pumps and Water Lifters for Rural Development
The Rower Pump
Use of Hydraulic Rams in Nepal
Village Hand-pump Technology
Water Current Turbines
Water-Pumping Devices
Women and the Transport of Water
Water Supply: Tanks
Ferrocement Water Tanks and Their Construction
Construction Manual for 3500 gal. Ferrocement Water Tank
Bamboo Reinforced Concrete Rainwater Collection Tanks
From Ferro to Bamboo
Water Supply: Treatment
How to Make a Solar Still (Plastic Covered)
Installation of a Solar Distillation Plant on Ile de la Gonave Haiti
Plans for a Glass and Concrete Solar Still
The Purification of Water on a Small Scale
Simple Solar Still for the Production of Distilled Water
Simplified Procedures for Water Examination
Slow Sand Filtration for Community Water Supply in Developing Countries
Design and Construction Manual
Construction Operation and Maintenance
Slow Sand Filtration
Solar Disinfection of Drinking Water and Oral Rehydration Solutions
Solar Distillation as a Means of Meeting Small Scale Water Demands
Water Treatment and Sanitation
Water Supply: Sanitation
A.T. for Water Supply and Sanitation: Sanitation Alternatives for LowIncome Communities4
A.T. for Water Supply and Sanitation: Technical and Economic Options
A.T. for Water Supply and Sanitation: A Planner’s Guide
A.T. for Water Supply and Sanitation: Health Aspects of Excreta and Sullage Management
A.T. for Water Supply and Sanitation: LowCost Technology Options for Sanitation
A.T. for Water Supply and Sanitation: Sociocultural Aspects of Water Supply and Excreta Disposal
A.T. for Water Supply and Sanitation: Night Soil Composting
Aquaculture: A Component of Low Cost Sanitation Technology
The CoComposting of Domestic Solid and Human Wastes
Compost Toilets
The Design of Small Bore Sewer Systems
The Design of Ventilated Improved Pit Latrines
Double Vault Composting Toilets
Dry Composting Latrines in Guatemala
Excreta Disposal for Rural Areas and Small Communities
Goodbye to the Flush Toilet
How to Build a Pit Latrine
Human Faeces Urine and Their Utilization
Manual on the Design Construction and Maintenance of Low Cost PourFlush Waterseal Latrines in India
Natural Sewage Recycling Systems
Sanitation Handbook (Nepal)
Sanitation in Developing Countries
Sanitation Without Water
Septic Tank Practices
Ventilated Improved Pit Latrines
Water Supply: Solid Waste
Wastewater Irrigation in Developing Countries
Management of Solid Wastes in Developing Countries
Recycling from Municipal Refuse
Residential Water ReUse
Energy: General
Design for a PedalDriven Power Unit for Transport and Machine Uses in Developing Countries
The Economics of Renewable Energy Systems for Developing Countries
Energy for Rural Development (Supplement)
Energy for Rural Development
Energy: The Solar Prospect
Food or Fuel
Foot Power
Fuel Alcohol Production
Fuel from Farms
Gemini Synchronous Inverter Systems
The Haybox
The Heat Generator
Hot Water
Independent Energy
Manege: AnimalDriven Power Gear
Model Boilers and Boilermaking
Model Stationary and Marine Steam Engines
Pedal Power: In Work Leisure and Transportation
The Planning Installation and Maintenance of LowVoltage Rural Electrification Systems and Subsystems
The Power Guide
Proceedings of the Meeting of the Expert Working Group on the Use of Solar and Wind Energy
Rays of Hope
Renewable Energy Research in India?Renewable Energy Resources and Rural Applications in the Developing World
Small Scale Renewable Energy Resources and Locally Feasible Technology in Nepal
The Solar Energy Timetable
Steam Power
The Use of Pedal Power for Agriculture and Transport in Developing Countries
Energy: Cookstoves
Brief Notes on the Design and Construction of Wood-burning Cook-stoves
Burning Issues
Charcoal Making for Small Scale Enterprises
Charcoal Production Using a Transportable Metal Kiln
Comparing Simple Charcoal Production Technologies for the Caribbean
Comparison of Improved Stoves
The Complete Book of Heating with Wood
The Construction Installation and Operation of an Improved Pit-Kiln for Charcoal Production
The Construction of a Transportable Charcoal Kiln
A Cooking Place for Large-Sized Pots
Cook-stove Construction by the TerraCETA Method
Designing a Test Procedure for Domestic Wood-burning Stoves
Double Drum Sawdust Stove
From Lorena to a Mountain of Fire
Guidelines on Evaluating the Fuel Consumption of Improved Cookstoves
Helping People in Poor Countries Develop FuelSaving Cookstoves
How to Build an Oil Barrel Stove
Improved Wood Waste and Charcoal Burning Stoves
The Kenya Ceramic Jiko
Lab Tests of Fired Clay Stoves the Economics of Improved Stoves and Steady State Heat Loss from Massive Stoves
Laboratory and Field Testing of Monolithic Mud Stoves
Less Smoky Rooms
Lorena OwnerBuilt Stoves
Modern Stoves for All
New Nepali Cooking Stoves
One Pot Two Pot…Jackpot
Report on Training of District Extensionists
Rice Husk Conversion to Energy
Rice Husks as a Fuel
SawdustBurning Space Heater Stove
The SocioEconomic Context of Fuelwood Use in Small Communities
Splitting Firewood
Technology Markets and People
Testing the Efficiency of WoodBurning Cookstoves
Testing Timber for Moisture Content
Wood Conserving Cook Stoves Bibliography
Wood Conserving Cook Stoves: A Design Guide
A Woodstove Compendium
Energy: Wind
Aspects of Irrigation with Windmills
Considerations for the Use of Wind Power for Borehole Pumping
Construction Manual for PU350 and PU500 Windmills
Construction Manual for a Cretan Windmill
Electric Power from the Wind
Energy from the Wind
Food from Windmills
The Gaudgaon Village Sailwing Windmill
The Homebuilt WindGenerated Electricity Handbook
Homemade 6Volt WindElectric Plants
The Homemade Windmills of Nebraska
Horizontal Axis Fast Running Wind Turbines for Developing Countries
How to Build a “Cretan Sail” Windpump for Use in LowSpeed Wind Conditions
How to Construct a Cheap Wind Machine for Pumping Water
Low Cost Wind Speed Indicator
LowCost Windmill for Developing Nations
Matching of Wind Rotors to Low Power Electrical Generators
Optimization and Characteristics of a Sailwing Windmill Rotor
Performance Test of a Savonius Rotor
Piston Water Pump
Report on the Practical Application of WindPowered Pumps
Rotor Design for Horizontal Axis Windmills
Sahores Windmill Pump
Savonius Rotor Construction
Selecting Water Pumping Windmills
Set of Construction Drawings for PU350 and PU500 Windmills
Simplified Wind Power Systems for Experimenters
A Siting Handbook for Small Wind Energy Conversion Systems
A Survey of the Possible Use of Windpower in Thailand and the Philippines
Syllabus for Irrigation with Windmills
Technical Report
Trees as an Indicator of Wind Power Potential
Un Molino de Viento Tropical Gaviotas
Vegetation as an Indicator of High Wind Velocity
Vertical Axis Sail Windmill Plans
The Wind Power Book
Wind Power for Farms Homes and Small Industry
Windpower in Eastern Crete
Windpumping Handbook
Windpumping: A Handbook
Windpumps for Irrigation
Energy: Water
The Banki Water Turbine
Cost Reduction Considerations in Small Hydropower Equipment
A Design Manual for Water Wheels
Design of CrossFlow Turbine BYS/T2
Design of CrossFlow Turbine BYS/T3
Design of Small Water Storage and Erosion Control Dams
Design of Small Water Turbines for Farms and Small Communities
The Dhading MicroHydropower Plant:
Directory of Manufacturers of Small Hydropower Equipment
Harnessing Water Power for Home Energy
Hints on the Development of Small WaterPower
Industrial Archaeology of Watermills and Waterpower
Local Experience with MicroHydro Technology
LowCost Development of Small Water Power Sites
Manual for the Design of a Simple Mechanical WaterHydraulic Speed Governor
Micro Hydro Electric Power
Micro Pelton Turbines
MicroHydro Power: Reviewing an Old Concept
MicroHydro: Civil Engineering Aspects
MicroHydropower Schemes in Pakistan
MicroHydropower Sourcebook
Microhydropower Handbook Volume 233
Microhydropower Handbook Volume 234
Mill Drawings
Mini Hydro Power Stations
MultiPurpose Power Unit with Horizontal Water Turbine: Basic Information
MultiPurpose Power Unit with Horizontal Water Turbine: Operation and Maintenance Manual
Nepal: Private Sector Approach to Implementing MicroHydropower Schemes
On Watermills in Central Crete
Overshot and Current Water Wheels
A Pelton MicroHydro Prototype Design
The Segner Turbine
Small Earth Dams
Small Hydroelectric Powerplants
Small Hydropower for Asian Rural Development
Small Michell (Banki) Turbine
Small Scale Hydropower Technologies
Water Power for the Farm
Watermills with Horizontal Wheels
Young MillWright and Miller’s Guide
Your Own Water Power Plant
Energy: Solar
An Attached Solar Greenhouse
Basic Principles of Passive Solar Design
A Bibliography for the Solar Home Builder
Bread Box Water Heater
The Design and Development of a Solar Powered Refrigerator
Elements of Solar Architecture for Tropical Regions
Evaluation of Solar Cookers
The Food and Heat Producing Solar Greenhouse
The Fuel Savers
Homegrown Sun dwellings
Low Cost Passive Solar Greenhouses
The Passive Solar Energy Book
Proceedings of the Conference on Energy Conserving Solar Heated Greenhouses
Reaching Up Reaching Out
The Solar Cookery Book
Solar Dwelling Design Concepts
The Solar Greenhouse Book
The Solar Home Book
Solar Photovoltaic Products
The Solar Survey Solar Energy
A Solar Water Heater Workshop Manual
Solar Water Heaters in Nepal
SolarPowered Electricity
A StateoftheArt Survey of Solar Powered Irrigation Pumps Solar Cookers and Woodburning Stoves
Technology for Solar Energy Utilization3
Window Box Solar Collector Design

Energy: Biogas
The Anaerobic Digestion of Livestock Wastes to Produce Methane
Biogas and Waste Recycling
The Biogas/Biofertilizer Business Handbook
Biogas Handbook
Biogas Plants in Animal Husbandry
Biogas Systems in India
Biogas Technology in the Third World
Compost Fertilizer and Biogas Production from Human and Farm Wastes in the People’s Republic of China
A Chinese Biogas Manual
Fuel Gas from Cow Dung
Renewable Sources of Energy: Biogas
Report on the Design and Operation of a FullScale Anaerobic Dairy Manure Digester
Running a Biogas Programme
Housing and Construction
Adobe as a Socially Appropriate Technology for the Southwest
Adobe Craft
Appropriate Building Materials
Bamboo as a Building Material
Bambu—Su Cultivo y Aplicaciones
The Book of Bamboo
Brickmaking in Developing Countries
Build a Yurt
Building to Resist the Effect of Wind: A Guide for Improved Masonry and Timber Connections in Buildings
Building with Earth
Chawama SelfHelp Housing Project
Comparison of Alternative Design Wheelbarrows for Haulage in Civil Construction Tasks
Construction of Trail Suspended Bridges in Nepal
Construction Reference Manual
Construire en Terre
Earth for Homes
Earth Sheltered Housing Design
Farm Structures in Tropical Climates
Ferrocement a Versatile Construction Material
Ferrocement: Applications in Developing Countries
The $50 and Up Underground House Book
Grasses—Their Use in Building
Handbook for Building Homes of Earth
House Form and Culture
Housing by People
How to Build a House Using SelfHelp Housing Techniques
The Kenyan Low Cost Modular Timber Bridge
LowCost Country Home Building
LowCost Housing: Prefabricated Panel System
Making Building Blocks with the ClNVARam Block Press
Making the Adobe Brick
Manual for Building a Rammed Earth Wall
A Manual of Building Construction
Manual of Rural Wood Preservation
Manual para la Construccion de la CETARam
Mud Brick Roofs
Mud Mud
Nuevas Tecnicas de Construccion con Bambu
00 to 3000 Capacity Brick Kiln
The Owner Builder’s Guide to Stone Masonry
The Owner Built Home
The Owner Built Homestead
Painting Inside and Out
Plastic Sheeting
Pole Buildings in Papua New Guinea
Popular Manual for Wooden House Construction
Rice Husk Ash Cement
Roof Constructions for Housing in Developing Countries
Roofing in Developing Countries
Rural Building: Basic Knowledge
Rural Building: Construction
Rural Building: Drawing Book
Rural Building: Reference Book
Selection of Materials for Burnt Clay Brick Manufacture
SelfHelp Construction of lStory Buildings
SelfHelp Practices in Housing
A Series of Articles on the Use of Bamboo in Building Construction
Shaft Lime Kiln
Shelter II
Simple Bridge Structures
Small Scale Brickmaking
Smal lScale Lime Burning
Small Scale Manufacture of Burned Building Brick
Small Scale Production of Cementitious Materials
Soil Block Presses
Soil Cement
Standard Trail Suspended and Suspension Bridges
The Timber Framing Book
Traditional Bridges of Papua New Guinea
Traditional Suspension Bridges in Taplejung District
The Use of Bamboo and Reeds in Building Construction
The Use of Wheelbarrows in Civil Construction
When You Build a House
Wood Handbook
Wood Frame House Construction
Wooden Bridges
The Yurt
Appropriate Industrial Technology for Low Cost Transport for Rural Areas
A.T. in Rural Development: Vehicles Designed for On and Off Farm Operations
Automotive Operation and Maintenance
The Backyard Mechanic Volume 1
The Backyard Mechanic Volume 2
The Backyard Mechanic Volume 3
Better Tools for the Job
The Bicycle Builder’s Bible
Bicycle Resource Guide
Bicycles and Tricycles
Bicycles: A Case Study of Indian Experience
Bicycling Science
Boatbuilding Manual
Boats from Ferrocement
The Design and Manufacture of AnimalDrawn Carts
The Design and Manufacture of LowCost Motorized Vehicles
The Design of Bicycle Trailers
The Dory Book
Earth Roads
Electric Vehicles
Fishing Boat Designs: Flat Bottom Boats
Gasoline Engine Tune Up
Guide to Tools and Equipment for Labour Based Road Construction
Handbook of Artisanal Boatbuilding
Installation and Maintenance of Engines in Small Fishing Vessels
Low Cost Transportation
Low Cost Vehicles
Maintaining Motorcycles
The Management of Animal Energy Resources and the Modernization of the Bullock Cart System
Manual on the Planning of Labour lntensive Road Construction
The Manufacture of Low Cost Vehicles in Developing Countries
New Working Watercraft
Notes on Simple Transport in Some Developing Countries
Proceedings of ITDG Seminar “Simple Vehicles for Developing Countries”
Roads and Resources
The Rural Access Roads Programme
Rural Roads Manual
Rural Transport in Developing Countries
Small Boat Design
Sails as an Aid to Fishing
Three Wheeled Vehicles in Crete
Health Care
Alternative Limbmaking
Anaesthesia at the District Hospital
Animals Parasitic in Man
A Barefoot Doctor’s Manual
Better Care in Leprosy
Better Child Care
Communicable Diseases
Dermatological Preparations for the Tropics
Disabled Village Children
Establishing a Refugee Camp Laboratory
General Surgery at the District Hospital
Handbook on the Prevention and Treatment of Schistosomiasis
Health by the People
Health Care and Human Dignity
Health Care in China
Health Records Systems
Health: The Human Factor
Helping Health Workers Learn
How to Look After a Refrigerator
How to Make Basic Hospital Equipment
Independence Through Mobility
Low Cost Physiotherapy Aids
Manual of Basic Techniques for a Health Laboratory
Medical Care in Developing Countries
A Medical Laboratory for Developing Countries
Medicine and Public Health in the People’s Republic of China
A Model Health Centre
More With Less
Mosquito Control
Nutrition for Developing Countries
Nutrition Rehabilitation
Pediatric Priorities in the Developing World
Personal Transport for Disabled People
Philippine Medicinal Plants in Common Use
The Principles and Practices of Primary Health Care
The Provision of Spectacles at Low Cost
Rattan and Bamboo
Reference Material for Health Auxiliaries and Their Teachers
Simple Dental Care for Rural Hospitals
The Tooth Trip
The Village Health Worker
What is AIDS?
Where There Is No Dentist
Where There Is No Doctor
Science Teaching
Adventures with a Hand Lens
AntiPollution Lab
Construction and Use of Simple Physics Apparatus
Development and Production of School Science Equipment
Guidebook to Constructing Inexpensive Science Teaching Equipment
How to Make Tools
Low Cost Science Teaching Equipment
A Method for Cutting Bottles Light Bulbs and Fluorescent Tubes
New UNESCO Source Book for Science Teaching
Preserving Food by Drying
The Production of School Science Equipment
Nonformal Education
Towards Scientific Literacy
Bridging the Gap
Demystifying Evaluation
Doing Things Together
From the Field
Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation
Perspectives on Non formal Adult Learning
Small Enterprises
Basic Control of Assets
Basic Finances
Basic Marketing
Blacksmith Baker Roofing Sheet Maker
Business Arithmetic for Cooperatives and Other Small Businesses
The Business Plan
The Business Review
A Complete Cash Analysis Accounts System for Businessmen
Consultancy for Small Businesses
Cooperative Accounting 1: Thrift and Credit Cooperatives
Cooperative Accounting 2: Consumer Cooperative Societies
Cooperative Accounting 3: Marketing Cooperative Societies
Cooperative Bookkeeping
Cooperative Organization
Credit and Savings for Development
Developing Small Scale Industries in India
Entrepreneur’s Handbook
Financial Management of a Small Handicraft Business
Guidelines for Management Consulting Programs for Small Scale Enterprises
A Handbook for Cooperative Fieldworkers in Developing Nations
How to Grow a Shop
Improve Your Business: Handbook
Improve Your Business: Workbook
Josbarko Enterprise
Managing Time and Personnel
Manual for Commercial Analysis of Small Scale Projects
The Practice of Entrepreneurship
Refugee Enterprise
Rural Credit
Single Entry Bookkeeping System for Small Scale Manufacturing Businesses
Small Business in the Third World
Small Business Promotion
Small Enterprises in Developing Countries
Stock Taking
Training Village Entrepreneurs
Local Communications
Communicating with Pictures
The Copy Book
Experiences in Visual Thinking
57 How to Do It Charts on Materials and Equipment and Techniques for Screen Printing
Grass Roots Radio
How to Do Leaflets Newsletters and Newspapers
Illustrations for Development
Low Cost Printing for Development
The Low Cost Wooden Duplicator
The Organization of the Small Public Library
The Photonovel
Plain Talk
Print: How You Can Do It Yourself
Rural Mimeo Newspapers
Small Technical Libraries
Visual Communication Handbook
The StenScreen
Visual Literacy in Communication
Women and Graphics
The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture
The Beekeeper’s Handbook
Beekeeping Guide
A Beekeeping Handbook
Beekeeping in Rural Development
Golden Insect
Home Honey Production
A Homemade Honey Extractor
Making and Using a Solar Wax Melter
Plans for a Complete Beekeeping System
Small Scale Beekeeping
Tropical and SubTropical Apiculture
Small Industries
The Backyard Dairy Book
Barbs Prongs Points Prickers and Stickers
Basic Sewing Machine Repair
Book of Tempeh
Cane Sugar
Community Canning Centers
Dye Plants and Dyeing
Dyeing and Printing
Environmentally Sound Leather Tanning
Glassware Manufacture for Developing Countries
Handloom Construction
How to Make Soap
Introduction to Soapmaking
The Kiln Book
Making Homemade Soaps and Candles
Manual on the Production of Rattan Furniture
Medleri Charkha
Natural Plant Dyeing
The Preparation of Soap
Rural Tanning Techniques
The Self Reliant Potter
Silkworm Rearing
Simple Methods of Candle Manufacture
Small Scale Manufacture of Footwear
Small Scale Papermaking
Small Scale Recycling of Plastics
Small Scale Weaving
Small Scale Gold Mining
Small Scale Mining
Small Scale Soapmaking
Soap Pilot Plant
Tanning of Hides and Skins
Traditional Cheesemaking
Vegetable Dyeing
The Village Texturizer
Work from Waste
Yay Soybeans!
Disaster Preparedness
Building to Resist the Effect of Wind: Overview
Building to Resist the Effect of Wind: Estimation of Extreme Wind Speeds and Guide to the Determination of Wind Forces
A Methodological Guide
and Architectural Considerations
Disaster Mitigation
Economic Issues in Housing Reconstruction
Emergency Health Management after Natural Disaster
Emergency Vector Control after Natural Disaster
Environmental Health Management after Natural Disaster
Establishing Needs after a Disaster
How to Build a House of Modern Adobe
Improving Building Skills
The Management of Nutritional Emergencies in Large Populations
Medical Supply Management after Natural Disaster
Minimum Standards for Cyclone Resistant Housing Utilizing Traditional Materials
Program Planning Guide
Program Planning Options for the Reconstruction of Disaster Resistant Housing
Shelter After Disaster
Shelter after Disaster: Guidelines for Assistance
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Handbook for Emergencies: Field Operations
What is a Hurricane?
What is a Tidal Wave?
Wind Resistant Block Houses

Disaster Preparedness and Relief


 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

Natural and human-caused disasters continue to be regular events in developing countries. Some of the original damage is avoidable; several of the items included here discuss low-cost ways to minimize damage to houses from earthquakes and hurricanes, for example. Some of the damage comes after the initial disaster, as water supplies are polluted and perhaps food supplies are interrupted. The relief efforts themselves can cause additional damage. This may happen if the basic food supply was not affected by the original disaster, and a sudden inflow of donated food distorts the agricultural produce markets. This kind of common event means a second economic disaster for the farmers.

The items reviewed here provide experienced management guidelines for maximizing the positive effects of disaster relief operations while minimizing the negative side effects. Public health measures, control of medical supplies, and housing reconstruction are major topic areas.

All of the following books are reviewed below and most are available for sale as part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CD 26* or DVD 2):

Building to Resist the Effect of Wind: Overview
Building to Resist the Effect of Wind: Estimation of Extreme Wind Speeds and Guide to the Determination of Wind Forces
Disaster Mitigation
Economic Issues in Housing Reconstruction
Emergency Health Management after Natural Disaster
Emergency Vector Control after Natural Disaster
Environmental Health Management after Natural Disaster
Establishing Needs after a Disaster
How to Build a House of Modern Adobe
Improving Building Skills
The Management of Nutritional Emergencies in Large Populations
Medical Supply Management after Natural Disaster
Minimum Standards for Cyclone Resistant Housing Utilizing Traditional Materials
Program Planning Guide
Program Planning Options for the Reconstruction of Disaster Resistant Housing
Shelter After Disaster
Shelter after Disaster: Guidelines for Assistance
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Handbook for Emergencies: Field Operations
What is a Hurricane?
What is a Tidal Wave?
Wind Resistant Block Houses

Shelter After Disaster, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-833, book, 127 pages, by Ian Davis, 1975, £5.50 from Ian Davis, Disaster Management Center, Oxford Polytechnic, Headington, Oxford OX3 0BP, England.

This fascinating book points out many of the myths about disaster relief that continue to shape aid responses around the world. The author presents the elements of successful shelter rebuilding programs in the light of historical experience over the past 300 years.

Worldwide the frequency and death tolls of disasters are rising, reflecting the increasing vulnerability of the poor primarily in the rapidly growing urban centers of the South. This is mostly because they are living in precarious circumstances on hillsides and waterfronts, where damage is likely to be greatest. The author notes that while there is an enormous quantity of post-disaster relief shelter design ideas, most of them are conceived without an understanding of the realities of post-disaster shelter needs. “The vast majority of these concepts mercifully have never left the drawing board or filing cabinet, but this seems no deterrent to the ingenuity and persistence of designers.”

Following disasters around the world, local people using their own ingenuity and initiative have accomplished more than 80% of the reconstruction themselves, even in this age of rapid transport and communications. This matches the normal circumstances of the world’s poor, where “development projects” are but a tiny part of local activity. The challenge to national and international agencies is thus quite similar in both cases: to make a genuine contribution by doing something that strengthens and extends what the people are going to do anyway on their own.

“Housing using low technology is more likely to come within the price range of disaster victims, it is probably better suited to local cultural patterns and climate, and it will probably generate local employment.” Rubble from collapsed homes should not be cleared, except from roadways, as it is a primary source of building materials. Rebuilding begins almost immediately, and officially provided shelter (particularly oddly shaped houses) will be the least appealing to the people.

Although there are many examples of indigenous housing well-suited to resist the effects of typhoons and earthquakes, for example, these appear to have evolved over an extended time period. Rebuilding following a disaster is usually done in response to everyday needs—not the possibility of a repeat of the disaster in the far distant future. One of the most interesting housing projects in Guatemala is a retraining program that promotes “earthquake-proof construction techniques that use traditional materials and existing (though developed) construction skills. The result is that the traditional character of the houses is retained while the structure is made safe.”

An important book, with implications for appropriate technology efforts. Well illustrated.

Building to Resist the Effect of Wind, Volume 1: Overview, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35810, booklet, 28 pages, by Richard D. Marshall, Noel J. Raufaste, Jr., and Stephen A. Kliment, U.S. National Bureau of Standards, 1977, publication no. C13.29/2:100-1, out of print.

First in a five-part series detailing the findings of a research project in wind-resistant housing, this overview summarizes the background, establishment, and activities of the project. Results of tests conducted in cyclone-prone areas in Jamaica, Bangladesh, and the Philippines over a three and a half year project are reported in the companion volumes. Thorough appendices of relevant organizations and references are included..

Building to Resist the Effect of Wind, Volume 2: Estimation of Extreme Wind Speeds and Guide to the Determination of Wind Forces, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-811, booklet, 23 pages, by Emil Simiu and Richard D. Marshall, U.S. National Bureau of Standards, 1977, stock no. 003-003-01718-3, out of print.

This discussion of wind loads on buildings—including equations, tables, and diagrams—is sufficiently clear to be usable by people with only a moderate technical background. This is due, in part, to the summaries and conclusions in non-technical language. Does not include wind measurement techniques, but does contain an example which illustrates the application of this material.

Building to Resist the Effect of Wind, Volume 4: Forecasting the Economics of Housing Needs: A Methodological Guide, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-812, booklet, 30 pages, by Joseph G. Kowalski, U.S. National Bureau of Standards, 1977, publication no. C13.29/2:100-4, out of print.

Following up emergency response shelter programs with well-considered reconstruction schemes requires thorough assessment of unmet housing needs. This volume offers a methodology for the analysis of factors contributing to housing shortfalls, including population growth, urbanization trends, cultural patterns, etc.

Useful for planners in government and the major international organizations.

Building to Resist the Effect of Wind, Volume 5: Housing in Extreme Winds: Socio Economic and Architectural Considerations, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-813, booklet, 31 pages, by Stephen A. Kliment, U.S. National Bureau of Standards, 1977, publication no. C13.29/2:100-5, out of print.

A discussion of relevant cultural patterns and building practices in three cyclone prone regions (Jamaica, Bangladesh, and the Philippines) is integrated with architectural and planning considerations to present a very readable and interesting analysis of shelter in less developed countries. This last volume serves well as an overview of the process, as distinct from the product, of emergency shelter.

Economic Issues in Housing Reconstruction, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-814, booklet, 11 pages, by Frederick C. Cuny and Paul Thompson, 1981, Intertect, Washington, D.C., out of print.

Issues and options for orderly recovery from disaster, avoiding undue disruption of development goals and additional market distortions, are presented in clear, non-technical terms.

Very useful for project planners.

Emergency Health Management after Natural Disaster, Scientific Publication No. 407, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-815, booklet, 67 pages, 1981, Pan American Health Organization, WHO, $6.00 plus shipping from PAHO Publication Center, 49 Sheridan Avenue, Albany, New York 12210, USA.

Sound advice for managing disaster relief efforts of large agencies is presented in a clear, easily accessible text. Though claiming to be only an overview of general application, much detailed, specific advice on many topics ranging from management of mass casualties to food and nutrition, and training of non-professional health personnel (and much more) is included in this very useful guide to disaster response. With annexes.


Emergency Vector Control after Natural Disaster, Scientific Publication No. 419, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-816, booklet, 98 pages, 1982, Pan American Health Organization, WHO, $6.00 plus shipping from PAHO Publication Center, 49 Sheridan Avenue, Albany, New York 12210, USA.

This companion text to the previous manual combines specific advice on controlling disease agents commonly encountered in disaster relief programs (particularly in tropical developing countries) with advice on program management and interagency collaboration. Annexes include a bibliography, sources for control substances, insecticide and rodenticide application regimes, and lots of required equipment.

Environmental Health Management after Natural Disaster, Scientific Publication No. 430, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-817, booklet, 58 pages, 1982, Pan American Health Organization, WHO.

This manual provides planners and administrators of disaster relief health services with specific advice for establishing procedures and setting priorities for sanitation and water supply. The measures suggested involve the use of health professionals and non-professionals alike, and make use of widely available disinfectant chemicals.

Establishing Needs After a Disaster: Assessment, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-818, booklet, 12 pages, 1981, Intertect, out of print. Guidelines for setting priorities in emergency response including survey techniques (sample forms provided), a list of relevant international agencies, and a list of further references.

A quick-access resource for field staff and administrators.

How to Build a House of Modern Adobe (Construyendo con Adobe), Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-819, booklet, 46 pages, Oficina de Investigation y Normalizacion, 1976.

This step-by-step guide to adobe home construction is an excellent resource for improving the product of indigenous builders. Includes design considerations for earthquake and high wind resistance. Used together with Improving Building Skills (reviewed in this section), this pamphlet is a valuable resource for optimizing structure strength, life-span, and resistance to natural disasters.


Improving Building Skills (Mejores Viviendas de Adobe), Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35820, booklet, 33 pages, by A. Andia and A. James Viets, Oficina de Investigacion y Normalization, Ministerio de Vivienda y Construccion, San Martin De Porres, Lima, Peru, out of print.

A clear and well-illustrated presentation of salient points of low-cost housing using block construction (adobe brick, stabilized earth, etc.) on stone foundations with timber truss roofs. Considerations for earthquake and high wind resistance are included in a format suited to non-formal education. Highly recommended for regions where block construction is a practical option.

The Management of Nutritional Emergencies in Large Populations, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-821, book, 98 pages, by C. de Ville de Goyet, J. Seaman, U. Geijer, 1978, stock no. 1150154, from WHO; also available in French.

Emergency nutritional care, while closely allied with emergency medical efforts, is often carried out by non-professionals. This booklet contains practical guidelines which are to the point. It should be a valuable resource for volunteers and fieldworkers in disaster response. The text is not intended for long-term nutritional care, reconstruction policy following disasters, or preventative measures. Rather, it is focused on the immediate response following a disaster, with an emphasis on adaptability and improvisation. Very useful.

Medical Supply Management after Natural Disaster, Scientific Publication No. 438, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-822, book, 135 pages, 1983, Pan American Health Organization, WHO, out of print.

Detailed, specific advice for top-level administrators of disaster relief efforts primarily in the area of medical supply management. Includes treatment schedules, a brand name cross-index of common pharmaceuticals, storage requirements, sample management and order forms, international symbols, and a list of essential drugs. With references.

Very useful.

Minimum Standards for Cyclone-Resistant Housing Utilizing Traditional Materials, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-823, booklet, 44 pages, 1981, Intertect, Washington, DC, out of print.

Considerations for siting, design, and construction of cyclone-resistant single family housing in a number of common building materials are presented in a clear, non-technical manner. Applicable to earthquake-resistant construction as well.


Minimum Standards for Earthquake-Resistant Housing Utilizing Traditional Materials, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-824, booklet, 23 pages, 1981, Intertect, Washington, DC, out of print.

Design criteria for building earthquake- and wind-resistant housing in a variety of traditional materials is presented in clear, non-technical text. While intended for the staff of housing reconstruction programs, the information should prove useful in a number of applications where optimum strength and durability of structures using traditional construction materials is desired.

Program Planning Guide, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-825, booklet, 20 pages, Intertect, Washington, DC, USA, out of print. The considerations for establishing a successful relief or reconstruction program— including strategies, management, policy, staffing, budgeting, monitoring, evaluation, etc.—are followed by a discussion of commonly encountered problems and failures in the field. Includes sample forms for emergency operations monitoring.

Program Planning Options for the Reconstruction of Disaster Resistant Housing, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-826, booklet, 10 pages, Intertect, Washington, DC, USA, out of print. Advantages and disadvantages of six options for emergency shelter are covered in clear and concise terms, providing a valuable and accessible decision-making resource for fieldworkers and disaster relief administrators.

Shelter after Disaster: Guidelines for Assistance, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-828, book, 82 pages, 1982, from UNDRO, United Nations, New York, New York 10017, USA. This guide for relief organizations and governmental agencies sets down principles and offers advice on procedures for providing shelter for emergency victims. Most notable is the emphasis on self-help and the observation that housing is a process inseparable from local custom and not a product to be dispensed without regard to local conditions, cost effectiveness, and its effect on the long-term development efforts of the recipient country or national group. Each chapter/topic concludes with explicit policy guidelines that, with the numerous examples cited, should prove very useful for fieldworkers and administrators of disaster relief. With appendices and reference lists.


United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Handbook for Emergencies, Part I: Field Operations, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-829, book, 194 pages, 1982, available also in French and Spanish, free from Emergency Unit, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland.

Long experience in managing the influx of refugees resulting from emergencies is apparent in this manager’s guide for relief work. Several chapters relevant to inter- and intra-agency protocol are followed by very thorough, practical discussions of refugee management, especially the establishment of camps, which is considered an option of last resort. Involvement of the refugees in decision-making and implementation is stressed throughout, as is the need to preserve past social arrangements, use local skill and materials, respect local cultural patterns, and plan for a worst case scenario, e.g. long-term detention in a “temporary” refugee camp.

Topics include: supplies and logistics, site selection and shelter, health, food and nutrition, water, social services and education, etc. The need to call in expert assistance is often cited in place of detailed information on certain topics, which, like the pointers on common mistakes in camp management and the advice to encourage self-reliance and discourage dependency, appears to have been learned through hard experience. Further reference listings follow each chapter.


What is a Hurricane?, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-830, booklet, 5 pages, Intertect, Washington, DC, out of print.

A brief, step-by-step, practical discussion of the nature of hurricanes and recommended measures to minimize damage and loss of life. Useful as an educational tool.

What is a Tidal Wave?, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-831, booklet, 8 pages, Intertect, Washington, DC, out of print.

The nature and destructive capability of tidal waves are covered in a brief, straightforward manner, with specific recommendations for minimizing damage and loss of life.

Wind Resistant Block Houses: Basic Rules, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-832, booklet, 8 pages, Intertect, Washington, DC, out of print. A brief, illustrated guide to wind- and earthquake-resistant construction for basic housing clarifies the principles and vocabulary of other more technical publications.

Disaster Mitigation: A Community Based Approach, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 35-834, book, 100 pages, by Andrew Maskrey, 1989.

Disaster mitigation is about reducing the hazards that make populations vulnerable to cyclones, floods, earthquakes, landslides, and so forth. Community-based disaster mitigation seeks to involve local communities in mobilizing local resources to reduce hazards and address the fundamental sources of vulnerability, while avoiding the ignorance of local needs and inequitable assistance often seen in government programs.

“As disaster risks increase due to urbanization, deforestation and population growth pressures, concerned officials in government or voluntary agencies will be wise to reflect on lessons from the Peruvian experiences described so vividly in this book. The community based approach may be the only way forward given the frequent pattern of governmental apathy towards their poor citizens and the limitations of overstretched public sectors.

Small Industries


 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

Small industries which produce goods for local consumption play an important role in a healthy economy. Many of the tools and equipment found in other chapters of this book could be the products of or could he used in small enterprises.

This chapter includes publications on the production of pottery, leather, soap, candles, paper, shoes, glassware, rattan furniture, hand looms, natural dyes, dairy and soy products, sewing machine maintenance and other topics. Among the activities that could form the basis of innovative businesses are the recycling of plastics and the production of single-strand barbed wire.

For books on the management of small businesses, see the chapter entitled SMALL ENTERPRISES.

All of the following books are reviewed below and available for sale as part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CD 24-25* or DVD 4):

The Backyard Dairy Book
Barbs Prongs Points Prickers and Stickers
Basic Sewing Machine Repair
Book of Tempeh
Cane Sugar
Community Canning Centers
Dye Plants and Dyeing
Dyeing and Printing
Environmentally Sound Leather Tanning
Glassware Manufacture for Developing Countries
Handloom Construction
How to Make Soap
Introduction to Soapmaking
The Kiln Book
Making Homemade Soaps and Candles
Manual on the Production of Rattan Furniture
Medleri Charkha
Natural Plant Dyeing
The Preparation of Soap
Rural Tanning Techniques
The Self Reliant Potter
Silkworm Rearing
Simple Methods of Candle Manufacture
Small Scale Manufacture of Footwear
Small Scale Papermaking
Small Scale Recycling of Plastics
Small Scale Weaving
Small Scale Gold Mining
Small Scale Mining
Small Scale Soapmaking
Soap Pilot Plant
Tanning of Hides and Skins
Traditional Cheesemaking
Vegetable Dyeing
The Village Texturizer
Work from Waste
Yay Soybeans!

A Potter’s Book, book, 383 pages, by Bernard Leach, 1940 (latest edition 1976), $10.00 from Transatlantic Arts, Inc., P.O. Box 6086, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87197, USA, available in paperback only.

Leach has written what many potters consider to be the best reference book on ceramics. This is a book on “the workshop traditions which have been handed down by Koreans and Japanese from the greatest period of Chinese ceramics in the Sung Dynasty. It deals with four types of pottery: Japanese raku, English slipware, stoneware, and Oriental porcelain. The student of pottery learns how to adapt recipes of pigments and glazes, and designs of kilns, to local conditions. A vivid.workshop picture is given of the making of a kiln-load of pots from start to finish ….”

Includes basic recipes for glazes and descriptions of different kinds of kilns and firing methods. Many illustrations. There is a glossary of pottery terms. Highly recommended.

The Self-Reliant Potter: Refractories and Kilns, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-806, book, 134 pages, by Henrik Norsker, 1987, GATE/GTZ.
This is a very good production-oriented pottery book for use in developing and supporting pottery operations that engage in small-scale production, yet produce hundreds of pieces at a time. A major focus is on kiln designs and construction techniques. The operation of kilns, including stacking techniques and devices, is another important topic that is well-covered.

The author is a Danish potter who worked in Tanzania, who realized that the “ceramic literature mainly addresses itself to a market comprising amateur, art potters and industrial engineers in developed countries … the hobby books are too basic and the engineering books are too advanced for most potters.” This book nicely fills a need that is in-between.

“The aim of this book is not to enable somebody without practical pottery experience to start up modern pottery production on his own. The book is mainly written for the benefit of potters already involved with modern pottery, and for teachers and students involved with the growing number of pottery training centres.”

A well-done, nicely illustrated book that stands out as a valuable reference for small-scale pottery production.

The Kiln Book, book, 291 pages, by Frederick L. Olsen, second edition 1985.

In this well-illustrated manual the design, construction and operation of kilns for ceramic production is presented with uncommon clarity and attention to detail. Kilns currently in use in diverse cultures are thoroughly examined, offering the student or potter a variety of options to utilize available materials or achieve special effects. The text is quite readable for the amount of technical information contained and provides interesting background and observations on kiln construction and use in South and East Asia, North America, and Europe. Plans, photographs and drawings, along with numerous tables and formulas, are abundant and well-coordinated with the text.

With this book and some masonry skills the reader should be able to construct and fire a kiln from available materials. A sample of the unique and/or noteworthy information provided here:

—the characteristics of various refractory brick types;

—basic design considerations and plans for specific kilns of the updraft, downdraft, crossdraft, and electric (no draft) type;

—instructions for building arched roofs, curved walls, and other brickwork;

—calculations for fuel requirements and burner layout for gas-fired kilns;

—comprehensive conversion tables;

—firing schedules for woodburning kilns;

—materials lists for kilns of different configurations..Examples are drawn from a range of small commercial pottery enterprises with facilities that range from the quite primitive to the modern. Some of these options are in use for their artistic rather than strictly practical value. Nevertheless, the broad range of options presented and the straightforward design and construction advice should make this book useful wherever optimal use of local resources for pottery production is a goal.

Kilns: Design, Construction, and Operation, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-782, book, 256 pages, by Daniel Rhodes, revised 1981, Chilton Schl. Library Services, Pennsylvania, out of print.

“This book is written from the point of view of one who has built and fired kilns rather than that of a theorist …. The principles and methods involved in kiln design and construction receive a thorough and authoritative treatment. The information which applies to the structure and size of any kiln, be it gas-fired, oil-fired, wood burning, or electric, updraft or downdraft, is the basis for discussion of methods and procedures required by specific kilns. Thus, all aspects—masonry construction, fuels, burners, combustion, refractory materials, heat retention, and transfer—are covered.”

Thoroughly illustrated and detailed with photographs and drawings, this book is written in easily understandable English. Included are various original designs, accompanied by step-by-step instructions and diagrams, enabling the reader to construct a kiln with confidence. Firing theory and techniques, temperature measurement and control, and safety precautions are presented effectively for proper maintenance.

Rural Tanning Techniques, FAO Development Paper #68, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-786, book, 250 pages, 1974, out of print.

This is a very detailed, thorough book on rural tanning techniques. It covers the preparation of hides and skins for tanning, various tanning methods and processes for different types of hides and skins. There is a section on setting up a rural tannery and checking for suitable water supplies, and a section on the tanning process as performed in rural India, using improved techniques from the Central Leather Research Institute in Madras. Very labor-intensive techniques are presented with extensive examples and illustrations from Kenya. Many photos are included.

This book was written for less developed areas where all of the materials and chemical compounds commonly used in tanning processes might not be readily available. Thus, there is discussion of how to obtain the ingredients and make these different compounds, such as vegetable tannins, from barks, trees, and nuts.

Tanning of Hides and Skins, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-802, book, 225 pages, ILO, 1981, reprinted 1989.

Intended for use by tanners in developing countries, to help in the selection and use of tanning processes. A general description of the steps involved in tanning is followed by more detailed information on four different scales of production, ranging from 2 to 200 hides per day..

Environmentally Sound Leather Tanning, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-816, booklet, 84 pages, by Jaap Kok, 1991.

This is a well-illustrated, practical introduction to leather tanning, emphasizing minimum impact on the environment. It is intended as a teaching tool, for people who are not already familiar with tanning processes.

This book was based on a tanning course given by the author in Zambia. It is for people “who want to tan five or ten goatskins that can be obtained from the local butcher weekly, with material from around the village and with tools that require a small investment ….

Once someone knows how to make his or her own goat leather, it will not be difficult to tan other types of skins, since tanning principles are all the same.”

Home Tanning and Leather-Making Guide, book, 176 pages, by A.B. Farnham, 1950.

It has been said that this book “contains absolutely everything you need to know— old time techniques ” In fact, that’s not quite true, and Rural Tanning Techniques has several advantages over this book. Farnham covers the various aspects of tanning, including how to skin an animal, curing the hides, preparing hides for tanning and the actual tanning and leather-making process. Also included are descriptions and illustrations of the simple sharp tools that are needed, and other considerations such as how to check for hard water, which tanning chemicals to use, etc. The author assumes that the tanner will be able to obtain the necessary potash and other solutions, and does not cover how to make these materials locally (see Rural Tanning Techniques).

The last three chapters of the book deal with the marketing of hides. Much of the information is directed at rural American towns, but there is good information on the preparation of hides for shipping and marketing, as well as how to make hides into leather in this section. This book would be useful in teaching tanning techniques, or as a reference for someone who is already familiar with the processes.

Small-Scale Soapmaking: A Handbook, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-811, book, 80 pages, by Peter Donkor, 1986.

Soap can be made by hand at home, or as a small cottage industry, or at a much larger scale. This book covers a cottage industry level of soap production for sale in a larger community, based on the author’s experiences in Ghana. An introduction for entrepreneurs and project managers, it assumes that much of the needed equipment can be bought.

Oils and other raw materials for soap are reviewed, along with equipment for mixing, compressing and stamping soap that can handle 20 kg. of material per hour. Typical formulations for various soaps are provided (laundry, hand soap, hand protective cream for mechanics).

Introduction to Soap Making, VITA Technical Bulletin #3, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-781, leaflet, 23 pages, by Marietta Ellis, VITA, out of print.

An excellent description of the process of home or village-level soap-making. Provides recipes for a variety of soaps made of different materials and with different.uses. Explains how to make your own lye from hardwood ashes, and how to measure the strength of this lye solution. (For example, the author notes that the proper strength of lye leached from wood ashes is reached when an egg will float in it.)

We think this is the best paper available on soap-making in village circumstances.


The Preparation of Soap, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-784, leaflet, 13 pages, by Ir. S. P. Bertram et. al., TOOL, out of print.

This leaflet includes a method for determining the concentration of lye through the use of a float; it also covers vegetable oils other than coconut oil, which are mixed with lye in different proportions.

Sometimes a bit confusing.

How to Make Soap, Reprint #628, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-780, 4 pages, Mother Earth News Reprints, out of print.

This is quite good; it tells both how to obtain lye from hardwood ashes and general soap-making hints when using purchased commercial lye. It does have a recipe that uses coconut oil instead of animal fat (mineral oil cannot be used to make soap).

Soap Pilot Plant, Case Study No 3, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-801, booklet, 32 pages, by Peter Donkor, 1981, Technology Consultancy Centre, out of print.

“To many people in Ghana the Technology Consultancy Centre is synonymous with soap …. The work programme has resulted in some twenty small scale soap plants in Ghana and others in Guinea Bissau, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Togo. It has also led to many of the soap plants producing their own caustic soda and has stimulated the establishment of some twenty small rural oil mills to supplement existing palm oil supplies.”

“Now Peter Donkor has been persuaded to pause in his labours to put on paper the story of eight years work and to record the experience gained. It is hoped that many will be encouraged to do what he has done: to apply the knowledge gained from a university education to solve the real grass roots problems of small-scale craftsmen and industrialists in a developing country.” The case histories included also make fascinating reading.

Making Homemade Soaps and Candles, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-783, book, 46 pages, by Phyllis Hobson, 1984.

Lots of recipes for making soap with animal fat and leftover kitchen grease, and for making candles out of animal fat, wax or paraffin. Includes instructions for making lye out of wood ashes (needed in soap-making)..

Simple Methods of Candle Manufacture, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-786,19 pages, compiled by the Industrial Liaison Unit of ITDG, 1975.

“The technology of candle making is very old and despite the introduction of mass production methods, candles can still be made by well-established methods which require only simple equipment. Much of this equipment can be made by rural craftsmen” Different waxes and wicks are discussed. Illustrations and descriptions are given for each of four methods of small-scale production.

Small Scale Papermaking, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-798, book, 325 pages, by A W. Western, 1979, ITDG, out of print.

This is a description and evaluation of Indian small-scale industrial paper mills of 5 to 30 tons per day capacity. The author presents considerable evidence to support the claim that such mills are more economically attractive for developing

countries than the larger-scale mills usually established with imported equipment. In particular, the smaller Indian mills can be located next to sources of supply and cost 2/3 less per unit capacity for the capital equipment. Such mills could mean substantial savings in imported paper and equipment costs for many developing countries, while providing greater employment and learning opportunities for local people.

Case studies with cost details are provided for plants ranging from 1-30 tons per day. Average return on investment for these plants was 27%.

Small Scale Manufacture of Footwear, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-797,204 pages, 1982.

This ILO book provides “… technical and economic details on alternative footwear manufacture technologies used in scales of production ranging from 8 pairs per day to 1,000 pairs per day.” The document is intended to assist entrepreneurs who wish to either make their equipment locally or minimize the amount of imported equipment necessary. The various operations in the production of footwear of various types are described, along with equipment alternatives. Few drawings are included, and there is much technical vocabulary (explained in the glossary); consequently, this may be difficult reading for the shoemaker who is not familiar with these terms and procedures.

Glassware Manufacture for Developing Countries, Technical Papers 2, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-792, book, 45 pages, by G. Whitby, 1983.

Here is good introduction to the materials, techniques, fuels and equipment used in small-scale production of glass jars, bottles and other containers. Some existing glass factories produce as little as 250 kg/day, using a few pieces of equipment and a handful of employees. Many photos from factories in Asia are included. Sample calculations for investment and production costs for a 5 tons/day unit are presented..

Barbs, Prongs, Points, Prickers, and Stickers: A Complete Illustrated Catalogue of Antique Barbed Wire, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-790, paperback hook, 418 pages, by Robert T. Clifton, 1970, reprinted 1984.

In many places there is a need for low-cost fencing (e.g., to protect reforestation areas and control grazing), but wood and stone are not readily available, and living hedges cannot be easily grown. Hundreds of different designs of barbed wire were originally developed to fit the same need in the western United States. Single strand barbed wire could be produced in developing countries at a cost far lower than that of the double strand barbed wire currently used in these countries.

In industrialized countries, the cost of barbed wire is only a very small part of the cost of erecting a fence, and with high labor costs, maintenance must be avoided. Two strand barbed wire is somewhat more durable than single strand wire, and thus has become the standard form of barbed wire produced all over the world. However, in developing countries, the cost of barbed wire is a much larger part of the cost of erecting a fence. In these places, a fence made with single strand barbed wire would be much cheaper, but would require a small amount of additional long-term maintenance. It should be possible to manufacture single strand barbed wire at a cost of 50-60% of the cost (per linear foot) of double strand wire. Production of single strand barbed wire (from plain wire) could be done on a cottage industry basis, using simple tools.

This volume shows hundreds of different designs, including more than 150 types of single strand barbed wire.

Manual on the Production of Rattan Furniture, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-794, UNIDO, 1983, 108 pages, publication no. ID/299 from UNIDO.

A good look at rattan furniture production using small industry techniques. The equipment shown includes a variety of machines and locally-made devices for different production steps. The large number of photos and drawings of the production process are supplemented by drawings of furniture designs.

Basic Sewing Machine Repair, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-774, book, 63 pages, by K. Kiri and S. Kalmakoff, 1979, South Pacific Appropriate Technology Foundation, P.O. Box 6937, Boroko, Papua New Guinea, out of print.

A well-illustrated book on the proper adjustment and care of several common varieties of sewing machines. Oiling the machine, adjusting and fixing the stitch regulator, replacing broken springs, and adjusting needle timing are among the topics presented. A trouble-shooting chart helps in identifying the likely source of specific problems. Very simple language is used along with the 200 drawings.

Handloom Construction: A Practical Guide for the Non-Expert, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-778, looseleaf manual 163 pages, by Joan Koster, 1979.

“With inexpensive machine-made cloth increasingly available almost everywhere, it seems likely that fewer and fewer people will be interested in producing their own cloth …. Yet weaving can be done in one’s spare time using free or inexpensive fibers available locally, and simple, efficient looms can be built from local materials at little cost. Therefore, as long as the loom and fibers cost little, the finished cloth requires an investment in time rather than money …. Because people all over the world have been weaving since the very earliest times, there are many styles and varieties of looms.

This is a book about building and using some of these. Three types of looms, including two variations of a foot-powered loom, are presented here. The book gives 1) detailed directions for building each kind of loom, 2) the advantages and disadvantages of each, and 3) instructions for weaving.”

Large, clear line drawings show materials, construction sequences, and weaving techniques for frame looms, pit and freestanding foot-powered looms, and the Inkle loom (a small loom for rapid weaving of strong strips of cloth). All the looms are made from low-cost, commonly available materials. The choice of loom will depend upon the types of fibers available and the kind and quantity of articles to be woven. Tables show fiber and product types and their suitability for the various loom styles. Planning weaves and patterns, finishing fabrics, and use of colors are also discussed.

A well-written reference.

Small Scale Weaving, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-800, book, 129 pages, International Labour Office, 1983, reprinted 1985.

The different choices of handlooms and power looms for small-scale production of low-cost cloth for low-income consumers are discussed in this book. Economic evaluations of each technology are also presented for the individual entrepreneur or policymaker. The very simplest hand-operated looms are ruled out, as their slow speed means high labor and management costs for the entrepreneur. (It may be the case, however, that such looms could still be attractive if used at home to generate income for families during spare hours.)

This book identifies the important technical and related productivity differences between looms, and should prove of value to anyone involved or interested in weaving projects.

“When the weft is inserted by hand-thrown shuttle in the weaving of cotton-type fabrics of nominally 1 metre width, picking speeds are most unlikely to exceed 20 picks/min and, more usually, are appreciably less than this. Weaving similar cloths on looms with a fly-shuttle …. Could enable the weaver, if sufficiently skilled, to operate at speeds of up to 40 picks/min …. If the take-up and let-off are mechanically linked to the primary motions, the (entire) loom can be foot-pedal operated. These features, if incorporated in a loom of improved structure and with good bearings, enable the loom to be operated at speeds which are claimed to be in excess of 80 picks/min.”

Weaving Technology in India: Jacquards, book, 68 pages, by Puneet Kishore, Development Alternatives, 1990, available from Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd., 576 Masjid Road, Jangpura, New Delhi 110014, India.

“Jacquards are mechanisms that … allow a large degree of control over the movement of the warp, thereby making it possible to weave simple to very intricate designs …. Making complex designs on the fabric lowers the productivity, but the resulting mark-up in the price of the fabric much more than offsets the extra labor involved. In fact with mechanisms such as the jacquards, the productivity, depending on the complexity of the design, can go down significantly, but the returns are very high. For example, making a bedsheet or a shawl on a jacquard loom with a design on it, can fetch the weaver” 33-70% more per day than producing plain cloth.

A conventional jacquard-equipped loom costs Rs. 10,000, however, and is too expensive for most village weavers. This book describes design work on a low-cost jacquard that would have most of the design flexibility but much less of the cost of a conventional jacquard loom. “The new jacquard costs about Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1500 besides the basic loom—about a third of a small conventional jacquard.” Additional design work is recommended by the author to make further needed improvements.

The text is supplemented by simple line drawings.

Medleri Charkha: A Self-Winding Foot-Operated Spinning Wheel, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-812, book, 145 pages, by Mies Bouwmeester and Wim Bloemen, 1991.

An operation and construction manual for a foot-powered wool-spinning wheel that has been used in India as an improvement over traditional hand-operated spinning wheels. Construction drawings and instructions are provided, but on separate pages from each other. The wheel is made from steel and a bicycle wheel. Readers unfamiliar with the operation of spinning wheels are likely to find this confusing.

Silkworm Rearing, FAO Agricultural Services Bulletin 73/2, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-809, book, 83 pages, by Wu Pang-chuan and Chen Da-chuang, 1988, order number F6920.

Silk production can be an important industry given the right conditions. This book provides a nice introduction to the requirements for successful silkworm raising using the mulberry silkworm. Topics include environmental conditions, cleaning of the rearing area, incubation of silkworm eggs, rearing techniques, mounting and cocoon harvesting. Three other volumes in the series cover mulberry cultivation, silk egg production, and silkworm diseases.

Vegetable Dyeing: 151 Color Recipes for Dyeing Yarns and Fabrics with Natural Materials, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-787, book, 146 pages, by Alma Leach, 1970, out of print in 1985.

This book is about dyes from vegetable and other natural sources (such as clay and insects). A large number of the dyes are from tropical and subtropical plants in addition to temperate zone plants. The simple recipes and techniques can be used by a beginner.

Sources for dyeing equipment and materials are listed. General principles of dyeing are covered, along with specific instructions for particular dyes. The author notes that different readers will produce slightly different shades when following the same recipe, due to water composition, timing, temperature and other factors. “Time of year when the dyestuff is collected perhaps most influences the final color. The amount of moisture during a season, the number of daylight hours, and the type of soil where the plant grows are also factors that will affect its dye properties. Generally, parts of the plant above ground need a lot of sunshine to produce strong dyes. Barks may be an exception.”

A dye substance information chart lists the common name (but not the Latin name) of each plant, the part of the plant required, the time of year for harvesting.(in northern hemisphere temperate zones), and methods of preservation. A color information chart lists the proper cloth to use, the color, the proper mordant (a chemical added to prevent fading), and the relative performance of the dye. There is a bibliography and an index.

Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-795, 64 pages, by Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1973, out of print; replaced by Dyes from Nature”>Natural Plant Dyeing, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-795, 64 pages, by Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1973, out of print; replaced by Dyes from Nature, 1990, $10.20 postpaid from Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1000 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11225, USA.

A collection of short articles on natural dyeing in different parts of the world. Most directly useful are the color pages showing a simple test for color fastness, and the color effects of using different mordants with a single plant dyestuff. The discussion of the chemistry of dyeing provides some helpful insights, and the material on classroom dyeing will be useful for science classes.

Dye Plants and Dyeing, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-791, 100 pages, by Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1964.

Here are a general introduction, 35 recipes, and details on plants used for dyeing in 20 countries around the world.

Tintes Naturales, book, 90 pages, by Hugo Zumbuhl, 1984.

Written in Spanish, this well-illustrated natural wool dyeing manual is a remarkable attempt to better communicate with the campesinos of the Peruvian Andes. Samples are included of chemicals used to make the plant dyes more permanent; there are also drawings and real samples of native plants and insects along with small tufts of the dyed wool that give a clear indication of the colors achieved. The quantity of plant material and the recommended method of dyeing are given for each plant/color combination Wool preparation before dyeing is also discussed.

Dyeing and Printing: A Handbook, Small-Scale Textiles Series, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-813, book, 66 pages, by John Foulds, 1990.

A clearly written, well-presented, practical introduction to textile dyeing and printing on a cottage industry to small industry level. This book covers preparation, dyeing and printing of wool, silk, and cotton, and suggests simple ways to test color fastness during washing and fading in sunlight. Explanations of the common technical terms used in dyeing are included. There are good illustrations of workplace layout and simple machines that can greatly improve quality and productivity, such as block printing tables, screen printing tables, and dyeing machines..

The Backyard Dairy Book, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-773,128 pages, by Street and Singer, 1975, Prism Press, out of print.

This book was written to encourage small-scale home dairy production in England, using goats and cows. Briefly looks at breeds, feed and housing requirements, and milking. Most of the book is on home production of dairy products from milk: cream, butter, cheese and yogurt.

Traditional Cheesemaking: An Introduction, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-815, book, 83 pages, by Josef Dubach, 1989.

Despite the title, this is really a well-illustrated guide to producing modest quantities (e.g., 600 liters/day) of cheese in a small, possibly rural, cheese factory.

“Traditional” here really refers to the basic principles of cheesemaking, which are nicely covered. This book will give entrepreneurs and project managers an excellent idea of what is involved in creating a small-scale cheese factory.

“There are several factors to be considered before deciding on the best location for a cheese factory. Due to production costs, cheese protein is more expensive than meat protein. It is advisable, therefore, to locate cheese factories in remote areas where milk distribution costs are high and demands are low. Siting cheese factories in heavily populated urban areas is less important, as fresh milk can be transported easily and cheaply and is always in demand, especially by children for whom it is a better source of nutrition than cheese.

“In remote areas, cheesemaking can be the best way to overcome the problem of milk overproduction. By converting milk into cheese during periods of peak production, its nutritional value can be conserved and stored until needed, although it should be remembered that cheese cannot be kept forever, under normal circumstances. Economically, rural rather than urban locations are more suitable for cheese factories.”

The Village Texturizer, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-788, booklet, 76 pages, by the Meals for Millions Foundation, 1977, VITA, out of print.

This hand-operated device was adapted from a Korean design used by street vendors to make snacks from sweet potato pellets. This modified version created texturized food products from high-protein, low-fat flours (from legumes such as soy, peanut, or chickpea), seeds, and dried vegetables. The products do not spoil quickly and are easily digested, especially by children. A variety of foods with different protein and calorie levels and suitable flavoring can be produced.

There are good construction drawings and detailed sections on operational costs and nutritional composition of raw materials and end products. “The machine described in this manual is an excellent example of an intermediate technology: construction costs are low (it can be built with pieces of metal and old auto parts for roughly $50); operation is labor-intensive; it requires no special knowledge (only experience) to operate and a minimum of maintenance; it can produce a wide variety of products which are both highly nutritious and tasty; and it can be used in a variety of situations—from home to small business.

Yay, Soybeans!, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-789, pamphlet, 36 pages, The Farm, 1976, out of print in 1985.

Soybeans are converted into a wide array of nutritious and exotic foods in the recipes of this stimulating booklet: soymilk, soycheese, soy ice cream, soy yogurt, and many others. Recipes and techniques are detailed, delicious, and simple. The information comes straight from the mouths and stomachs of The Farm, a rural community of young American vegetarians living on a solid rice and beans diet in Tennessee.

The Book of Tempeh, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-775, book, 160 pages, by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, 1979.

Tempeh is a high-protein Indonesian food made from soybeans through a 24- 48 hour fermentation process. The bean patties formed are fried until crisp and golden brown; the flavor and texture has been compared to fried chicken and fish.

Soy tempeh contains approximately 19.5% protein (this compares to beef at 20% and eggs at 13%). Tempeh is also the “world’s richest known vegetarian source of vitamin B12, one of the ingredients most often lacking in vegetarian diets.” This book contains illustrated instructions for making tempeh and tempeh starter, including adaptations to fit U.S. conditions (e.g. use of an electric light bulb inside a Styrofoam cooler for an incubator). Also described are the techniques used in an Indonesian tempeh shop. Only simple kitchen equipment, soybeans, and some home-made starter are needed. 130 recipes.

Cane Sugar: The Small-Scale Processing Option, Proceedings of a Joint ITDG/ IDS Conference, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-810, book, 230 pages, edited by Raphael Kaplinsky, 1989.

Few small-scale industrial processing systems have been so thoroughly studied and adapted as cane sugar production. This reference is an exploration of the advantages and disadvantages involved in small-scale cane sugar refining, and the pieces of technology (such as open pan sulphitation) that can make small-scale production an efficient choice. Issues of scale and the relationship to the surrounding farming community are relevant to other agricultural processing industries as well. “Small-scale” here refers to units that process 200 tons or less of cane per day; not to be confused with village-level cane processing and sugar production.

This book consists of a well-selected set of conference papers, knitted together with introductory and summary chapters that review technical, financial, economic, social and policy issues.

Community Canning Centers: A Project Profile in Community Economic Development, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-803, report, 54 pages, by Stephen Klein, 1977, Center for Community Economic Development, Washington, D.C., out of print.

Small-scale community canning enterprises, many of them owned on a cooperative basis, have existed in the United States for most of this century.

Canning (the preserving of foods in tightly sealed tins or jars) has long been a part of rural self-reliance, as farm families saved their own harvest-time surplus for consumption through the rest of the year. Relatively low-cost community-scale canning technology was developed in the 1930s, and thousands of government-subsidized canning centers were established in the effort to increase food supplies during World War II.

This report is a comparative survey of 16 community canning centers, most of which are cooperatively owned, producing from 7,000 to 12,000 quarts of food per year. The centers use glass jars and/or tin cans, and most of the equipment is hand-operated. Users are involved in the canning process, and locally-grown produce is processed for local consumption.

Whether or not a community canning center is a viable proposition in the U.S. depends on local conditions and initiative, as well as cost and availability of different types of equipment. Key choices for any center include production for personal use or for commercial sales, use of tins or jars, and self-service or staff-service food processing. The author discusses the different combinations of these variables and finds a surprising variety of strategies. “The combination (jars, self-service processing, commercial sale) occurs in upper New England at the Gardens for All Community Canning Center in Shelburne, Vermont. Small farmers utilized a noncommercial, self-service canning center to process products for sale at their roadside stands, taking advantage of the center to can specialty items. Through direct marketing at their stands, they were able to charge a price that was sufficient to cover costs and still leave a fair profit.”

Charts of projected monetary costs and savings for hypothetical canning centers are included, along with appendices on regulatory and technical considerations, and how to calculate project costs (at 1977 prices).

Most community canning centers are unable to cover their investment and overhead costs with proceeds from processing and sales. Government and other agencies often provide subsidies, and membership fees are charged. “In reviewing the costs and benefits of community canning we find ourselves asking why it is that towns, counties, states, and various funding agencies continue to build and support community canneries in increasing numbers despite the need for subsidization …(but) those whose support sustains community canning centers understand that in community economics, profits involve more than a direct dollar inflow. The benefits of community interaction, increased self-reliance, better quality food, and skill building, plus monetary savings for families and added stability for area growers, are vital enough social reasons to far outweigh the costs of the initial investment and the ongoing subsidization.”

Due to the costs of processing equipment and glass or tin containers for the food, community canning centers are not likely to be feasible and appropriate in the poorest countries.

Small-Scale Mining: A Guide to Appropriate Equipment, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33814, book, 110 pages, by James F. McDivitt, Dennis Lock, et. al., 1990.

This is a collection of equipment running from wooden sluices to steel-fabricated earth-moving machines. All of it can be used in relatively small mines, though little of it would be affordable to the smallest individual and family mining operations that are common in many parts of the world. The book covers equipment for “exploration, surveying, sampling, analysis and testing, drilling, alluvial mining, underground mining, sorting, crushing, grinding, processing, materials handling and transportation, pumping, ventilation, power supply and safety.”

Small-Scale Gold Mining, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-796, book, 51 pages, by E.H. Dahlberg, 1984.

With the great increase in the price of gold in recent decades, the economic viability of small-scale mining has greatly improved. This volume discusses placer mining with a sluice box in stream beds, a technique that can be carried out by a single worker with a minimum of equipment. Methods for systematically exploring an area are described. It is assumed that these activities will take place in a location in which gold mining historically was practiced.

Stone: An Introduction, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-807, book, 148 pages, by Asher Shadmon, 1989.

Written to encourage the wider use of stone as a material in small industries, this book will give you a better understanding of stone and the tools and techniques that can be used to work with it. The author covers the basic types of stone and their properties, where to find the right kind of stone for a specific purpose, extraction tools for working stone, architectural uses, and industrial production. Building with stone is discussed and illustrated, but a more complete treatment can be found elsewhere. The preparation of millstones is not specifically discussed, but the reader with that particular interest will find some important background information here.

Stone is, of course, almost everywhere, but it is not always put to effective use. This book will aid those who would like to more fully exploit this local material. Many excellent line drawings of tools and techniques, and a well-selected assortment of photos.

Remanufacturing: The Experience of the United States and Implications for Developing Countries, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-808, book, 103 pages, by Robert Lund 1984, from World Bank Publications, Box 7247-8619, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19170-8619, USA.

Entrepreneurs looking for new business ideas will be the most likely audience for this book. “Remanufacturing is the restoration of used products to a like-new condition, providing them with performance characteristics and durability at least as good as those of the original product. Through a series of industrial processes, worn-out or discarded products are completely disassembled … cleaned and refurbished, new parts are provided when necessary, and the parts are reassembled and tested to produce units meeting new product performance standards.”

In developing countries, the economic incentives for repair and reuse exceed those in industrialized countries, and a great deal of equipment is kept running for many years. There is probably a greater amount of ad hoc, innovative repair and less institutionalized remanufacturing. The result is that the performance of equipment deteriorates over time compared to its performance were it fully remanufactured.

The main unexploited opportunities for entrepreneurs in developing countries to establish remanufacturing operations probably consist of small niches that correspond to the varied sources and ages of the equipment in use. This book may help the entrepreneur to think productively about the niches that are likely to be available locally.

One important concern is the technological stability of the product, as a remanufactured unit may be ten years older than the current models. Thus these businesses are concentrated in product areas where the life span of the individual.unit is short relative to the technological life span of the product. In the U.S., the greatest activity takes place in automotive parts. There is, however, considerable activity in electronic circuit boards and communications equipment, and recently remanufacturers of copier and laser printer cartridges have appeared.

Work from Waste: Recycling Wastes to Create Employment, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33804, book, 396 pages, by John Vogler, 1982.

This book contains “details of appropriate technologies being employed all over the world to recycle paper, iron and steel, tin, non-ferrous metals, plastics, textiles, rubber, minerals, chemicals, oil, and human and household wastes. All these materials are suitable for labour-intensive processing, often requiring little capital and providing a cash income plus other environmental and community benefits.” Also describes how to set up a small waste recycling business. No coverage of organic wastes, or the simple clever “reuse” of materials commonly found in developing countries.

Small Scale Recycling of Plastics, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 33-799, book, 94 pages, by Jon Vogler, 1984.

Jon Vogler presents a good introduction to the different plastics commonly used and the basic economic evaluation necessary to determine which materials can be profitably recycled. He then provides advice as to which materials are likely to be economically handled, testing procedures to help identify each type of plastic, and processing equipment to transform the material into a form acceptable to the manufacturers of plastic goods. He also describes the chemistry of plastics.



 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

Beekeeping—the controlled raising of bees in hives to obtain honey—has a very long history. In the industrialized countries, beekeeping is a solid income-generating venture for many people, and a hobby for many others, both in rural and semi-urban areas. The basic piece of equipment in these countries is the rectangular wooden hive with interchangeable parts, including movable frames into which a commercially made wax honeycomb foundation can be inserted to control and accelerate honey production. The Beekeeper’s Handbook provides a practical summary and guide to the tools and techniques of beekeeping as it is practiced in the industrialized countries.

One major problem with the practical literature on beekeeping is that most of it was written for developed countries. It is assumed that such specialty items as prepared comb foundations can be purchased (not made) by the beekeeper. These foundations, fitted into frames, assure that there will be a “beespace” of 5/16 of an inch between frames, which bees will leave as a passageway. Comb foundations are important as they reduce the amount of beeswax required for building comb, enable the beekeeper to control where the comb will be constructed, and are usually made of worker-cell bases, which reduce the number of unwanted drone cells.

Several options are available to prospective beekeepers in areas where the equipment to make the comb foundations is not available. These were recommended to us by Ken’s grandfather, an experienced beekeeper who began long before the time of commercially made comb foundations. One approach uses comb cut from a natural hive, tied in place in the frames with string. The bees will extend the comb to fill each frame. The string should be cut within the first few days as soon as it is no longer necessary or the bees will waste considerable effort in cutting it themselves. A technique for making wax honeycomb foundation is described in Home Honey Production. This should be of interest in tropical countries where distance, cost, and high temperatures make it difficult or impossible to get commercially made wax foundation in good condition.

Tree trunks, hanging logs, baskets, and jars are among the simpler hives traditionally used by beekeepers in the South. Beekeeping could play a greater role in supplementing rural incomes in these countries. A number of valuable books with a developing country’s perspective have appeared in the 1980’s. The Golden Insect and Small Scale Beekeeping are two welcome new practical manuals. Beekeeping in Rural Development and Tropical and Sub-Tropical Apiculture are efforts by apiculturists and rural development agents to share knowledge about many different traditional beekeeping systems. Improved “hybrid” methods should result, some of them “intermediate” between indigenous and manufactured technologies.

An excellent example of a promising hybrid is a modification of the Tanzanian top-bar hive. A Beekeeping Handbook provides step-by-step instructions for making a low-cost cow dung and cardboard version of this simple hive.

All of the following books are reviewed below and available for sale as part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CD 24* or DVD 4):

*Minimum order of 4 CDs

The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture
The Beekeeper’s Handbook
Beekeeping Guide
A Beekeeping Handbook
Beekeeping in Rural Development
Golden Insect
Home Honey Production
A Homemade Honey Extractor
Making and Using a Solar Wax Melter
Plans for a Complete Beekeeping System
Small Scale Beekeeping

A Beekeeping Guide. Tropical and Sub-Tropical Apiculture, FAO Agricultural Services Bulletin 68, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 32-773, book, 283 pages, FAO, 1986, $24.00 from UNIPUB or FAO.

This compilation is intended to provide “an understanding of the problems of apiculture (beekeeping) which are specifically applicable to the developing countries of the tropics and sub-tropics. Many technical matters of considerable importance are hardly touched on, and some are not even mentioned, but these are dealt with in good beekeeping manuals written in and for the developed countries; on the other hand, emphasis is laid on certain points which, while of little concern to beekeepers in temperate zones, create acute problems in the tropics.”

“The beginning tropical beekeeper will find in it much of the background material he needs for a thorough understanding of his art. The more experienced worker with bees may find solutions to some of his problems which have been solved elsewhere, and agricultural planners will find some indications of means by which apiculture can become an element in integrated rural development.”

The first topics are bee biology, diseases and pests, honey-hunting and traditional beekeeping. The authors regret the lack of progress in beekeeping techniques among most developing country beekeepers, with the result that hive productivity is much lower than it could be, and an opportunity for an export crop is largely unexploited.

The second set of topics concern “modern apiculture”, the scientific management of bees to maximize production through the use of improved hives, disease and pest control, and other means. The authors recommend, for example, local production of wax comb foundation, in part because some bee species have cell sizes as much as 25% larger than others.

Also included is a case study of profitable beekeeping from Bangladesh, and recommendations for national programs and technical assistance in any developing country. Appendices cover international standards for honey (important for export programs), bee vulnerability to pesticides, and a listing of information sources of beekeepers in developing countries..

Beekeeping in Rural Development, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 32-766, large paperback book, 196 pages, Commonwealth Secretariat Publications, out of print.

This collection of twenty papers reviews beekeeping practices and potential in developing countries of the Commonwealth. Unlike many of the other beekeeping manuals reviewed here, this volume deals specifically and extensively with traditional practices and the introduction of adapted or new methods. Indigenous techniques and current development programs are discussed for nine African nations, as well as India, Sri Lanka, the Guianas, Belize, Panama, and the Pacific islands. Photographs of Kenyan log hives and Tanzanian pegged-bark hives are included.

An introductory article presents a valuable summary of geographical distribution of colony-forming honeybee species, honey production and trade, and traditional vs. modern equipment and methods. “Traditional hives are simple containers made of whatever material is used locally for other containers; hollowed logs, bark, woven twigs or reeds, coiled straw, baked or unbaked clay, plant stems and leaves, or fruits such as gourds. In the tropics and subtropics almost all these hives lie or hang horizontally. In the most primitive form of beekeeping the bees are killed or driven out once or twice a year when the honey and wax are taken, the colony being destroyed in the process …. At the other end of the scale are the movable frame hives used in modern apiaries throughout the world, which consist of a tier of accurately manufactured wooden boxes …. Between these two extremes— each irreplaceable in its appropriate context—there are various ‘intermediate’ hives that provide some of the benefits of moveable frame beekeeping with a much reduced need for precision …. In movable-comb frameless hives, used successfully in development programs in East Africa … the rectangular frame fitted with foundation wax is replaced by a top-bar only, rounded on the under side and smeared with wax (or perhaps supplied with a narrow strip of wax). The top-bars must be at the correct distance apart to give the bees’ natural intercomb distance (beespace) but that is the only precision measurement.”

A useful overview of beekeeping’s potential as a low-cost, appropriate technology for supplementing rural incomes in many parts of the developing world.

The Beekeeper’s Handbook, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 32-764, large paperback, 131 pages, by Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile, 1978.

“There are hundreds of beekeeping books, but there is an almost universal complaint that beginners’ books are not sufficiently explicit … (this book) will not only give you good understanding of the life history and behavior of bees, but it will also tell you how to manage bees, how to control their diseases, how to remove and process honey, and many other ‘how-to-do-it’ aspects.” Especially useful for its simple, clear discussions of bee behavior and various methods of locating, starting, feeding and maintaining hives. The authors assume that beekeepers will buy commercial hive parts, but line drawings and text may provide enough information to improvise some equipment.

A clear, comprehensive introduction to beekeeping..

A Beekeeping Handbook, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 32-763, 65 pages, by B. Clauss and L. Tiernan Ministry of Agriculture, Botswana, 1982.

Here is an excellent combination: a primer on honeybees and a manual for setting up and keeping colonies using simple low-cost equipment. “On a small scale, the prospects of beekeeping in Botswana are good …. (It) can be completely home based; the hives are made in Kanye and Molepolole or the individual can try constructing his own from a cardboard box and cowdung.” Both the simple manufactured hive and the cowdung hive (a cardboard box strengthened and protected with a plaster of cowdung and sand) are of the top-bar type, and do not require frames or commercial comb foundation. A smoker made from a tin can and a feather (for brushing bees off combs) are the key accessories. The handbook gives detailed instructions on starting a colony from a swarm or capturing an existing wild colony. Appendices discuss problems and pests, costs of hives and materials, and honey production as a source of income.

Photographs show children doing all of the handling operations. Clear, convincing; a welcome document on low-cost beekeeping methods.

Highly recommended.

The Golden Insect: A Handbook on Beekeeping for Beginners, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 32-772, book, 112 pages, by Stephen Adjare, 1984.

Written as a training manual for beekeepers in Ghana, this is a basic introduction to tropical beekeeping by a man with several years of practical experience. “The aim is to put into the hands of the Ghanaian and African beekeeper information that he can readily understand and put to immediate use.”

Very readable, with numerous photographs.

“After the first bee sting you must run away. The bee may chase you but do not be afraid of it because it cannot sting a second time. You may catch and crush it because once it has stung it will die later. Killing it may save you as it will have no chance to go back to the hive and inform others to chase you.”

Small Scale Beekeeping, Peace Corps A.T. for Development Series Manual M-17, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 32-771, book, 211 pages, by Curtis Gentry, 1982.

The basics of beekeeping are covered with the author advocating an “intermediate” level of technology in this manual written for Peace Corps volunteers. More advanced techniques are also discussed. Information is offered on project planning, characteristics and needs of honeybees, hive products, diseases and pest control. Includes plans for building most of the needed equipment.

Home Honey Production, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 32-767, book, 72 pages, by W.B. Bielby, 1977, EP Publishing Ltd., East Ardsley, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF3 2JN, United Kingdom, out of print.

A “do-it-yourself” manual for the beginning beekeeper, less complete than The Beekeeper’s Handbook (see review). This book, however, includes drawings and instructions for making hives, plaster molds for wax foundations (the patterned surface on which bees build honeycombs), a solar wax extractor, and candles..Dimensional drawings and a list of materials are included for the catenary hive, which is shaped so that bees will build their combs on a homemade foundation hanging from a single strip of wood. This design eliminates the rectangular frames and beespaces of a conventional hive.

The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 32-762, book, 726 pages, 1983, revised 1990 edition.

This is a complete encyclopedia on the art and science of beekeeping, arranged alphabetically and well-illustrated. A.I. Root and Company are pioneers in beekeeping enterprises in the United States and have enjoyed an international reputation since the first edition of this volume was published in 1877. They cover the innovations in the U.S. up to the present, and an extensive glossary helps the reader to understand the more technical portions of the book. Recommended to those interested in large-scale bee cultivation.

“Some cover of boards or other shade material (trees, bushes) should be provide to protect the hives from the severe heat of the summer sun. In very hot climates, sheds are built to shelter the hives. It is not uncommon in hot climates for the combs to melt from excessive heat.” (Under such circumstances the bees do their own air conditioning of the hive They gather small droplets of water to be evaporated inside the hive, cooling it down. The beekeeper can cooperate by placing nearby a pan of water filled with pebbles, so that the bees can land without falling in and drowning—Editors.)

The Hive and the Honey Bee, book, 740 pages, Dadant & Sons, Inc., 1975.

“Twenty-two chapters cover all the aspects of beekeeping from history of beekeeping through equipment, management, anatomy and behavior, pollination, disease, honey and honey processing, honey plants, beeswax and pesticide poisoning.” Those willing to make the major investment in this expensive text will not be disappointed. The format is more readable than The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture, although the content is essentially the same.

A Beekeeping Guide, Technical Bulletin No. 9, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 32-765, booklet, 45 pages, by Harlan Attfield, illustrated by Marina Maspero, 1989,also available in French.

This booklet presents construction details for beehives made of wood, tree trunks, clay jars, woven bamboo/reeds/straw, and empty kerosene tins. A honey extractor and several smokers are also included, along with guidelines for selecting sites, caring for hives, and choosing proper clothing. This booklet was originally published in Bangladesh by the Appropriate Agricultural Technology Cell.

A Homemade Honey Extractor, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 32-768, plans, 3 pages, by Larry McWilliams, 1974, in Countryside Journal, out of print in 1985.

This is a simple unit, made mostly of wood, which holds honeycombs in wire baskets and spins them with the use of a hand crank. This motion forces the honey out of the comb, and it flows down to a drain at the bottom of the barrel or wooden.box in which the spinning unit is housed. You get clear honey with a minimum of effort. The empty wax honeycombs can be reused by the bees, who will concentrate on filling them with honey rather than having to build them again.

Plans for a Complete Beekeeping System, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 32-770, dimensional drawings, 20 pages, 1975, Garden Way Publishing, out of print in 1981.

This is a full set of plans for small-scale honey production. Included are the beehive with all components, honey extractor, smoker, gloves, and protective veil. The equipment can be easily made of locally available materials in most places.

Directory of Important World Honey Sources, book, 384 pages, by Eva Crane et. al., 1984.

A list with data on each of 467 plants that are reported to be major honey sources somewhere in the world. Special lists of drought-tolerant and salt-tolerant entries are included. “Each entry contains information (as available) on the plant and its economic uses, its flowering period, its nectar or honeydew flow, its honey and pollen production, and the chemical composition and physical properties of its honey (including flavor, aroma and granulation).”

The Impact of Pest Management on Bees and Pollination, book, 207 pages, by Eva Crane and Penelope Walker, International Bee Research Association, 1983.

The authors explore the pesticide killing of bees in developing countries— which crops and poisons it tends to be associated with, and how to determine whether poisoning is in fact taking place. Three bibliographies are appended: 1) pesticides and bees, 2) bee pollination of crops in the tropics and subtropics, and 3) laws and regulations to prevent bee poisoning.

Making and Using a Solar Wax Melter, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 32-769, leaflet no. 2788, plans, 3 pages, 1975.

This glass-covered box uses solar heat, collected in a black metal pan, to melt and recover beeswax from old combs and hive scrapings. Drawings showing construction details are very clear. A metal pan measuring 24 inches by 36 inches can recover wax from up to 60 hives. The size can be varied. This melter can be closed during operation, protecting the wax from robber bees.

Local Communications


 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

Grass-roots A.T. groups and other community organizations wishing to share their successful ideas with a larger audience will be faced with the problem of how to make this information available in a low-cost, understandable form. The books reviewed in this chapter should be helpful in choosing ways to present information effectively and at low cost. Experiences in Visual Thinking shows how most people can use sketching as a tool for developing ideas in the problem-solving process. Visual Literacy in Communication and Communicating with Pictures are concerned with finding drawings and pictures, especially those based on common local images, that can be effectively used to communicate ideas from one community to another and among illiterates. Illustrations for Development provides lessons for improving drawing skills. Visual Communication Handbook and Screen Printing offer many ideas on low-cost visual communications media that can be produced in small communities. Rural Mimeo Newspapers looks at one particularly promising low-cost print technology. Print: How You Can Do It Yourself gives an overview of the low-cost print technologies as they now exist in the developed countries. Basic Bookbinding provides the necessary information for small-scale hand bookbinding; also useful to a library or information center. How to Do Leaflets, Newsletters and Newspapers gives some valuable guidelines for newspaper writing, editing, and organization. (Rural Mimeo Newspapers also does this well). And The Organization of the Small Public Library can be valuable for any group with an information center or local appropriate technology library. Grass Roots Radio provides the basic outlines for the low-cost production of radio programs in rural communities for broadcast throughout a region. Here is an approach for two-way communication, in which rural people can seek technical help and discuss their own successful technological innovations.

The techniques described in this section are but a few of the possible tools of a grass-roots based communications strategy. Such an approach will also involve close collaboration between researchers and beneficiaries, and mechanisms to ensure that technical support for problem-solving can be provided when requested by villagers. Visits by individuals from one community to another, technical data banks responsive to rural requests, and low-cost catalogs covering a broad range of topics (like the Liklik Buk) also have a place.

All of the following books are reviewed below and available for sale as part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CD 27* or DVD 4):

Communicating with Pictures
The Copy Book
Experiences in Visual Thinking
57 How to Do It Charts on Materials and Equipment and Techniques for Screen Printing
Grass Roots Radio
How to Do Leaflets Newsletters and Newspapers
Illustrations for Development
Low Cost Printing for Development
The Low Cost Wooden Duplicator
The Organization of the Small Public Library
The Photonovel
Plain Talk
Print: How You Can Do It Yourself
Rural Mimeo Newspapers
Small Technical Libraries
Visual Communication Handbook
The StenScreen
Visual Literacy in Communication
Women and Graphics

Experiences in Visual Thinking, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-752, book, 171 pages, by Robert McKim, second edition 1980.

“‘Visual Thinking’ is used to describe the interaction of seeing, imagining and idea-sketching” This is a book on thinking about design, and how sketches and other representations of design ideas can be a great aid to releasing the creativity of the reader as a designer. The reader is taken through a series of small problems to develop the understanding of many different ways in which “visual thinking” can aid in design work. The author has drawn from a wide literature on creativity, mental processes, and the history of great inventions.

“Unlearn the stereotype that places drawing in the category of Art …. Drawing, most of all, stimulates seeing …. Almost everyone learns to read and write in our society; almost everyone can also learn to draw.”

“Graphic ideation is not to be confused with graphic communication. The former is concerned with conceiving and nurturing ideas; the latter is concerned with presenting fully formed ideas to others. Graphic ideation is visually talking to oneself; graphic communication is visually talking to others …. The graphic ideator … can sketch freehand, quickly and spontaneously, leaving out details that he already understands …. He feels free to fail many times on the way to obtain a solution.”

This is a valuable tool for strengthening the design and problem-solving abilities of individuals and groups. It could be used for a short course for members of an appropriate technology unit.

Highly recommended.

Visual Literacy in Communication: Designing for Development, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-760 book, 144 pages, by Anne Zimmer and Fred Zimmer, 1978.

This is about how to communicate effectively with drawings and pictures. It is intended for use by artists and most development workers (good English language ability required). The author presents a systematic strategy for improving the effectiveness of drawings, with a lot of examples. Many posters and drawings fail to communicate what is intended. Partly this is because “most communication theory as we know it today was developed in the industrialized West …. It takes little notice of the kinds of communication visual and otherwise—that have been important in spreading and maintaining traditional … cultures.” Foreign methods of visual presentation can be as hard to understand as a foreign language.

“The first job of the visual communicator is not to draw pictures. It is to find out what visual communication is already going on among the people he wants to reach, and to get the other information he needs in order to design materials that communicate properly. To do this, he makes a collection, called a ‘visual inventory’. Instead of putting together elegant designs from all over the world, he samples the visual communication his intended audience already sees. Then he finds out how—and whether—these examples communicate by asking questions ….”

“The message is: read your own culture and understand your own visual language as you design visual messages for use in your particular cultural setting.”

Communicating with Pictures, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-751, booklet, 56 pages, by UNICEF Nepal, 1975, available on request from UNICEF, P.O. Box 1187, Kathmandu, Nepal.

This booklet is a summary of a full report also obtainable from UNICEF in Nepal. The booklet describes the results of a study that was undertaken to discover how effectively pictures could be used in communication.

“Is it possible to communicate ideas and information to villagers by using pictures only? Probably not. In the course of the study, over 20 pictures intended to convey ideas (rather than just to represent objects) were shown to villagers. Many (but not all) of the villagers could recognize the objects shown in the pictures. But the ideas behind the pictures were almost never conveyed to the villagers. For example, one picture was intended to convey the idea that people who drink polluted water are likely to get diarrhea. It was shown to 89 villagers, and only one of them understood the message behind the picture.”

The reasons for the failure of pictures to convey ideas are thoroughly discussed. Many different types of pictures (illustrations, sketches, photos, and other graphics) were used: the disadvantages and advantages of each type are covered. The effects of colors are mentioned too.

“People are interested and attracted to pictures, even though they may need help to interpret them …. During the study one picture was taken to six villages and shown to over 100 people. In five villages, none of the villagers who saw the picture could understand it. But in the sixth village, many villagers could explain exactly what the picture meant. They could understand it because five months before, some health workers had visited their village and talked about TB, and had shown them this picture.”

Anyone attempting to use pictures to communicate ideas and information would find this booklet useful. Highly recommended.

Illustrations for Development, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-762, book, 69 pages, edited by G. McBean, 1980, new edition may be available from AALAE, P.O. Box 72511, Nairobi, Kenya.

Artists, would-be artists, and the people who publish drawings to communicate with village people will find this a valuable manual. The authors summarize recent findings from research about how drawings are perceived by rural people, and go on to provide lessons to improve drawing skills. Basic drawing tools are presented along with some good advice about pursuing a career as an illustrator.

“Close up illustrations which cut off any part of the body (e.g. head or hands) are difficult to comprehend. Full-figure drawings are usually understood, and provide a useful starting point for educating and introducing an audience with a low visual literacy level to picture communication.”

Visual Communication Handbook, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-759, book, 127 pages, by Denys J. Saunders, 1974, Teaching Aids at Low Cost, out of print.

The author does an excellent job of explaining how to use a great variety of inexpensive visual aids, including paper pictures, posters, flannel boards, and puppets. This book would be useful to anyone trying to carry out an education program as cheaply as possible. A simple device (a pantograph) is shown which can be used “to make enlargements up to eight times the size of the original. By means of a screw you fix the pantograph to the table or the drawing board. With the pointer you trace the lines of the original picture and a pencil draws the enlarged picture on another sheet of paper.”

How to Do Leaflets, Newsletters, and Newspapers, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-755, booklet, 176 pages, by Nancy Brigham, 1982, revised 1991.

This booklet provides guidelines for the small community or neighborhood newspaper. Includes suggestions for the effective design of leaflets, the scheduling of a newsletter or newspaper, how to determine the “look” of the newspaper, the techniques of layout and paste-up, obtaining and presenting information, and editing. Briefly covers the low-cost print technologies and the use of computer generated type from both Macintosh and IBM-compatible personal computers.

While this booklet is intended for use in the United States, the language is quite easy to understand and it may be useful in other areas.

Women and Graphics: A Beginner’s Kit, in The Tribune, Newsletter No. 21, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-761, 60 pages, 1982, International Women’s Tribune Center, New York, out of print.

Though directed at, and most applicable to, women’s groups, this packet of techniques for media outreach and education is an informative and stimulating resource for community groups and organizers. Includes tips for lettering, graphics, and communicating by simple yet effective means. With bibliography. Other issues of this newsletter, covering a wide variety of topics related to women in development, are available from IWTC.

The Copy Book: Copyright-Free Illustrations for Development, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-769, book, 125 pages, by the Association of Illustrators et. al., 1988.

This book contains a wide variety of line drawings that can be adapted to illustrate many development topics, such as food, water, health, shelter and work. Included are instructions on how to copy, adapt and enlarge these drawings. Artists are encouraged to test their drawings on a sample audience to determine whether the intended message is being understood.

Rural Mimeo Newspapers, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-758, booklet, 42 pages, by Robert de T. Lawrence,1965, UNESCO, 7 Place de Fontenov, 75700 Paris, France; out of print in 1981.

This is a low-cost printing scheme for small communities in developing areas. Describes a successful project in Liberia, in which 30 mimeo papers grew up within a year, a number of them spontaneously. Small mimeograph machines are lightweight and easy to repair. They can be purchased for as little as US $40-50.

“On the basis of the Liberian experience, it is estimated that a paper could be established with an initial outlay of as little as $100, and that it could provide a.living for its owner/editor from the outset.”

Part II, on organizing a rural newspaper program, gives suggestions on how to plan, staff, publish, and assist low-cost newspapers in rural communities of developing countries.

Part III, on how to publish a low-cost community newspaper, gives hints on writing, editing, printing, and distributing a rural newspaper. It is suggested that sponsoring agencies adapt this section to fit local conditions and publish it in pamphlet form.

Low-Cost Printing for Development, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-763, in four booklets, 104 pages total, by Jonathan Zeitlyn, 1982, also available from TOOL.

To minimize the costs of printing posters, flyers, community newspapers and booklets, it is important to understand the various simple printing technologies available, and the appropriate uses for each in terms of quality, numbers of copies and cost. The author of these four booklets has summarized this information and provided additional details to allow readers to make their own simple printing devices and deal more economically with printers. The final volume discusses the requirements for setting up a small printshop. These volumes have more of a developing country focus, but are otherwise similar in purpose and scope to Print: How You Can Do It Yourself and How to Do Leaflets, Newsletters and Newspapers.

The Photonovel: A Tool for Development, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-765, booklet, 105 pages, by Daniel Weaks, 1976, available free of charge to Peace Corps volunteers and development workers from Peace Corps; also available from NTIS (accession no. PB86 119518).

The photonovel is similar to the comic book, but with pictures in place of drawings. It “fills a special need felt by those who lack reading material written at a level that they understand. To fill this demand, photonovels are found in every country of Latin America and many cities of the U.S.”

This is a good introduction to the production of photonovels.

Print: How You Can Do It Yourself, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-757, booklet, 96 pages, by J. Zeitlyn, 1975.

This is a good overview of low-cost community-level print technologies. While most relevant to groups in developed countries, it does give a good idea of the operation of spirit and stencil duplicators, offset presses, and silkscreen techniques.

57 How-to-Do-It Charts on Materials and Equipment and Techniques for Screen Printing, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-753, paperback book, 63 pages, by Harry L. Hiett, 1980.

Screen printing (also called “silk screen printing”) is an excellent way to print pictures and words on leaflets, posters, clothing and other materials. The methods of screen printing are thoroughly described in this book. There are a large number of illustrations.

Highly recommended to anyone looking for information on screen printing.as a means of cheaply and efficiently producing high quality graphics.

The Sten-Screen: Making and Using a Low-Cost Printing Process, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-767, booklet, 13 pages, by Ian McLaren, 1983.

“The Sten-Screen process is a hybrid duplicating and printing technique. Basically it combines stencil duplicator stencils with the screen process. This enables one to create legible and compact printed matter, using equipment which one can make oneself out of readily available items. The process does not require electricity. These instructions give guidance on how to build and use the equipment. The screen uses a simple rectangular frame with textile stretched across it. This is used as a support for stencil duplicator stencils. The text and images which are required to be reproduced may be either typed, handwritten or drawn upon these.” Photographs can be reproduced if an electronic stencil cutter is available to produce the stencil.

Basic Bookbinding, book, 136 pages, by A. Lewis, 1957.

This book provides step-by-step instructions with many illustrations for the essential operations involved in the binding of books by hand in cloth and in library style. “Sufficient detailed information is given to enable a student, working on his own, to do so with success”

Materials used are carefully explained. All the tools necessary are relatively simple ones. The descriptions and illustrations of the tools needed are sufficient for the draftsperson to make them him or herself.

The Low-Cost Wooden Duplicator, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-764, booklet, 19 pages, by David Elcock,1984.

Detailed construction drawings and step-by-step instructions are provided for a hand-operated stencil duplicator made mostly of wood. “From one inking you can, with practice, produce over 200 copies of good quality print. The quality of the print is nearly as good as that from much more expensive machines.”

Small Technical Libraries, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-768, booklet, 40 pages, by D.J. Campbell, 1979.

In this valuable little book you will find lots of good ideas that will prove very helpful in organizing and effectively operating a small technical library to support the work of a small research institute or a technical information clearinghouse. The author emphasizes frequent meetings with the research staff to better understand and provide for their information needs, and make them aware of newly arrived reference materials of possible interest.


The Organization of the Small Public Library, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-756, booklet, 66 pages, by I. Heintze, 1963, out of print in 1985.

This booklet “has been written specifically for people without previous training in librarianship who are faced with the task of running small public libraries and need guidance …. In a simple and practical way, with many illustrations, it gives the reader the basic information he needs …. Intended primarily for the rapidly developing countries” but the principles are universally applicable. May be useful in the organization of a library of A.T. materials.

Grass Roots Radio: A Manual for Fieldworkers in Family Planning and Other Areas of Social and Economic Development, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-754, book, 66 pages by Rex Keating, 1977.

“Rural broadcasting, as practiced in most developing countries, is a one-way line of communication, the specialist or government official instructing farmers and other members of the rural community …. But any form of adult education yields its best results when the communication is two-way and this is the secret of the Farm Forum success ….” By 1974, most villages in Senegal were listening to farm forum broadcasts, many of them holding organized discussion groups. Members of the broadcasting team “are always on the move, systematically covering the countryside, and in each village they hand over their microphone to anyone willing to use it. The program’s producers insist that 3/4 of the time on the air, in the three weekly programs, is devoted to what the villagers have to say …. The broadcasts embrace all aspects of the rural scene, from animal husbandry and crop production to public health and prevailing market conditions. (This broadcast) has brought about a better mutual understanding between farmers and the officials who run the technical services of the countryside.”

This manual is intended to introduce the techniques of successful low-cost production in rural areas of taped interviews and scripts for broadcasts. The reader is expected to be a development fieldworker who through the use of this book will be able to produce good quality tapes on topics in his or her area of activity. Written primarily as a guide for use by family planning workers, it has a bias towards information dissemination from a central authority rather than grass-roots information sharing.

Central to the production of low-cost grass-roots radio programs is the use of cassette recorders, which are now available at reasonable prices and capable of excellent performance. Steps for the operation of these recorders for best results are presented.

The author offers some ideas that will help the fieldworker make interviews and scripts appealing to the listeners. He suggests how to organize discussions and news shows.

The language used in this book is sometimes difficult, and will pose problems to fieldworkers. Some of the suggestions for script writing and interviewing are relevant primarily in the English language.

Plain Talk: Clear Communication for International Development, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 31-766, book, 75 pages, by David Jarmul, 1981, VITA, out of print.

Much of what is published about development is hard to understand, especially for anyone reading in a foreign language. This book has twelve rules for simple writing that will help you write more clearly. A system for measuring the difficulty of text is described. The effective use of drawings is also discussed.

Small Enterprises and Cooperatives: Organization and Management


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In developing countries, small producers and farmers must overcome the high cost of capital (interest rates of 10-20% per month are common in the rural areas) and must survive market fluctuations caused by influences beyond their control. Penetration of local markets by cheap goods manufactured in the modern industrial sector, inconsistent governmental tax and import/export quotas and restrictions and seasonal price cycles in agricultural produce are only a few of the difficulties faced by the small business enterprise.

But because a viable local economy depends on preventing the drain of resources out of the community, small manufacturing and other commercial units seem to be an especially “appropriate” form of business organization. Small business channel investments which improve local capital stocks; they develop local skills and increase job opportunities while using local materials; they allow the diversity which is crucial to a healthy, stable local economy. Significantly, locally owned small business are unlikely to abandon a community in search of lower wages elsewhere.

A relative neglect of institutional support for small businesses, worker-owned enterprises, and cooperatives is found in both the United States and the South. On the whole, small enterprises give a better return on investment (risks are higher, gains are higher) and create more jobs per unit of capital than large enterprises. Yet small enterprises have a great difficulty in obtaining capital, due to the poor match between their capital needs and the operating rules of the capital markets. Compounding the problem is the fact that small enterprises in rich and poor countries are often failing to make the best use of what capital and human resources they do have, and they face substantial difficulties in obtaining technical assistance to change this situation. Small Business in the Third World is an insightful review of the problems and opportunities faced by small enterprises; this book is a must for people involved in related activities. Consultancy for Small Businesses presents an innovative means for improving management skills in small enterprises in developing countries through a low-cost system of consulting.

In rich and poor countries, a variety of governmental and non-governmental efforts are being initiated to stimulate the growth of small businesses and other enterprises. Entrepreneurs are the people who take risks in order to create and sell new products and provide new services. The most lucrative business opportunities in developing countries are usually urban and/or import-oriented, and these usually attract the most experienced entrepreneurs with the greatest financial resources and the best political connections. However, there are often some individuals with a real interest in establishing businesses that could help in rural areas. These people, if exposed to the right opportunities to produce and market innovative agricultural tools, can be much better at these activities than government or NGOs.

Entrepreneurs can also positively influence R&D work sponsored by NGOs and governments due to their concerns for the commercial and economic viability of innovations. The Entrepreneur’s Handbook is an excellent resource for entrepreneurs in the South and would-be entrepreneurs. Two excellent books on effective small lending programs are Rural Credit:Lessons for Rural Bankers and Policy Makers and Credit and Savings for Development. These two very practical volumes provide thoughtful insights into what does and doesn’t work in practice, dispelling myths along the way.

One promising type of small enterprise is the cooperative. By pooling resources and functioning as a unit, a group of producers or consumers can operate at a more efficient scale and share the benefits. They may be able to buy in quantity, or store and ship produce to more profitable markets, for example. The cooperative also has great potential as a mechanism for increased capital investment in the rural South. Groups of individuals pooling small monthly surpluses have been able to finance community improvement projects, and establish credit funds. Clearly cooperatives have great potential as tools to help break vicious circles of poverty and lack of opportunity, yet they have seen only limited success. Especially in the poor countries, cooperatives fall prey to distrust among members, unskilled or corrupt management, domination by ruling local interests, and manipulation by governments intent on using them for political purposes. Cooperatives have generally been unable to help those most in need. Often farmers are required to own land to qualify for membership in agricultural co-ops in developing countries; this excludes tenants and laborers.

Like any tool or technique, the cooperative will be an important organizational form only when it grows out of the aspirations of the people who will be members. The great mass of literature, however, treats the co-op as a fixed organizational structure that extension agents should promote. Case studies in the Handbook for Cooperative Field Workers in Developing Countries show how this approach is bound to fail. There are, however, a flourishing variety of informal cooperative organizations in the South. The “arisan” is an Indonesian capital-formation club in which each individual contributes the same small amount to a.monthly “pot,” all of which goes to a different member each month. Other Indonesian villagers form savings associations to provide revolving loan opportunities to members. Interest is collected on small loans and paid on savings, at moderate rates. This is, in effect, an alternative to the commercial banks which are unable to respond to most village credit needs. Many experts view effective government support (in the form of training, facilities, consulting, etc.) as essential to a cooperative’s success. Yet these Indonesian associations are informally organized and avoid registration with the government ministry for cooperatives.

In the promotion of cooperatives and small business enterprises, as in so many other activities, it appears that government agencies and NGOs have been too quick to supply answers and promote adoption of fixed organizational structures, and have failed to support local initiatives or strengthen existing organizational forms. Certainly a process may be set in motion by carrying out a dialogue with a community about the many forms a cooperative may take. But it appears that best use is made of training and other ‘inputs” when these are provided only in response to requests from businesses or cooperatives which have already defined their own activities. While traditional extension programs do not operate in this way, there are certainly other, more participatory approaches. Non-formal education, in particular, puts increasing emphasis on supporting group-defined educational and vocational goals. Small-scale non-formal education programs might provide one of the best mechanisms for successful support of cooperatives and other small enterprises in developing countries.

This chapter concludes with entries that discuss the principles of running a small business and simple accounting systems. The authors have attempted to meet “a real and widespread need for a (bookkeeping) system which is both effective and straightforward enough to be taught to rural based people in a relatively short period of time.”

All of the following books are reviewed below and available for sale as part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CD 24* or DVD 4):

Basic Control of Assets Disk 24, File 30-751
Basic Finances Disk 24, File 30-752
Basic Marketing Disk 24, File 30-753
Blacksmith Baker Roofing Sheet Maker Disk 24, File 30-754
Business Arithmetic for Cooperatives and Other Small Businesses Disk 24, File 30-731
The Business Review Disk 24, File 30-756
A Complete Cash Analysis Accounts System for Businessmen Disk 24, File 30-738
Consultancy for Small Businesses Disk 24, File 30-739
Cooperative Accounting 1: Thrift and Credit Cooperatives Disk 24, File 30-732
Cooperative Accounting 2: Consumer Cooperative Societies Disk 24, File 30-733
Cooperative Accounting 3: Marketing Cooperative Societies Disk 24, File 30-734
Cooperative Bookkeeping Disk 24, File 30-735
Cooperative Organization Disk 24, File 30-736
Credit and Savings for Development Disk 24, File 30-765
Developing Small Scale Industries in India Disk 24, File 30-741
Entrepreneur’s Handbook Disk 24, File 30-758
Financial Management of a Small Handicraft Business Disk 24, File 30-769
Guidelines for Management Consulting Programs for Small Scale Enterprises Disk 24, File 30-742
A Handbook for Cooperative Fieldworkers in Developing Nations Disk 24, File 30-743
How to Grow a Shop Disk 24, File 30-744
Improve Your Business: Handbook Disk 24, File 30-770
Improve Your Business: Workbook Disk 24, File 30-771
Josbarko Enterprise Disk 24, File 30-758
Managing Time and Personnel Disk 24, File 30-759
Manual for Commercial Analysis of Small Scale Projects Disk 24, File 30-768
The Practice of Entrepreneurship Disk 24, File 30-760
Refugee Enterprise Disk 24, File 30-767
Rural Credit Disk 24, File 30-766
Small Business in the Third World Disk 24, File 30-762
Small Business Promotion Disk 24, File 30-761
Small Enterprises in Developing Countries Disk 24, File 30-748
Stock Taking Disk 24, File 30-763
Training Village Entrepreneurs Disk 24, File 30-764

Small Business in the Third World, Disk 24, File 30-762, book, 211 pages, by Malcolm Harper,1984.

Here is an outstanding review of the factors that help and hinder small enterprises in developing countries, richly illustrated with real examples. The (“Capital”) chapter on interest rates and bank lending practices is particularly insightful and illuminating. Harper challenges a number of widely believed myths about small business, and identifies some key issues to be addressed by those who wish to aid such enterprises.

Small businesses are the most promising means for the production and distribution of appropriate technologies. This book should therefore be required reading for most people working to develop successful dissemination systems for new technologies, as well as those involved more directly in small business promotion.

“Everyone in Government and in particular those responsible for employment and small enterprise promotion must be persuaded to appreciate the economic significance of the smallest enterprises; they are the most difficult to assist, but their problems usually arise more from an excess of regulation than from too little official assistance, and the most effective and simple way of helping them, even if it is not too attractive to the institution builder who wishes to enhance his authority, is to modify and withdraw existing legislation or programmes which.actively damage the interests of the smallest enterprises.”

“Moneylenders and other sources of so-called ‘informal credit’ are as ready to serve small non-farm enterprises as they are to lend money to small farmers. These ‘loan sharks’, as they are sometimes called, are in fact providing a service which is needed by other businesses. Those who complain about their apparently extortionate behavior would be better to examine the reasons why so many small enterprises find it necessary to borrow from these sources, and should encourage competition rather than attempting to forbid unofficial money lending …. Because of what are effectively local monopolies, however, borrowers from moneylenders may fall totally under their control.”

“Since the supply of capital is the means by which … the financier … secures his control over the small business, this problem is often seen as a symptom of a shortage of capital, which can be remedied by providing it. It is hardly surprising that attempts to remedy this problem by providing alternative sources of finance have not generally been successful. People who have never had the opportunity or the need actually to run a business are not likely to acquire the necessary skills or attitudes just because somebody lends them money on reasonable terms ….”

“A large scale knitting factory could never be economic … if it had to depend on occasional deliveries of wool, but a small-scale enterprise, with two or three knitting machines costing perhaps $200 each, can still earn enough money to pay for the machines and make some profit if raw material is only available for three or four months every year. Labor is also often available only for part of the year, since people are fully occupied in their farms during the seasons for planting, weeding and harvest.”

“There are … powerful arguments against subsidized interest rates … capital is of course needed, but if its price is artificially lowered below the prevailing market figure this will tend to encourage borrowers to use more of it than they would if it was more expensive. Demand will also be increased; the effect of low interest will thus be to attract a larger number of applicants, but to satisfy very few of them. The tendency will be towards a small number of relatively capital intensive enterprises, and a larger number of frustrated applicants who receive no help at all.”

Highly recommended.

Entrepreneur’s Handbook, Disk 24, File 30-757, book, 282 pages, by UP Institute of Small Scale Industries, 1981.

Entrepreneurs can play a very important role in technology development and marketing in developing countries, by finding ways to make and sell tools and equipment that buyers want.

Developing country entrepreneurs are the intended audience for this valuable book. A discussion of the personal traits common to successful entrepreneurs is followed by much good advice about starting and operating a business. Emphasis is given to the importance of marketing central to any successful business and often given too little attention in developing countries.

“The ability of an entrepreneur to perceive and identify business opportunities is proportionate to the degree to which he is aware of the economic, political, socio-cultural and technological developments in his environment …. Remember that people are special in every organization. Do not take your people for granted for they can make or unmake your organization. Outstanding people can make even a poor organization operate successfully, while poorly motivated people can impair the performance of the soundest organization.”

A much needed, well-written book on a very important subject.


Training Village Entrepreneurs, Disk 24, File 30-764, book, 135 pages, by M.V. Bogaert and A.K. Sinha, 1986, Rs. 15 from Xavier Institute of Social Service, Post Box 7, Purulia Road, Ranchi 834 001, India.

Village-level entrepreneurs are much needed to create new enterprises, jobs, and economic growth in the villages. In many villages, the perceived lack of opportunities drives young people to the towns and cities in search of employment, draining away some of the most energetic and creative individuals.

This book is based on years of experience selecting, motivating and training young people to start their own businesses. This is a difficult task indeed. The authors identify many of the prime causes of failure, and suggest ways to improve the odds of success. An outline of the curriculum and some of the materials used in candidate selection and training activities are included. Candidates “should have a capacity to take risk. A person who lives from hand to mouth undergoes risk but cannot take it … stands with back against the wall, and can hardly be expected to become an entrepreneur.”

This practical, village-oriented volume is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the theoretical book The Practice of Entrepreneurship (see review). The program described in Training appears to be a very good attempt to translate entrepreneurial thinking into village-based action. Voluntary agencies interested in developing their own programs using this approach should be sure to have at least one person with extensive business experience on their team.

The Practice of Entrepreneurship, Disk 24, File 30-760, book, 196 pages, by Geoffrey Meredith et. al., 1982.

This volume is for individuals who would like to develop their entrepreneurial skills systematically. It is not written in simple language, nor does it specifically address the special problems faced by entrepreneurs in the South. It does provide a good exposure to entrepreneurship as it is understood in the United States.

“Some of the most important risks are those in which you learn something new about yourself. Situations which involve personal risks should challenge your abilities and capacities to the fullest extent …. You must be a planner in the sense that you can visualize how your creative ideas might be used. However, you must also have the risk-taking ability to be able to implement your ideas and carry them to successful conclusions.”

Refugee Enterprise: It Can Be Done, Disk 24, File 30-767, book, 150 pages, by Chris Rolfe, Clare Rolfe, and Malcolm Harper, 1987.

Developing small enterprises in refugee camps has to be one of the most difficult undertakings imaginable. Host governments may oppose the development of a permanent economic footing that supports the camps, the population may turn over rapidly, and capital is likely to be more scarce than usual. In this book, the authors bravely set forth to make the case that refugee enterprises can and should be undertaken, and that these enterprises can be successful. This study was based on the direct experiences of the authors, supplemented heavily by an international survey of organizations that have supported income-generating projects in refugee camps.

From this a set of recommendations and issues is presented. One example tells of a small business loan project in Somalia that would make loans until additional businesses of a particular type would create too much supply: “the business advisor found the market for tailoring was saturated after six loans to tailors the existing tailors began to have spare time during the working day.” Businesses that were productive and that brought benefits to both town and camp were favored.

This is a hopeful book, with case studies in which the great majority of loans were repaid, hundreds of successful small businesses were launched, and there was a high ratio of benefits to the community compared to aid resources expended.

Improve Your Business: Handbook, Disk 24, File 30-770, 129 pages, edited by D.E.N. Dickson,1986.

The Handbook is a basic introductory business book, heavily illustrated, aimed at people running small businesses. The Workbook is designed to be used with the Handbook, and contains lists of questions and exercises to help people think rigorously about their businesses. Major sections include inventory control, cash control, bookkeeping, working capital, calculating costs, pricing, marketing, calculating profit and loss, constructing a balance sheet, developing a cash budget, record-keeping, and planning.

Small Enterprises in Developing Countries: Case Studies and Conclusions Disk 24, File 30-748, book, 115 pages, by Malcolm Harper and Tan Thiam Soon, 1979.

“The A&B Soap Manufacturing Enterprise was established by two brothers in 1973 …. A small factory which produces candy is located in Marcato, Addis Ababa …. Mr. Qhoqhome manufactures leather belts at his home in Katlehong Village …. During 1971 a Mr. Zabuli, who was a very experienced businessman, applied to the Ministry of Planning to set up a factory to produce Coca Cola, Fanta and Sprite ….”

These are the opening phrases from some of the case studies in this intriguing little book. Each of these short summaries provides background details and describes problems faced by a particular small business. Each case study is then followed by “a brief note summarizing some of the issues which were raised … including some suggestions as to what a small business promotion agency ought to do in the situation described.” This book covers much of the same ground as Small Business in the Third World, by one of the same authors.

“It is perhaps surprising, in view of its importance, that small-scale business, and ways in which governments can help or hinder it, have not been more intensively studied. A great deal of information is available about various types of appropriate technology, and some work has been done on systems of financing, treated from the point of view of a bank, a trainer, or perhaps a technologist, but very little information has been published on the ways in which the various methods of assistance actually impinge on their ‘target’ ….” The authors note that variations in economic circumstances make it impossible to lay down absolute rules for promoting indigenous enterprise. Still, the cases illustrate certain truths and key factors. Entrepreneurial talent is a human resource found everywhere. On the other hand, small-scale business promotion officers, whose task is to help businesses become profitable, are often faced by business people content to operate at little profit or even at a loss. Small-scale enterprises can be established with relatively little capital investment; yet because of their limited resources they are especially vulnerable to supply and demand cycles, shifting import restrictions, price competition from larger enterprises, and innovations which make production techniques obsolete.

“The case studies demonstrate the need for well-planned assistance programmes …. Staff responsible for implementing the programmes must appreciate that the manager of a small business is usually responsible for all the details of finance, production, marketing and personnel, as well as the long term direction of the enterprise itself. The manager may not distinguish between these functions in his own mind, but any outside intervention is bound to affect the business as a whole, even if it is nominally concerned only with credit, markets or technology.”

The book concludes with a short synopsis of how intermediate technologies are a vital part of strategies for small-scale industrialization, and a review of policy suggestions to encourage indigenous enterprise.

Developing Small-Scale Industries in India: An Integrated Approach Disk 24, File 30-741, book, 96 pages, by Marilyn Carr, 1982.

Several case studies of small industry development in India illustrate the viability of a progressive scheme for decentralized rural industrialization. Started by students at the Birla Institute of Technology, which is set in an undeveloped region, the approach has proven successful in starting technical financial assistance, infrastructure, marketing, etc. Most notable is the achievement of applying the resources of an institution of higher learning, in concert with government and banking, to the needs and realities of the surrounding area; a lesson pertinent to both industrialized and non-industrialized regions alike. This is more detailed than necessary, but worthwhile for planners, technical trainers, and those concerned with employment development.

Blacksmith, Baker, Roofing Sheet Maker, Disk 24, File 30-754, book, 144 pages, by Marilyn Carr, 1984.

There is a great need for viable income-generating activities for women in developing countries. Especially needed are activities that produce goods and services for local markets, and go beyond handicraft production for uncertain export markets. This collection of 55 short case studies provides lots of ideas, and will serve as great encouragement to those responsible for developing and supporting such programs. The examples include the production of special foods for sale, cloth manufacture, rice milling, and bus operation. References and sources for further information are provided.

Josbarko Enterprise, Case Study No. 2, Disk 24, File 30-758, booklet, 37 pages, by J. Powell and J. Quansah, Technology Consultancy Centre, 1981, out of print.

A fascinating account of the successful establishment of a steel bolt manufacturing enterprise by a Ghanaian entrepreneur, with technical assistance from the TCC. The entrepreneur overcame a wide range of problems typical to developing countries.

Manual for Commercial Analysis of Small-Scale Projects, Disk 24, File 30-769, book, 90 pages, by Henry Jackelen, 1983, A.T. International, accession no. PB85 224814/ AS.

Small-scale enterprises must be commercially viable if they are to survive without subsidies. This manual presents the basic steps in evaluating the likely financial health of a proposed (or existing) enterprise, under various assumptions about costs and selling prices. This kind of analysis is an important piece of homework that must be done by aspiring entrepreneurs and technical or community development groups that wish to aid entrepreneurs in using new technologies or producing new products.

Consultancy for Small Businesses, Disk 24, File 30-739, book, 254 pages, by Malcolm Harper,1977.

“It is generally realized that small businesses have a particularly important role to play in the development of employment opportunities and economic progress because they are in a far better position than large organizations to make use of ‘intermediate technology’. It is not enough, however, for business people to be encouraged to use appropriate technology; they must learn how to decide what is right for their particular business, how to calculate costs and selling prices, how to sell their products and generally how to operate a successful and profitable enterprise. The system described in this manual is, in a sense, a way of conveying ‘intermediate management’ to small enterprises the method itself is also labour intensive and may therefore be considered as an example of ‘appropriate training’ ”

“Small businesses are widely scattered … competitive with one another … different from one another … vulnerable. Small business owners are usually not well-educated … speak a variety of different languages and dialects … busy, often running their business single-handedly.” Because assistance to business people involves teaching analysis skills and affecting attitudes and behavior, advice should be available on an individual consultancy basis. Yet “the cost and scarcity of suitable candidates usually means that individual advisory services are impossible ….

There is clearly a need, therefore, for some system which would enable less qualified and quite inexperienced staff to provide useful advice for small business people” Part One of this manual explores the potential for low-cost small business consultancy in developing countries, and outlines a service in consultancy training which could be provided by government and/or development agencies, banks, or voluntary organizations. Topics covered include selection of consultant trainees (six or seven is probably a suitable number to start out with), the training period (approximately 21 days of instruction), supervision, administration, financing and evaluating the service. “One of the most common problems of small business people is that they think they need more money but are in fact using the money that they do have in the wrong way. The first object of any diagnosis must therefore be to.discover how the businessman is using his capital.”

Part Two of the manual is the training course itself, nearly 200 pages of detailed outlines of lectures and discussions, role playing exercises, field assignments, and tests. Hand-out exercises for each training session are also included.

Here is a carefully assembled learning resource aimed at sharing and developing important skills on a decentralized basis. Highly recommended.

Small Business Promotion, Disk 24, File 30-761, book, 118 pages, edited by Malcolm Harper and Kavil Ramachandran, 1984.

This very readable book contains 28 case studies by different authors, examining small businesses in 17 countries. It provides a good sampling of the problems faced by small enterprises, and the positive and negative effects of interventions by official agencies. This volume is similar to Small Enterprises in Developing Countries (see review).

“The owner or manager of a small enterprise must be a generalist, and he cannot consider marketing, finance, technology or anything else in isolation. The same applies to those working with small enterprises. They may eventually identify particular problems which require particular attention, but they must initially look at the business as a whole.”

Guidelines for Management Consulting Programs for Small-Scale Enterprises, Peace Corps Appropriate Technology for Development Series, Disk 24, File 30-742, book, 212 pages, by Gary L. Vaughan, 1981, available to Peace Corps volunteers and development workers from Peace Corps; also available from ERIC (order no. ED241774) and NTIS (accession no. PB85 249225/AS).

This manual was written to assist management consultants working with small-scale entrepreneurs in developing countries. The author defines a “small-scale enterprise” as one which employs 10-15 people, serves a regional market, and has a adequate equity base. This contrasts with a “micro-enterprise,” which employs one to three people, markets locally, and has marginal resources. The manual addresses “… three basic areas: the problems of small-scale enterprises and their role in Third World development, various kinds of management consulting programs which might address such problems, and specific tools and techniques which the management consultant can employ in assisting the small entrepreneurs.”

Appendices include aids in consulting and teaching small entrepreneurs, and references to other publications and information resources. A very practical manual written for a specific audience.

Management Workbooks for Self-Employed People, five books, by Gerard R. Dodd and friends of The Maine Idea, 1984, Dodd-Blair and Associates, Maine, out of print. Written for small-business people and those who would like to start a small business, this series of five booklets reviews the basic elements of good business management. Lots of good advice is presented in an easy-to-read format. Much of this material could be well-used in developing countries.

The Business Preview (Disk 24, File 30-756, 58 pages) takes a look at the entire business: what it is, its best products and customers, distribution, employees, production, finances and a yearly plan.

“Before you manage your business, you must understand how it works. The purpose of the Business Review is to help you analyze your business as a whole, or to assess any specific part of it. Our objective is to get you thinking and excited about your business. When you have completed the Business Review, you should be better informed about how your business operates, and therefore in a much better position to guide its operation.” (Disk 24, File 30-755, 60 pages) suggests the use of 1-3 year goals for the business and describes the elements of a written plan. “The process of setting goals helps you to analyze your problems and sort through options. A well-prepared business plan is the best way of presenting your ideas to others; it’s indispensable if you’re looking for credit. The business plan is proof that you are seriously managing your business and the operation is a viable one.”

Basic Finances (Disk 24, File 30-752, 46 pages) discusses bookkeeping systems, balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and cash flow projections. “Sound management is based on facts, not guesswork. Before you can know where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve been! Effective record keeping (when combined with conscientious monthly analysis) will give you the information needed to make decisions about the future of your business. It will help you plan, organize and control what has to be done. It will help you trim costs, save on income taxes, keep track of payroll records, sales tax, etc. It is only by taking firm control of the financial aspect that you will be able to turn a high quality product or service into a thriving, stable business. The simple discipline of record keeping will make you a more cost-conscious and effective manager.”

Basic Marketing (Disk 24, File 30-753, 44 pages) emphasizes satisfying customers’ needs and targeting the market. “Ask your customers what they want to see in your store; talk to them informally or ask them to fill out a simple questionnaire, in return for a special discount or small gift. This kind of direct feedback from your customers is invaluable in planning your marketing strategy.”

Managing Time and Personnel (Disk 24, File 30-759, 48 pages) presents steps for selecting and managing employees and making best use of the manager’s time. “Learn to distribute the load and encourage others to take the responsibility to think for themselves. Motivate them! Encourage them to identify with and be a part of your business undertaking …. You may be able to purchase someone’s time and labor, but loyalty, cooperation, and enthusiasm must be carefully nurtured.”

Highly recommended.

How to Grow a Shop, Disk 24, File 30-744, booklet, 55 pages; and A Complete Cash Analysis Accounts System for Businessmen, Disk 24, File 30-738, booklet, 36 pages, by G.H. Barker, Kenya, out of print.

“Most Africans will happily admit that they know better how to grow a crop than a shop.” How to Grow a Shop is an imaginative discussion of the principles of operating a small retail, wholesale, or industrial business, relating the essential factors of successful trade to farming practices. We begin with “two seeds (capital and human resources) … what crop? (trade specialization) … rain (buying) … sunshine.(selling) … weeding (dead stock, credit sales) … growth (accounting and using the bank).” Contains many practical hints on facilities, equipment, and strategies for the small businessperson.

A Complete Accounts System is a companion workbook, explaining and giving examples of how to do bookkeeping so that each different kind of income and expense can be easily identified. “Few African businessmen of today were ‘born behind the counter’. Economic independence can be hastened if a simple and practical introduction to commerce and accounts is encouraged in schools … and more directly relevant study material made available to budding businessmen.”

Rural Credit: Lessons for Rural Bankers and Policy Makers, Disk 24, File 30-766, book 138 pages, by K.P. Padmanabhan, 1988.

A practical report from the front lines of lending to the poor in developing countries: the pitfalls and the successful practices. A compassionate treatment of an extraordinarily important topic. A.T. enthusiasts historically often either ignored credit altogether, or simply assumed that a well-functioning credit system existed or could easily be put into place. Recently, there has been great interest in credit systems. This book reviews recent experience in projects around the world, looking for lessons.

“World Bank evaluations and impact studies show that its rural credit projects consistently enjoy higher economic rates of return than its other rural or agricultural activities.”

“Evidence suggests that there is far more liquidity in rural areas than is generally assumed. This is partly due to seasonality in agricultural production. Moreover, rural people are responsive to interest rate changes and appropriate financial services. Hence, mobilization of voluntary financial savings in rural areas should be the first priority of financial institutions.”

“Interest forms only a small part of the total cost of borrowing by the small farmer …. In their relative effects on farmer behavior, product prices rank first, yields second, input prices third, and credit availability and interest rates constitute a distant fourth.”

In one unique passage, the author explores the advantages of local moneylenders from the perspective of local people: they are fast, nearby, have more confidence in small farmers, and will buy crops. He suggests that credit programs try to become more like these lenders in their service to the customer.

Credit and Savings for Development, Disk 24, File 30-765, book, 71 pages, by Stephen Devereux et. al., 1990 revised edition.

This is a thought-provoking review of the many important issues that surround rural credit, of broad interest to appropriate technology workers due to the great impact the presence or absence of credit has on the spread of new technology. The book covers issues which should be considered during the development of a program for rural credit. The authors provide numerous examples of both failures and successes, making this a valuable summary of experience from around the world. Access to credit, interest rates, indigenous savings systems, and default are among the important topics. Common myths and mistaken assumptions are exposed.

Participation and dependency are among the related issues usefully explored..”Where the wealthy have influence and power over the poor and often feel little responsibility towards them, then including them within an organization inevitably results in their taking control. Large farmers have greater effective access to institutional credit and can anyway often withstand the loss of one crop without hardship.”

This is fundamentally a very practical book that will lead to better programs.

A Handbook for Cooperative Fieldworkers in Developing Nations, Disk 24, File 30-743 packet P5, seven booklets, 408 pages total, edited by Mark S. Ogden, 1978, Peace Corps, Information Collection and Exchange, 1990 K Street N.W., Washington, DC 20526, USA; out of print.

Produced to supplement the training of Peace Corps volunteers, this handbook is a compilation of excerpts from publications of international cooperative development groups, university cooperatives extension services, and Peace Corps volunteers (PCV) reports. “The resulting anthology is by no means ‘the complete guide’ for PCVs … individual variances from country to country and from program to program, make it difficult to arrive at … all-inclusive guidelines.”

The seven parts of the handbook include an introductory section using case studies of cooperative projects in Bangladesh and Peru, and a directory of organizations active in cooperative work in developing countries. Another section on cooperative organization uses a case history from a Guatemalan regional cooperative scheme to illustrate how indigenous ideas about debt and membership are important to a successful cooperative. A chapter entitled “Determining the Economic and Social Feasibility of a Cooperative” lists key questions for evaluating the potential of marketing, purchasing, and service cooperatives. “Cooperative Education and Training” provides interesting material on participatory group learning approaches (e.g., study circles, role-playing case histories of hypothetical cooperatives). Other useful sections discuss simplified accounting methods, cooperative forms of group credit, and a case history of a Nigerian handicraft marketing cooperative.

Some parts of this handbook are taken from books written about cooperatives in the United States; these sections are less directly relevant to conditions in developing countries. Still, the handbook is the best compendium we’ve seen of on-the- ground experience and insights as to why cooperatives do and don’t work. Frequent quotes from PCV field reports show how difficult it is for a foreigner to sensitively enter a community and introduce a new organizational technology:

“Recently a volunteer terminated and returned to school. He was well-experienced in agricultural technology and a bona fide expert in hog production. He like all PCVs who are well-trained, knew that Guatemalan farmers need more money, more protein for their diets, and product diversification. He deduced that his hog knowledge was well-suited to meeting the needs of the people. One month after he left, the hog co-op with which he had worked for two years held a meeting to consider what it could do without their expert-in-residence. The result was an immediate dissolution of the co-op, distribution of the 30 hogs to the members and a sale of the assets (purchase price with AID assistance: $5,000) for $500. Each member received more money, ate a little pork, and briefly experienced diversification of production. Is this developing Guatemala? …. Another volunteer, dedicated to patterning Guatemalan co-ops after his father’s group in Iowa, arranged the purchase of a tractor for his co-op and happily left knowing he had effected progress. Today the co-op has a $200 debt and the implement company has the tractor. The members aren’t sure why they couldn’t make enough with the tractor.to meet payments but are certain that they want no further heavy equipment. They wish the volunteer had not pushed the tractor purchase because now it is difficult to get new members interested in joining a cooperative with a substantial debt.”

A useful document for cooperatives extension, non-formal education, and other community development workers.

Cooperative Organization, Disk 24, File 30-736, booklet, 34 pages, by B.A. Youngjohns, ITDG, 1977, out of print.

A short, clear summary of cooperative principles emphasizing their potential application in developing countries. Cooperative organization allows individuals to combine their resources for greater economic strength, but experience shows that this pooling of resources cannot be done haphazardly. Democratic control, open membership, limited ownership of shares, and commitment to the cooperative through realization of common economic interest, are generally key factors in the success or failure of cooperative groups.

The advantages of each of the most important types of cooperative (agricultural and farming, credit, supply and marketing, industrial production, housing) are outlined. Multi-purpose and linked cooperatives are discussed briefly. The cooperative, as a source of credit and framework for education and innovation, often plays an important role in development schemes.

“Comprehensive development projects are becoming more and more common …. A typical development project provides a comprehensive package including roads and communications, agricultural extension, credit, supply and marketing services. Sometimes, all the services and control are provided by the project. Inputs are supplied direct, on loan, from the project to the farmer. Increasingly, however, it has come to be realized that this is an expensive way of doing things. Furthermore, there is often no provision for continuity after the project itself has come to an end, and the experts have gone home. Cooperatives are, therefore, being introduced into these projects ….”

The booklet concludes with an appraisal of the most common of problems facing cooperatives in developing countries: “The ordinary members know little if anything about the way the cooperative is supposed to work … comparatively large sums of money are handled by people whose own income is relatively small … (domination by) a few wealthy or influential people, who direct the affairs of the cooperative in their own interest.”

A brief but well-rounded overview of cooperatives.

Basic Control of Assets: A Manual on Prevention of Losses in Small Cooperatives, Disk 24, File 30-751, book, 53 pages, by Cooperative Education Materials Advisory Service, 1979, out of print.

“Studies of the development of the co-operative movement in many countries tend to reveal that losses of assets money and merchandise in particular are a very serious problem. Losses often render co-operatives incapable of bringing about the expected and potential benefits and they are quite often the cause of complete failure. Closer studies of this specific problem tend, again, to show that one very frequent reason for losses is the inefficiency of the existing control systems …. There are many doors to be closed, and some of them might easily be overlooked.”

This manual is a teaching guide for training cooperatives’ managers in.techniques for minimizing losses through theft, error, and maintenance failure. It includes sample forms for records of stock movements, cash transactions, and so forth.

Business Arithmetic for Cooperatives and Other Small Businesses, Disk 24, File 30-731, book, 87 pages, by T. Bottomley, 1978.

“This manual deals with … business calculations. A good book-keeping system is no good unless the calculations on which it is based are accurate, and it is hoped that this manual will help those many of us whose arithmetic was not very advanced or has gone rusty.” In fact, most of the book is arithmetic; a section on calculating interest, mark-up and margin, and gross and net profit, accompanies the basic arithmetic review.

None of the mathematics presented goes beyond what primary school students learn. The explanations and exercises using business calculations might be adapted for use in cooperatives education programs.

Cooperative Bookkeeping: Volume 1, Marketing Cooperatives; Volume 2.

Consumer Cooperatives; Volume 3, Savings and Credit Cooperatives; Volume 4.

Industrial Cooperatives, Disk 24, File 30-735, set of four large booklets, 27 to 51 pages each, by the Cooperative Education Materials Advisory Service, out of print.

“It is a common complaint that, in many primary cooperatives, the standard of book-keeping is poor. The need has long been recognized for a basic, simplified system of book-keeping, for use in … developing countries, in order to help improve that situation.” This system, originally introduced in Botswana, uses a double entry method: both a credit and a debit are written down for every transaction. Thus, when the accounts of the cooperative are accurate, the sum of credits equals the sum of debits and the accounts balance. Each of these booklets includes examples and explanations of each type of ledger, deposit, and slip used in the cooperatives’ transactions, as well as sample budgets and monthly reports. Exercises require the reader to transform lists of incomes and expenditures onto a main ledger.

The importance of accurate, understandable accounts to the success of new cooperatives cannot be overemphasized. “The members are the owners of the society (cooperative). They need to know how their business is doing and how their funds are being used …. The book-keeping system must therefore show: a. How much the society owes. These are its liabilities and indicate the source of the funds in use in the society. b. How much the society owns. These are its assets and show the use being made of these funds. c. Whether the society has financial stability and is able to pay its debts as they arise. d. Whether the society is operating efficiently, covering its costs and providing a net surplus.”

Clearly and thoughtfully written, these materials could be adapted for use by a wide variety of cooperative and small business education programs..Co-operative Accounting #1, Thrift and Credit Co-operatives, Disk 24, File 30-732, 20 pages, ITDG, 1970, out of print.

This is a booklet for small thrift and credit cooperatives that do not yet have an efficiently working accounting system. In addition, it can be used to form such cooperatives. Such organizations serve to encourage members to save, and provide a locally controlled mechanism to grant loans to members.

Co-operative Accounting #2, Consumer Co-operative Societies, Disk 24, File 30-733, 38 pages, ITDG, 1971, out of print. The main function of a consumer co-operative is to buy goods and resell them to its members. It raises capital from its members for rent and an original stock of goods, by selling shares to them.

Co-operative Accounting #3, Marketing Co-operative Societies, Disk 24, File 30-734, 31 pages, ITDG, 1972, out of print in June 1978.

This booklet is for any small group marketing the same product, especially produce. “A marketing co-operative is primarily concerned with marketing the goods that its members produce. Cattle, coffee, cotton, fish, handicrafts, rice, and wheat are examples. These goods can be sold in many different ways: to a marketing board, to wholesalers, through co-operative unions, direct to individual retailers or consumers, or by auction.” The advantages of a marketing co-op are: members can get a better price for their goods than as individuals, they can often sell directly to consumers, they can spread the transport costs, and they can establish a reputation for grading and reliability.

A Single-Entry Bookkeeping System for Small-Scale Manufacturing Businesses, Disk 24, File 30-746, booklet, 54 pages, by Derry Caye, 1977, Volunteers in Technical Assistance, out of print.

“VITA publishes this manual in the belief that it can help support efforts to increase local self-reliance and to create job opportunities in developing areas by serving as a valuable tool for use by small business managers and advisors …. This manual describes a bookkeeping system which is contained in a kit, or carrying case, of some kind. There are suggestions in this manual for building one kind of kit, but the system could be used as well in different containers. The important thing is to package the system in some way so that important records are all in one place.” The uses of entry books, record-keeping, and files are explained step-by-step. The booklet includes an annex on business letters and a glossary of business terms, as well as a section on how to use inventory and monthly summaries to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses of a business.

The record-keeping forms explained in this booklet could be stenciled or mimeographed and bound at very low cost. In this way this book-keeping system would be simplified or adapted to the needs of cooperatives, learning groups, and other group enterprises.

Financial Management of a Small Handicraft Business, Disk 24, File 30-768, booklet, 37 pages, by Edward Millard, 1987.

There are a great many small handicraft businesses in operation today, and most probably suffer from poor financial management. Here is a nice introduction to the proper evaluation of costs and how to think about pricing, two key subjects that are commonly misunderstood. The booklet also discusses working capital (what it is and what it does), profits, and financial planning and decision-making. Whereas these are topics to which whole books have been devoted, this simplified presentation is on the whole a good one, likely to be valuable to any small production-oriented business.

Stock-Taking, Disk 24, File 30-763, booklet, 42 pages, MATCOM/ILO, 1979, reprinted 1986.

A simple well-illustrated guide for staff of consumer cooperatives or other small stores, this volume describes the importance of counting inventory (stock-taking) on a regular basis. This is an important management technique to quickly identify thefts or other losses, and establish good control over what is happening with the store’s stock and assets. Some of the recommendations (e.g., marking down and getting rid of damaged stock immediately after it is discovered) could be particularly beneficial to small family-run stores.

Nonformal Education and Training


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Development workers are increasingly recognizing the inadequacies of formal schooling systems in the South. Formal schooling inevitably depends on massive expenditures for schools, teacher training, and centralized administration, in addition to the continuing drain of government revenues to pay teachers’ salaries. Typically, the shortage of revenues to devote to education has ensured a chronic shortfall in the number of teachers relative to ever expanding numbers of pupils at all levels. Inadequately paid teachers cannot afford to devote all of their time to their teaching work, and teacher training based on foreign (often colonial) educational systems means teachers inherit curricula and methods that have little to do with problems faced by students and their families. For these kinds of reasons, formal education systems are unable to provide relevant educational opportunities for many of the rural poor.

Given these inadequacies, there is a growing awareness among development workers that the rural poor are often their own best educational resource. Despite lack of formal schooling, they are the greatest source of background and insight on their own recurring problems. They also share, among themselves, a pool of locally relevant skills and experience for tackling these problems. Recognizing this, many development workers now have two main objectives in their activities: to enable the poor to critically define their own problems and educational goals, and to help them find ways to mobilize the skills and resources to pursue these goals.

Such a strategy implies a belief in the capability of individuals and communities everywhere to define and control their destinies. One of the most powerful voices in this “humanistic” school of thought comes out of the South, that of Paulo Freire. His Pedagogy of the Oppressed tells how literacy can be a tool for describing and better understanding the world around the learner. This, in turn, is the first step toward useful action. An important part of Freire’s method has been to involve illiterates in discussions about how words and pictures might describe or illustrate the troubling aspects of their lives. This methodology has sparked broad debate and has been adapted worldwide. It has influenced, for example, Latin America’s liberation theologists, literacy workers in the ghettos of New York City and field staff in bureaus of adult education from Thailand to Tanzania.

Success in the application of Freire’s methods, which rely on sharing of opinions and ideas in group settings, have triggered increasing interest in how the value of group insights is often greater than the sum of individual contributions. This well known phenomenon of “synergy” is the focus of Doing Things Together, which offers a compelling theoretical illustration of how many individuals, each with different skills and information, pool their knowledge to solve a wide variety of community problems. Appropriate Technology for Grain Storage (See review in the STORAGE chapter) provides a concrete example of this effect. Tanzanian villagers—concerned with the drying and storage of their corn—knew more than the visiting team of specialists about the situation; they also collectively knew more than any of them had guessed about what the real problems were, and how the problems might be solved.

Key assumptions in this “problem posing/problem solving” approach are a free flow of facts and ideas among group participants, and leadership which is responsive to the group instead of “teaching” it predetermined solutions. “Culture Circles ” in Latin America, “Family Life Education Groups” in Asia, and “Study Circles” in Africa are all approaches which rely on the increased creative and productive potential of participatory groups in which leadership is shared and not authoritarian. These Non-formal Education (NFE) programs, supported by a variety of public and private agencies, are efforts to reach and involve the young adults lacking formal schooling who are so numerous in the rural South. National NFE projects are often used by governments to channel and disseminate political programs and state ideology. Yet governments are now increasingly supporting the formation of adult groups based on some mutual interest language learning, animal husbandry, tailoring, or some other income generating skill. Examples of this “fictional education” are found in a few parts of Indonesia, where members of “learning groups” (ranging in size from 10-25 participants) pool resources to capitalize projects ranging from chicken raising to silk-screening T-shirts, to installing a locally built waterpump at the community well. Soon the Indonesian NFE directorate plans to make available “learning funds,” seed capital for the projects of learning groups.

This chapter includes several publications on NFE approaches and techniques. Perspectives on Nonformal Adult Learning is a concise discussion of philosophical bases and practical approaches for NFE fieldworkers and trainers. Demystifying Evaluation is a manual on generating useful criticism, or “feedback, ” about NFE projects.

The emphasis on local definition of learning needs, to be met with local resources, is essentially a strategy for educational self-reliance. One potential role for outside organizations is to share useful information and problem identification techniques among various local groups. Learning from the Rural Poor describes training for leaders (“facilitators”) and change agents aimed at improving their skills in working with participatory groups. From the Field is a compilation of NFE facilitators and their trainers, emphasizing increased group problem solving power through broad participation and mutual trust.

Practitioners of non-formal, community based education have always had mixed feelings about “higher” education in colleges, universities, and academies. On the one hand these institutions are a potential source of bright young people with perspectives and communication skills useful in villages. But on the other.hand, they often drain the rural areas of the most talented youth, conditioning them for new roles in urban settings; in this way these students are effectively lost as contributors to village progress. Many countries have established study-service schemes which requires that college students live and work in a village before they graduate. However, the stay in the village is usually too brief, the student ‘s work role is undefined, and there may be no practical objective which can be reached in a few weeks’ or months’ time. Some countries are deepening their study-service schemes and setting up volunteer service programs which place college graduates in villages for a year, two years, or more. These programs generate employment opportunities and provide a valuable educational experience for young people previously unfamiliar with the realities of life for their less privileged fellow citizens. However, the volunteers almost always return to the city and their impact on village life is seldom a lasting one. FlTNDAEC at Colombia has been developing a program that attempts an alternative strategy for linking higher education to village development (see Rural University). This program draws students from villages and is explicitly geared to dealing with village level problems; traditional fields of knowledge are combined in a unique “cross-disciplinary” approach. (The experiences of “barefoot doctor” programs have shed some light on the requirements for successful efforts to develop new rural based professionals.) Health workers have proven to be most successful when they come from the communities in which they work, and they are genuinely selected by those communities. A great variety of other services could be provided by rural professionals. Some very interesting examples of intermediately trained professionals can be found in The Barefoot Book (reviewed in BACKGROUND READING), including rural bankers, lawyers, veterinarians and even small business management consultants!

Both formal and non-formal community education should be based on local situations and challenges. Such an orientation is also crucial to health care and research and development programs (see the HEALTH and SCIENCE TEACHING chapters) which build on local skills instead of eroding them. Communities with these organizational tools for self-reliance will be in a much stronger position to innovate and to seek, adapt, and apply useful technologies from other places.

Books reviewed in this section

Bridging the Gap
Demystifying Evaluation
Doing Things Together
From the Field
Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation
Perspectives on Non formal Adult Learning


Pedagogy of the Oppressed, book, 186 pages, by Paulo Freire, 1970, $9.95 from Crossroads/Continuum Publishing Corporation, 370 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10017, USA.

In this pioneering book, Brazilian born Freire outlines a humanistic theory of education which has become a cornerstone of people centered development approaches. To be human is to both act and reflect upon the world; “To exist, humanly, is to name the world, to change it. Once named, the world in its turn reappears to the namers as a problem and requires of them a new naming. Men are not built in silence, but in word, in work, in action-reflection.” In Freire’s work with illiterates in Latin America, words and sentences became powerful tools with which peasants could symbolize and define the problems and contradictions in their own lives.

The most important consequence of this approach is that language and any educational content must be rooted in the world of the learner. “It is to the reality which mediates men, and to the perception of that reality held by educators and people, that we must go to find the program content of education … The starting point for organizing the program content of education or political action must be.the present, existential, concrete situation, reflecting the aspirations of the people.Utilizing certain basic contradictions, we must pose this existential, concrete present situation to the people as a problem which challenges them and requires a response— not just at the intellectual level, but at the level of action.” In the South, Freire’s work has helped initiate approaches to education and development which begin with local realities instead of planners’ visions. For the “developed” world, Pedagogy stands as a warning against homogenized, mass marketed language and culture which bury the human dialogue with the world in the conformity of products and slogans.

Perspectives on Nonformal Adult Learning, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 29-730, book, 122 pages, by Lyra Srinivasan, 1977, World Education, out of print.

The purpose of this book is to introduce the basic theory behind non-formal education (NFE) and to look closely at current NFE techniques. In Thailand, for example, “People in nonformal education programs, especially in the rural areas, are not students by profession: they are farmers and fishermen, mothers and market women. They already have enough problems of their own: the water-pump does not work, the birds are all over the field eating the paddy, the baby is sick. So the approach selected by the Thai nonformal youth and adult education programs focuses on the real and immediate needs of the learners.” Thais apply this “problem-centered approach” by using sequences of photographs to illustrate and spark discussion about community problems. Another approach, “self-actualizing education,” emphasizes the capacity of individuals to creatively identify their own problems and goals: “… the pace of development will remain restricted if the full creative and visualizing power of rural communities is not turned on … it is not the outsiders as much as the insiders whose imagination holds the key to a major breakthrough in rural development.”

Appendices contain exercises to encourage learner participation in groups.

Non-formal education is an important strategy for self-reliant rural development. This book is an excellent introduction to the field.

Demystifying Evaluation, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 29-727, book, 69 pages, by Noreen Clark and James McCaffery, 1979, World Education, out of print.

An important task for the staff of any village-level development effort is to ask whether or not the project or program is achieving its objectives and addressing villagers’ needs. This short book describes a low-cost, flexible approach to program evaluation. It provides a detailed outline of a practical seminar concentrating on “1) helping program administrators and field staff become aware of the need for evaluation to improve decision making and 2) assisting them to ask the right evaluation questions about their projects. The seminar is not designed to produce experts in evaluation; it is intended to assist administrators to identify and initiate evaluation approaches to improve the operation of their organizations.”

The seminar includes small-group discussions exploring the reasons for evaluation, developing common-sense evaluation questions, and collecting data. The greatest amount of time in the one-week seminar is devoted to visits to the “case project,” in which teams of participants try out and refine their evaluation strategies in the field. Instructions for leading or “facilitating” the sequence of activities are clear and complete. Emphasis is on getting work done in groups, with authority and responsibility shared among members; the group problem-solving.techniques included could be adapted for use in a wide variety of cultural situations.

Recommended as a guide to help project staff develop experience in evaluation techniques. Easy to read and well illustrated.

From the Field: Tested Participatory Activities for Trainers, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 29729, three ring binder, 148 pages, compiled by Catherine Crone and Carman St. John Hunter, 1980, World Education, out of print.

Non-formal education practitioners have, in recent years, reached an important conclusion about their “target” groups of rural people without traditional schooling. While their needs for information and skills are many and varied, their own pooled experience is the most important source of knowledge relevant to solving local problems. Thus horizontal or community wide sharing and exchange of ideas is a crucial key to meeting local needs. Non-formal educators believe that this kind of communication is most likely to occur in a group of people with a mutual interest, in an atmosphere in which all members share authority and submit ideas.

Many teachers and other leaders have never experienced such a “participatory” atmosphere. This collection of group activities is intended to help them learn about this approach. “(Participatory education) emphasizes mutual learning rather than teaching. In this kind of process, the teachers or leaders or trainers take on some roles that may be different from those they are used to. What they are learning is not so much how to teach nutrition or family planning or moral values. What they are learning, rather, is to work with particular groups of people who are affected by their own unique circumstances.”

Most of the exercises require less than two hours. Many involve large and small group discussions, demonstrations, role-playing, interviewing, and eliciting ideas with photos and pictures. Each exercise is presented in the context of a particular training session (most of which were held in developing countries): “We introduced this activity to enable the group to identify important facts they should know about the rural people with whom they work, and how they can collect the information they need to develop effective learning experiences …. The trainers wanted to discover whether village-level facilitators could invent and use games in their own educational activities …. The trainer wanted a group of materials developers to become adept at selecting pictures that stimulate active learning, and to discuss and establish criteria for choosing such pictures. He hoped that this three part mini-course would help to extend the group’s use of visual learning materials.”

A sequence of exercises on developing and testing learning activities is included. An appendix contains an excellent outline for an introductory planning workshop on simplified PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique). Recognizing the unique value of every individual contribution to a group effort, participatory learning approaches are an important tool in mobilizing local human resources. This manual provides practical material to accompany the introductory book Perspectives in Nonformal Adult Learning (see review in this section).

Learning from the Rural Poor: Shared Experiences of the Mobile Orientation and Draining Team, book, 114 pages, by Henry Volken, Ajoy Kumar, and Sara Kaithathara, 1982, Rs. 15 in India, $3.00 overseas, from Indian Social Institute, Lodi Road, New Delhi 110 003, India.

Practical insights for supporting grass-roots-based development are compiled in this report by a mobile training team. The four-member team has spent 2 years in the villages of India, working among the poor and offering training to other voluntary organizations. The group notes that the major task for voluntary organizations is a difficult one: “to shift the emphasis from a predominantly managing role in development to a new role of facilitating educational processes” and helping the poor create their own organizations.

“The rural poor are ‘voiceless’ not because they have nothing to say, but … because they have no ‘say’ in the decision-making structures of society. In this perspective it is legitimate to say that development begins with listening to the people …. Unless we begin with an attitude of respect for traditional knowledge we will never be able to make an objective assessment of traditional practices.”

The team reports on their goals and methods, the experiences of one member in agriculture, and the training of illiterate women as basic health workers. “Often we were surprised to see that the rural poor are not even aware of the resources they have …. Our agriculturalist … has been able to concretely point out the many possibilities people had in each place we went, to develop their local resources … there is scope for a mutual give and take.”

In agriculture, training began with and built upon existing agricultural practices. The team always emphasized working with the marginal and small farmer groups who form the poorest half of the population; the others tend to know how to tap available credit and information resources. Special attention was given to low-cost and no-cost ideas that, once introduced, would spread by themselves. One of the goals of the team was to create locally based teaching material, using the ideas and images of the people themselves.

“Today there is much talk about ‘total revolution’ and radical transformation of society. But what really matters are the changes taking place in the socioeconomic reality of the villages where poverty crushes the poor. In this stark reality of life the rural poor can hardly envisage more than creating for themselves some free space in society where they can breathe more freely and begin to stretch themselves. What is crucial at the moment is to create a base for joint action which is relatively free from control of the locally powerful. Wherever this has been achieved, people begin to move.”

“What does expanding the space of freedom concretely mean? It can mean the ability to reduce maternal and child mortality, to double agricultural production by a scheme of dry farming, to get goats for all the families, to get rid of bondage to money-lenders.”

These new experiences can convince the poor “of their capacities and new possibilities of collective action. By analyzing the obstacles they encounter in these endeavors they come to understand gradually the working of society and the deeper issues of a more just society.”

Highly recommended.

Bridging the Gap: A Participatory Approach to Health and Nutrition Education, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 29-726, book, 103 pages, edited by Martha Keehn, 1982, available in English and Spanish, free from Save the Children, 54 Wilton Road, Westport, Connecticut 06880, USA.

“This manual is addressed to nutrition and health educators who are interested in trying out new participatory ways of working at the community level. Its purpose is to describe simple techniques by which field staff can be trained to approach local communities more sensitively and to involve them more fully in achieving better health.” Topics include planning and carrying out workshops for community health workers, methods and materials for non-directive assessment of villagers’ needs, creating learning activities, and techniques for planning and evaluation which involve the villagers. Full of practical material which can be adapted to local situations.

Doing Things Together: Report on an Experience in Communicating Appropriate Technology, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 29-728, book, 108 pages, by Andreas Fuglesang, 1977, $9.00 surface mail or $11.00 airmail from the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, Ovre Slottsgatan 2, S-752 20, Uppsala, Sweden.

In this report on a workshop on A.T. in village development, the author makes some contributions towards a new theory of communication compatible with appropriate technology principles. Among the key issues he identifies: Who chooses what is appropriate? What is leadership in a context of people’s participation?

Because individuals have different skills and information “the mass (community) can carry and handle an information burden far beyond any individual’s” capability. “The mass (community) is a perfect communication system …. It covers all fields of importance to our society’s life. It adapts continuously to changes …. The communication flow in the mass is controlled by the interests of the individuals.” This observation has interesting implications for the way in which problems are identified and solutions proposed in development projects.

“Leadership is a communication problem. Decisions must be based on information from the mass. Otherwise they are non-responsive to social realities …. The ideal leader is an individual in the mass whose perceptions of the need for social change are ahead of the mass, but who recognizes that the ideas originate in the mass itself.”

“It has been commonly assumed among information specialists that an information intervention follows a two-step flow, from mass media through opinion leaders to a number of individuals. This idea offers intriguing opportunities for those who have a manipulative outlook, but it is fortunately not borne out by experience. The opinion leader theory is probably little more than a superimposition of outmoded authoritarianism on modern sociology.”

Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation: Handbook for Training Field Workers, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 29-731, book, 51 pages, by Alexandra Stephens, 1988, available from FAO, Phra Atit Road, Bangkok 10200, Thailand.

“Participatory monitoring and evaluation is a tool for learning from experience. It helps everyone to learn, and it helps everyone plan better next time, or improve upon existing ways of doing things. It is above all, a system developed primarily for use by those who are also beneficiaries of the project or programme. As part of a self-help management system, it enables the various partners in rural development to learn from experience, from success and failure.”

“This booklet is a guide for training fieldworkers to assist village groups who want to develop a monitoring and evaluation system which allows everyone to participate, to benefit from, and to use data collected and generated in the process.”


A Solar Water Heater Workshop Manual describes a weekend training course given to a community group; see ENERGY: SOLAR.

Rural Small Scale Industries in the People’s Republic of China notes that these industries have contributed to the “scientification” of the rural population; see LOCAL SELF-RELIANCE .

Science Teaching


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It is a commonplace observation that people with little formal schooling are often quite adept at finding practical “hands on” solutions to the problems of everyday life. In the rich countries, the educated live and consume in an artificial environment of technologies too complex to be understood, much less controlled, by individuals. For most, experience with natural phenomenon and basic technical systems is very limited. Thus it is not at all surprising that relatively unschooled villagers in developing countries often demonstrate technical inventiveness and environmental understanding which astonish rich visitors. Farmers, for example, make complex decisions about which crops to plant and when, based on their knowledge of the soil and ecological interactions.

Most village-level technical innovation comes from trial and error and observations, often over many seasons. Village technology evolves as a result. But unsupported by systematic knowledge of natural science, the rate of village technology development is much slower than it could be.

Unfortunately, the science taught in schools in developing countries does not contribute to useful innovations in village technologies. Science studies should equip young people with an understanding of how to apply the basic principles of physics and biology to address a common problem (whether it be poor grain storage or a broken pump). Related skills—how to systematically control and vary a set of experimental trials, and how to carefully observe and record the results are equally important. But educational methods and curricula that are based on repetition and memorization, or inherited from a colonial past, usually mean that science teaching in the South concentrates on phenomena that are beyond the students’ everyday experience, with little or no practical value.

Science education (and education in general) is, in fact, too often part of a sorting process through which a fortunate few may escape the rural areas and qualify for an urban job in government. Science teachers, themselves the products of such a system, do not expect the community to demand that they teach a practical curriculum relevant to local conditions. These teachers are, in any case, ill-equipped to do so; in most cases science is simply one of a number of subjects the teacher is covering each day.

As the science material taught is abstract and has little to do with local conditions, so it is natural that science teaching equipment for demonstrations is composed of what is by local standards expensive and exotic apparatus. The lucky teacher who succeeds in obtaining such apparatus from the education ministry is faced with two alternatives: to use it to demonstrate what are likely to be seen as peculiar and rather magical events, more a property of the equipment than the real world, or lock it away in a closet to prevent damage to something so valuable. In either case it is rarely (if ever) used by the students themselves, who never get a chance to get excited about science and carry out their own simple experiments.

As the books in this chapter indicate, science teaching can be something quite different. Towards Scientific Literacy makes the argument that if the aim of literacy is to enable men and women to better understand the world around them, then relevant science education should be considered part of literacy, and should be included in non-formal education programs. The Production of School Science Equipment and related publications from the Commonwealth Secretariat review the problems and opportunities associated with the local production of science equipment. These educators from around the world recommend the use of objects, devices and tools from the community to illustrate scientific concepts whenever possible. Students are then more likely to see scientific principles at work in phenomena they encounter in their daily lives. Suitable curriculum development and teacher training will have to go with such equipment. The three volume set Guidebook to Constructing Inexpensive Science Teaching Equipment presents construction details for a wide variety of easily made yet sophisticated equipment that can be used to illustrate even some rather difficult scientific principles. A Method for Cutting Bottles, Light Bulbs, and Fluorescent Tubes provides instructions for making glassware for science class use. Adventures with a Hand Lens takes the science class outside, equipped with a magnifying glass, to study the natural world. Anti-Pollution Lab contains projects for students to measure the level and kind of pollutants in their community. The New UNESCO Sourcebook for Science Teaching, available in low-cost editions and in a large number of different languages remains probably the best known general science teaching reference volume.

Many of the books reviewed in other chapters could be profitably used in practical science and technical classes. For example, books on water pumps, beneficial insects (such as Friends of the Rice Farmer), and crop drying all cover scientific topics that are directly relevant to rural life. Some of these books even contain specific class projects. The Industrial Archaeology of Watermills and Waterpower examines the design evolution of waterwheels and turbines, and then presents small projects that allow school children to confirm for themselves the operating principles involved.

After decades of neglect, it may be that one of the best ways to improve village technology is through the strengthening of the scientific problem-solving capabilities of millions of rural farmers and craftspeople. Throughout the history of the United States, it has been the farmer-inventor who has most consistently contributed successful innovations in rural technology. Although circumstances in the South differ in some important ways, there are good reasons to believe that a similar high rate of technological improvement could be achieved, given the proper relevant science education support.

Books reviewed in this section

Adventures with a Hand Lens
AntiPollution Lab
Construction and Use of Simple Physics Apparatus
Development and Production of School Science Equipment
Guidebook to Constructing Inexpensive Science Teaching Equipment
How to Make Tools
Low Cost Science Teaching Equipment
A Method for Cutting Bottles Light Bulbs and Fluorescent Tubes
New UNESCO Source Book for Science Teaching
Preserving Food by Drying
The Production of School Science Equipment


Towards Scientific Literacy, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 28-724, book, 96 pages, by Frederick Thomas and Allan Kondo, 1978, $15.00 postpaid from International Institute for Adult Literacy Methods, P.O. Box 13145-654, Tehran, Iran.

Towards Scientific Literacy “suggests a core curriculum of scientific ideas that should become part of the common human heritage …. Science can no longer be ignored if the aim of literacy is to enable men and women to understand better the world around them.”

“Adults are not ignorant in science. They are already raising crops, raising children and managing their lives …. Adult education should be designed to use and develop what adults already know. The purpose of teaching science is to enable learners to improve their ability to communicate in science with experts, with peers and with their apprentices.”

“Everywhere in the world there are people who look carefully at the things around them and try to understand what they see. Any person who does this is a scientist, even if he or she never studied science from a book”

“People everywhere can do experiments. Anyone who has an idea on how to improve something should do an experiment to test the idea. Perhaps a tailor has an idea for a way to sew stronger seams. If he does, he should try the new way and compare it with the old way to see which is really stronger. If a woman has an idea for a better way to store her family’s food without spoiling … she can do an experiment to see if the new idea is really better. She could store some food in the new way and some in the old way, and see for herself which stays fresher longer.”

“By doing simple experiments, a farmer can learn for himself what methods are best. He can test different kinds of seed, and he can try different farming methods …. All he needs is an idea about how he might improve his crops and a small plot of land on which to test the idea.”

“Some people seem to believe that only new ideas are good. A scientist does not care whether an idea is old or new. He wants to see for himself which is better.”

The authors discuss a variety of science subjects, using key concepts and key words, and proposing a set of activities for teaching science in non-formal educational settings (which could also be used in a regular classroom). Subjects include soil erosion, plant nutrition, a variety of health topics, energy sources, the internal combustion engine, and electricity. The content of many of these chapters is itself rather conventional, and not directly linked to appropriate technologies. (For example, when discussing herbicides and pesticides, no attention is given to the negative side effects of these and how the farmer might discover such side effects.)

“The learning experience should be related as closely as possible to the learner’s life experience.” A project method is presented, in which literacy workers help farmers to identify their problems, collect local data, seek out ideas from other sources, devise a procedure for testing of possible solutions, test them, and report the results to others.

Two case studies reveal some of the potential problems and solutions in training teachers. These case studies also “show that the facts of science and procedures based upon science can be taught successfully and usefully to unschooled adults, even though they are illiterate or semi-literate.”

This kind of approach could be a very important element in appropriate technology strategy, by increasing the scientific skills of the poor, and thus strengthening their capacity to find their own technological solutions.

This book is intended for use by people preparing literacy materials or training literacy staff—not for direct use by adult learners or most field workers. Highly recommended.

The New UNESCO Source Book for Science Teaching, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 28-728, book, 254 pages, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization 1979, Dfl. 21.60 from TOOL; also from UNESCO, 7 Place de Fontenoy, 75700 Paris, France; low-cost Asian edition available to countries in Asia from Charles E. Tuttle Company, 2-6, Suido l-chome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan 112.

This thorough book is intended for science teachers, for whom we recommend it highly. It will also be of considerable interest to others, because it describes how to make a whole range of simple equipment. There are hundreds of illustrations.

The principles of soldering are explained: you are told how to make solder and then how to use it in soldering. The composition by weight of the metals mixed to form bronze and casting brass is given, along with that of several low melting alloys.

Complete information is given on how to make the following things: simple weighing devices, a slide projector, a bunsen burner (which can illustrate the same principles to be considered when making a simple burner for biogas), several kinds of glues (including waterproof aquarium cement), soap, a dry cell battery, a simple thermometer, a model hydraulic ram, a model water wheel, and simple weather instruments such as a windspeed indicator.

Descriptions are given for the following processes: a method for depositing a bright silver mirror surface on glass; simple demonstrations of the comparative strengths of mud, clay, and sand bricks; the principles of heat transfer (important in the design of solar water heaters and insulated fireless cookers); and how to cut glass.

Another attractive feature of this book is that it suggests ways of avoiding the mold and rust on instruments associated with tropical conditions, particularly during the rainy season.

The authors’ approach is to provide simple experiments or demonstrations to illustrate each scientific principle. As a science reference it is both thorough and broad in scope—covering chemistry, heat, magnetism and electricity (including circuits and fuses), wave motion, mechanics, fluids, biological sciences, rocks and minerals, astronomy and space science, and weather.

The book is intended as a guide for science teachers “for making simple equipment and for carrying out experiments using locally available materials.” While it is successful in this for the most part, one possible limitation is that it does make greater use of gadgets normally found only in science labs: stands, beakers (you can make your own graduated cylinders if you have one already), two-holed rubber plugs, test tubes, and lenses. It has been translated into 30 languages (contact UNESCO at address given above for further information about this).

The Production of School Science Equipment: A Review of Developments, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 28-727, book, 68 pages, by Keith Warren and Norman Lowe, 1975, Commonwealth Secretariat, out of print in 1985.

This is a review of the kinds of science teaching equipment that can be made domestically at lower cost than that imported from industrialized countries. Much of the book covers the work of organizations around the world and considerations for the development of appropriate science equipment.

The authors note that much beautifully designed imported equipment has suffered “because the price was totally out of reach of most schools in a developing country” and/or “it is not usable in the situation into which it has been put.” Because of overemphasis on such equipment, “the majority of the children are starved of relevant practical scientific experience.”

“It is possible to avoid special manufacture if there is an object already available within the country which can illustrate a concept, or replace a chemistry beaker and so on. Indeed, it may be an educational advantage to use an object which the children recognize rather than a foreign-looking object remote from their experience.”

If local production is undertaken, there is a need for close collaboration between curriculum designers and apparatus designers. Also, it must be noted that if teachers are to be required to build their own apparatus, this represents a considerable time drain.

The book includes a review of activities in this field in the developing countries, along with 60 photographs of science teaching materials and kits. Highly recommended.

Development and Production of School Science Equipment: Some Alternative Approaches, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 28-725, booklet, 57 pages, by E. Apea and N. Lowe, 1979, Commonwealth Secretariat Publications, out of print.

This report offers a look at national curriculum and equipment development centers in India, Kenya and Turkey, and a regional center in Malaysia. The goals and organizational structure of each are described.

The most interesting of these, from the point of view of practical science education at the primary level, is the Kenya Primary Science Programme, in which a Science Equipment Production Unit has been formed. “The Programme has three basic aims: namely to encourage and assist children to: a) develop the manual and intellectual skills that are necessary to solve problems in a scientific way; b) preserve and acquire the attitudes that are necessary to apply those skills effectively; and c) acquire a deep understanding of the natural phenomena that take place in their environment …. Activities in the classroom are made to relate directly to the pupils’ environment. This is accomplished by helping children first to acquire problem solving skills and then to apply the skills in solving problems based on their immediate environment.”

“The use of locally available materials is important, not only in the name of economy and feasibility, but to help to prevent young children becoming alienated from their home community and background.”

For the upper primary grades, “the topics for investigation will be concerned with applied science and technology, with the expectation that pupils will identify and solve problems of real and practical significance in areas such as agriculture, health and village technology.”

The centers in India, Turkey, and Malaysia are primarily concerned with local production of science equipment for conventional science programs.

Low Cost Science Teaching Equipment, Report of a Commonwealth Regional Seminar/Workshop, Nassau, Bahamas, November 1976, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 28-726, 98 pages, 1977, Commonwealth Secretariat Publications, Marlborough House, London SW1Y 5HX, England; out of print.

This report reviews the problems and progress being made in the development and production of low-cost science teaching equipment in the Caribbean, and includes recommendations for action by the governments of these nations.

“In the Caribbean, the traditional approach to science teaching —over-emphasis of teacher demonstration and learning by rote—is generally giving way to a new approach which involves inquiry, discovery, and the encouragement of pupil participation …. Unfortunately, however, basic equipment needed for this approach to science learning is sparse, or, as in most cases, non-existent. Most primary school teachers have had little or no special training in teaching science at this level. As a result … teachers lack the confidence, knowledge and the skills that are necessary for effective science teaching, and are unable to identify potential sources in their environment that might be used in the classroom for teaching the subject.” Teacher training is thus an important aspect of any strategy to develop low-cost science teaching equipment.

Experienced teachers are crucial to successful development of relevant equipment. In Kenya, “teachers formed the core of the committee that decided the original objectives; the consultant (a teacher) was a member of that committee …. The field trials, the development of the accompanying teacher training programme, the evaluation, and all aspects of production required the involvement of teachers.”

Guidebook to Constructing Inexpensive Science Teaching Equipment, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 28-720, three volumes, 968 pages total, by the Inexpensive Science Teaching Equipment Project, 1972, Science Teaching Center, University of Maryland, out of print.

This is the final product of the Inexpensive Science Teaching Equipment Project at the University of Maryland. The project set out to: “1) identify laboratory equipment considered essential for student investigations in introductory biology, chemistry and physics courses in developing countries; 2) improvise, wherever possible, equivalent inexpensive science teaching equipment.”

“In designing equipment for production by students and teachers, two factors have been kept in mind. One, project work in apparatus development can be extremely rewarding for students, bringing both students and teachers into close contact with the realities of science, and relating science and technology in the simplest of ways. Two, it is not difficult for cottage (or small scale) industries to adapt these designs to their own requirements.”

All the designs have been tested at the University of Maryland, but at the time these books were printed the equipment had not been produced and tested under local conditions in developing countries. A draft edition was circulated for comments from science educators around the world before the current edition was produced. These materials should therefore be considered as ideas to be tried, adapted, and improved when needed.

Only handtools are needed to make this equipment. The drawings and.instructions are very clear. Some of the basic materials required will be very expensive and/or hard to obtain in some circumstances: plastic lenses, glass test tubes, corks, and metal tubes. For the most part the equipment is made of simple materials, yet often it can be used to demonstrate rather sophisticated concepts. The emphasis is on qualitative, rather than precise quantitative, measurements.

Notes on the use of the equipment are provided, but the reader will have to refer to other sources to learn how to best use some of it. Each volume has an index for all three volumes, which helps in locating equipment relevant to more than one subject area.

Construction and Use of Simple Physics Apparatus, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 28-719, book, 36 pages, by R.F. Simpson, 1972, Swindon Book Company, Kowloon, Hong Kong, out of print.

This delightful book includes dozens of ideas for simple equipment and illustrative experiments. Everything from the behavior of ping pong balls to the use of a polished half biscuit tin as a reflector for light experiments, to the construction of hand-held stroboscopes. Written by a former school teacher who has since been training science teachers at the University of Hong Kong.

“The use of simple apparatus constructed locally provides a magnificent opportunity for educators in developing countries to extract the essence of a good science education without the expensive frills that have become associated with Western models.”

In addition to the obvious advantages of very simple, inexpensive physics equipment made of commonly available objects, “pupils may become aware that scientific principles apply to everyday things and are not just associated with special apparatus, usually imported from abroad, and only found in laboratories.”

A Method for Cutting Bottles, Light Bulbs, and Fluorescent Tubes, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 28-722, 6 pages, by Allen Inversin, VITA, out of print in 1985.

These notes come from the author’s efforts to find ways of making science equipment more accessible to the science teacher in developing countries. His initial use of this technique was for “cutting bottles and bulbs to make glassware for use in experiments.” He has “cut hundreds of bottles of all sizes and in the process has refined the technique to the point where it should be fairly complete.”

“Occasionally use can be made of cut incandescent light bulbs, as for example, beakers for boiling solutions in chemistry experiments, watch glasses, and glass chimneys for wick lamps” For this, a different technique is presented.

Adventures with a Hand Lens, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 28-717, book, 220 pages, by Richard Headstrom,1976, $4.50 from Dover Publications, Inc., 31 East 2nd Street, Mineola, New York 11501, USA.

This book consists of 50 explorations into the natural world using a magnifying glass, making the world outside the classroom the place where learning takes place. Basic natural principles can be taught using the simple experiments and observations. Many of the plants and insect examples are only found in temperate zones. In other regions the book could be a useful model for an approach that examines local plants and insects.

“If we look on cabbage leaves we would likely find conical, pale yellow eggs, and if we viewed them through our lens (magnifying glass) we would see that they.are ribbed. The eggs are those of the imported cabbage worm …. A little later, when squash leaves have developed, the squash bug, another common insect and rather injurious to squashes and other members of the squash family, appears and lays her eggs on the leaves. They are easy to find, for they are laid in clusters and are oval and pale yellow to brown.”

Anti-Pollution Lab: Elementary Research, Experiments and Science Projects on Air, Water and Solid Pollution in Your Community, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 28-718, book, 128 pages, by

Elliott H. Blaustein, 1972, Arco Publishing Company, New York, out of print.

“The great merit of Elliott Blaustein’s book is to demonstrate that we can use simple and practical scientific techniques to detect pollutants as well as their effects on the body, and also to develop action programs which will once more render our environment healthy and pleasurable.” (From the Preface by Rene Dubos.) Tests included are: vital capacity measurement (lung breath volume); maximum lung breath pressure; sulfur dioxide (SO2) air pollution; air dust particles; ozone testing; carbon dioxide (CO2); air visibility; water turbidity; water particles; algae; detergent in water; thermal pollution; salinity; and fiber decay resistance.

A user of this book should be familiar with simple chemistry. The problem of pollution is one which is increasingly found in all parts of the planet. Industrial manufacturing in developing countries is increasingly developing and using technologies which are being banned or heavily regulated for pollution reasons in industrialized countries such as Japan and the USA. People in recently industrializing regions need information on effects of pollution and methods of pollution detection and control. This book provides a simple starting point in efforts to detect pollution.

Preserving Food by Drying: A Math/Science Manual, Peace Corps Appropriate Technology for Development Manual No. M10, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 28-723, book, 218 pages, by Cynthia Fahey with Carl Vogel and Per Christiansen, 1980, available to Peace Corps volunteers and development workers from Peace Corps; also available from ERIC (order no. ED242558) and NTIS (accession no. PB85 243319/AS).

This innovative manual forms a curriculum for math and science study in which the students learn basic scientific concepts by constructing simple apparatus and conducting experiments. Beginning with such basics as evaporation, determination of surface area, and measurements of the sun’s angles, the students then move on to study, build, and test solar food dryers. Highly recommended both for use in teaching and as a model for curriculum development in other subjects.

How to Make Tools, Peace Corps Appropriate Technology for Development Series Reprint R-35, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 28-721, booklet, 51 pages, by Per Christiansen and Bernard Zubrowski, 1980, available free of charge to Peace Corps volunteers and development workers from Peace Corps; also available from NTIS (accession no. PB81154353).

This is the companion volume to Preserving Food by Drying (see review). Simple, clever designs are presented for making tools such as a hammer, drill, saw, tongs, and tweezers, as well as for a balance to weigh things. These tools are intended for use in science classes. Although some may be sturdy enough for other applications, most would not be suitable for prolonged heavy use.



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Readers investigating transportation alternatives in the light of appropriate technology principles will find that this topic area reflects many of the fundamental problems and issues of technology choice and development goals. In the South, traditional transport technologies (e.g. backpacks, bicycle-loading baskets and frames, bike trailers, animal packs, carts, pedicabs, push carts, wheelbarrows, and small boats) have been almost completely neglected in engineering designs efforts.

Informed observers note that few modern vehicles fit the needs of the developing countries very well; in most cases, the designs or the machines themselves are imported. These vehicles trucks, busses, cars bring with them high foreign exchange requirements for purchase and fuel costs, probates of maintenance and spare parts, and low durability when operated over rough terrain. Although busses are usually an effective means of transporting people (especially in heavily populated areas and for long distance travel), trucks are often ill-matched to the basic transport needs of small farms. Trucks also require heavy investments in high-quality road construction, without which they have even higher maintenance costs. Furthermore, World Bank studies in Kenya give evidence that the concentration of ownership of trucks significantly limits prices received by farmers for their produce.

The technologies of transport include not only the vehicles themselves, but also the roadbed and surface materials, as well as design speeds and road routes. In road building, the technical choices reflect the goals of the programs themselves. Given the goals of most current road-building programs, once the route, design speed, and road surface and strength have been chosen, the most economical vehicle is likely to be the truck. Roads built with high-strength roadbeds and high design speeds provide a hidden subsidy and competitive advantage for heavy-weight, high-speed trucks compared to other vehicles. The range, speed, and capacity of small motorized animal-drawn and pedal-powered vehicles would be served just as well by less expensive roads.

A peculiar characteristic of transportation systems is that the availability of higher speed transport technologies creates first a demand and then a dependence on long distance transport as settlement and industrial production patterns adjust. Increasing the speed of transportation increases the energy consumption at an even greater rate because both wind resistance and weight of the vehicle increase. Thus one observer of transport in urban and rural Southeast Asia notes: ‘A shift in mobility from 2500 km to 5000 km in a 500 hour transport budget would increase energy requirements seven-fold through its greater emphasis on faster car-bus-rail-air modes at the expense of walk-cycle-subsidiary motor modes.” (Peter Rimmer, in an article entitled “A Conceptual Framework for Examining Urban and Regional Transport Needs in Southeast Asia” 1978.) The writings of Leopold Kohr on scale and velocity also contain a number of interesting observations on urban transportation dynamics (see The Breakdown of Nations).

There are also other negative effects that come with smoother, faster transportation links. Road building is justified by arguments about the increased inputs that will be made available to small farmers, the increased market for farm surpluses that will be created, and the reduced running costs for the trucks that will operate over the better roads. Yet many observers have noted the classic pattern of destruction of crafts and cottage industries that also comes with the opening up of a road. Manufactured tools and household items trucked in from the towns and cities outsell the products of local potters and blacksmiths. The types of jobs available change, and the variety of income-producing activities in the community may be reduced. A whole chain of negative economic multiplier effects may be set in motion. The greater commercialization of agriculture is likely to also mean lower crop diversity and thus greater risks from pest attacks and global market fluctuations. Income in the community may shift significantly to land-owning farmers who sell their surpluses without being affected by higher rents.

There are reasons why national transport strategies dramatically affect the strength of local industry and decentralized development. In China, the development of the substantial rural small industry sector has brought with it a unique blossoming of managerial and technical skills among the rural population. One factor that seems to have greatly aided this process is the existence of protected markets that result from the commune system and the poor transportationinfrastructure. (See, for example, the discussion of China’s 2800 cement plants, in Small Scale Cement Plants.) It appears that there may be an optimum degree of transportation integration, beyond which damaging centralizing effects are felt.

The Transport Panel of the Intermediate Technology Development Group has done some of the most consistently thoughtful reevaluation of the transport problem and possible avenues for appropriate technology solutions. Transport Panel members give high priority to improvements in intermediate motorized vehicles, traditional vehicles, animal packs, and bicycle-powered units; these represent a better match of available capital to the transport needs of small farming communities.

The farm family needs to move small quantities of inputs to the farm, harvested crops from field to home (often over rough terrain), and small surpluses to market. Small vehicles traveling at low speed over simple roads and tracks seem to best match this need. In fact, the animal-drawn cart in most developing countries still dominates this activity. In India, it has been shown that the total national investment in bullock carts exceeds the investment in either the national railroads or the national road network, and the number of ton-miles of material moved is comparable. Recognizing that bullock carts are going to be part of the Indian transport network for many years to come, organizations such as the Indian Institute of Management have initiated work to improve cart designs through better bearings, lighter frames, and wheels less damaging to roadways. They are also developing harnesses that are not injurious to the draft animals (see The Management of Animal Energy Resources and the Modernization of the Bullock Cart System).

The bicycle has often been cited as the most efficient machine for personal transport ever invented. It is also a major mover of goods in the South. Loads can be tied directly to bicycles or placed in special frames and baskets, and bike trailers and three-wheelers can be used to carry several hundred pounds of goods. Bicycling Science offers the reader an excellent summary of the physics of bicycles and the human body as a power producer. Bicycles and Tricycles: An Elementary Treatise on Their Design and Construction provides an encyclopedic treatment of successful and unsuccessful design ideas. The Design of Cycle Trailers details the basic considerations in the design of two-wheeled trailers for hauling goods behind a bicycle, and includes design examples from around the world. Small engine-driven vehicles, including motorized bicycles, motorcycles, motorcycles with sidecars and other three-wheelers, and two-wheeled tractor-cart combinations have found a niche in many countries. These small vehicles with very low fuel requirements seem to have an almost unlimited number of possible applications. Discussion and examples can be found in many of the entries in this chapter (see, for example, ITDG’s Low Cost Vehicles). Rough terrain vehicles produced in industrialized countries are cataloged in a World Bank report, Appropriate Technology in Rural Development: Vehicles for On and Off Farm Operations. These are primarily expensive, relatively high-speed vehicles with poor fuel economy, beyond the means of most farmers in developing countries.

The kinds of roads needed by small vehicles can be built using labor-intensive road construction methods. Several of the books in this section discuss the requirements for labor-intensive programs that are economically competitive with those using heavy equipment in the construction of conventional roadways. The success of such labor-intensive road-building techniques has been demonstrated, but greater savings may be achieved if road standards are kept flexible and labor intensive programs are not required to always produce roads of equipment intensive standards. Where transport needs are defined as including roadways for lightweight small vehicles to travel at moderate speeds, labor-intensive road construction methods are more likely to be the first choice. In any labor-intensive road construction program, good quality hand tools and simple equipment are essential to high productivity (see Better Tools for the Job and Guide to Tools and Equipment for Labour Based Road Construction).

Small boats can be very economical to build and operate, taking advantage of existing inland waterways and coastal routes for quiet movement of heavy loads. In some areas, inter-island communications and transport depend almost solely on small boats. Included are a variety of books on boat-building techniques that could in many cases be used to improve the safety, speed, and economic viability of traditional vessels.

A key consideration in vehicle choice and transportation strategy is, of course, fuel supply. Alcohol fuels, distilled from grains or crop residues, have been generating great interest as alternatives to gasoline. Brazil has taken the lead in alcohol fuel production, based on cassava and sugar cane. However, the author of Food or Fuel: New Competition for the World’s Croplands concludes that large national alcohol fuel programs are likely to greatly increase world hunger by diverting vast areas of agricultural land into fuel production for the relatively wealthy few. And the basic futility of such programs is indicated by the fact that the entire U.S. grain crop, if converted to alcohol fuels, would replace only about 30% of the gasoline currently consumed in the United States. The dramatic 1970s increases in oil prices hit the citizens of poor countries hardest, forcing them off the busses and away from kerosene cooking fuel. Despite the public outcry over higher gasoline prices in the United States, consumption dropped little, and one out of every 8 barrels of world oil production is burned as gasoline in US. automobiles. As long as 6% of the world’s population continues to consume about one third of the world’s energy supply, the problems of conventional motorized transport in poor countries will intensify.

Given the stiff buyer competition for scarce gasoline and the vast amounts of agricultural materials required for large-volume alcohol fuels production, it can be reasonably predicted that there will never be enough fuel for more than a tiny part of the world’s population to be driving automobiles. Decades of settlement patterns based on the daily use of the automobile in the United States have locked this country into a high fuel demand pattern that will be broken only through a very difficult and expensive process of great change. In oil-importing developing countries, the decentralization of industrial production, along with increased emphasis on bicycles, improved carts, and small engine-driven vehicles appear to be important elements of a practical transport strategy for the future.

All of the following books are reviewed below and available for sale as part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CDs 26-27* or DVD 4 ):

Appropriate Industrial Technology for Low Cost Transport for Rural Areas Disk 26, File 26-650
A.T. in Rural Development: Vehicles Designed for On and Off Farm Operations Disk 26, File 26-651
Automotive Operation and Maintenance Disk 27, File 26-688
The Backyard Mechanic Volumes Disk 26, Files 26-670 though 26-672
Better Tools for the Job Disk 26, File 26-652
The Bicycle Builder’s Bible Disk 26, File 26-653
Bicycle Resource Guide
Bicycles and Tricycles Disk 26, File 26-655
Bicycles: A Case Study of Indian Experience Disk 26, File 26-656
Bicycling Science Disk 26, File 26-657
Boatbuilding Manual Disk 26, File 26-673
Boats from Ferrocement Disk 26, File 26-658
The Design and Manufacture of AnimalDrawn Carts Disk 27, File 26-690
The Design and Manufacture of LowCost Motorized Vehicles Disk 27, File 26-691
The Design of Bicycle Trailers Disk 26, File 26-659
The Dory Book Disk 26, File 26-674
Earth Roads Disk 26, File 26-675
Electric Vehicles Disk 26, File 26-660
Fishing Boat Designs: Flat Bottom Boats Disk 26, File 26-661
Gasoline Engine Tune Up Disk 26, File 26-676
Guide to Tools and Equipment for Labour Based Road Construction Disk 27, File 26-677
Handbook of Artisanal Boatbuilding Disk 27, File 26-692
Installation and Maintenance of Engines in Small Fishing Vessels Disk 27, File 26-689
Low Cost Transportation Disk 27, File 26-679
Low Cost Vehicles Disk 27, File 26-680
Maintaining Motorcycles Disk 26, File 26-663
The Management of Animal Energy Resources and the Modernization of the Bullock Cart System Disk 27, File 26-686
Manual on the Planning of Labour lntensive Road Construction Disk 26, File 26-664
The Manufacture of Low Cost Vehicles in Developing Countries Disk 26, File 26-665
Notes on Simple Transport in Some Developing Countries Disk 26, File 26-666
Proceedings of ITDG Seminar “Simple Vehicles for Developing Countries” Disk 26, File 26-667
Roads and Resources Disk 26, File 26-668
The Rural Access Roads Programme Disk 27, File 26-682
Rural Roads Manual Disk 27, File 26-687
Rural Transport in Developing Countries Disk 27, File 26-683
Small Boat Design Disk 27, File 26-684
Sails as an Aid to Fishing Disk 27, File 26-693
Three Wheeled Vehicles in Crete Disk 26, File 26-669

Rural Transport in Developing Countries, Disk 27, File 26-683, book, 145 pages, by I. Barwell et. al., 1985, £7.95 from ITDG.

“Recent research has drawn attention to the fact that: 1) Few regular transport services operate away from all-weather road networks. However, many people live remote from such networks …. 2) In areas with all-weather road access, motor vehicles are beyond the financial means of the majority of people. Equally, many people cannot afford to use the transport services which do operate.”

“There is unlikely to be a significant improvement in this situation for the foreseeable future given the limited resources available for expansion of road networks and motor vehicle fleets, and the problems of maintaining existing roads and operating conventional motor vehicles.”

The nine case studies on the transport needs of rural people presented here provide some evidence that contradicts long-held notions about the nature of rural transport activities. Not only are footpaths and simple tracks the most used (though “invisible”) part of the transport system, but rural people are more mobile than has been generally assumed.

This volume will aid in understanding the kinds of low-cost improvements in the transport system that would be most valuable to villagers.

Earth Roads: Their Construction and Maintenance, Disk 26, File 26-675, book, 123 pages, by Jack Hindson, 1983, £7.95 from ITDG.

“In the early stages of development it is doubtful if modern high-cost roads are necessary: there is abundant evidence to show that the existence of a means of communication is more important than its quality …. (Most so-called ‘low-cost’ roads described in other books involve construction methods that) presume the knowledge and skills of a graduate civil engineer and the use of complex equipment. The result is a technology largely incomprehensible to the layman, and a road that is not low-cost.”

Based on 20 years’ experience in northern Zambia, here is a well-illustrated, practical book on the construction of genuinely low-cost, relatively long-lasting earth roads. The key feature of this system is the primary attention given to soil conservation techniques that divert rain water flows away from the road at all times and minimize erosion in drainage ditches. This manual was prepared for use by non-engineers for hand construction involving very little moving of materials; the author notes that even wheelbarrows will not be necessary for most of the work.

Drainage techniques, road planning, construction and maintenance are all covered.

“The most important requirement on a village road, both in hilly and in flat country, is for slow, steady speeds in any weather and at any season of the year.” The result is a slow-speed road that is well-suited to carts and bicycles, can handle up to 50 motorized vehicles/day, and that should remain passable.

The Rural Access Roads Programme, Disk 27, File 26-682, book, 167 pages, by J.J. de Veen, 1980, ILO, out of print.

The Rural Access Roads Programme in Kenya is widely regarded as an important achievement in demonstrating that labor-intensive road construction methods can provide good quality roads at relatively low cost, if a well-organized management structure can be created. This program succeeded in constructing thousands of kilometers of low-volume rural access roads, connecting farming areas with the existing road network.

This book is about the organizational structure and management experience of the program. A short appendix describes and illustrates the construction activities. Whereas most of the work was done by hand, tractors and trailers were used for gravelling. The technology unit of this program carried out some interesting work on the improvement of hand tools and wheelbarrows; this work is not described here, but is covered by two other books (see reviews of Better Tools for the Job and Guide to Tools and Equipment for Labour Based Road Construction). Rural communities were involved in road selection. “In areas with average terrain conditions, the original target of 45 km/unit/year can be achieved with a labour force of 270 workers.” Average costs were US $5600 per kilometer, including all overhead costs. Maintenance contracts were signed with individual workers to be responsible for each section (about 1.5 km) of road, after it was completed.

Manual on the Planning of Labour-Intensive Road Construction, Disk 26, File 26-664, book, 253 pages, by M. Allal, G. Edmonds and A. Bhalla of the International Labour Office, Geneva, 1977, out of print.

Not a how-to manual, this book is intended for use by planners who are responsible for national road programs, including people involved in evaluation.and design of road construction projects. “They may fully agree with the notion of appropriate technology, but they must first be presented with viable alternatives to the technology they are using. They also need to be given the means of evaluating, assessing and taking advantage of these alternatives. The present manual constitutes an attempt to meet that need.”

The authors note that an opening up of the spectrum of choice is required. Labor-intensive techniques should not be viewed as simply one way to achieve roads of equipment-intensive standards, but rather the design standards themselves should be flexible to allow for the most beneficial selection of technique, total road cost, user costs and maintenance costs.

There is a chapter (24 pages) on the range of labor-intensive techniques (mostly for hauling), including drawings, photos, and comments about relative costs and suitable applications. Included are headbaskets, stretchers, small trucks on rails, spades, pack animals, animal-drawn carts, animal-drawn scrapers, wheelbarrows, trailers, and small aerial ropeways.

“The planner of any labor-intensive scheme must bear in mind that the choice of the right sort of tool is as important as the choice of the right type of machinery in a capital-intensive project: given the right tools a worker’s productivity can be enormously increased. A small research unit to consider the appropriate designs of small tools and equipment would be very useful.”

“Earth roads are the most suitable for labor-intensive construction …. Also, earth roads are generally used to transport farm produce to market or to provide access to remote villages. Accordingly, they are of obvious and direct benefit to the local population.”

Information is presented on the relationship between design speed and construction costs. Roads designed for vehicle speeds of 40 km/hour have substantially lower costs than those designed for vehicle speeds of 70 or 80 km/ hour, because there is a larger acceptable range of curves and gradients.

The later chapters discuss cost-benefit analysis, problems of organization and management in labor-intensive works, and action to eliminate capital-intensive biases in policy and attitudes among engineers.

Roads and Resources: Appropriate Technology in Road Construction in Developing Countries, Disk 26, File 26-668, book, 200 pages, edited by G. Edmonds and J. Howe, 1980, ITDG, out of print.

This study, prepared for the International Labor Organization, is about road construction programs. The authors note that “the use of more labor-intensive techniques can be technically and economically efficient.” Part I, “Institutions and Issues of Implementation,” is concerned with how to best organize labor-intensive programs and choose intermediate technologies. The special planning and administrative requirements of labor-intensive programs, and other institutional biases favoring equipment-intensive approaches are discussed. One chapter identifies a range of simple tools and equipment that, if given proper design attention, could multiply labor productivity by a factor of 3-6. These include Chinese wheelbarrows and animal-drawn carts on portable light rail systems. Noting that road systems in many former colonies have been designed to move goods for export, one author urges that the emphasis should be “on providing inputs into the rural areas which will stimulate growth rather than access to ensure the maximum level of exportation.”

Case studies in the second half of the book examine labor-intensive and.construction programs in Mexico, Afghanistan, India and Iran.

“The use of labor-based methods would seem … to meet all the criteria upon which development planning is based. They serve the mass of the population, their implementation can involve popular participation in the decision-making process, they are an instrument of self-reliance, they can enhance the potential for rural development and they can, by providing income, serve to improve the standard of living of the mass of the population.” Despite these claims, the authors have limited themselves to looking at how labor and good small tools and equipment can compete economically with heavy equipment. The goal of this strategy is twofold: income distribution and skill development on a broader scale.

There are a number of crucial questions that are beyond the scope of this book, such as: Who decides where a road will go? Who benefits from the road? Who loses? Who decides the road’s design speed and strength (and hence costs and which vehicle owners will benefit)? What road-vehicle combinations go well together? Readers interested in these kinds of issues will find relevant material in other entries in this chapter.

Rural Roads Manual (Simple English Edition): Self-Help and Rural Improvement Roads, Disk 27, File 26-687, book, 128 pages, by the Papua New Guinea Dept. of Works and Supply, 1977, K3.50 from Dept. of Works.

Papua New Guinea’s Dept. of Public Works, recognizing the importance of well-constructed and maintained roads, has published this manual in an attempt to promote self-help road construction all over PNG. Written purposely in very simple English (the national language), it is a complete guide to road design, construction and maintenance using low-cost local materials and tools, and local skills. Covers subjects such as surveying, laying out a road, drainage, building in swampy areas, maintenance and upgrading, plus information on building bridges, culverts and low-level crossings.

Illustrated with drawings on almost every page, this manual is intended for fieldworkers and local government councils in PNG, so that road building and maintenance can become a decentralized process. While specific to conditions in PNG, this manual is valuable as an example for adaptation to other areas.

Better Tools for the Job: Specifications for Hand Tools and Equipment, Disk 26, File 26-652, booklet, 43 pages, by William Armstrong, 1980, £3.95 from ITDG.

Labor-intensive road construction projects need large quantities of good quality hand tools and carrying devices like wheelbarrows. Available tools are often of poor quality, due to the practice of seeking the lowest quoted price without specifying quality standards. A Kenyan technology unit has developed a set of specifications which have been successfully applied to tools for road projects in that country. By including these specifications with price requests, the tools may initially cost 30% more, but are likely to have a 500% longer working life.

Materials, strength and hardness, and construction specifications are provided along with detailed drawings for each tool and piece of equipment (shovel, hoe, wheelbarrow, forked hoe, crowbar, machete, mattock, axe, pickax, spreader, and rammer).

“A very large proportion of the problems encountered with hand tools in the field (on road, irrigation and construction projects, for example) arises from the use of handles made from cheap unseasoned softwood …. The cost increase for a.specified handle (of seasoned hardwood) as compared to a cheap handle is modest, and no other single step can return such high dividends in terms of cost effectiveness and productivity.”

Steel strength and hardness depend on chemical composition and heat treatment. The author notes that by pressing a diamond or hardened steel ball into a small number of samples of the equipment, the buyer can perform a low-cost reliable test of hardness to insure that tools have been made to specification.

Guide to Tools and Equipment for Labour-Based Road Construction, Disk 27, File 26-677, approximately 30 pages, by International Labour Office, 1981, $42.00 from ILO; also available from TOOL.

“So far as road construction is concerned studies by the International Labour Office and the World Bank have shown that it is feasible to use labour rather than machinery for many activities with a consequent increase in local employment possibilities. For labour-based road construction to be both technically and economically acceptable, it is necessary, among other things, to improve the tools and equipment available.”

This guide contains manufacturing specifications for a wide variety of hand tools and animal-drawn equipment useful in road construction. The intention is to provide details on efficient, durable, safe, effective tools. Advice is given on testing and maintenance. Operations include surveying, excavation, rock crushing, hauling, spreading, and compaction.

Low-Cost Vehicles: Options for Moving People and Goods, Disk 27, File 26-680, book, 106 pages, by G. Hathway, 1985, paperback £8.95, hardback £14.95, from ITDG; also available from TOOL.

Here is the only book that covers the full range of low-cost transport devices from around the world, from headstraps and backpacks to motorized three-wheelers and micro-trucks. This volume should prove valuable as a source of ideas for new vehicles to fit special transport needs. Many photos.

“The small farm transport vehicle (sftv) is a new type of wheelbarrow which has been designed and developed by IT Transport and ITDG. It is specifically intended to carry loads up to 150 kg for distances of up to 10 km, which are typical of the transport requirements of small farmers”

Low Cost Transportation, Disk 27, File 26-679, book, 63 pages, by Gert Thoma, 1979 available from German Appropriate Technology Exchange, GTZ, Dag-Hammarskjold-Weg 1, D-6236 Eschborn 1, Federal Republic of Germany.

Here is a nice collection of designs from around the world for carts, tricycles, wheelbarrows and handcarts, and their associated wheels, bearings, brakes, steering mechanisms and other details. Many of the advantages and disadvantages of each are noted. Some good hints on the fabrication of strong joints are provided. “The choice of appropriate wheels for carts influences their overall efficiency. For example, the rolling resistance of hard wheels is about 50% higher than that of pneumatic tires. On rough terrain the difference is less or zero. It is recommended to continue the use of hard wheels for transport on unprepared terrain with low speeds while giving priority to big diameters.”

The Design and Manufacture of Animal-Drawn Carts, Disk 27, File 26-691, book, 122 pages, by Ian Barwell and Gordon Hathway of I .T. Transport for ILO/ Habitat, 1986, £8.95 from ITDG.

Animal-drawn carts can play an essential agricultural role in moving large amounts of farm produce and materials. They can be low-cost, locally made, and able to travel across difficult terrain, without requiring foreign exchange for fuel or parts.

This is an overview of carts, wheels, harnesses, and how to make them all. Two- and four-wheeled carts, harnesses for different animals, and special carts for different purposes are covered. The principles of good design are explained in each case.

The Management of Animal Energy Resources and the Modernization of the Bullock Cart System, Disk 27, File 26-686, book, 137 pages, by N.S. Ramaswamy, 1979, Indian Institute of Management, 33 Langford Road, Bangalore 560 027, India; out of print.

“For short hauls, small loads, versatile movement over any available surface and low freight charges, the cart has no peer either in the rural areas, or, for that matter, in the towns and cities. It is still cheap, readily available, and safe.”

The author presents statistics to convincingly demonstrate the importance of animal power and carts in the Indian economy. Discussing deficiencies in design that need to be overcome, he offers evidence that the improvement of harnessing devices, agricultural implements, and carts should be given a high priority by the Indian government. To accomplish these objectives, he proposes the establishment of an Animal Energy Development Corporation, and outlines a program of activities. He also argues for less cruelty to the animals both in general use and through promotion of improved slaughterhouse facilities.

Animal power inputs on the Indian farm are even greater than in the transport sector. Two-thirds of all farm energy is provided by animals, while human energy provides 23% and electricity/fossil fuels only 10%. Carts are used in moving 15-18 billion ton-km of freight per year in India. But “the traditional cart is defective in design. The draught power of the animal is wasted due to friction resulting from rough bearings and crude and inefficient harnessing, etc. The wobbling rim cuts into the road surface and damages it. Weights run high. Traditional carts can be easily improved by: smooth bearings, lower weight, the introduction of a log-brake, better harnessing, the use of pneumatic tires on paved roads” and the use of hard rubber tires in rural areas. As this is a compilation of papers, much of the text is repetitive. Photos of old and new cart designs are included.

Bicycling Science, Disk 26, File 26-657, book, 243 pages, by Frank R. Whitt and David G. Wilson, second edition 1982, $12.50 plus postage from MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142, USA.

This very readable book describes the physics of bicycles and other human-powered machines, and the characteristics of the human body as a power generator. Topics include the power needed for movement on land, maximum performance of cyclists optimum pedaling rates, comparison of human power with internal combustion machines and electric motors, bicycle design for rough roads, braking of bicycles, construction materials (including bamboo frames and plastic frames), water cycles, railway cycles, and possible future designing pedal-powered equipment or bicycle modifications for low-cost transport.

The authors note that tests of human energy production indicate that for prolonged periods (e.g., one hour) an ordinary college student would produce about 0.05 hp (37 watts). Other tests show highest power production for 1 minute of .54 hp (403 watts), and for 60 to 270 minutes, 0.28 to 0.19 hp (208 to 142 watts). Hand-cranking is not as efficient as pedaling. There is some evidence that screw-pedaled boats are more efficient than oar-driven boats. A gasoline engine added to a bicycle to give it the equivalent power of an extra human being would weigh 20 pounds. The same power using an electric motor would require adding the weight of one person, in the form of batteries and electric motor.

Some designs might be of particular interest in poor countries. Bamboo-framed bicycles were marketed prior to 1900. For rough roads, “some form of sprung wheel or sprung frame can greatly reduce the kinetic energy of momentum losses by reducing the unsprung mass and ensuring that the wheel more nearly maintains contact with the surface.” (In developing countries, large diameter wide tires ensure an acceptably coDisk 26, Fileortable ride without a sprung frame.) Cycles with steel wheels developed for running on steel rails have less friction to overcome than the best bicycles on excellent roads.

The standard bicycle has seen few changes in design since 1890. The authors claim that this is partly because at about that time the automobile began monopolizing the attention of the inventive mechanics and mechanical engineers. There is certainly potential for new concepts and designs.

Bicycles and Tricycles: An Elementary Treatise on Their Design and Construction, Disk 26, File 26-655, book, 536 pages, by Archibald Sharp, 1896 (reprinted 1979), $14.95 plus postage from MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142, USA.

This is a fascinating book on what is perhaps the most efficient machine ever created. A valuable reference for designers of bicycles, tricycles for hauling goods and people, bicycle trailers, and stationary pedal-power and treadle-power machines.

The first 140 pages contain an introduction to the physics and mechanical engineering of bicycles, essential to the design of successful machines. This would make a good text for design classes.

Part II reviews the history of the development of the bicycle, with the various improvements, when they were made, which ideas were dead ends and which ideas led to further refinements. The basic bicycle design we use today evolved by 1886.

The section on tricycle design may prove useful to those investigating design changes to make the pedicab more efficient and easier to operate. For example the effects of different tricycle configurations on steering capability are explored. Several special gears for driving tricycle wheels at different speeds when rounding corners are discussed in detail (clutch gear and differential). The author notes that great accuracy is not needed in the production of the bevel gears for a differential; these gears only move slowly even when a tricycle turns a corner at 20 mph.

In the remaining chapters (300 pages) the author discusses motion over uneven surfaces, frames, stresses on frames, different kinds of spoked wheels, hubs, bearings, chains, chain gearing, toothed wheel gearing, lever and crank gearing, tires, pedals, cranks, bottom brackets, seats and brakes.

This is truly a classic and monumental work on bicycle design.

The Design of Bicycle Trailers, Disk 26, File 26-659, report, 44 pages, by Ian Barwell, Intermediate Technology Transport, 1977; 1986 edition 74 pages, by M. Ayre, £6.50 from ITDG; also available from TOOL.

“The intention of this report is to provide basic design information for those people in developing countries who wish to build bicycle trailers.” Detailed recommendations about the critical aspects of trailer design are made to aid the reader in designing a trailer most suited to local circumstances. These design aspects include size of cargo space, center of gravity of the load, length of tow bar, hitch design, ground clearance, type and mounting of wheels, and chassis design. 15 bicycle trailers are described, along with photos and drawings of each.

“The trailer is a convenient way of extending the usefulness of bicycles …. It is cheap to produce, suitable for small-scale manufacture by local industries and can, if designed for that purpose, also function as a hand cart. For these reasons, the development of trailer designs which meet particular local requirements is to be encouraged.”

A bicycle with a trailer can carry an amount of cargo almost as great as a tricycle (100 kg vs. 150 kg), yet the trailer can be quickly disconnected to allow use of the bicycle for personal transport. It should be possible to produce the trailers for not much more than l/2 the cost of a bicycle.

An easy to read, valuable report.

The Bicycle Builder’s Bible, Disk 26, File 26-653, book, 376 pages, by Jack Wiley, 1980, out of print in 1985.

This is mainly a buying guide and maintenance manual for bicycles. Variations such as unicycles, tandems, and motocross bikes are also discussed. The author shows how to convert a regular bicycle to a folding bicycle, and how to make some of the other unusual variations from bicycle parts.

Three commercially sold adult tricycles (Schwinn Town and Country, ADisk 26, File Courier, and Gobby), all with three speeds and rear wheel differentials, are pictured and briefly described. Also shown is an industrial tricycle, The Mover (manufactured by Industrial Cycles, Dayton, Ohio).

There are a few useful ideas included for rigging up pedal-powered equipment. Many of these seem to be taken from Pedal Power in Work, Leisure and Transportation, or from the work of S. Wilson in England.

Bicycles: A Case Study of Indian Experience, Disk 26, File 26-656, book, 87 pages, by United Nations Industrial Development Organization, ID/SER. K.1, Sales No. E.69.II.B.30, out of print.

For anyone interested in the idea of making bicycles on a national or regional level, this is a fascinating book. Much of it is technical; for example, it lists the specifications of each of the different parts for the chosen model (a single-speed, heavy-duty design). The book certainly does not provide all the information needed to begin bicycle manufacture, but it does give a good idea of what might be required.

There is a comparison of manufacturing requirements and costs in small and large-scale production units in India. Describes tests made for each of the major components. Lists conventional equipment required and costs. Describes the manufacturing and assembly operations, including those for a small-scale plant producing 15,000 bicycles yearly. Discusses manufacturing of specialized components.by small subcontractors.

The conclusions and recommendations include the following: a) A bicycle industry can be started with the manufacture of only a few simple parts and components and the rest imported. b) Complete bicycles can be manufactured by units making only a few parts themselves and obtaining the rest from cooperating small-scale units. c) Gradually imports can be reduced with a view to reaching self-sufficiency. Under a 3-phase program, the imports would be: Phase 1 free-wheels, BB shells hubs, rims, chains, spokes, nipples, tires and tubes, and steel balls; Phase 2 only free-wheels, BB shells, hubs, tires and tubes, and steel balls would be imported; Phase 3 only BB shells, tires and tubes, and steel balls would be imported. After this, all components would be produced within the country.

If the reader were to combine what is provided here with S. Wilson’s “Oxtrike” idea (making use of sheet steel and angle iron instead of tube steel for the frames) a much smaller-scale and lower-cost method of production might be possible.

Bicycle Resource Guide, Disk 26, File 26-654, a series of bibliographies averaging 100 pages, over 1000 entries, only two books still in print, $5.00 each from D.J. Luebbers Editor, 725 Kearney, Denver, Colorado 80220, USA. This is a series of seven bibliographies. The 1976 bibliography, for example, has 106 pages, 1102 entries, an index, and costs $5.00 in the U.S. and $5.50 overseas.

Entries include bikeway studies (both on existing roads and new separate pathways), accident studies, guides for local tours, bike laws, bike repair manuals, conference proceedings, 100 mail order catalogs, 290 newspaper articles, and 300 journal articles on medical, transportation, historical, legal, and industrial topics related to bicycles. Of special interest to our readers in the 1976 bibliography are: repair and service manuals, case studies of bicycle/bus combinations as low-cost solutions to urban transport needs, articles describing new power packs for potential use with mopeds or bicycles, studies of “low-cost” bikeway pavement materials and design, publications presenting methods for using the bicycle in teaching certain principles of physics, and a document on transport planning incorporating bicycles in the city of Nairobi.

Maintaining Motorcycles: A Field worker’s Manual, Disk 26, File 26-663, booklet, 26 pages, by Russell Henning, 1982, $3.00 (add $1.15-$4.75 for airmail) from World Neighbors, 5116 North Portland Avenue, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112, USA.

Basic considerations in preventative maintenance and selected “roadside” repair tips are combined in a common sense guide for keeping the small, simple beast of burden roadworthy. Includes rudimentary advice on commonly encountered maintenance problems such as battery and sparkplug malfunction; tire, chain, and air cleaner service; wheel alignment; and a service check schedule.

Automotive Operation and Maintenance, Disk 27, File 26-688, large paperback manual, 200 pages, by E. Christopher Cone, 1973, revised 1992 edition $14.95 from VITA.

The author’s experiences in Liberia, West Africa, of “experiment and occasional disaster” provided most of the material for this book. “The intent is to offer suggestions to the driver or mechanic who operates in an area where service facilities and technical assistance are not readily available. In such areas he must be his own advisor on every problem which may arise.”

The first section concerns operation of a car in an area served by pioneer roads. The section is intended to assist the driver with temporary repairs to his vehicle so that he can get home in the event of mechanical trouble.

“The second major portion of the book is devoted to maintenance suggestions. These are intended for use in a frontier shop or repair center, no matter how ill-equipped this may be. This book should be used as a supplement to the vehicle’s shop manual, and as a source of guidance. The shop manual will tell how to reline the brakes, for example, but this book is intended to indicate when relining is needed.”

Chapter topics are: mechanical emergencies while driving, operating on pioneer roads, avoiding road hazards, extricating the vehicle, procedures when stranded, winches and towing, field expedients (on the spot temporary repair suggestions), check lists (for problem-locating and solving), tests and testing equipment, shop techniques, body repairs, a shop building, diesel engines, tools and equipment (for the car and shop), vehicle modification, parts and supplies, storage facilities, preventive maintenance, selecting a vehicle (a look at four-wheel-drive vehicles available), miscellaneous formulas, definitions, and an index.

The manual includes many large, simple drawings and diagrams that provide ingenious solutions (along with the text) to difficult problems; e.g., freeing a car stuck between logs on a bridge; extricating a vehicle stuck in mud or snow; temporary repair of broken brake or fuel lines. There are diagrams for homemade hoists and tire removers as well as general shop hints and a very handy index. The language is not difficult; closer to standard English than almost any automobile shop manual. An excellent book.

The Backyard Mechanic, Volume One, Disk 26, File 26-670, 57 pages; Volume Two, Disk 26, File 26-671, 77 pages; Volume Three: Disk 26, File 26-672, 92 pages; 1981, publication 104N, Consumer Information Center, P.O. Box 100, Pueblo, Colorado 81002, USA, out of print.

Good illustrations and photos with clear instructions tell you how to do most car maintenance and repair activities. Brakes, cooling system, battery care, tuneup, body repair and painting and more topics are covered. The safe, permanent repair of tubeless tires is explained. Relevant to most automobiles.

Gasoline Engine Tune-Up, Disk 26, File 26-676, booklet, 18 pages, 1983, publication 105N Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, Colorado, out of print.

Many photos and clear instructions in this booklet provide a good introduction to the steps necessary in tuning up gasoline automobile engines. It is much better than typical workshop manuals, which usually provide needed specifications but little guidance for the inexperienced. Even the reader who has been tuning up his/her own cars for years will learn a few things from this booklet.

Notes on Simple Transport in Some Developing Countries, Information Paper No. 2, Disk 26, File 26-666, ITDG Transport Panel, report, 26 pages, out of print in 1985.

“The report discusses intermediate transport in Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, China and India, and describes the simple vehicles, human-powered, animal-powered and motorized, which are used in those countries.” 22 photos of simple vehicles are included..In Manila, among the unusual vehicles is “a bicycle and sidecar with a 50cc two-stroke engine mounted in the cycle frame. This drives the rear wheel through an additional chain drive, the original pedal chain drive being retained so that the rider can augment the power of the engine when necessary.”

In China “many of the minor roads and tracks in the rural areas are narrow and unsealed but are quite satisfactory for the types of vehicle which travel on them” (bicycles, handcarts, wheelbarrows, and two-wheeled tractors).

The Chinese have shown considerable innovation in the design of tricycles for proper gearing and effective braking, while the Indians have not. (This suggests that the subservient role of the tricycle driver in India may have led to neglect from designers.)

A 1974 commission in Papua New Guinea recommended that 1) private cars were inappropriate to PNG conditions, 2) use of bicycles and pedal drive car vehicles should be promoted, 3) a bicycle path system should be built in Port Moresby, 4) the feasibility of using electric vehicles powered by PNG’s substantial hydro resources should be investigated and 5) aerial ropeway systems for mountainous areas should be investigated.

“Simple vehicles can play an important role in the transport systems of all developing countries, yet their use is largely confined to the urban areas of Asia and their design is often based on imported technology rather than on local requirements.”

Proceedings of ITDG Seminar “Simple Vehicles for Developing Countries” Information Paper No. 3, Disk 26, File 26-667, ITDG Transport Panel, report, 66 pages, 1977, out of print in 1985.

The papers included in this report cover “vehicles presently in use and prototypes currently being developed; the role of transport in agriculture; the use of simple vehicles in labor-intensive construction; manufacturing strategies for local production; and the transport needs and economic constraints in the rural areas of developing countries.” The need for improved wheels and tires for rural dirt roads is noted as an important research priority. Thirty-six photos are included.

One of the more interesting motorized vehicles discussed is the TRANTOR, a multi-purpose vehicle able to serve as a truck, tractor, and passenger vehicle. The

TRANTOR has been designed to be economically produced in developing countries in very low quantities (1000 units a year). Simple machine tools and jigs are used in production, and components are grouped into similar categories to allow the benefits of a large batch production to be achieved without requiring the production of a large number of completed vehicles.

This report provides additional evidence that an appropriate technology approach to rural transport would be considerably different from the prevailing approaches. “It is a technical fact that the design of roads in developing countries is dictated by the characteristics of the private car and the lorry (truck). The ‘desired’ speed that it is assumed car drivers want dictates the overall horizontal and vertical alignment of the road, whilst the frequency and load carrying capacity of the lorries that will use it decide the strength of the road’s structure. It has never been shown that either or both of these vehicles is in any sense necessary, much less optimum, for development to take place. The possibility that other, simpler and probably cheaper vehicles might be more appropriate to needs does not appear to have been given serious consideration …. The simpler and thus most probably lighter the vehicle, the cheaper the cost of having an adequate road.”

Contributing to the above problem is the fact that in developed countries “there appears to be a misunderstanding about the nature of movement demands (in the developing countries). For passenger transport the existing buses and various forms of share taxis probably meet demands very well. But for goods transport the available evidence suggests that the fundamental demand is for the movement of small consignments over relatively short distances. Smallholder agriculture, almost by definition, gives rise to limited crop surpluses and farm inputs.”

The Design and Manufacture of Low-Cost Motorized Vehicles, Disk 27, File 26-690, book, 190 pages, by Ian Barwell and Alan Smith of I.T. Transport for ILO/Habitat, 1988, £13.50 from ITDG.

An overview of a wide range of low-cost vehicles, showing how they are made, and proposing certain widely relevant improvements. In most cases “manufacture” of these vehicles really amounts to local metal fabrication of body extensions, truck beds, and so forth, while industrially produced motorcycles and motor vehicle engines are used as the power source. Suspension systems, braking systems, and hitches are among the subtopics covered. Lots of production details are provided.

It is clear that small vehicles could play a much larger role in the transport of people and goods in developing countries. Anyone fabricating such vehicles will find some useful new ideas in this collection.

Appropriate Industrial Technology for Low-Cost Transport for Rural Areas, Disk 26, File 26-650, booklet, 54 pages, UNIDO, 1979, Document No. ID/232/2, available free of charge from Documents Unit, UNIDO F-355, P.O. Box 300, A-1400 Vienna, Austria.

A 24-page background paper entitled “Appropriate Transport Facilities for the Rural Sector in Developing Countries” by I.J. Barwell and J.D. Howe of the IT

Transport Panel is the most valuable part of this booklet. It provides an insightful and thorough examination of the elements of appropriate rural transport technology (both equipment and roads), and what actions policymakers and R&D groups can take in support of such technology.

The authors note that crucial on-farm transport technology has been almost totally neglected, along with virtually all of the low-cost technologies of the traditional sector: backpacks, bicycles, hand-carts, wheelbarrows, animal packs, and animal carts. The road networks do not effectively serve the majority of the population, but in fact subsidize the privately-owned imported motor vehicles and can bring real disadvantages to the rural poor (e.g., by destroying local crafts through transport of manufactured goods into the area). “Few vehicles have ever been designed specifically to meet the needs of developing countries. Their use in developing countries indicates not that they best meet transport needs but rather that they are better than anything else currently available.” The authors note a variety of existing basic traditional vehicles which should be improved and more widely used.

Three Wheeled Vehicles in Crete, Disk 26, File 26-669, paper, 10 pages, by Alan Meier, Pub. No. UCID-3968, free from the author, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.

A three-wheeled vehicle has evolved in Crete, Greece, and reached widespread use in the rural areas in just 10 years. There are now 20 local factories producing these vehicles. Most have an 8-12 hp rope-started diesel engine. For many of these vehicles the engine can be converted in l/2 hour to a rototiller for agricultural use.

“The vehicle appears to have been in part responsible for the economic revival of agriculture in Crete. The three-wheelers borrowed much of their early technology from two-wheeled rototillers but quickly evolved into a unique vehicle.” The rapid development and widespread use of these vehicles suggests they fill an important need for rural transport in less developed countries.

Appropriate Technology in Rural Development: Vehicles Designed for On and Off Farm Operations, Disk 26, File 26-651, catalog, 150 pages, 1978, free to development organizations from Regional Development Unit, Transportation Dept., World Bank Publications, Box 7247-8619, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19170-8619, USA.

A catalog with brief descriptions of vehicles that are produced and sold commercially around the world, that could be used in rural areas of developing countries. The information comes from the manufacturers and has not been verified independently. There are more than 100 photos included. Good as a summary of the range of rough terrain motorized vehicles designed in the industrialized countries: motorized tricycles and 3-wheeled vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, small tractors, small trucks, and hand tractors. Though a few animal-drawn carts and tricycles are shown, there is unfortunately little information included on the range of transport options affordable to the poor majority in developing countries.

The Manufacture of Low-Cost Vehicles in Developing Countries, Disk 26, File 26-665, booklet, 31 pages, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, 1978, Document No. ID/193 (Sales No. 78.II.B.8), UNIDO, P.O. Box 300, A-1400 Vienna, Austria, out of print.

This is a report of a meeting that discussed the obstacles to wider use of low-cost vehicles. An interesting variety of motorized vehicles are described, many of them from India and the Philippines. These include motorized bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles (often with a sidecar), three-wheelers (150 to 1200 cc engine) and small trucks (600 to 1600 cc engine).

Particularly for the 3 and 4-wheeled vehicles, the pattern has been first to import, then assemble, then partially produce vehicles locally. This has prevented radical innovation in design that might have led to vehicles more suitable to developing country circumstances.

A number of points are made in the report which suggest that perhaps the widespread use of small motors on existing non-motorized vehicles could provide additional power and speed where needed, while avoiding the need for enormous investment in high-speed, heavy vehicle roads. This might allow improved traditional vehicles to recapture some of the activity now monopolized by the imported high-speed cars and trucks. Transportation activities would thus remain.in the hands of a broad section of the society.

In India there have “been moves to motorize cycle rickshaws, and at least two companies manufacture small two-stroke engines and conversion kits for fitting to rickshaws. One of these … uses a 35-cc, two-stroke general purpose engine developed for agricultural and other use. It is used to provide chain drive to only one of the back wheels, which makes a differential unnecessary.” Power packs for bicycles are also manufactured in India.

In the Philippines “about 90 percent of the motorcycle population is fitted with side-cars.” In the countryside, these vehicles perform quite well on rough roads and paths.

“In terms of capital, space and economic volume, the requirements for making simple two-stroke engines are all only a fraction of those for manufacturing conventional four-cylinder engines. The technical requirements, although still exacting, are also much lower.”

“In a world where high-performance vehicles did not exist, the required road structure and system of traffic regulations would be considerably different from that of either an industrial or pre-industrial economy …. Rigorous traffic separation reinforces the advantages of the more powerful vehicles.”

Much of this report indicates that the traditional non-motorized transport vehicles have survived because they are better suited to existing needs for many tasks. Imported vehicles (and imported designs) suffer from high cost, difficulty of repair, lack of smooth supply of spare parts, high fuel consumption, and poor durability when operated over rough terrain. Thus there would appear to be an opportunity for low-cost motorized vehicles to replace many of the functions of the more expensive machines. Rather than argue for this, however, the expert group discusses ways to eliminate indigenous non-motorized vehicles: “The possibility of designing a motorized competitor for the rural bullock cart was discussed …. Indeed, it is the extent that low-cost vehicles replace the more primitive means of transport that will effectively measure their success.” The failure to consider vehicles in the light of who makes and owns them is a serious shortcoming here.

A different, more socially appropriate approach would defend the role of existing vehicles such as bullock carts, and try to improve them rather than eliminate them. If hidden subsidies (in the form of more costly road construction required for high-speed heavy vehicles) were removed, low-cost vehicles might favorably compete with larger vehicles in many activities.

Electric Vehicles: Design and Build Your Own, Disk 26, File 26-660, book, 210 pages, by Michael Hackleman, 1977, Peace Press, out of print.

This book does not give very many specific construction details, but it does describe the basic principles of the design of small electric vehicles. You will need to know basic electrical theory to use this book.

Electric vehicles are not effective off of hard surfaced roads, and may require frequent battery recharging during a full day of use. The vehicles presented in this book can carry a couple of people but not heavy loads. Unless there are major future technological advances in battery efficiency, battery weight reduction, and solar generation of electricity, it seems clear that electric vehicles will remain too expensive and inefficient for transporting people or things (especially away from surfaced roads).

A better alternative for low-cost motorized vehicles and power packs for small vehicles and bicycles appears to be small internal combustion engines perhaps.using fuels from biological processes (such as alcohol). But if you are interested in designing electric vehicles you should find this book useful. Many illustrations.

Boatbuilding Manual, Disk 26, File 26-673, book, 240 pages, by Robert M. Steward 1980, 1987 (third) edition $29.95 (order no. 60160) from International Marine Publishing Company/Tab Books, P.O. Box 40, Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania 17294, USA.

In this book, traditional wooden boat-building is explained in a systematic, textbook style that employs abundant illustrations, tables and photographs. Boat construction is a field with a large number of unfamiliar technical terms, a fact that makes many books very difficult for the novice to use. Happily, this manual makes the entire subject, from choice of materials through detailed construction procedure, accessible to the careful reader without oversimplifying.

“Instead of using a protractor to measure a bevel each time you take one off, make yourself a simple bevel board as shown in Figure 8-9(a). Use a piece of plywood about 3.5 inches wide and mark off angles from zero to about 30 degrees. Slide the adjustable bevel along the left edge of the bevel board until it lines up with one of the angles and read it off.”

“When a bevel is marked on a piece of stock to be sawn, it must be designated as either ‘under’ or ‘standing’, marking the piece UB or SB. This is most important, and after you have ruined a few pieces, you will understand the principle.” There are not plans for a specific boat, but valuable information for completing a boat of virtually any design are provided. Alternative materials for hulls are covered briefly in the text and a list of recommended books on these and other aspects of boatbuilding is included.

New Working Watercraft, Special Report from the National Conference on Applications of Sail-Assisted Power Technology, Disk 27, File 26-681, book, 94 pages, by James W. Brown, 1981, out of print. (For general information on the techniques described below, write to Kamberwood International Services Inc., P.O. Box 550, North, Virginia 23128, USA.)

This book presents the case for the role of low-cost, lightweight, sail-assisted boats in maintaining or revitalizing small-scale fishing. Based on personal experience and consultancies in Africa, the Pacific and the Philippines, the author has adapted multi-hull design and cold-molding construction to create unique and ingenious craft. Many years of experimentation with new designs and alternative materials for high-performance sailing multi-hulls are apparent in the evolution of the designs presented. Most impressive is the resourcefulness and cultural insight shown in matching these designs to conditions in fisheries in the South.

Costs are kept low through maximizing the use of currently available local materials and reducing dependence on “alien” technology and petroleum. A patented system (termed “constant camber”) is described for creating molded panels which can be sewn and glued together to create seaworthy hulls. This system alone, which circumvents exacting and tedious boatbuilding procedures, is high recommendation for the approach. Other features that distinguish the design(s):

a) human power can be used;

b) the working platforms are inherently stable;

c) small, non-marine, air-cooled motors can be used;

d) training time for local production is minimal;.e) prices can be competitive with existing indigenous craft.

This book does not include everything required to produce boats and is currently out of print. However, a packet of materials termed the “Constant-Camber InfoPak” is available for people interested in applying the technology in development projects or private enterprise. The contents are periodically updated, and the US $25.00 purchase price includes a minimal patent royalty for licensing an introductory boatbuilding project.

Worthwhile reading.

Fishing Boat Designs: 1: Flat Bottom Boats, Disk 26, File 26-661, book, 46 pages, by Arne Fredrik Haug, 1974, $7.50 from UNIPUB.

“The paper contains a selection of designs of flat bottom boats suitable for fishing and transport work in lakes, rivers and protected coastal waters. The paper and the designs were prepared to provide detailed technical information to boatbuilders and fishery officers ….”

The designs are intended to be built by people having basic carpentry skills and either some boatbuilding experience or a few weeks of training. Building procedures and timber selections are covered.

“The boat designs presented here are suitable where low cost, or ease of construction, are all-important factors and where a somewhat reduced sea-worthiness … can be accepted, or where extreme shallow draft requirements are an over-riding consideration.”

Materials needed for construction are wood, galvanized nails and screws, caulking compound, wood preservative and sealer, and caulking cotton. The boats could be built with only hand carpentry tools, but a table-saw and hand-held electric drill would be useful. The boats are powered by pole, oar or motor; some of the boats could be modified for sail power with the addition of side-mounted keel boards.

Handbook of Artisanal Boatbuilding, Disk 27, File 26-692, book, 131 pages, text in both English and French, by R. Lefebre, 1979, FAO, $9.50 from UNIPUB.

This handbook sets down in a straightforward way the main points of establishing a small-scale boatbuilding industry where none formerly existed. Identifying and training capable local carpenters, establishing open-air workshops, and organizing for the production of very small rudimentary plank-built boats are among the topics covered. The text, presented in both English and French, is clear and systematic and closely matched to explanatory illustrations and photos.

The contents are based on an FAO project in Africa where fishing had previously been conducted in dug-out canoes. Though the circumstances of this project were unique, and such a simple approach will not always have as great an impact, there are valuable insights here for readers interested in establishing a cottage industry. The boat design presented is applicable for inland fisheries in other non-industrial areas. The emphasis is on full employment (hence the artisanal rather than industrial approach), low capital, and product quality, all of which make this a useful reference for project officers in small-scale economic development.

Boats From Ferrocement, Disk 26, File 26-658, book, 131 pages, UNIDO, 1972, ID/72, Sales No. 72.II.B, out of print.

“There is no doubt about the urgent need in most developing countries for.fishing boats that will help solve their acute food problems and for boats that will facilitate transportation in areas where rivers and channels are the most commonly used communication routes …. Ferro-cement boat-building is perfect for developing countries. It requires a minimum of qualified personnel, imported raw materials and capital equipment and the boats produced compare favourably with those made from other materials in terms of price, performance, maintenance costs and life span.”

This book is a very detailed survey of the equipment, materials and methods used in ferrocement boatbuilding. Many sources of further information are mentioned.

“The basic qualities that make ferrocement ideal for boat construction are the ease with which it can be moulded to any shape, and the unit weight per square foot.”

Anyone building ferrocement boats will find many specific instructions in this book, but there are no complete boat plans.

Boatbuilding with Plywood, book, 278 pages, by Glen L. Witt and Ken Hankinson,1978; 1989 edition available for $25.95 from Glen-L Marine Designs, 9152 Rosecrans, Bellflower, California 90706, USA.

Plywood has many advantages as a boatbuilding material for amateur and small-scale builders. The type of wood, and more importantly, the type of glue used to laminate the thin wood panels will determine if the plywood is suitable for marine applications. Plywood boats can be faster and easier to build and lighter than those made from alternative materials, but care must be exercised to benefit from these characteristics.

Where most boatbuilding books treat plywood as a material for interiors and above-deck construction, this book gives detailed instruction for building boat hulls from plywood. Each step is illustrated with numerous photographs and clear two-dimensional drawings. The boat examples provided are mostly recreational craft with the high standards of construction for performance and appearance common in affluent areas. But quality construction (along with good maintenance) is more critical with plywood than with perhaps any other material, and this book provides the amateur builder with insights evidently gained through long experience. Not every design can be built with plywood, and not all plywood is suitable for boatbuilding, but when all the conditions are met, this book should be useful.

The Dory Book, Disk 26, File 26-674, book, 275 pages, by John Gardner, 1978, available from the International Marine Publishing Company, Mystic Seaport, Mystic, Connecticut 06355, USA.

“Of the simplest design, built from the most common materials, the dory has the ability to handle the most demanding tasks.” Relative ease of construction, low cost, and legendary seaworthiness are the main advantages that have made this a popular design for small work-boats. Primarily distinguished by the use of wide planks (increasingly replaced by plywood) and the lack of a keel, dories have remained relatively unchanged for several centuries. Where conditions require seaworthiness and suitable building materials are available, this design may still find application.

This book begins by tracing the evolution of the dory with a scholarly, yet quite readable account of pre-industrial and early industrial boatbuilding. There is.also a compendium of dory designs with construction details and text that provides guidance on the relative merits of each variation. But the most useful part (comprising about one-third of the book) is the section on layout and construction, aimed at the home or small-enterprise builder. The focus on one type of boat, and the abundant, clear three-dimensional drawings make the construction procedures much easier to understand here than in many boatbuilding books. A chapter on new materials could go into greater depth, but does provide helpful information for those with access to alternative building materials. First time or amateur builders should find this book very useful either by itself or as a supplement to more technical boatbuilding books.

Small Boat Design, Disk 27, File 26-684, book, 79 pages, edited by Johanna Reinhart, ICLARM, 1979, $12.00 from International Specialized Book Services, 10230 South West Parkway, Portland, Oregon 97225, USA.

A conference on small boat design held in New Caledonia in l975 generated the 16 papers assembled in this book. Considerations for the design of work-boats are briefly covered by a variety of representatives of fishery development organizations and the marine industry. Many papers focus on the South Pacific, though the information is applicable elsewhere. While the new-found energy consciousness of the mid-70s is evident, a “small” boat is considered to be anything from a home-built craft powered by a recycled lawnmower engine up to a high-speed boat propelled by marine diesel motors costing several thousand dollars. This broad focus reflects the variety of conditions in which fishing is carried out but may limit the usefulness of the book for many readers.

The collection begins to cover the complexity of matching small boat design to the needs of fishers in less developed regions. While not as comprehensive or systematic as it could be, it contains many important points for planners and builders in small-scale fisheries. Some of the topics are: engine selection, building materials, person-hour estimates for construction, design requirements for a “typical” village fishery, loan repayment calculations, etc. A list of addresses for the participants is included.

Sails as an Aid to Fishing, Disk 27, File 26-693, book, 139 pages, by MacAlister Elliott and Partners for the Overseas Development Administration, 1988, free from MacAlister Elliott and Partners Ltd., 56 High Street, Lymington, Hampshire SO41 9AH, England.

“Fuel is often expensive now and locally in short supply. Today, when sails are fitted to working boats, they can reduce running costs and make fishing easier. We can retain the advantages of engines for efficient fishing, but can also save fuel, add speed and increase safety, by the use of sail …. In good conditions, a well-designed sail fitted to a small fishing boat can move the boat as fast as the engine will, and on many days of the year will save almost all the fuel. And if the engine breaks down, you can always sail to safety, whatever the distance.”

“Most boats can make use of sails. The few exceptions are:

•boats with little natural stability, such as some small dug-out canoes;

•boats that are too weak to carry rigging forces, such as reed boats or rotten boats;

•boats that simply have no space on deck for sailing equipment.”

There is a clear explanation of how a sail works, and recommendations for boat improvements. Detailed instructions are provided for making masts, spars, rigging, and sails. Five different sail types that cover most needs are also presented in detail.

Installation and Maintenance of Engines in Small Fishing Vessels, Engineering Applications: 1, FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 196, Disk 27, File 26-689, book, 127 pages, by Brian Mutton, 1979, $9.50 from UNIPUB or FAO.

This is intended to be “a basic handbook covering all details of installation (of small diesel engines into small boats) and the necessary maintenance procedures to be adopted for small boatyards, boat owners, and fishermen.”

“On wooden boats the craft must be in the water and left for several days before trying to align the engine. This is because a wooden boat changes its shape as the wood becomes soaked, and it may take time to do that.

“On boats made of other materials, e.g. fibreglass, the alignment may be done as soon as the boat is in the water.”

Housing and Construction


 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

It is not so much ‘how to build’ as ‘how to choose techniques and materials appropriate to a given situation.’ ”
—letter from a volunteer in Papua New Guinea

There are housing problems everywhere, in industrialized as well as developing countries. In Jakarta, Manila, Mexico City, and Calcutta millions of squatters camp indefinitely in structures made of cardboard, sheet plastic and flattened cans, on strips of land beside canals and railways, sometimes even in the shadows of high-rise “low-cost” housing. In the urban United States, the great majority of homeowners could not afford to purchase the homes they live in today if they had to do so at today’s prices. In these and countless other urbanizing areas, the cost of a place to live is rapidly outstripping the ability of ordinary people to pay. Inflation of land values triggered by the growth of gigantic urban centers is one factor. The cost of energy intensive manufactured building materials, which inevitably rises faster than the other costs of living, is another.

In developing countries, the amount of attention and resources that public works administrations and development assistance agencies devote to housing is probably second only to that devoted to water supply. And the history of housing projects, like that of water supply projects, is largely a history of disappointments worldwide. In Housing by People (this section), John Turner notes that,

” … it is common for public agencies to build houses or flats to standards which the majority cannot afford, nor can the country possibly subsidize them on a large scale. On top of this, it is not unusual for governments to prohibit private building of the type of housing the vast majority can afford and are satisfied with.”

Turner argues that governments should not provide houses built to arbitrary specifications, but should instead make building codes more flexible and provide opportunities for secure access to land. An appropriate housing strategy would rely on a community’s initiative, thrift, and ability to organize and turn local resources.to advantage to meet the basic human need of shelter. Many of the entries in this section provide illustrations and documentation of the power and validity of this approach.

Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy (Architecture for the Poor) helped to inspire a re-examination of traditional architecture and materials. Fathy and others emphasize the ingenuity contained in indigenous building systems, which have tended to evolve to fit local conditions. “Far from being backward or illogical as is often supposed, many traditions do in fact have an underlying rationale or system” which has developed in response to local climatic conditions and availability of materials, states Iran’s Development Workshop. Appropriate technologies for housing should begin with and extend these indigenous systems. Self-help, owner built housing, says John Turner, “is very much a process, intimately related to the user’s needs and finances, and very much in the user’s control. The idea of housing being the production and distribution of a number of units by the government or a private institution to a passive, recipient population is one of the misleading models set up by Western countries.” The Development Workshop adds: “Control, participation and culture emerge more easily in an operation that uses local resources, is labor-intensive, is small-scale, and has continuity with local traditions.”

Most of the entries in this chapter cover construction materials and techniques for building houses, other buildings, and bridges. The emphasis is on simple methods, whose principal advantages are twofold: they are inexpensive and they can be used by people to build their own homes. Wood-framed and stone structures are relatively low-cost in many areas. Earth is the most important building material, providing housing for the majority of the world ‘s population. The thermal properties of earth also make it well-matched to passive solar design requirements in many climates. Several books in this section discuss construction of houses made with monolithic earth walls, soil-cement bricks, and adobe bricks. There are two sets of plans for the construction of hand-operated presses that can be used to make soil-cement blocks. Improved techniques for small-scale brickmaking is the topic of several books. Two more entries cover the principles of design of underground buildings; one of these presents an owner-builder approach.

Bamboo has a long history as a flexible, safe, low-cost building material, and is plentiful today in many parts of the tropics and subtropics. Three entries cover some recent innovations and results of research in structural uses for bamboo, as well as reinforcing applications in plaster, cement, and stucco roofs and walls.

Ferrocement—a strong, thin sheet of cement reinforced with mesh—is a more recent technology with potential applications wherever durable waterproof walls, roofs, or hulls are required. It is widely used in water tank and boat construction. The techniques are described in three entries in this chapter, and in books on water tank construction (WATER SUPPLY chapter) and boat building (TRANSPORTATION chapter).

All of the following books are reviewed below and available for sale as part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CDs 19-21* or DVD 3-4):

Adobe as a Socially Appropriate Technology for the Southwest
Adobe Craft
Appropriate Building Materials
Bamboo as a Building Material
Bambu—Su Cultivo y Aplicaciones
The Book of Bamboo
Brickmaking in Developing Countries
Build a Yurt
Building to Resist the Effect of Wind: A Guide for Improved Masonry and Timber Connections in Buildings
Building with Earth
Chawama SelfHelp Housing Project
Comparison of Alternative Design Wheelbarrows for Haulage in Civil Construction Tasks
Construction of Trail Suspended Bridges in Nepal
Construction Reference Manual
Construire en Terre
Earth for Homes
Earth Sheltered Housing Design
Farm Structures in Tropical Climates
Ferrocement a Versatile Construction Material
Ferrocement: Applications in Developing Countries
The $50 and Up Underground House Book
Grasses—Their Use in Building
Handbook for Building Homes of Earth
House Form and Culture
Housing by People
How to Build a House Using SelfHelp Housing Techniques
The Kenyan Low Cost Modular Timber Bridge
LowCost Country Home Building
LowCost Housing: Prefabricated Panel System
Making Building Blocks with the ClNVARam Block Press
Making the Adobe Brick
Manual for Building a Rammed Earth Wall
A Manual of Building Construction
Manual of Rural Wood Preservation
Manual para la Construccion de la CETARam
Mud Brick Roofs
Mud Mud
Nuevas Tecnicas de Construccion con Bambu
1000 to 3000 Capacity Brick Kiln
The Owner Builder’s Guide to Stone Masonry
The Owner Built Home
The Owner Built Homestead
Painting Inside and Out
Plastic Sheeting
Pole Buildings in Papua New Guinea
Popular Manual for Wooden House Construction
Rice Husk Ash Cement
Roof Constructions for Housing in Developing Countries
Roofing in Developing Countries
Rural Building: Basic Knowledge
Rural Building: Construction
Rural Building: Drawing Book
Rural Building: Reference Book
Selection of Materials for Burnt Clay Brick Manufacture
SelfHelp Construction of l Story Buildings
SelfHelp Practices in Housing
A Series of Articles on the Use of Bamboo in Building Construction
Shaft Lime Kiln
Shelter II
Simple Bridge Structures
Small Scale Brickmaking
Small Scale Lime Burning
Small Scale Manufacture of Burned Building Brick
Small Scale Production of Cementitious Materials
Soil Block Presses
Soil Cement
Standard Trail Suspended and Suspension Bridges
The Timber Framing Book
Traditional Bridges of Papua New Guinea
Traditional Suspension Bridges in Taplejung District
The Use of Bamboo and Reeds in Building Construction
The Use of Wheelbarrows in Civil Construction
When You Build a House
Wood Handbook
Wood Frame House Construction
Wooden Bridges
The Yurt


Housing by People: Towards Autonomy in Building Environments, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-604, paperback book, 169 pages, by John Turner, 1977, Pantheon, Random House, out of print in 1988.

With many years of experience working in low-cost housing projects in developing as well as developed countries, Turner has written a penetrating analysis of the housing “problem,” with broad implications for other kinds of appropriate technology work.

Turner proposes “a radical change of relations between people and.government in which government ceases to persist in doing what it does badly or uneconomically— building and managing houses—and concentrates on what it has the authority to do: to ensure equitable access to resources which local communities and people cannot provide for themselves.” Throughout the world, so-called “low-cost housing” projects have repeated the same mistakes by setting a material standard (including building codes) ill-suited and far too expensive for the poor majority. Backed by many case studies, Turner argues that within the constraints of poverty, the poor succeed rather well in providing for their housing needs when they have land tenure and access to materials. “The economy of housing is a matter of personal and local resourcefulness rather than centrally controlled, industrial productivity.”

“Personal and local resources are imagination, initiative, commitment and responsibility, skill and muscle power, the capability for using specific and often irregular areas of land or locally available materials and tools; the ability to organize enterprises and local institutions; constructive competitiveness and the capacity to cooperate.” The existence and vitality of “dense local communication and supply networks open to local residents” appears to be a key factor in the “material savings and human benefits of owner-building, rehabilitation, and improvement in the United States.”

Government activities in housing often prevent or hamper the use of these resources and networks. Improved income opportunities, guaranteed land tenure and building codes based on broad function rather than specific requirements would have more effect on housing for the poor than most direct housing projects.

In developing countries subsidized housing has proved a failure, for it usually is occupied by the relatively well-off and the ultimate costs of subsidized housing for all those who need it are far beyond the capability of governments to provide. Whereas, “By far the greatest financial resources are the actual savings of the population from their own earnings, and these are under their direct control.This probably represents between 10 and 15 percent of all personal incomes. It is roughly equivalent to all taxes obtained from incomes and retail sales in an economy such as that of Mexico.”

Two non-monetary factors that play a very important role in housing for the urban poor are accessibility (to jobs) and security (of ownership, including the ability to sell so as to recoup the costs of improvements made). By concentrating solely on physical standards for dwellings, without reference to such factors, authorities cannot understand the decision-making context faced by the poor.

The author concludes with “an argument for the redefinition of housing problems as functions of mismatches between people’s socioeconomic and cultural situations and their housing processes and products; and as functions of the waste, misuse, or non-use of resources available for housing.”

Architecture for the Poor, paperback book, 234 pages, by Hassan Fathy, 1973, $14.95 from The University of Chicago Press, 5801 Ellis Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60637- 1496, USA.

Hassan Fathy, an Egyptian architect, argues that housing should be based on traditional forms of architecture, not those forms imported from the West. The people themselves should be intimately involved with the design, building and ownership of their own housing. When the government or private contractors step in and build for the people, the result is often housing and planning which is vastly out of touch with local social, cultural, economic and environmental conditions.

“This book describes in detail Fathy’s plan (during the 1940s) for building the village of New Gourna, Egypt, from mud bricks, employing almost exclusively such traditional Egyptian architectural designs as enclosed courtyards and domes and vaulted roofing. Fathy worked closely with the people to tailor his designs to their needs; he taught them how to work with the mud bricks, supervised the erection of the buildings, and encouraged the revival of such ancient crafts as claustra (lattice designs in the mudwork) to decorate the buildings …. In addition, Fathy worked out an economic and organizational base, so that the production in the village derived from local crafts and organizational patterns.”

Although bureaucratic and other problems prevented the completion of New Gourna, today Fathy’s ideas are becoming more accepted as rural development becomes more of a priority throughout the world.

Self-Help Practices in Housing: Selected Case Studies, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25633, book, 129 pages, 1973, U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, out of print in 1985.

Adequate housing for the growing poor communities in urban areas of developing countries is the subject of this report. Case studies of self-help housing projects are included from cities in Colombia, El Salvador, Senegal, Ethiopia, and the Sudan. These projects were undertaken by local and national government agencies, sometimes in cooperation with private organizations. Timetables and size of project varied considerably. The Senegal project involved 90 white-collar and other middle-class family heads in training and construction over a period of four years. The dismantling and rebuilding of houses for 1000 families on new land in Port Sudan was accomplished within one month.

The studies show how certain key factors affect the outcome of any self-help housing scheme An accurate assessment of loan repayment capability is one important consideration. Continued access to jobs, distribution of manual skills in construction work groups, kind of supervision, and timing of construction work periods are equally important factors that affect the success or failure of a project. The studies also show that communal activities essential to the success of the new neighborhoods, such as maintenance of waste disposal systems, depend on involvement of local leaders and groups from the earliest planning stages. An important reason for the success of the Port Sudan project, for example, was the fact that many people “had already organized themselves into teams which worked in the docks according to the arrival and departure of ships. In this way, the whole team would be free from work two or three times a week” and available to dismantle shacks and rebuild houses together. Other projects, which strictly screened participants according to need and eventual ability to repay, sacrificed these reservoirs of self-help potential by breaking them up in the selection process.

The sometimes difficult language used in this report may present problems for readers with limited English ability.

Chawama Self-Help Housing Project, Kafue, Zambia, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-589, book, 80 pages, American Friends Service Committee, 1975, out of print in 1985.

“Between 1968 and 1973, a project to improve the conditions of life of squatters in Kafue was conducted jointly by the Government of Zambia, the Kafue Township Council and the American Friends Service Committee. The objective of the project was not only to provide acceptable housing with suitable amenities but also to develop patterns of cooperation among the residents which would create the.conditions of a viable and harmonious community.”

This well-illustrated report covers all aspects of the project design, planning, and construction. The successful effort in community building at Chawama was the result of thorough surveys of the origins, nature and needs of the squatter settlement. Included is a good review of CINVA-Ram block construction, the building method the Chawama community finally chose.

“The project may be seen as an instance of productive collaboration between a foreign voluntary agency and an African government as they joined together to meet a pressing social need. The AFSC found that it could respond to the government’s explicit request for assistance with a flexible and informed approach, as well as with a philosophical outlook in respect to self-reliance which was in harmony with the governments. Zambian participation in all aspects of the project, from planning to actual construction, was central to the philosophy underlying the program’s development. Thus the AFSC played a catalytic and facilitating role, not a controlling one.”


House Form and Culture, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-603, book ,135 pages, by Amos Rapoport, 1969, $27.75 from Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 07632, USA.

A thoughtful look at the way that cultural factors have influenced the form of houses. Although this is not intended to be a book on the practical side of building design, it is full of interesting examples of the ways different peoples have solved a wide variety of problems. Includes about 100 drawings.

“Construction and materials are best regarded as modifying factors … they do not determine form. They merely make possible forms which have been selected on other grounds …. Given a certain climate, the availability of certain materials, and the constraints and capabilities of a given level of technology, what finally decides the form of a dwelling, and moulds the spaces and their relationships, is the vision that people have of the ideal life.”

Recommended reading for those involved in low-cost housing. This book will hopefully dispel any lingering ideas that standardized box-shaped houses built of industrial materials should be imposed upon any people.

Farm Structures in Tropical Climates: A Textbook for Structural Engineering and Design, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-667, book, 410 pages, edited by Lennart Bengtsson and James Whitaker, 1988, from FAO/SIDA Cooperative Programme, P.O. Box 30470, Nairobi, Kenya.

This is a broad compendium of construction information, some of it particularly useful to engineers or readers interested in learning some engineering, but most of it accessible to the general reader as well. This book is probably of greatest value to a reader with some prior construction experience who wishes to try some unfamiliar construction techniques and materials.

Major topics include presentation (drawing and model building), surveying, building materials (including traditional ones), structural design, loads on building components, the process of building production, climate and environmental control, planning, crop storage, animal housing, small farm buildings, farm dwellings, roads and fences, and water supply. None of the topics are covered in great depth, but the light treatment given to each is often sufficient to provide the reader with a good basic understanding. This material has been assembled from a.great many other references, some of them also reviewed in the A.T. Sourcebook. Readers looking for in-depth coverage of any of these topics should look at the narrower references reviewed here.

Shelter, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-635, paperback book, 176 pages, edited by Lloyd Kahn, 1973, $16.95 from Home Book Service, P.O. Box 650, Bolinas, California 94924, USA.

“This book is about simple homes, natural materials, and human resourcefulness. It is about discovery, hard work, the joys of self-sufficiency, and freedom. It is about shelter, which is more than a roof overhead.”

Filled with photographs and drawings, Shelter is a tribute to native, traditional, rational, and recent innovative building styles. Included are articles on a variety of structures from animal dwellings to a survey of human habitats; from the so called “primitive” to the futuristic

The authors note that there is much to learn “from wisdom of the past: from structures shaped by imagination, not mathematics, and built of materials appearing naturally on the earth.”

A highly recommended and stimulating book, Shelter has some precise working drawings on basic designs, such as hipped, gabled, or shed roofs, concrete floors, wooden framing, windows and doors. At the back of the book, there happen to be some brief but very good drawings, photos, and text on sail windmills. For those seeking design inspiration, Shelter is required reading.

Shelter II, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-637, large paperback book, 224 pages, by Lloyd Kahn, 1978, $8.95 from Home Book Service, P.O. Box 650, Bolinas, California 94924, USA.

Hundreds of photographs and drawings in Shelter II give an inspirational view of indigenous building styles and techniques, from Nebraskan sod houses to the thatched stick dwellings of nomadic Kenyan shepherds. The author discusses the ways structure has related to culture, physical environment, and basic shelter requirements. The book emphasizes innovation and diversity among human dwellings, but the appropriateness of traditional building technologies is also a unifying theme. “Practical builders, wherever they live, work with simple techniques and what is most readily at hand: earth, thatch, stone milled lumber or abandoned city buildings. Weather, purpose, materials govern design. Tradition, experience, practice determine building technique.”

Some of the most practical shelter alternatives for North America—stud-frame and adobe construction—are explored. An introduction to design of small single family houses is followed by a guide for pouring the foundations, framing, and roofing a stud-construction house. Also included are sections on interiors, bungalows, yurts, cabins, and dismantling buildings for scrap.

The book concludes with pictorial case studies of homeowner rehabilitation in Massachusetts and cooperative homesteading in gutted buildings in New York. A fascinating book with a broad range of design ideas and useful information. Certain to fire the imagination of all kinds of owner-builders.

Appropriate Building Materials, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-584, book, 324 pages, by R. Stultz and K. Mukerji, 1981, revised 1988, Swiss Francs 30.00 from SKAT; also from ITDG and TOOL; also available in Spanish.

A useful reference book for people who wish to research various traditional and promising new materials for use in construction of one-story buildings. The book begins with “Fundamental Information on Building Materials,” which discusses soils and soil testing, binders, concrete fibrocement, natural fibers, bamboo and timber. Next, “Fundamental Information on Building Elements” covers components of buildings such as foundations, bricks, and roofing. Finally, examples of each building element are given.


A Manual of Building Construction, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-616, book, 360 pages, by the Rev. H. Dancy, 1948, revised 1975, £8.95 from ITDG; also available from TOOL.

Originally published by the Sudan Interior Mission in 1948, this book was reprinted by ITDG because it has “exceptional value as a practical field building manual.” Written for missionaries as amateur builders/supervisors, the text occasionally reflects the paternalistic thinking of the time.

A comprehensive manual, it deals with the essential elements of permanent dwelling construction, relying on block, brick, adobe, or stone walls. The author makes effective use of illustrations. The book does, however, reflect only Western ideas of proper house construction and design. It does not draw on the building methods, designs and experience of other cultures, nor does it touch on the innovative new building techniques such as ferrocement and the various methods for making stabilized earth blocks.

The Owner-Built Home, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-624, book, 367 pages, by Ken Kern, 1975, out of print, spiral-bound photocopy available for $23.00 postpaid (airmail extra) from Owner Builder Publications, P.O. Box 817, North Fork, California 93643, USA.

“The Owner Built Home is intended to be a how-to-think-it book. Alternatives to the professionally executed, contractor built home are presented in text and through non-detailed sketches.” It is mostly concerned with design considerations for all facets of home building.

The areas covered include heating and natural ventilation, living space design, floor, wall, and roof design. One-third of the book covers how to work with different kinds of building materials—adobe blocks, rammed earth, concrete, wood frames, pole frames, stone masonry. This is perhaps the most useful, practical information contained in the book; it gives a good view of the principles and techniques of building with rammed earth, for example.

The rest of the sections on general design are somewhat directed towards Americans building their own homes. However, the materials sections provide a very good practical overview.

This book does not tell you how to build a house—it tells you all the things to consider in designing a house.

The Owner-Built Homestead, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-625, book, 400 pages, by Ken Kern, 1975, $13.00 postpaid (airmail extra; two or more copies $8.00 postpaid each to readers in developing countries) from Owner Builder Publications, P.O. Box 817, North Fork, California 93643, USA.

This book is a supplement to The Owner Built Home (see review above). It covers how to develop the land around a home—a garden, orchard, pasture, wood lot, water supply, wells, fish-culture ponds, fencing, barn, shop and outbuildings. Also included are an oil drum stove design, an adobe barn and silo (for grain storage) design, animal shelter and feed management, waste disposal methods such as composting privies, and nutrition. Like The Owner Built Home, this book is an overview of the great many topics included, and a broad compilation of skills and techniques. There is again a slant towards North American applications. For their value as very complete skills, ideas and methods guides, we feel Ken Kern’s books are extremely useful and lend themselves very well to use in other countries.

Construction Reference Manual, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-652, book, 113 pages, by Donald Batchelder et. al., Experiment of International Living, Brattleboro, Vermont, out of print.

This training manual, based on experiences in Uganda, covers a variety of Western and local construction techniques. These include, for example, poured perimeter foundations using concrete or a clay/ash/cowdung mixture, rough framing for doors and roofs, and anthill kilns for brick production.

How to Build a House Using Self-Help Housing Techniques (Como Fabricar una Casa Usando Tecnica Ayuda Propia), Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-605, illustrated book, 50 pages, 1974, stock number O23-000-00276-1, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., out of print.

“This manual is designed as a graphic means of demonstrating the basic methods and techniques used in building a home, whether it be a one room cabin or a more complicated dwelling. It has been conceived as a basic technology handbook for use by either individuals or groups who have the goal of building, or adding to, a home of their own, and for those involved in self-help home building projects.”

Each of the many drawings presents a complete idea, so a knowledge of English or Spanish is not essential. The drawings are clear and simple. This manual is intended to be an idea book, to show the reader different methods of constructing each part of a house. For example, there is a section which illustrates methods of making floors using either wood, concrete or stone. There are also sections on walls, roofs, windows and doors, water supply systems, sewage disposal systems, how to measure and lay a foundation, and a comparison of house designs appropriate to different climates: rainy, hot, hot and humid, and temperate areas. The designs are distinctly Western.

Rural Building: Reference Book, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-672, 244 pages, by John van Winden, 1986, Dfl. 18.00 from TOOL.

This is the first in a four-volume set written for use by both teachers and students in technical training courses on simple building techniques for rural areas. It was developed based on many years of teaching experience in Ghana. This volume introduces basic hand tools used in construction, along with commonly used rural building materials (wood, sand, aggregates, lime, cement, concrete). Steel mesh and reinforcing bars, pressed blocks, concrete blocks, plywood, fasteners, and door and window fittings are all briefly covered.

Rural Building: Basic Knowledge, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-669, book, 184 pages, by John van Winden, 1986, Dfl. 16.25 from TOOL.

This second volume in a four-volume set introduces basic construction techniques. It begins with masonry wall construction (including corner bonds, cross junction bonds, and attached piers and their footings). Site preparation and foundations, and concrete floors are also briefly covered.

Basic carpentry techniques are the other major topic of this book, but this is limited to light carpentry used in small items, not wood framing for buildings. (Readers seeking details on how to make doors, windows and lightweight roofs should refer to another volume in this series entitled Rural Building: Construction.)

Rural Building: Construction, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-671, book, 301 pages, by John van Winden, 1986, Dfl. 21.50 from TOOL.

Of the books in this series, this is the most complete on construction techniques. Major topics include site preparation and foundations, masonry walls, doors and windows and their frames, scaffolding, arches, reinforced concrete lintels over doorways, timber roof construction including trusses, plastering, reinforced concrete slabs, concrete floors, and locks and fittings.

Rural Building: Drawing Book, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-670,126 pages, by John van Winden, 1986, Dfl. 14.25 from TOOL.

This is another introductory drawing book, but the emphasis is on drawings used in building construction plans. Topics include scale drawings, foundation plans, floor plans, elevations, cross sections, and site plans. This is part of a four-volume set of books used in a vocational training course for rural builders.

Self-Help Construction of 1-Story Buildings, Peace Corps Appropriate Technology for Development Series Manual M-6, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-632, book, 235 pages, by Peter Gallant, 1980, available to Peace Corps volunteers and development workers from Peace Corps; also available from ERIC (order no. ED241769) and NTIS (accession no. PB85 245066/AS).

The author stresses the importance of involving the people who will use a building in the process of planning and design. The text balances basic concepts and techniques for planning with a more technical presentation of basic construction principles using low-cost materials available in most parts of the world. In particular, concrete, bamboo, and adobe are discussed, with separate chapters to deal specifically with latrines and construction in earthquake areas. Examples of cut-out “human measuring pieces” will help in arriving at room size and laying out of floor plans. Clearly illustrated.

Construire en Terre, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-592,265 pages, by Doat, Havs, Houben, Natuk and Vitoux (CRATERRE), 1979, Groupe de Recherche sur les Techniques Rurales (GRET), out of print.

Produced by a group of architects, this French language manual is one of the best books available on earth building construction. Rammed earth (pise), adobe,.compressed blocks, soil analysis, soil stabilization, and earth roofs are the major topics.

This exceptional book contains hundreds of drawings and photos documenting a wide range of indigenous earth construction techniques from Sub-Saharan Africa the Middle East, China, Latin America, North Africa and elsewhere. Use of local materials and owner or community labor in house construction has obvious advantages in developing countries; in fact, more than half the world’s population is estimated to live in earth buildings. This volume may contribute to a cross-fertilization of ideas and thus better exploitation of the possibilities offered by earth construction in the South.

Handbook for Building Homes of Earth, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-602, book, 158 pages, by L. Wolfskill, AID, 1962, accession no. PB-179 327, paper copies $23 domestic, $46 foreign; microfiche $8 domestic, $16 foreign; from NTIS; also available in French (title: Batir en Terre, accession no. PB80-149024, same prices).

This is a very complete, all-purpose manual covering all types of earthen housing construction including adobe, rammed earth, and pressed blocks. The author also discusses different types of soils, testing soil, soil stabilizers, building site preparation, foundations, roofs, and preparing soil. There are detailed chapters on how to make different kinds of blocks, and how to build structures with them.

The contents will be useful in many different climates and regions—for example, there is information on soil cements applicable to humid, tropical climates where protecting earth structures from rain is important. Photographs and illustrative drawings are included.

Earth for Homes, HUD Ideas and Methods Exchange #22, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-593, book, 70 pages, Housing and Urban Development, publication no. PB-188-918/ 7, domestic prices $19.00 plus $3.00 handling, overseas prices $38.00 surface mail plus $4.00 handling (airmail extra), from NTIS.

This book is very similar to Handbook for Building Homes of Earth (see review); it covers almost all of the same material but is not as detailed. For example, all the different methods of earth wall construction are covered in one chapter here. Soil stabilizers, earth floors and roofs, and general wall design considerations are discussed. There are only a few drawings and photographs. A good secondary reference book

Mud, Mud: The Potential of Earth-Based Materials for Third World Housing, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-620, book, 100 pages, by Anil Agarwal, 1981, Earthscan, Dfl. 15.50 from TOOL.

The author argues that mud-based housing (such as adobe, earth bricks, soil cement, etc.) may provide the only answer to the need for low-cost housing throughout the developing world. Written primarily to influence people making planning and policy level decisions, the book also presents useful information for the designer/builder in its survey of mud-based housing in 25 countries.

Building with Earth: A Handbook, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-673, book, 72 pages, by John Norton, 1986, £6.50 from ITDG.

A practical guide aimed at helping the reader decide when it is appropriate to.build with earth, and how to do so effectively, with an overview of the major techniques and considerations. Look here in particular for the section on testing soils with simple equipment and protecting walls from water damage (rendering). Other books more thoroughly cover specific techniques, such as rammed earth and vaulted roof construction.

Mud Brick and Earth Building the Chinese Way, book, 158 pages, by Ron Edwards and Lin Wei-Hao, 1984, $18.00 from Rams Skull Press, Box 274, Kuranda, Queensland 4872, Australia.

A magnificent, profusely illustrated treatment of traditional techniques of earth construction that are still practiced in China today. This book was intended for use by people wishing to apply these techniques themselves in Australia. Topics include mud brick production, rammed earth, pole mold walls (a much faster variation on rammed earth), rammed bricks (a cousin of compressed earth blocks), wattle and daub, fired bricks, plaster, and tile and thatched roofs. Special attention is given to foundations and piers. Cave and pit dwellings are also examined, along with an interesting assortment of fittings for doors, windows, and so forth.

A chapter on timber framing provides a nice look at a more economical version of post and beam construction that tends to utilize modest poles and posts, rather than the massive beams typically seen in references published in the United States.

“The pole mould system is ideal when there is a lot of wall to be built and the final finish is not of major importance. Some workers that I spoke to claimed that it was four to five times faster than building a rammed earth wall using conventional moulds. However, I think that part of this speed can be attributed to the fact that more workers can join in.” A group of ten family members produced 12.5 meters of 2.6 meter high wall in a single day. The key disadvantage of this system is that it leaves weak points between each section of wall, which are subject to erosion.

Manual for Building a Rammed Earth Wall, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-614, large illustrated booklet, 28 pages plus appendices, by L.A. and D.J. Miller, 1982, $8.00 postpaid from Rammed Earth Institute Intl., 2319 21st Avenue, Greeley, Colorado 80631, USA.

A concise book providing complete instructions for laying foundations, building and assembling form panels, and the earth tamping (ramming) process itself. Although the authors describe walls built for large homes in the U.S., the method has applications in many areas. Soil testing and stabilizing, making test blocks, and tamping tools are also covered.

“It is our experience that no concrete cap is needed on the wall. We recommend that you insert an eye bolt 12 inches long with a 12-inch piece of reinforcing rod through the eye of the bolt …. We have not provided the specifications and plans (for a house). That is beyond our abilities. We urge you to consult one of the many good books on house construction.”

Adobe as a Socially Appropriate Technology for the Southwest: Solar Adobe Sundwellings, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-582, report, 45 pages, by John Timothy Mackey, 1980, $20.00 from Center for Village Community Development, 1370 Townview Avenue, Suite 207, Santa Rosa, California 95405, USA

Adobe construction (using sun-dried earthen bricks) has been an ecologically.sound, low-cost building technique in many parts of the world for thousands of years. This paper examines the historical and current use of adobe in the southwestern U.S. Economic, social, and environmental considerations indicate that in this region, adobe is a truly “appropriate” technology: it is long-lasting conserves energy, uses local building materials, creates jobs, requires little capital, and “fits” culturally.

Adobe brickmaking and basic construction techniques are discussed, along with the thermal properties of adobe which have made it ideally adapted to passive solar construction in the southwestern U.S. Mesa Verde, Colorado is an ancient Native American city where ” ‘massive stone buildings are clustered under a cliff which protects them from the heat of the summer sun … at Chaco Canyon (another ancient community in New Mexico) … the buildings were terraced and the roofs of each succeeding unit provided a space outdoors to live and work in contact with nature. All day the sun’s heat was buried in these massive walls, and in the great cliff to the north, which also protected them from winter winds.’ ”

Making the Adobe Brick, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-613, book, 88 pages, by Eugene Boudreau, 1972, Bookworks, Random House, Inc., out of print in 1985.

Like several other books in this section, this one covers the basic operations in making adobe (mud) bricks. These include testing and choosing the proper soil, mixing the soil with a stabilizing agent (emulsified asphalt), and molding and drying the bricks using wood molds. Wall construction with the finished adobes is also discussed, as are Uniform Building Code requirements for construction with adobe in the United States.

Adobe Craft, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-583, book, 72 pages, by Karl Schultz, 1974, out of print in 1985.

In addition to detailed information on brickmaking, this book describes the production of reinforced poured adobe, a process that eliminates the need for bricks. The appendix contains a very good explanation of adobe construction methods, as well as how to use oil drums to make both a soil sifter and a mixer.

Soil Cement: Its Use in Building, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-640, book, 126 pages, by Augusto A. Enteiche G., 1964, 1980 edition $7.00 from UNIPUB, publication #E.64.IV.6; also available in Spanish and French.

“The compound of soil, cement and water, mixed in the proper proportions and compacted to the proper degree, constitutes “soil-cement.” This paper shows how soil-cement may be used at various stages in the construction of a house, together with a number of examples which may be helpful to anyone wishing to use this material for building purposes. Soil Cement is divided into chapters, dealing with basic facts and practical application on: knowing soils, soil as a construction material, the preparation of soil-cement, the use of soil-cement for housing, and accomplishments in soil-cement. The order of presentation, the terminology used, and the large number of illustrations, are all designed to make the instructions more readily understandable with a view to the greatest possible circulation and impact.”

The author was a staff member of CINVA (Inter-American Housing and Planning Center) in Colombia, South America, where the CINVA-Ram was developed (see Making Building Blocks with the CINVA-Ram). Soil Cement also cover the use of the CINVA-Ram for making building blocks.

This book covers the subject of soils and soil-cement very completely; it is comparable to Handbook for Building Homes of Earth (see review) in the amount of useful information it has; the difference is that it concentrates on the use of cement as a soil stabilizer, rather than including all forms of stabilized soil construction.

Soil Block Presses, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-660, book, 128 pages, by Kiran Mukerji, 1986, available from German Appropriate Technology Exchange, Dag Hammarskjold Weg 1, 6236 Eschborn, Federal Republic of Germany.

Around the world there are quite a variety of hand-operated presses for the production of building blocks from compressed soil. This book is the only place to find a summary of the design options for such presses.

The manufacturer’s address and the rate of block production are provided for each design. Rates of production are mostly 40-60 blocks per hour with 3 workers with the hand operated equipment, although one design claims as much as 200 blocks/hour with 4 workers. The automated and semi-automated equipment generally produces from several hundred to as much as 1500-2500 blocks per hour with 3-4 workers. Much of the book consists of data sheets from the manufacturers.

Making Building Blocks with the ClNVA-Ram Block Press, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-612, instruction manual, 21 pages, 1966, $6.25 (overseas orders add $3.00 for surface mail, $5.00 for airmail), from VITA.

“The CINVA-Ram is a simple, low-cost, portable machine for making building blocks and tiles from common soil. The press, made entirely of steel, has a mold box in which a hand operated piston compresses a slightly moistened mixture of soil and cement or lime” Blocks made with the CINVA-Ram are easier to make than concrete blocks, are low-cost, and can be made on a building site and so avoid transportation costs.

“This manual combines the experience of four people who used the CINVA Ram and figured answers to the inevitable problems of detail as they came up day after day.” It is intended as a manual for fieldworkers and supervisors, giving instructions on how to use the Ram, including: testing and mixing the soil, operating the Ram to make blocks, curing the blocks, and construction using pressed blocks.

Subtitled ‘A Supervisor’s Manual,’ this book is intended as an instruction manual on how to use the CINVA-Ram. The Ram can be purchased for about US $250.00 (1976) from METALIBEC Ltda, Apartado Aereo 11798, Bogota, Colombia.

Two sets of plans for similar earth-block ramming machines are reviewed elsewhere (Assembly Manual for the Tek-Block Press, from Ghana, and La CETA-Ram, from Guatemala). See also review of Soil Cement: Its Use in Building and the accompanying drawing of the CINVA-Ram, in this section.

La CETA-Ram, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-608, booklet, 14 pages, by Roberto E . Lou Ma, 1977, Centro de

Experimentation en Tecnologia Apropiada (CETA), Guatemala City, Guatemala, out of print.

This Spanish language booklet (with English summary) provides drawings and photos of a machine for making pressed soil-cement blocks. This machine is unusual in that it makes two holes in each block so that reinforcing rods for.earthquake protection can be used.

Only one of the drawings, showing only the block itself, includes dimensions. All other dimensions of the machine will have to be calculated from this. The thickness of steel to be used, and the precise positioning of the pivot points are not provided, which is likely to cause the reader some difficulty.

The construction details provided for the Tek-block press (see review) are much more complete. Readers may wish to combine the two designs, for use in earthquake areas.

Manual para la Construccion de la CETA-Ram, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-617, booklet, 29 pages plus plans, by Roberto E. Lou Ma, CETA/USAC, 1981, $12.00 postpaid (includes set of plans for the machine) from Centro de Experimentation en Tecnologia Apropiada, 15 Avenida 14-61, zona 10, Guatemala City, Guatemala; available in Spanish only.

This manual, in Spanish, contains more detail and better diagrams (with dimensions) than La CETA-Ram. However, it lacks the English summary of the earlier version.

Assembly Manual for the Tek-Block Press, booklet of plans, 26 pages, by John Dye, $5.00 from Department of Housing and Planning Research, Faculty of Architecture, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.

This is a complete set of drawings for the production and assembly of a hand operated press for making soil-cement building blocks. The blocks are about 4% cement and 96% soil. “These soil-cement blocks are nearly as strong and water resistant as sandcrete blocks, while containing about one-third as much cement.” The blocks are made at the building site, greatly reducing the amount of materials that must be transported. The press can also be used to make sun-dried blocks (no cement added) for very low-cost construction.

These plans are for a simplified, strengthened version of the machine, which has been widely used in Ghana for more than 5 years. The basic concept is similar to the CINVA-Ram.

“Although a shaping machine, milling machine, and planing machine are all specified, it is possible to fabricate the machine if only one of these is available.” The parts are all welded together. The press can be operated by one person. Up to 10 people can be employed, at which point the machine is being operated continuously while digging and mixing of soil, and stacking of new blocks is going on. Output is 200 to 400 blocks per day with a 3 person crew.

Brickmaking in Developing Countries, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-651, book, 88 pages by John Parry, Building Research Establishment United Kingdom, 1979, Dfl. 33.50 from TOOL.

A very well-presented discussion of the technologies and economics of brickmaking, this book especially examines the advantages of traditional producers over modern mechanized brick plants. Some of these apply to other labor-intensive vs. capital-intensive technologies as well. The traditional producers have low fixed costs and low total costs, and are able to vary output with market demand without affecting their economic viability. The major disadvantage of the traditional producer has tended to be variable brick quality— the author explores simple tools and techniques that can overcome this problem..Current practices in a range of developing countries are reviewed, and the scope for improvement is identified in each case. Well-illustrated and well-written.


Selection of Materials for Burnt Clay Brick Manufacture, Technical Bulletin #7, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-630, leaflet, 5 pages, by Papua New Guinea’s Building Research Station, 1970, out of print in 1985.

“The purpose of this bulletin is to provide instruction in the preliminary identification of suitable materials for burnt clay products.” Burnt clay bricks are made from clay, and then fired in a special oven (kiln). Simple tests to determine whether a material is suitable for use in burnt bricks are described.

Small Scale Brickmaking, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-659, book, 210 pages, ILO, 1984, $24.50 from VITA; also from ITDG, TOOL, and ILO.

This volume consists primarily of technical details on the various steps in brick production, and some possible improved technologies. There is more technical information here than in Brickmaking in Developing Countries, but the latter should be read first for its perspective on needed improvements in traditional production systems and its general observations on the economics of brickmaking.

The smallest production units of 1000 bricks per day capacity are the main concern of this book, but larger units are also described.

Small-Scale Manufacture of Burned Building Brick, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-639, booklet, 14 pages, by D. Thomas, $6.25 (overseas orders add $3.00 for surface mail, $5.00 for airmail), from VITA; also available in French and Portuguese.

“The purpose of this manual is to outline, in as simple a manner as possible, the details of making and burning clay brick suitable for domestic building. The scope of the manual is confined to ‘cottage industries’ …. The author has had personal contact with such brickmaking plants in both Central Mexico and Honduras.”

The booklet “explores the establishment and operation of a building-brick plant wherein nothing but ‘on-hand’ materials and labor will be utilized.”

This is a step-by-step guide that also covers important considerations such as the location of suitable clay deposits and the firing and cooling of the finished bricks. Includes illustrations of the kiln and the brick loading patterns.

1000 to 3000 Capacity Brick Kiln, Technical Bulletin #12, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25622, leaflet, 18 pages, by PWG Dept. of Works and Supply, 1973, limited supply, free to serious groups from DWS.

“A 1000 to 3000 capacity brick kiln has been devised by the Building Research Station, to meet the needs of small scale intermittent production of a durable material at the village level. The kiln is a rectangular construction with an internal dimension sufficient to stack to a predetermined pattern of a maximum of 3000 bricks within its walls.”

According to the authors, “the design has been made as simple as possible eliminating the need for skilled labor in its construction.” Their design appears to be an efficient one capable of creating uniformly durable bricks; significant if this characteristic is an important one in the reader’s area. This kiln is more complex than the one described in VITA’s Small Scale Manufacture of Burned Building Brick (see review). Also, this design doesn’t employ a flue system, and the fire box construction seems less flexible than in the VITA design (which could be easily enlarged to whatever capacity is desired).

A well-illustrated leaflet with a glossary of terms and detailed drawings.

The Owner-Builder’s Guide to Stone Masonry, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-623, book, 192 pages, by Ken

Kern, Steve Magers, and Lou Penfield, 1976, out of print, spiral-bound photocopy available for $23.00 postpaid (airmail extra; two or more copies $8.00 postpaid each to readers in developing countries) from Owner Builder Publications, P.O. Box 817, North Fork, California 93643, USA.

“The purpose of this book is threefold: 1) We show the inexperienced builder how to ‘lay up’ stone for various walls, how to ‘face’ building framework and how to ‘cast’ stone in a wall with a movable form; 2) … (we) acquaint readers with the native properties and the availability of usable building stone. Next to earth, there is no more universal nor less appreciated building resource than stone; 3) … (we) express the aesthetic satisfaction we three authors have experienced building with stone.”

The authors carry out their purposes well: teaching the basics of building with stone. The only significant lack of information is on the coverage of earthquake problems. The book covers building with or without concrete, and there is a glossary of masonry technical terms.

“When you trowel mortar use only as much as necessary to provide the bed with sufficient covering. Too much mortar will only squish out and cover the stone face. Do not trowel smooth the mortar; let the stone mash it down. In this way gaps will more certainly be filled. Once a stone is in place try not to move it. Any movement will weaken the bond between stone and mortar.”

Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-600, book, 192 pages, by Ken Kern and Steve Magers”>Fireplaces, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-600, book, 192 pages, by Ken Kern and Steve Magers, 1978, $10.00 (two or more copies $5.00 each to readers in developing countries) plus $3.00 per book postage and handling (airmail is extra), from Owner-Builder Publications, P.O. Box 817, North Fork, California 93643, USA.

“The traditional fireplace not only sends some 80 percent of the fire’s heat up the chimney but a goodly portion of the room’s heat as well.” This is a practical book on good fireplace design to overcome this basic disadvantage of fireplaces in home heating. Step-by-step construction techniques are presented. The authors discuss the qualities of different building materials: “Most stone cannot withstand intense heat; in a fire box it soon fragments … due to rapid surface expansion”

These specific skills and materials will be of most interest to readers in rich countries with cold climates. However, the general theory and principles presented are relevant in any setting. Another high quality Owner-Builder book.

The Timber Framing Book, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-643, paperback, 178 pages, by Stewart Elliott and Eugenie Wallas, 1977, $19.95 from Housesmith’s Press, P.O. Box 157, Kittery Point, Maine 03905, USA.

Timber-framing is a method of housing construction using interlocking notches and grooves combined with wooden pegs to connect the major wooden.beams. The method is labor-intensive and requires tools not common to modern. Western carpentry but still common and inexpensive in many developing countries: the adze, auger, draw knife, chisel, and axe.

“Timber-frame houses built in Europe as early as the fourteenth century stand proud and sturdy to this day. Compared to conventional construction, timber-frame structures can be 20 to 30 percent less expensive to build. Less energy is expended in both the milling and the construction of the frame …. If you have some basic carpentry skills, you and some helpers can frame a house using the information in this book. If you do not, and have a carpenter in mind who has not previously used timber framing, he can use this book to teach himself how.” Where wood is plentiful the timber-framing methods of housing construction can be used to build houses of great durability (but you will have to look elsewhere for preservation information). Where wood is scarce, soil-cement, adobe and other wood-conserving construction materials would be more appropriate. There are illustrations and pictures on almost every page, and a thorough glossary.

Wood Handbook: Wood as an Engineering Material, Agriculture Handbook No. 72, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-662, book, 432 pages, by Forest Products Laboratory, USDA, 1974, out of print.

An in-depth reference book on the physical properties and characteristics of wood, this covers North American and some other hardwood and softwood species. Shrinkage, working qualities, decay resistance and mechanical properties (e.g., shear strength, modulus of elasticity) are discussed. Other topics include fasteners, beams and columns, glued-laminated timbers, plywood, and paint protection of wood. While the species listed here will not usually lee the same as those encountered in the South, the reader can get an idea of the range of values within which local species can probably be placed (e.g., in the selection of timber beam sizes for short bridges). A good place to look when you need a few important, hard-to-find numbers.

Pole Buildings in Papua New Guinea, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-627, booklet with design drawings, 41 pages, by Peter Lattey, Forest Products Research Centre, 1974, US $5.00 from the Forest Research Institute, P.O. Box 314, Lae, Papua New Guinea.

This book describes work with traditional designs from PNG using wooden poles to build houses, schools, and meeting centers. Twelve designs are presented, with drawings and photos. Also covered are details of how to connect poles at joints, and how to join the poles to walls using galvanized iron strips. The designs are based on the author’s actual experience in building in PNG. He used traditional building techniques, updating and improving them. The methods and the designs should be applicable to many places where wood poles are available for housing, if an effort is being made to use low-cost local materials, local labor, and simple construction techniques.

Wood-Frame House Construction, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-663, book, 223 pages, by L.O. Anderson, Forest Products Laboratory, USDA, 1975, revised edition 1989, $13.00 from Superintendent of Documents, USGPO.

Most houses in the United States are built using wood frame construction..This involves using wood 2″ by 4″ to build the structural portions that provide the strength, carry the weight of the roof, and hold the house together. Interior and exterior walls and the roof are then covered with other materials.

The technique requires an abundant supply of low-cost milled lumber, a condition not met in most developing countries. However, some elements common to wood frame construction can be usefully incorporated into other building systems. For this purpose, this is a useful reference.

Popular Manual for Wooden House Construction, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-656, book, 95 pages, by Instituto de Pesquisas Tecnologicas, Brazil, 1985, $12.00 (order no. E.90.III.E.6) from United Nations Publications, Sales Section, Room DC2-853, New York, New York 10017, USA; or $6.00 from UNIDO; also available from TOOL.

Hundreds of cartoons and drawings illustrate the construction of low-cost wood frame houses in this manual based on designs originally used in Brazil. The construction system presented is an interesting simplification of Western platform frame construction, and may offer ideas to readers seeking the advantages of this technique for special structures. It does require a good supply of milled lumber of consistent dimensions. The cost (US$50-60 per square meter, $4.635.56 per square foot), while very low by industrial country standards, averaged $2000 (40 square meters) for the 40 houses built in 1982. The author does not consider the severe space constraints faced by urban slum dwellers, the piecemeal construction strategy they commonly use, the extreme difficulty they have in raising such sums of money, or the likelihood that “low income” families able to raise $2000 would probably choose to invest it in a small business rather than a house.

The manual is intended for people without construction experience. Local language translations can be substituted for the English text. Wood species appropriate for the different components are identified for different parts of the world.

Low-Cost Country Home Building, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-610, book, 119 pages, by the Department of Environment and Planning, Australia, 1981, Aust. $19.95 for paperback from Hale and Iremonger Ltd., G.P.O. Box 2552, Sydney, N.S.W. 2001, Australia.

A thorough and innovative guide for low-cost rural home builders in Australia, this text should be very useful in many other regions and applications as well. Of particular interest is the information on siting and landscaping to affect the climate of the area immediately surrounding the home. Also contains useful construction information for non-conventional, non-manufactured building materials.


Low-Cost Housing: Prefabricated Panel System, Technical Bulletin No. 14, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-611, booklet, 39 pages, by D. Brett of Papua New Guinea’s Dept. of Works and Supply, 1974, K3.50 from Dept. of Works.

“To assist in providing accommodations for low income earners in PNG this bulletin outlines economies possible by using a prefabricated panel construction technique. Prefabricated building can maximize returns in material, labor and money. This bulletin explains a simple technique through which reductions in materials and construction time can significantly reduce other building costs.”

Contains construction techniques using these prefabricated walls (made from wood), assembly drawings for making the panels themselves, and photographs. The panels can be made locally using only hand woodworking tools.

Painting Inside and Out, USDA Home and Garden Bulletin #222, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-654, booklet, 26 pages, 1978, publication 203N, Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, Colorado, out of print.

Wood and other construction materials need paint for protection against the sun and weather, to ensure a long life of service. General advice on painting is contained in this booklet written for a U.S. audience. The recommendations regarding such topics as surface preparation, use of primers, effects of temperature extremes, etc., also apply to other parts of the world, although the paints available will vary.

Manual of Rural Wood Preservation, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-615, booklet, 27 pages, Forest Products Research Centre, 1975, US $5.00 from Forest Research Institute, P.O. Box 314, Lae, Papua New Guinea.

This is a practical manual for wood preservation techniques, useful in any tropical area where wood rots quickly or is eaten by termites. The areas covered include sections on wood destroying insects and fungi, building practice materials (including poles and woven bamboo), and treatment methods for rural areas (including sap replacement, use of C.C.A. and Octabor chemical preservatives). This last section outlines the various treatment methods in detail. The building techniques described will help in designing wooden structures to last longer.

Bambu—Su Cultivo y Aplicaciones, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-586, book, 318 pages, by Oscar Hidalgo Lopez, Bambutec, P.O. Box 54118, Bogota, Colombia, 1974, in Spanish, out of print.

Available in Spanish only, this book contains a wealth of information about the cultivation and applications of bamboo in construction, engineering, paper processing, and handicrafts. Extensive illustrations and detailed graphs help present the biology and technology of this “wonderful weed” from throughout the world. Some of the more unusual examples include a 225-meter bamboo bridge (with five supports) spanning the Min River in Szechuan Province, China; an experimental single engine airplane from the Philippines with wings and fuselage of bamboo; and a bamboo geodesic dome seating 2000 people built in Honolulu Hawaii.

Many variations of bamboo construction joinery, appropriate hand tools, low-cost housing, bridge building, preservation techniques, and bamboo-reinforced concrete forms and formulas are described in this fascinating book. Even those unable to read Spanish will find many ideas and much inspiration through the illustrations alone

Highly recommended.

Nuevas Tecnicas de Construccion con Bambu, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-621, book, 137 pages by Oscar Hidalgo Lopez, 1978, in Spanish, Estudios Tecnicos Colombianos Ltda., out of print.

A companion to Oscar Hidalgo Lopez’s epic Bambu—Su Cultivo y Aplicaciones, this volume provides information on cultivation of a valuable Colombian bamboo species, and several specific applications of bamboo in.construction. Featured are A-frame structures for coffee processing and low-cost housing and a soil-cement plaster on a split bamboo base as an innovative roofing material. Another application with a lot of potential is bamboo reinforcing of cement and concrete; here it is used in water containers, flat panels, and concrete beams (with technical information on strength).

The Book of Bamboo, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-650, book, 332 pages, by David Farrelly, Sierra Club Books, out of print.

An astonishing variety of bamboo uses for tools and structures are described in this book, along with a lengthy treatment of bamboo species and biology. The text knitting all of this together flows from fact to whimsy, from historical detail to philosophical wandering. English language readers now have something as voluminous and comprehensive as Oscar Hidalgo Lopez’s Spanish language books on bamboo.

Bamboo as a Building Material, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-585, booklet, 52 pages, by F.A. McClure, 1972 (revision of reports dated May 1953 and June 1967), accession no. PB-188 921, paper edition $17.00 in U.S., $34.00 overseas; microfiche $8.00 in U.S., $16.00 overseas; from NTIS.

The how-to material and many of the photos in this booklet have been reprinted in the VITA Village Technology Handbook. Shows techniques of fastening bamboo without the use of nails, and various uses of bamboo in building construction around the world.

One section is given to bamboo reinforcement of concrete; this is a reprint of a technical summary of conclusions from tests on concrete beams. Problems included bond between bamboo and concrete, and swelling that occurs when seasoned bamboo absorbs moisture from wet concrete.

While many houses have been built with only a machete, more refined or elaborate structures might require some of the handtools briefly described (no illustrations). The booklet also includes a lengthy list of bamboo types used around the world, and a 60-entry list of selected references up to 1953.

The Use of Bamboo and Reeds in Building Construction, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25645, book, 95 pages, U.N. Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs, 1972, out of print in 1985.

“Bamboos and reeds are the oldest and chief building materials in rural areas and villages throughout the world’s tropical and subtropical regions …. More people live in bamboo and reed buildings than in houses of any other material. Bamboo and reed construction is popular for good reasons: the material is plentiful and cheap, the villager can build his own house with simple tools, and there is a living tradition of skills and methods required for construction. This tradition has been augmented in recent years by experiments carried out principally in India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Colombia. The bamboo and reed housing is easily built, easily repaired, well-ventilated, sturdy and earthquake resistant.”

“Deterioration by insects, rot fungi and fire is the chief drawback of bamboo and reeds as building materials.”

This study was produced to inform government planners, extension officers, contractors and villagers of new or less well-known techniques of construction, and to stimulate additional research to improve the material properties and techniques.of building construction with bamboo and reeds.

Included are descriptions with photos of common uses of bamboos and reeds drawings of a wide variety of joints used in building with bamboo, a summary of research (now 25 years old) on concrete with bamboo and reed reinforcing, strength data on selected bamboo species used in construction, tools and species lists, and preservatives for different bamboo end uses. Some of the material was taken from Bamboo as a Building Material (see review).

A Series of Articles on the Use of Bamboo in Building Construction, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-658, 177 pages, collected by Dr. Jules J.A. Janssen, 1982, ITDG, out of print.

This welcome collection assembles a variety of practical bamboo articles in one place. Preservation techniques are followed by sections on the use of bamboo in housing, bridges, water supply, and concrete reinforcement. One article explains how to calculate the strength of bamboos for construction purposes.

Plastic Sheeting: Its Use for Emergency and Other Purposes, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-655,18 pages, by Jim Howard and Ron Spice, 1973, 1989 edition £1.95 from Oxfam Publications, 274 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7DZ, United Kingdom.

A basic introduction to polyethylene sheeting, its performance, and various means of fastening it on structures.

The Yurt, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-649, one large sheet of plans, by W. Copperthwaite, specify 10 to 12 or 17-foot ($15.00), 32-foot ($25.00), or 54-foot diameter yurt ($50.00), 30% discount for developing countries, from the Yurt Foundation, Bucks Harbor, Maine 04618, USA.

The Yurt is a circular dwelling that originates in Mongolia “where the prototype has for thousands of years been found to withstand the severe cold and violent winds of the steppes …. The purpose of this design is to reduce the skills needed in building to a minimum and still have a beautiful, inexpensive permanent shelter. The design of the contemporary Yurt is the result of 10 years’ effort to develop techniques that make it possible for children and unskilled adults to participate in a major way in the creation of their own shelter.”

Bill Coperthwaite created this particular design for North Americans. It remains simple in both materials and tools required, although some of the materials may be expensive in other parts of the world. It can be built by several people in just a couple of days.

The Yurt has a ten-sided plywood floor. The overlapping boards forming the exterior wall slope outward as they go up. They are held together at the top through the principle of the tension band (such as is often used in wooden buckets) with a 3/8-inch cable The roof slopes gently to the center of the structure, where a steel band forming a skylight keeps the roof from collapsing inward. This structure is evidently strong, and requires no complicated, expensive supporting beams.

Build a Yurt, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-587, book, 134 pages, by Len Charney, 1974, MacMillan Publishing Co., out of print in 1981.

Charney began with the Yurt Foundation’s design, and incorporated many of the original elements from the Mongolian Yurt back into it. The walls and roof are made from 1 x 2 inch strips arranged in a lattice network, rather than the solid.boards used by the Yurt Foundation. The positioning of the wood strips in combination with a 3/16-inch steel cable provides for an extremely stable strong structure.

The book has both text and drawings/photographs. The author describes in detail the construction steps, including building a wooden floor, using canvas, burlap, tar paper and/or wood shingles to cover the framework. The explanations are clear and easy to follow. Another good design.

The $50 and Up Underground House Book: How to Design and Build Underground, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-599, large paperback book, 112 pages, by Mike Oehler, 1978, $9.95 plus $1.00 postage from Mole Publishing Company, Route 4, Box 618, Bonners Ferry, Idaho 83805, USA.

Low-cost underground dwellings are characteristically damp and somewhat dark. The houses described in this manual are designed such that the pitch of the roof coincides with the slope of a hillside so that rainwater drains off and away. The author’s Post/Shoring/Polyethylene (PSP) construction method should result in a sealed, durable living space. “In the PSP system treated posts are set into the ground after excavation has been made. Beams for the roof are notched into these. Then a sheet of polyethylene is stretched around the outside of the wall. Shoring is placed between the posts and the polyethylene, one board at a time. The polyethylene is stretched snug, and earth is backfilled behind, pressing the polyethylene against the shoring and the shoring against the posts.”

The author has lived in his PSP home for several years and made some adaptations—an uphill patio, a foyer, side-facing windows—which enhance its appeal. Photos and clear sketches show these and other possible modifications.

Underground housing has been used in many parts of the world for thousands of years. It offers, in particular, protection from extreme weather conditions. This book may calm some of those who accuse appropriate technologists of returning to the age of the caveman, with a nice look at the owner-built technology end of the underground housing spectrum.

Earth Sheltered Housing Design: Guidelines, Examples, and References, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-594, book, 318 pages, by The Underground Space Center, University of Minnesota, 1979, $24.95 from Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 115 5th Avenue, New York, New York 10003, USA.

“The intent of this study is to present information which will be useful in the architectural design of earth sheltered houses. Part A discusses design guidelines and includes pertinent factors to be considered. Part B gives plans, details and photographs of existing examples of earth sheltered houses from around the country. These serve to show a number of different ways in which the design constraints discussed in Part A have been dealt with in individual designs. Part C is intended to ease access to further detailed information and includes an annotated bibliography.” This summary of design considerations for l underground housing, compiled by North American building professionals, emphasizes conventional materials and approaches (e.g., reinforced concrete and planning for mass production).The authors plainly are not advocating independent design by owner-builders:

“The provision of this design information should not be construed to mean that no outside assistance with design is necessary. In particular, the structural.design for earth sheltered houses should not be treated lightly and professional assistance in this aspect should normally be sought.” In fact, the kinds of earth-sheltered homes presented involve so much special architectural and construction expertise that they would be far too expensive for most families in rich countries.

Nevertheless, this book presents the best summary we’ve seen of factors influencing earth-sheltered housing design and siting. Sections discussing configuration and thickness of earth “blankets” covering wall and roof surfaces, and the cost vs. energy savings implied by these blankets are especially good. Also covered are basic strategies for heating, cooling, ventilation, drainage and waterproofing, and the fundamentals of passive solar design. Appendices discuss building codes and compare energy use in earth-sheltered vs. above ground houses.


Roof Constructions for Housing in Developing Countries, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-668, book, 165 pages, by Kiran Mukerji, Justin Whipple, and Rodolfo Escobar, 1982, available from GATE.

This is a thorough survey of low-cost roofing around the world conducted in 1979. Special attention is given to technologies that might fit the special needs of

Central America, which include protection from earthquake hazards. Some preliminary tests were conducted to explore the potential of using various combinations of local materials as “do-it-yourself” roofing materials for low income home builders. “To be successful, a new roofing system of this type should be simpler to install than thatch, lower cost than galvanized steel, free from insect or rodent infestation, significantly lighter weight than clay tile and should present no earthquake hazard.” These experiments did not immediately produce a successful new roofing system, but they did serve to identify some materials that seemed worthy of additional research.

The book is profusely illustrated with color photos and many line drawings.

In English and German.

Roofing in Developing Countries: Research for New Technologies, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-628, National Academy of Sciences report, 74 pages, 1974, paper copies $17.00 in U.S., $34.00 overseas; microfiche $8.00 in U.S., $16.00 overseas; from NTIS.

“The most serious obstacle to low-cost housing in the developing countries, regardless of setting or sophistication, is the lack of a low-cost roofing material that will provide satisfactory performance for a reasonable time under many adverse conditions …. In many developing countries roofing alone represents more than 50% of the total construction cost of a low-cost house.”

An attempt is made here to identify materials that would last longer than thatch/fired clay and yet be cheaper than imported corrugated iron. The use of plastics, foam composites, sulfur, carbonized plant materials, asphalt, hydraulic cement binders, agricultural and wood wastes, and ferrocement is discussed. The qualities and research needs for each of these are pointed out. The work of the Central Building Research Institute of India is briefly described. This is an overview only of promising new technologies—useful primarily to research institutions and universities. No illustrations.

Mud Brick Roofs, HUD Ideas and Exchange Series #42, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-619, booklet, 16 pages,1957 (reprinted 1978), Department of Housing and Urban Development, out of print.

This short booklet describes the use of mud bricks for vaulted roof and dome construction, as used in traditional Egyptian architectural styles. It uses as a specific example Hassan Fathy’s design for New Gourna (see review of Architecture for the Poor). The design of buildings using traditional vaulted arch construction is summarized; photographs of the process of building the arches are included. An appendix summarizes the technique for making mud bricks as done in Egypt.

The purpose of this booklet is to illustrate what can be done in housing using locally available materials and traditional construction techniques that are updated and improved.

Building to Resist the Effect of Wind, Volume 3: A Guide for Improved Masonry and Timber Connections in Buildings, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25588, booklet, 48 pages, by S. Fattal, G. Sherwood, and T. Wilkinson, U.S. National Bureau of Standards, 1977, stock no. 003-003-01719-1, out of print.

This report discusses the use of connectors in houses and other low-rise buildings to improve their strength under extreme wind conditions. Well-illustrated and clearly presented. One half of the report is devoted to detailed discussion of connectors in masonry wall construction. The other half illustrates fasteners used in timber wall construction.

Many of the solutions shown involve the use of manufactured metal parts (such as truss plates and sheet metal fasteners for timber construction or tiebars for masonry construction). These examples may provide ideas and patterns so that locally produced fasteners could be used to strengthen buildings.

The report is particularly useful in that it identifies the parts of masonry and timber houses in need of greater strength in high wind areas. It is particularly in the rapidly growing urban slums, where people live in makeshift housing often in precarious locations, that damage from hurricanes and typhoons is increasing. This is of great concern in the Philippines and the Caribbean nations. The techniques described in this report could be part of a low-cost strategy to minimize that damage.

When You Build a House: A Manual of Construction Details for Caribbean Houses with Emphasis on Protection from Strong Winds, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-648, booklet, 18 pages, by E.H. Robinson, $2.50 from Caribbean Appropriate Technology Centre, Caribbean Conference of Churches, P.O. Box 616, Bridgetown, Barbados.

Clear diagrams illustrate simple and useful methods for building better, more wind-resistant houses. This is not a complete construction manual, but is well worth looking over for ideas to incorporate into housing design.

Thatching: A Handbook, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-674, book, 51 pages, by Nicolas Hall, 1988, £6.50 from ITDG.

Well-made thatched roofs can last up to 50 years. This handbook takes the highly evolved craft of thatching and communicates the basic principles as they apply to the circumstances and materials common in the South. Tools and techniques are shown throughout. Most parts of the world have some kind of thatched roof tradition. This book.aims to build upon that tradition to produce roofs that perform better than traditional thatched roofs while keeping the advantages of local production of renewable materials for local use. Suggestions for minimizing the risks of fire, decay, and insect damage are provided. A well-made thatched roof is very well insulated.

“Thatch should be laid on a roof pitch of at least 45 degrees, preferably 50 degrees. This applies to all grass and palm thatch. The steep slope is needed so that water will run off from the roof surface with minimal penetration into the body of the thatch coat. At a pitch lower than 45 degrees the thatch will decay very rapidly.”

Grasses—Their Use in Building, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-601, leaflet, 5 pages, 1964, Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, Office of International Affairs, Washington D.C. 20410, USA; out of print in 1981.

This is a very brief survey of the worldwide uses of grasses, primarily for thatching. Scientific names for the grasses are given, along with the regions in which they are used. In addition, there is a discussion of the simple tools and methods generally needed to make thatched roofs.

Small-Scale Production of Cementitious Materials, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-665, book, 49 pages, by R.J.S. Spence, 1980, £4.95 from ITDG; also available from TOOL.

Increasing demand for cement and related building materials (lime, pozzolana, gypsum, etc.) is an established fact for developing countries, and this clear, well-documented study illustrates the good sense—in terms of investment, employment, energy consumption resource utilization, multiplier effect, and local self-reliance—of moving towards plants of small-scale, i.e. 2-200 tons/day production. Draws primarily on the divergent examples of India and China to show how market distortion, monopolistic tendencies, and dependent attitudes have shaped past policies and how they can be improved. Includes good basic descriptions of the production of cementitious materials. Recommended for anyone involved in housing, construction, and related small industries in developing countries.

Small-Scale Lime-Burning: A Practical Introduction, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-675, book, 185 pages, by Michael Wingate, 1985, £9.95 from ITDG.

This is indeed a welcome and practical introduction to a topic not well-covered elsewhere. Lime can be an important, low-cost substitute for Portland cement in many applications. It is produced in many developing countries, and could be more widely and more efficiently produced on a small scale. Raw materials, fuels, kiln design and operation, and hydration of lime are all well-covered.

Shaft Lime Kiln, Technical Bulletin #13, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-634, leaflet, 11 pages, by S. Mason,1974, Papua New Guinea, limited supply, from DWS.

This kiln is appropriate “where only small quantities of lime are required for building purposes, stabilization of soils and lime washes.” “The shaft lime kiln is a vertical circular opening cut into the side of a hill. The lining can be large boulders of limestone, which are replaced as they burn out, or bricks made from clay in the area. The capacity of the kiln is three tons of.hydrated lime per burn, which requires one week to produce.”

Brief instructions are provided, covering testing for limestone, construction, and operation of the kiln. The lime that is treated in this kiln is usable as a stabilizing agent for soil construction. There are very clear, dimensional drawings with English measurements. Bricks are needed for construction.

Rice Husk Ash Cement: Progress in Development and Application, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25 657, book, 45 pages, by Ray Smith, 1984, £5.95 from ITDG.

This report documents some of the different methods for small-scale production of rice husk ash cement on the Indian sub-continent. Burnt rice husks are combined with lime to produce a cement that is cheaper and of lower strength than Portland cement, but still suitable for most rural requirements. The cost advantages of rice husk ash cement over Portland cement are not always as dramatic as might be hoped, particularly when similar strength mortar mixtures are produced, and quality control problems, government subsidies on Portland cement, and adulteration are taken into account.

Ferrocement: Applications in Developing Countries, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-598, booklet, 89 pages, by a National Academy of Sciences panel, 1973, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., out of print.

“Ferrocement is a highly versatile form of reinforced concrete made of wire mesh sand, water, and cement, which possesses unique qualities of strength and serviceability. It can be constructed with a minimum of skilled labor and utilizes readily available materials. Proven suitable for boat-building, it has many other tested or potential applications in agriculture, industry, and housing.

“Ferrocement can be fabricated into almost any shape … is more durable than most woods and much cheaper than imported steel, and it can be used as a substitute for these materials in many applications …. Ferrocement construction does not need heavy plants or machinery; it is labor-intensive.”

The report examines the use of ferrocement for construction of boats in a Chinese commune, food storage silos in Thailand and Ethiopia, and water tanks in New Zealand. “The report considers the potential for further use of already discovered application, such as boats and silos, and identifies promising new application, such as roofs and food processing equipment.”

Ferrocement, a Versatile Construction Material: Its Increasing Use in Asia, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-597, book, 108 pages, edited by R.P. Pama, Seng-Lip Lee and Noel D. Vietmeyer, 1976, $2.00 (add $2.00 for airmail) from International Ferrocement Information Center, Asian Institute of Technology, P.O. Box 2754, Bangkok, Thailand.

These are the proceedings of a workshop held in Bangkok in November 1974. It offers a general survey of ferrocement use and research in Asia, including activities in Korea, Fiji, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Bangladesh. The economics, labor and materials requirements, versatility and durability are explored. Specific construction details are not usually included, although some of the things described—for example, the water jars— could be built using only the instructions in this book.

“In India ferrocement is being introduced for silos in sizes to hold about 1 to 30 tonnes of grain. Methods developed for ferrocement boat building are being.applied to these storage structures to obtain a structure of high quality.” Ferrocement products discussed include boats, housing, food and water storage silos and tanks, roofing, biogas plants, road surfaces and tube well casings.

Construction of Trail Suspended Bridges in Nepal: An Application of Traditional Technology, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-666, paper, 21 pages, by Prachandra Pradhan, 1981, United Nations University, Toho Seimei Building, 29th floor, 15-1 Shibuya 2-chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150, Japan; working paper, not for sale.

Traditional suspended foot bridges in some areas of Nepal are technically quite sophisticated and linked to cultural and economic aspects of village life in many fascinating ways. While modern suspension bridges being built by the government may be technically superior to the locally built bridges, the local bridges are built at a fraction of the cost of the government ones, and they utilize broad community participation and locally available materials. Because they reuse cables which are purchased used, the traditional bridges may not be as strong as the government ones, but this seems to be offset by better maintenance by the community. This paper is a fine example of the important role of traditional and indigenous technology in community development.

Traditional Suspension Bridges in Taplejung District, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25661, book, 100 pages, by Jim Rutherford, Max Leisibach, and Herbert Rice, December 1978, SATA/SKAT, out of print.

Several traditional designs for effective suspended and suspension bridges have evolved in Nepal. This book contains the observations and conclusions of a study of 24 bridges built with one of these traditional bridge designs. The authors concluded that these bridges are structurally sound. Some suggestions are made regarding some of the minor disadvantages of these designs. Unfortunately, many of the photographs have reproduced poorly. Readers wishing to pursue the topic further are directed to sources of reports on post-1978 experiences of building improved versions of these bridges.

Standard Trail Suspended and Suspension Bridges, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-641, 2 volumes 400 pages, by Ministry of Works and Transport, Roads Department, H.M.G. of Nepal and the Swiss Association for Technical Assistance, 1977, out of print in 1985.

“This manual for construction of suspension bridges will be quite helpful to the engineers who will construct suspension bridges in Nepal. It contains the details of methods of surveying, calculations, and design procedures.”

This set of books is specific to steel cable unstiffened suspension and suspended trail bridges. Spans described range from 40 to 170 meters. Includes bridge design, structural analysis, survey of bridge sites, cost estimates, construction practices, and maintenance. Most sections have examples of calculations, necessary engineering tables, and ample photos, plans or sketches. The manuals contain a wealth of information, but this is mostly in a form only useful to engineers. Poorly organized, these books may be very confusing to one without previous experience in the subject. The many sections have different formats and no continuous explanatory text.

Traditional Bridges of Papua New Guinea, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-644, book, 137 pages, by Jeff Siegel,1982, $9.50 from the Liklik Buk Information Center, Papua New Guinea University of Technology, PMB, Lae, Papua New Guinea.

Numerous photographs and diagrams show how traditional suspended foot bridges are made in Papua New Guinea using only locally available materials. The materials include wood, bamboo, tree bark, vines, cane, and stones. Construction details for specific bridges are given including time and number of people required for construction, methods used, materials, and lifespan. The first of a series to be published by ATDI.


Wooden Bridges: UNIDO’s Prefabricated Modular System, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25664, booklet, 16 pages, 1983, Dee (doc. PI/88) from UNIDO; also in Spanish and French.

This short booklet with color photos describes a simple road bridge design which can be prefabricated in 3-meter long wooden sections and hauled to the site. The span can be up to 30 meters, and the bridge can carry a live load of up to 40 tons.

“The standardized components … do away with the need for expensive and scarce engineering design for each bridge. The components can be made in small workshops, transported without heavy lifting equipment and, once the abutments are built, erected in a few days using various tripod, cable and winch arrangements. The expected lifetime of the bridge is between 15 and 25 years.”

The Kenyan Low Cost Modular Timber Bridge, Available in the  AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-653, paper, 34 pages, by J.D. Parry, publication no. PB81-214595, paper copies $17 domestic, $34 foreign; microfiche $8 domestic, $16 foreign; Tom NTIS.

Reporting on tests of the same bridge described above (Wooden Bridges UNIDO), the author concludes that this is indeed an interesting design with some advantages, but assigns it a lower safe span (24m maximum vs. 30m) and lower safe load limit (20 tons vs. 40 tons) than does the UNIDO booklet. The main disadvantage of this type of bridge appears to be that the road approaches at both ends must be at least 2.5 meters above the expected high water level so that the bridge trusses will remain above water; this may involve extra costs. Detailed construction drawings of the bridge are provided; these are not included in the UNIDO booklet.

“There are also several comparatively low cost alternatives to this design that should not be overlooked. In countries where locally-grown timber is available in the requisite sizes, whole log or rectangular section timber beam bridges can be built at low cost over spans of up to 10m, or up to 15m if hardwoods are available. If the site conditions are favourable for the erection of piers, multispan bridges with timber beam decks will be the cheapest solution, as has been adopted in the Kenya Rural Access Roads Programme …. Bridges constructed with other materials such as reinforced concrete, plain concrete (for arch bridges), rolled steel joists with timber or concrete decks, and prefabricated steel … will normally be the choice for spans greater than 12m where permanent or semi-permanent bridges are required. They are however likely to be between two and four times as expensive as the Kenya modular timber bridge …. Simple reinforced concrete slab bridges are however very satisfactory for short spans and many are built on rural roads in Kenya each year, as in other developing countries.”

Simple Bridge Structures, Project Technology Handbook No. 2, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25638, book, 28 pages, by Project Technology/Schools Council, 1972, Heineman Educational Books, out of print.

This British book introduces students to basic bridge designs. Included are class activities to test models made of different kinds of wood. A well-illustrated set of experiments demonstrates the properties and functions of beams, frames, and columns in bridges and other structures. Simple methods for calculating the forces acting on the members of a framework are explained.

Comparison of Alternative design Wheelbarrows for Haulage in Civil Construction Tasks, World Bank Technical Memorandum No. 1, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-590, booklet, 22 pages, World Bank Transportation and Urban Projects Department, 1975, out of print.

Wheelbarrows can, in many situations, be a very efficient means for transporting heavy materials. This study compares wheelbarrows with one or two wheels, with solid and pneumatic (air-filled) rubber tires, and with ball bearing and bushed (simple, smooth-surface to smooth-surface) bearings. The report concludes “… that a lightweight, single-wheel barrow with a scooter tire and ball bearing wheels is the most economical type of wheelbarrow for earth haulage.” Includes diagrams of three models.

The Use of Wheelbarrows in Civil Construction, World Bank Technical Memorandum No. 13, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 25-646, booklet, 26 pages, 1975, World Bank, Transportation and Urban Projects Department, out of print.

This memorandum follows up on Comparison of Alternative Design Wheelbarrows for Haulage in Civil Construction Tasks (this section) with more discussion of design features relevant to civil construction applications.


Design of Medical Buildings is a remarkable book on the use of local building techniques and architectural styles for low-cost medical buildings; see HEALTH CARE.

Small Farm Grain Storage also includes some information on ferrocement construction techniques; see CROP STORAGE. The design of solar heated and cooled houses is the subject of books reviewed in ENERGY: SOLAR.

Small Scale Cement Plants describes the economics of small scale vertical shaft cement kilns in China; see LOCAL SELF-RELIANCE.

Energy: Biogas


 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

The use of methane gas plants as a source of fuel and fertilizer is a practice only recently introduced in this century. The process of bacterial decomposition has occurred in nature since life began—plants and animals die and are recycled to sustain life on the planet. In the presence of oxygen, organic material “composts” (undergoes aerobic decomposition). When decomposition occurs in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic conditions), methane gas is produced, and the liquid remainder is rich in nitrogen and other nutrients.

The natural occurrence of methane (the bubbling gas seen in ponds where animal manures have been dumped) can be duplicated. Water-tight and air-tight containers (called “digesters”) are built, either as pits lined with bricks, concrete or stabilized earth (if this can be waterproofed), or as steel, concrete, or brick tanks. Manures and other organic wastes (after being suitably diluted) can be stored and processed by either the “batch” or “continuous” methods. Premixing chambers, digestion tanks and effluent discharge ponds are linked by pipes. The gas is collected in storage tanks and distributed by smaller gas pipes to serve as a fuel for cooking, lighting, or operating small engines. There are important factors to control in operating an effective methane plant—temperature, pH, detention time, loading rate, carbon/nitrogen ratio and other variables. Different designs and techniques based on local environmental factors and cultural practices have evolved over the last 30 years.

The term “biogas” is now used throughout the world rather than “methane gas” to describe the fuel produced through anaerobic fermentation of manures and vegetable matter in digesters. Biogas is generally between 40 and 70 percent methane, with the remainder consisting of carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and other trace gases.

While the prospect of generating fuel and fertilizer from organic wastes is an attractive one, significant problems and debate persist about the value of biogas in addressing the energy needs of poor villages in the South.

“Biogas technology represents one of a number of village-scale technologies that are currently enjoying a certain vogue among governments and aid agencies and that offer the technical possibility of more decentralized approaches to development. However, the technical and economic evaluation of these technologies has often been rudimentary. Therefore, there is a real danger that attempts are being made at wide-scale introduction of these techniques in the rural areas of the Third World before it is known whether they are in any sense appropriate to the problems of rural peoples.”

Biogas Technology in the Third World, IDRC

Some observers (see, for example, The Economics of Renewable Energy Systems by David French) conclude that the lifetime social and economic benefits of the heavily subsidized Indian family-scale biogas plants do not equal the costs of construction and maintenance. In Pakistan and Nepal, only prosperous farmers with adequate numbers of animals and significant amounts of capital have been able to afford to build biogas plants. Although the information on community-scale biogas plants is still very scanty, some results in Indian villages are not very promising. It appears that in terms of fuel and fertilizer, biogas may well be a poor proposition without good management, optimal resources, and a suitable social environment. In most villages it may be advisable to invest first in improved wood stoves and village woodlots rather than biogas systems. However, side benefits such as improved village health and increased productivity in associated enterprises (fish farming, livestock, agriculture, etc.) may tip the scales in favor of a biogas project.

For example, just one small digester at a rural health clinic can power a refrigerator holding vaccines for thousands of people. Spectacular successes have been claimed in the People’s Republic of China. Up to 7 million family and community-scale biogas plants are reported to have been built there. Many people have talked about or actively tried to duplicate the Chinese successes in their own countries, and a number of new publications have arisen to report these trends and developments around the world.

In China, manure handling has much higher acceptance than in most other developing nations. The large number of pigs and the relatively even distribution of resources are significant factors as well. It appears that the Chinese designs are resource-conserving, compact, and adaptable to whatever building materials are locally available. Bricks and stones are used with locally produced, relatively low-cost cement, and in some areas digesters are even carved out of solid rock. Of particular interest are the built-in self-pressurizing mechanisms in the Chinese designs which eliminate the need for costly metal covers. Recently some observers have questioned the applicability of the Chinese biogas experience. Attempts to replicate the Chinese results outside the PRC have yielded very uneven results. Building materials, such as cement, lime and quarried stones which are produced locally on Chinese communes are unavailable or very expensive in many other countries. Also, the Chinese skill and diligence in construction (particularly for the vaulted dome designs) and maintenance may be difficult to find or develop elsewhere. One observer notes that the Chinese digesters are very similar to septic tanks, and that their gas yields per unit volume may be.only a fraction of large-scale sewage digesters—meaning the gas production may be significantly lower than commonly assumed. It should also be remembered that virtually all reports on the Chinese successes have come from the Chinese themselves, so that data on construction costs and gas yields need further confirmation.

Until recently, no clear and concise technical reports on the Chinese biogas technology were available outside China. The International Development Research Center (IDRC) and the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) have produced two fine translations of Chinese biogas manuals: Compost, Fertilizer and Biogas Production from Human and Farm Wastes in the PRC (IDRC), and A Chinese Biogas Manual (ITDG). The former book covers health and sanitation aspects of biogas fully while the latter presents more comprehensive information on building materials and construction techniques. IDRC’s Biogas Technology in the Third World: A Multidisciplinary Review is an excellent review of the social, economic and technical aspects of this technology and the problems encountered in attempting to spread it outside of China. The authors of that publication conclude:

“The viability of a particular biogas plant design depends on the particular environment in which it operates. Therefore, the research problem becomes one of providing a structure in which technologists, economists, and users of the technology can combine to produce both the appropriate hardware for various situations and the infrastructure that is necessary to ensure that the hardware is widely used.”

Other Asian experiences, from Nepal, Pakistan, and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) are also featured in the entries in this chapter. To our knowledge, widespread applications or experiments in the developing world have been concentrated in Asia. Interest and activities in other parts of the world have lagged behind to date.

Although methane digesters can offer a variety of potential benefits, they are often justified economically on the basis of the cooking fuel they produce. This justification, however, must be reexamined in view of the fact that in most rural areas of poor countries, existing cooking stoves are presently very inefficient while more efficient designs can save 25-35% of the fuel and cost as little as $1 to $5. If fuel savings are the sole objective, locally-made efficient stoves appear to be a far more cost effective investment than biogas plants.

All of the following books are reviewed below and available for sale as part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CD 17* or DVD 3):

The Anaerobic Digestion of Livestock Wastes to Produce Methane
Biogas and Waste Recycling
The Biogas/Biofertilizer Business Handbook
Biogas Handbook
Biogas Plants in Animal Husbandry
Biogas Systems in India
Biogas Technology in the Third World
Compost Fertilizer and Biogas Production from Human and Farm Wastes in the People’s Republic of China
A Chinese Biogas Manual
Fuel Gas from Cow Dung
Renewable Sources of Energy: Biogas
Report on the Design and Operation of a FullScale Anaerobic Dairy Manure Digester
Running a Biogas Programme

Biogas Technology in the Third World: A Multidisciplinary Review, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 24-570, book, 132 pages, by Andrew Barnett, Leo Pyle, and S.K. Subramanian, 1978, IDRC, out of print in 1985.

“In response to the interest in biogas and other rural energy systems shown by a number of Asian researchers, the International Development Research Center (IDRC) commissioned this state-of-the-art review so that it might form a basis of further discussions concerning the direction of future biogas research. This book represents a multidisciplinary approach to the problem and attempts to review existing work rather than to champion particular solutions.”

“Our objective is to stress the need to examine a wider range of technical and economic alternatives for meeting the energy and fertilizer needs of rural peoples. It is our hope that this survey contributes to this process by showing what has already been done, by pointing out pitfalls, and by indicating the major gaps that still.remain.”

The three chapters contain: 1) a broad overview of the energy options facing rural communities in the South, detailing what is already known about the technical aspects of biogas production; 2) an approach to social and economic appraisal of rural technologies, particularly of successful biogas applications; and 3) a field survey of existing biogas systems and their supporting infrastructure in Asia. The authors are looking for the best uses of the waste material, including options other than biogas production. Estimated gas yields from various crop residues and animal manures are listed. Costs and performance of different digester designs are compared. The Chinese experience is not covered in great depth, due to the lack of information available at the time of publication.

This book can be read by non-technical people, and it deserves wide circulation among development planners, students, and technicians. A strong English vocabulary is required. Not a how-to-build-it book, this is nevertheless valuable to those designing, experimenting, and operating digester schemes.

Compost, Fertilizer, and Biogas Production from Human and Farm Wastes in the People’s Republic of China, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 24-573, book, 93 pages, edited by Michael McGarry and Jill Stainforth, 1978, IDRC, out of print in 1985.

“This collection of papers describes the design, construction, maintenance, and operation of Chinese technologies that enable the Chinese to treat human excreta, livestock manure, and farm wastes to produce liquid fertilizer, compost, and methane gas.”

From a mere handful of experimental “marsh gas pits” during the Great Leap Forward in 1957, methane plants have proliferated to number 7-10 million at last report. Recent reports suggest that these biogas plants are cheap but inefficient gas producers, and are economically justified primarily by their fertilizer and health benefits. Most other developing country biogas programs, by contrast, have been primarily interested in the fuel production benefits. The Chinese biogas technology appears promising for other developing countries, but its transfer to other places is probably unlikely without commitment on the part of the people or the support of the government of China.

“Since 1964 we have standardized the management and hygienic disposal of excreta and urine, expanded the sources and raised the efficiency of fertilizer, and collected and created a high-quality fertilizer by destroying the bacteria and parasitic eggs that existed in the human and domestic animal excreta and urine. As well, we lowered the morbidity of enteric pathogens, reduced the breeding areas of flies and mosquitoes, improved environmental health, promoted and increased food production, and increased the health standards of all the committee members.

Between 1963 and 1971 food production per acre increased by 74%, enteric pathogen morbidity decreased by 80%, and the morbidity of pigs’ disease dropped from 5 to 0.3%. Basically, the health profile of the villages was transformed.” The more recent book A Chinese Biogas Manual (see review in this section) provides more complete information on biogas plant construction and operation. Both books are recommended.

A Chinese Biogas Manual, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 24-572, book, 160 pages, by the Office of the Leading Group for the Propagation of Marshgas, Szechuan Province, English translation published 1979, £8.95 from ITDG; also from VITA and TOOL.

This construction manual has been used widely since its original Chinese language publication in 1974. It shows how to plan, build, and care for low-cost, pit-type digesters. Drawings and text explain the comparative design advantages and construction details of circular pits, rectangular pits and domed covers. Different combinations of stone, lime bricks, traditional cements and mortars, and commercial concrete are also discussed. Simple instructions include notes on why certain designs are suited to certain conditions: “A circular pit made from soft triple concrete with a large volume and a small opening is easy to seal and suitable for the areas where the earth is firm, the underground water level is low, and there is no water seepage. (It is) also quite suitable for plateau regions.”

The manual also emphasizes the importance of careful prevention of leaks when the finished pit is filled and pressurized. A chapter on using biogas shows how to make burners for cooking and lighting out of renewable and recycled materials such as bamboo, iron tubing, and discarded showerheads. An appendix gives an example of how this book has been used by the Shachio Commune of Guangdong Province to spread biogas technology.

A good technical reference, this construction manual is also an example of a tool for sharing skills and experience among rural communities.

Biogas Plants in Animal Husbandry: A Practical Guide, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 24-582, book, 153 pages, by Uli Werner, Ulrich Stohr, and Nicolai Hees, 1989, DM 29.80 from GATE.

This book provides a recent look at practical experience in biogas plant construction and operation. It reviews suitable climatic conditions for biogas plants, animal husbandry requirements, the major design choices, the advantages and disadvantages of conventional and experimental biogas plant designs, and the use of biogas in various appliances, including engines. The authors finish with some suggested methods for economic analysis and a discussion of the social acceptance of biogas. An appendix provides design calculations and drawings.

The farm economics of these plants continue to be discouraging, yet the authors remain optimistic that biogas plants still have a role to play. “Usually, a biogas plant will only be profitable in terms of money if it yields considerable savings on conventional sources of energy like firewood, kerosene or bottled gas (further assuming that they are not subsidized). Financially effective crop yield increases, thanks to fertilizing with digested slurry, are hard to quantify …. Many biogas plants are hardly profitable in monetary terms, because the relatively high cost of investment is not offset by adequate financial returns. Nonetheless, if the user considers all of the other (non-monetary) benefits too, he may well find that operating a biogas plant can be worth his while.” This is a tough argument to make considering the poor monetary returns, the scarcity of cash in rural areas, and the far cheaper alternative of improved cookstoves for saving cooking fuel.

Readers considering biogas production should certainly take a careful look at this book.

Running a Biogas Programme, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 24-583, book, 187 pages, by David Fulford, 1988, £10.95 from ITDG.

Biogas retains a following despite the costs and complications of operating the plants. This volume is an overview of the management issues involved in programs for biogas promotion.

The author frankly discusses the difficult economic challenges posed by biogas: “In general, biogas technology is expensive. Further technical development work may reduce the capital cost, but the present economic viability of biogas programmes seems to depend mainly on the political commitment of national governments” which subsidize them.

“The economics of a group-owned plant running a grain mill look reasonable in Nepal . The group of farmers could recover the original investment within the period of the loan (seven years).”

“The advocates of appropriate technology tend to be engineers, so the technical side of a programme is often emphasized to the neglect of other areas, especially those of organization and management …. The neglect of well-planned decision making in the early stages of a biogas programme can give rise to administrative problems that can slow, or even destroy, its progress.”

The book surveys the main designs and operating problems of biogas plants, affiliated equipment, running engines, and building techniques.

“Biogas is commonly used in dual-fuel engines; converted diesel engines in which biogas is introduced into the cylinder with the air supply. A small amount of diesel (about 20%) is still required to ignite the mixture. Lubrication oil is also required, but the running costs of the engine are lower, and the amount of diesel fuel that needs to be transported out to the village is reduced, compared to an engine that runs on diesel alone.”

Fuel Gas from Cow Dung, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 24-574, booklet, 104 pages, by B. Saubolle and A. Bachmann, revised 1983, UNICEF-Nepal, out of print.

This concise booklet covers construction and operation of Nepali/Indian-style biogas plants. Diagrams are also presented for simple biogas burners and lamps. A local Nepali adaptation of the Chinese design is included, and Chinese and Indian technologies are compared for their strengths and weaknesses.

Biogas Systems in India, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 24-569, book, 130 pages, by Robert Jon Lichtman, 1983, $25.50 (overseas orders add $3.00 for surface mail, $5.00 for airmail) from VITA.

“This study is an assessment of the ‘appropriateness’ of biogas technology in meeting some of the needs of India’s rural population. Such an assessment is quite complicated, despite claims that a biogas system is a simple village-level technology. While there is evidence that biogas systems have great promise, they are subject to certain constraints. It is impossible to describe here all the factors that one might study to assess any technology. I only hope that the approach used in this study will help others.” The author covers the potential of biogas to meet rural energy demands, digester designs, system operation, gas distribution, and the economics of a village biogas system. Particularly well-suited to planners.

The Biogas/Biofertilizer Business Handbook: A Handbook for Volunteers, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 24-571, book, 171 pages, by Michael Arnott, 1982, available to Peace Corps volunteers and development workers from Peace Corps; also available from NTIS (accession.no. PB87 158937/AS).

“The purpose of this book is biogas systems, not biogas digesters. Biogas systems include raw material preparation, digesters, separate gas storage tanks, use of the gas to run engines, and the use of the sludge as fertilizer. In order to involve and benefit as much of the community as possible, new combinations of proven biogas concepts have been brought together and emphasis has been placed on several aspects of biogas technology that are often overlooked.” Drawing heavily upon other publications and the experience of the author and others in the

Philippines, this book is densely packed with information on a wide variety of topics related to biogas systems.


Renewable Sources of Energy, Volume II: Biogas, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 24-579, book, 280 pages, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, 1981, out of print in 1985.

A survey of biogas implementation in Asia and the Pacific concludes with a call for regional collaboration in the use of alternative energy technology. An Indian case study in cost benefit analysis and, at best, an uneven account of the current state of the technology is followed by a list of individuals and institutions engaged in the field. Includes comprehensive bibliography.

The Biogas Handbook, book, 403 pages, by D. House, 1978, out of print, photocopies available for $15.00 from At Home Everywhere, c/o VAHID, Route 2, Box 259, Aurora, Oregon 97002, USA.

“This book makes no claim to startling originality or clever breakthroughs. Its usefulness comes mainly because here, gathered together in one place, is a great deal of information on biogas generation: what it is, where it comes from and how to make and use it. There are, however, only a few designs for biogas generators given in detail.” Readers wanting specific digester designs should look elsewhere. The author attempts to help the reader understand the complexities of biogas generation. The information covers nearly all problem areas, including safety features, compression ratios for engines, and sizing of effluent algae ponds, in a detailed fashion. There are numerous charts, graphs, and equations to explain the chemical, biological and engineering aspects of biogas generation. The language varies from moderately technical to philosophical. Illustrations are crude, but helpful in understanding the text.

The oildrum digester designs presented in this book are of limited value due to their small size and costly corrosion problems. The rest of the book, however, would be valuable for trained village technology engineers and extension agents in developing nations, or biogas enthusiasts anywhere. A good knowledge of English is required to use this book.

Report on the Design and Operation of a Full-Scale Anaerobic Dairy Manure Digester, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 24-580, book, 77 pages, by Ecotope Group, 1979, $15.00 from Ecotope Group, 2812 E. Madison, Seattle, Washington 98112, USA.

This is a thorough account of a large-scale digester project using dairy cow manure (now in operation). The system has two huge agricultural storage tanks of.378 cubic meter capacity, gas compressor, propane tanks to hold the compressed gas, heat exchangers between effluent and input lines, and a novel gas recirculation system which is claimed to eliminate the problem of scum accumulation due to the agitation effect of the gas.

The project cost $70,000, a huge sum in most developing countries. Some of the information might still be useful for a dairy cooperative methane scheme.

Biogas and Waste Recycling: The Philippine Experience, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 24567, book, 230 pages, by Felix D. Maramba, 1978, from Liberty Flour Mills, Inc., Maya Farms Division, Liberty Building, Pasay Road, Legaspi Village, Makati, Metro Manila, The Philippines.

This book is primarily about the design of profitable biogas systems rather than specific designs for biogas generators. Although it is based largely upon the experience of Maya Farms with its massive biogas plants, it has much to offer those designing a small community system. Of particular interest is the technique for conditioning toxic sludge and rendering it safe for processing into high-quality animal feed. “The value of the recoverable feed materials alone without considering the biogas, biofertilizer, and pollution control, makes the whole system a profitable venture.”


The Anaerobic Digestion of Livestock Wastes to Produce Methane: 1946 to June 1975, A Bibliography with Abstracts, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 24-565,103 pages, by G. Shadduck and J. Moore, 1975, $5.00 from Department of Agricultural Engineering, University of Minnesota, 1390 Eckles Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA.

This annotated bibliography surveys the pre-1976 anaerobic digestion process literature. The authors have described the contents and evaluated each entry. Intended to give a broad overview of all available resources, so that readers’ questions may be answered, as well as additional questions raised. Addresses are given only for the more popular books. There is an excellent scientific analysis of fuel and fertilizer results from different animal manures. Recommended for those already familiar with methane.

Solar Energy


 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

Increasingly, the term “solar technology” is being used to include any renewable energy system that directly or indirectly depends on the sun for energy. This includes waterpower, biogas, and wood fuels, for example, which are covered in separate chapters. This chapter is therefore concerned with direct use of solar energy.

Probably the most significant direct solar technology for the South is that of crop drying, which is covered in the section CROP DRYING, PRESERVATION AND STORAGE. Solar distillation for water purification has been covered in the WATER SUPPLY section.

On this page you will find materials on passive solar architecture for house heating, passive solar cooking for the tropics, solar greenhouses, water heaters, cookers, irrigation pumps, and photovoltaic cells. A good general survey of the technologies that may some day have relevance for the South can be found in Technology for Solar Energy Utilization; most of these, however, are not economically competitive at present.

Several publications on passive solar architecture, now a booming field in the United States, are included. Passive solar design involves careful choices of building orientation, layout, location of glass windows, and materials to best take advantage of natural energy flows. Because they minimize the use of costly primary fuels for space heating and cooling, passive solar buildings will eventually dominate new construction in much of the United States. In North America and the other parts of the temperate zones, heating is usually the primary design objective. This is also true in parts of the Himalayas, the Andes, and other mountainous regions, where indigenous structures often reflect certain passive solar principles. In these areas of the South there is the potential for new applications of’ recent advances in the field..By contrast, the cooling of living spaces is the primary objective of passive solar design in the tropics. Elements of Solar Architecture for Tropical Regions and Design for Climate: Guidelines for the Design of Low Cost Houses for the Climates of Kenya introduce the basic design considerations for passive solar cooling.

Conventional greenhouses consume large quantities of energy to control the climatic conditions inside. Solar greenhouses, on the other hand, are heated primarily by the sun, and are often attached to houses to provide home heating as well. Low-cost designs using plastic sheeting and local materials may be of relevance in the mountainous regions of the South for supplementary home heating and food production. In the tropics greenhouses are probably mainly of interest because the vegetables grown inside require less water. Several publications reviewed here offer a look at current U.S. solar greenhouses.

Solar water heaters for domestic hot water are becoming more widely used in the industrialized nations as a response to the “energy crisis”. They are well suited to temperate regions. A typical system consists of a flat plate collector and storage tank which holds water heated to about 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Centigrade).

In tropical regions solar water heating systems can provide hot water for bathing, washing clothes and other uses. (Water heated in a normal flat plate collector does not boil, however, so this is not directly suited to water purification schemes.) Solar water heating in these circumstances is probably best used in health centers and urban homes where there is already a demand for hot water. Katmandu, Nepal is a good example of a city in a developing country with a well-established solar hot water heater industry.

For developing countries, the cost of materials for solar hot water heaters may make them rather expensive. There are more than a dozen ways to make a basic flat plate collector: there is some potential for very low cost designs, particularly if a low pressure (gravity-fed) system is being used. Such collectors can use metal other than copper, and even replace pipes altogether by using shallow tanks. The insulating material behind the collector plate can be local natural fiber such as coconut husks or rice hulls.

Solar cookers have been mentioned as a possible alternative in fuel-short and deforested regions. The 1962 publication Evaluation of Solar Cookers offers a look at many designs, including most of those still being tested today. The high cost, awkward operation, slowness, and inconvenience of outdoor cooking have prevented this technology from finding a niche. Nevertheless, these devices remain a fixture at research centers and exhibitions, where they regularly amaze visitors. To our knowledge, despite two decades of scattered attempts, there are no examples of the successful introduction of solar cookers.

The use of solar energy to drive engines for irrigation water pumps has recently received a great deal of attention. In this application, flat plate collectors provide hot water, which is used to heat liquid gas. The gas expands and drives the engine. The gas then passes through a condenser, where it is cooled by the well water, and the cycle is then repeated. This appears to be one of those solar energy applications that is technically but not economically feasible in developing countries. Though the costs seem to be dropping below $25,000 per installed kw of capacity (the level of a few years ago) they are a long way from being affordable. Locally-built water pumping windmills appear to be a far more cost-effective alternative in areas with even relatively low average wind speeds. In fact, the most thoroughly tested solar pump designs seem likely to remain technological dead ends, built in poor countries only through the intervention of rich country aid. programs. Some of the completely new concepts in solar pump designs may prove more fruitful.

Photovoltaic cells that produce electricity from sunlight will have a place in water pumping and many other high value tasks as the price of these cells comes down significantly. For lowest cost and greatest simplicity, solar pump systems can be designed without electrical storage equipment, and such systems may one day provide important amounts of irrigation water to the world’s small farmers. The photovoltaic cells themselves will continue to be a relatively high technology, imported product in most developing countries. The foreign exchange requirements for photovoltaic cell imports are likely to be a serious barrier to widespread use. In addition, while the decentralized energy production offered is well-matched to settlement patterns in the rural South, electricity is not an energy form well-matched to the energy needs of these communities, where cooking, draft power, and transport are the important energy consuming tasks along with irrigation pumping.

A whole assortment of electrical equipment would be needed to store and make use of solar electricity, and very little of this equipment could be produced or afforded in the villages. The near-term applications are lighting and remote communications equipment in government buildings and the homes of the wealthy; these applications are already booming in some places because of the high cost of alternatives. For an excellent introduction to the subject of photovoltaics and the associated equipment, see Solar Powered Electricity and Solar Photovoltaic Products: A guide for Development Workers.

The sun’s energy is “available” everywhere, yet it is also a diffuse or low-grade energy form. This means that while solar energy is an excellent, low-cost means of creating temperature differences of tens of degrees for drying and heating, it is inevitably difficult and expensive to collect and concentrate solar energy to generate electricity or perform mechanical work. For this reason, drying, heating, and cooling are the most practical solar applications for most communities in the South.

All of the following books are reviewed below and available for sale as part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CD 17* or DVD 3):

An Attached Solar Greenhouse
Basic Principles of Passive Solar Design
A Bibliography for the Solar Home Builder
Bread Box Water Heater
The Design and Development of a Solar Powered Refrigerator
Elements of Solar Architecture for Tropical Regions
Evaluation of Solar Cookers
The Food and Heat Producing Solar Greenhouse
The Fuel Savers
Homegrown Sun dwellings
Low Cost Passive Solar Greenhouses
The Passive Solar Energy Book
Proceedings of the Conference on Energy Conserving Solar Heated Greenhouses
Reaching Up Reaching Out
The Solar Cookery Book
Solar Dwelling Design Concepts
The Solar Greenhouse Book
The Solar Home Book
Solar Photovoltaic Products
The Solar Survey Solar Energy
A Solar Water Heater Workshop Manual
Solar Water Heaters in Nepal
Solar Powered Electricity
A State of the Art Survey of Solar Powered Irrigation Pumps Solar Cookers and Woodburning Stoves
Technology for Solar Energy Utilization
Window Box Solar Collector Design

Technology for Solar Energy Utilization, Document NO. ID/202, File 23-563, 1977 conference report, 155 pages, 1978, in English, French, or Spanish, free to local groups in developing countries, $12.00 to others, Sales No. 78IIB, from United Nations Industrial Development Organization, P.O. Box 300, A-1400, Vienna, Austria.

This is a good overview of some solar energy technologies that may eventually have relevance for developing countries. Most of the solar technologies presented are technically feasible and proven. Because they are unusual they have attracted the attention of scientists and engineers looking for exciting new technologies to work on. Yet most of these technologies are far too expensive for use in the South. Indeed, probably the majority of the technologies presented would at present be reasonable only in an isolated desert region of a rich country. On the other hand, some of these technologies may one day prove economically attractive.

A good state-of-the-art review at the beginning of the book concludes that solar distillation, solar drying, and solar water heating (if needed) are currently attractive in some circumstances. Solar engines, solar water pumps, solar photocells for electricity, and solar refrigeration are labeled not yet attractive. Later, in the contributed articles, favorable evaluation is made of solar timber kilns for decentralized applications, and Tom Lawand provides a thoughtful examination of the potential for solar cookers and solar dryers. The rest of the articles (a solar electric power plant, conversion of solar into mechanical energy, water pumps, flat plate collectors, refrigeration and cooling, active space heating and cooling) review technologies which cost far more than the poor can afford.

UNIDO suggests the local manufacture of low temperature solar devices in the near future and applied research and development efforts for high temperature applications in the more distant future. Recommended as a reference book for those active in the solar energy field in developing countries.

Solar Water Heaters in Nepal, File 23-560, book, 27 pages, by Andreas Bachmann, 1977, free photocopies from SDC; also available from SKAT and ITDG.

Here is a rare example of a book on solar water heating from a developing country. BYS (Balaju Yantra Shala) Plumbing Division has built systems in Nepal to supply hot water for bathing, washing clothes and cooking. While no detailed drawings are presented, the BYS designs are discussed, component by component. Specifications for the collector and storage tank are given, along with qualitative descriptions of construction and maintenance procedures.

Two systems are described: 1) a thermosiphon (natural circulation) system with separate collector and storage tank, and 2) a “flat tank” collector, where the collector also functions as the storage tank. This is less expensive, but only supplies a small amount of heated water at a time

A Solar Water Heater Workshop Manual, File 23-559, construction manual, 82 pages, 1979, Ecotope Group, out of print.

This manual is designed to be used in a teaching situation, with an experienced leader who can provide background knowledge and teach construction techniques. Four pages are devoted to organizing a training workshop. Ecotope Group and Rain Magazine staff have run these workshops in the Northwestern U.S. for several years, usually teaching 30 or more people from a community organization to build a solar water heater in a two day period. By teaching members of existing groups together, skills are transferred to a naturally supportive network, and more solar water heaters are likely to be eventually constructed. This approach could be used anywhere, with many different technologies.

The manual contains step-by-step instructions, with drawings, for building and installing a solar water heater. This includes siting the system, piping for natural circulation, and various open and closed loop storage alternatives.

Bread Box Water Heater, File 23-531, one large sheet of plans, $5.00 surface mail or $7.00 foreign airmail from Zomeworks, P.O. Box 25805, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87125, USA.

Drawings and a description of the principles, design, and construction of a simple and effective solar water heater are provided.

“Two tanks are painted black and placed in a glass-covered insulated box with insulated reflecting doors the sun shines through the glass onto the tank and also bounces off the reflecting doors onto the tanks …. The reflectors on the box serve to wrap the sun around the tanks rather than focus the sun on the tanks …. The doors are opened during the day to receive the sun and then closed at night to conserve.heat.”

“The plans describe the construction of a solar hot water heater using two 30- gallon electric hot water tanks with electric back-up. (30-gallon drums can be substituted for the water heater tanks.) The plans also discuss the principles of the design so that an interested person can vary the construction and know generally what to expect. The plans stress the relative importance of different aspects of the design where you must be very careful and where you need not be so careful.”

The Passive Solar Energy Book, File 23-544, 448 pages, by Edward Mazria, 1975, Rodale Press, out of print.

This was formerly the best book available on the design of passive solar homes and buildings. (“Passive solar” space heating relies on direct solar energy, the orientation of the structure, and the natural heat storing capabilities of selected floor and wall materials.) The format was chosen to allow the reader to go through the book in about an hour, covering only the most important concepts, and then come back for more detailed technical information on each topic. The excellent illustrations also make this a valuable tool for teaching basic concepts in a classroom.

The author begins with the fundamentals of solar energy and heat theory. He then introduces the major successful design elements and strategies, such as masonry thermal storage, Trombe walls, attached greenhouses and roof ponds. His presentation on building orientation, north side protection, and location of different kinds of living spaces helps illustrate how crucial these factors are to successful passive solar design. The important contributions offered by movable insulation, reflectors, and shading devices, and the concepts behind summer cooling are also discussed.

The author notes that “more energy is consumed in the construction of a building than will be used in many years of operation,” and recommends the use of relatively low-energy-consuming materials such as “adobe, soil-cement, brick, stone, concrete, and water in containers; for finish materials use wood, plywood, particle board and gypsum board.”

A full third of this book contains the information needed for calculating solar angles, solar radiation falling on tilted and vertical surfaces, shading effects, space heat loss in winter, solar space heat gains and auxiliary heating required. Data is included on the solar radiation (insolation) received and space heating needs for major U.S. cities and regions.

Highly recommended.

Homegrown Sundwellings, Disk 17, File 23-537, book, 136 pages, by Peter van Dresser, 1977 and 1979, $7.95 plus $1.50 shipping and handling from The Lightning Tree, P.O. Box 1837, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504, USA.

Peter van Dresser, one of the pioneers of solar-heated houses, built his first one in 1958. His book summarizes a two-year program to develop low-cost, owner-built, solar-heated houses. It should be read for its sound observations on sensible solar construction based on local materials, and as an introduction to passive solar home design. More extensive information for designing passive solar homes can be found in The Passive Solar Energy Book and The Solar Home Book.

Although “the Sundwellings concept is firmly rooted in the living construction traditions as well as the socioeconomic circumstances of a natural.ecological region the uplands of northern New Mexico … it reveals principles of universal applicability …. To construct using renewable resources is not a sentimental fad in an area without exportable products to pay for imports …. In a low cash economy, it is the interactions of human resources with the immediate materials of the land that provide for the richness and fullness of life.”

The total solar energy received in winter at sites in Montana, New Mexico and Arizona is greater than the requirement for home heating. The challenge is to store this energy effectively. “The basic strategy is to design the house so that its own masses mainly walls and floors are so placed, proportioned, and surfaced that they will receive and store a large measure of incoming solar energy during the daylight hours and will gently release this stored heat to the house interior during the succeeding night hours or cloudy days …. A traditional New Mexican floor either of treated and filled adobe clay or of brick or flagstone laid over sand is very well-suited …. Its sheer mass gives it great capacity to store this heat with a very slight rise in temperature. If we visualize such a floor 12 inches deep in a room 16 feet square with one exterior wall and an average window, warmed to a mere 72°F (22°C) … it will store 40,000 BTUs of heat which will be released into the room as it cools down to say, 650F (18°C). This is sufficient heat to take care of a well-insulated room for 26 hours, with an outdoor temperature of, say, 20°F (-7°C).”

The Solar Home Book, Disk 17, File 23-554, book, 293 pages, by Anderson and Riordan, 1976, 1987 second edition $16.95 from Brick House Publishing Co., Francestown Turnpike, New Boston, New Hampshire 03070, USA.

This is one of the best books that attempt to make the design principles of solar heated homes understandable and usable for the average person. The emphasis is on passive systems (in which the building itself acts as a solar collector and storage unit, without special circulatory systems). Also covered are systems that can be added to existing homes. A chapter on do-it-yourself methods includes insulation, window box heaters, and attached greenhouses. Altogether, there are about 40 pages on the design of solar water heaters.

“Homes can be designed to respond to local climates …. Simple low-technology methods are cheaper and more reliable than the many complex, high-technology devices being employed to harness the sun’s energy …. Anyone with good building skills and a knowledge of materials can take advantage of these simple methods ….” Highly recommended for Americans and other people in temperate climates interested in building a solar-heated home.

Basic Principles of Passive Solar Design, Disk 17, File 23-529, papery pages, by Fred Hopman, 1978, free from SDC (SATA) or SKAT.

SATA has reprinted this paper from the Taos Solar Association of New Mexico, USA. The author presents operating principles and design considerations for passive space heating and cooling systems, including examples of direct gain designs, Trombe walls, roof ponds, attached greenhouses and water circulation systems. Although the examples use Western architectural styles, this excellent introduction to passive solar principles is relevant to building construction in cold climates throughout the world.

Elements of Solar Architecture for Tropical Regions, Disk 17, File 23-534, booklet, 23 pages, by Roland Stultz, 1980, 1983 edition Sw. Fr. 6.50 from SKAT; also available in Spanish; also available from VITA.

One of only a few publications on the design of solar buildings in tropical regions, where cooling and protection from heat are the major objectives. This booklet concentrates on proper building orientation; cross ventilation; reflecting, absorbing, and insulating building materials; shading with trees, shutters, roof overhangs and other techniques; and evaporation of water (in arid climates) for cooling. Tables indicate some of the different considerations for buildings in humid vs. arid regions. A good illustrated introduction to the topic; many of these concepts have long been a part of indigenous architecture in different parts of the world, but have begun to disappear in the last few decades.

Solar Dwelling Design Concepts, Disk 17, File 23-551, book, 146 pages, American Institute of Architects Research Corporation, out of print.

This volume presents principles in easy-to-understand terms for both passive and active solar heating and cooling of homes. Intended for architects, the emphasis is on the integration of solar concepts with traditional Western home designs. Factors influencing design are also covered, such as climate comfort and choice of building site.

Thirty-two solar home designs are described, with architectural drawings, to show a variety of passive and active building concepts already in use. Although these designs are from the U.S., the concepts could be adapted by building designers in other temperate climates.

A Bibliography for the Solar Home Builder, Disk 17, File 23-530, booklet, 38 pages, by Dr. Donald W. Aitken, 1979, out of print in 1986.

“The market is responding to the surging popularity of solar energy with a flood of books and reports …. Some of these are truly excellent, while others are thinly disguised attempts to sell something …. The following bibliography summarizes only the books and reports with which I am personally familiar and that I feel to be the most useful, honest, and worth the cost.” This booklet describes 71 publications on solar home design, information for the beginning solar home builder, and advanced solar studies as well as a few general works on solar energy as an alternative for the future. It is especially useful because the annotations are cross referenced, with notes on which publications contain the most information on particular topics.

Also includes listings of solar energy societies and journals. A good “source book” on solar home building, oriented toward applications for the West Coast of the USA.

The Food and Heat Producing Solar Greenhouse: Design, Construction, Operation, Disk 17, File 23-565, book, 159 pages, by Bill Yanda and Rick Fisher, 1980, $10.75 postpaid from John Muir Pubs., P.O. Box 613, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504, USA.

An excellent construction manual for a low-cost attached greenhouse that can provide both some house heating and fresh vegetable production in cold climates. Many of these have been built by low-income families in the mountain regions of.the western United States.

Although these designs come from a North American environment, it seems likely that they may be applied to the highlands of tropical countries and any colder areas of the globe where space heating is a priority. Attached greenhouses employ a “passive” solar heating concept. The structure acts as both a collector and a storage unit for solar energy, through the heat-absorbing combination of glass or plastic, concrete, adobe, stone and/or water-filled containers. During daylight hours, the last four of these substances store heat, and at night they radiate it to the living spaces. No expensive, complicated, or breakdown-prone devices such as pumps, heat exchangers, bulky collectors, or massive storage tanks are required. All that is needed is a good design and an active and alert person to regulate the vents, openings and natural energy flows in the dwelling.

An Attached Solar Greenhouse, Disk 17, File 23-566, booklet, 18 pages, by Bill and Susan Yanda, 1976, $2.00 plus $1.50 shipping and handling from The Lightning Tree, P.O. Box 1837, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504, USA.

“Solar greenhouses designed and built in northern New Mexico by the Solar

Sustenance Project have proven that solar energy can be put to work now by low income families,” state the authors of this short but stimulating booklet. Included are sketches, photos and a bilingual text in English and Spanish (the working drawings lack an effective Spanish translation). This brief volume preceded the more extensive construction manual The Food and Heat Producing Solar Greenhouse (see review).

Low-Cost Passive Solar Greenhouses: A Design and Construction Guide, Disk 17, File 23-541, book, 174 pages, by Ron Alward and Andy Shapiro, 1980, $8.00 (order no. SHH-1) from the National Center for Appropriate Technology, P.O. Box 3838, Butte, Montana 59702, USA.

Considerations for building passive solar greenhouses for space heating and food production are presented in a very clear and thorough manual. Includes a review of alternatives, siting, detailed construction pointers for a variety of designs, operation and management methods, etc.

Highly recommended.

The Solar Greenhouse Book, Disk 17, File 23-553, book, 344 pages, edited by James C. McCullagh, 1978, Rodale Press, out of print.

This book covers the design, siting, construction, use and maintenance of sun heated greenhouses. Such structures can be used from temperate regions to highland areas of the sub-tropics. Plans are presented for a variety of greenhouses for North American readers; others may find the general presentation to be valuable as well.

The effectiveness of these “passive” solar heated structures is dramatically shown by photos of greenhouses with snow outside and thriving plants inside. The appendix contains information on different types of glass and plastic window materials, suitable plants, available equipment, and a bibliography.

Proceedings of the Conference on Energy-Conserving, Solar-Heated Greenhouses, Disk 17, File 23-546, book, 248 pages, edited by John Hayes and Drew Gillett, 1977, $9.00 ($5.00 to readers in developing countries) plus $3.00 shipping and handling from Marlboro College Greenhouse Conference, Attn: John Hayes, Marlboro College, Marlboro, Vermont 05344, USA.

This is a collection of papers and reports, with some plans for solar greenhouse construction. The topics covered include the theory, planning, construction and operation of solar greenhouses for food, heat and shelter. The reuse of household water and human wastes is also covered. The language is sometimes difficult for non-native English speakers.

“The greenhouse must also be looked at in light of its water conservation over field crop conditions. Authorities report water usage for greenhouse crops to be 1/10 to 1/30 of the field crop …. Tom Rolf of Silver City and the Chavez family of Anton Chico, devised simple systems to trap rain water and snow melt from the roofs of their homes, drain it into tanks in the greenhouse, and gravity feed the water to their plants.”

Solar Photovoltaic Products: A Guide for Development Workers, Disk 17, File 23-567, book, 127 pages, by Anthony Derriek, Catherine Francis and Varis Bokalders, revised edition 1991, ITDG (with The Stockholm Environment Institute and Swedish Missionary Council), £14.95 from ITDG.

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels have come down in price and become increasingly popular for use in providing small amounts of electricity in isolated locations away from the main power grids. PV panels still provide expensive electricity when measured on a kilowatt-hour basis, but this electricity often has a high value, and the alternatives can be even more expensive. The most valuable applications are typically water pumping, refrigeration, and telecommunications.

There are more low-cost alternatives for lighting, although this is a common application of PV panels. PV panels have high reliability and long expected lifetimes, and now cost about $4 per peak watt compared to $30 per peak watt in 1975. The authors emphasize “life cycle costing” in making their argument that solar photovoltaics have acceptable costs compared to the competition. However, these analyses always use a “discount rate” of 10%, which, while common in World Bank projects, does not accurately reflect the high interest rates and scarcity of capital typically faced at the local level. It is likely that a far higher discount rate better reflects the actual conditions and behavior of people in developing countries, and unfortunately this works against capital-intensive, long-life renewable energy technologies such as this one.

World maps of solar energy distribution during different times of the year are provided.

For the major applications, comparisons with alternatives are made, and sources of components and complete systems are provided.

Solar-Powered Electricity: A Survey of Photovoltaic Power in Developing Countries, Disk 17, File 23-568, book, 87 pages, by Bernard McNelis, Anthony Derriek and Michael Starr,

1988, ITDG (with UNESCO), £10.50 from ITDG..This volume is shorter, older, and less detailed than Solar Photovoltaic Products, which covers much of the same ground. However, this book provides more information in the short case studies, which help better understand the costs and problems faced in actual applications. Examples include water pumping, refrigeration, lighting, and rural electrification.

The Fuel Savers: A Kit of Solar Ideas for Existing Homes, Disk 17, File 23-586, book, 60 pages, by Dan Scully, Don Prowler, and Bruce Anderson, 1976, $2.75 plus postage (limited number of copies available) from NORWESCAP, Inc., 350 Prospect Street, Phillipsburg, New Jersey 08865, USA.

A collection of 20 energy-conserving passive and active solar ideas and projects to be used on existing buildings in cold climates. Although intended for North American homes, we have included this book because the projects do not require manufactured solar components, and can be easily completed by the owner. Included are insulating curtains and shutters, window box air heaters, greenhouses and a thermosiphon (natural circulation) water heater. A drawing and description of each project are given, without exact construction details; the energy savings or each project are discussed. Useful only in cold climates as examples of simple, do-it-yourself energy conservation measures.

Window Box Solar Collector Design, Disk 17, File 23-564, construction plans with text, large blueprint, 1978, $2.50 from Center for Rural Affairs, Box 763, Hartington, Nebraska 68739, USA.

A window box solar collector will heat a room. Air moves by natural circulation, requiring no fan. The six dimensional drawings in this design are somewhat hard to follow, but the design principles are clear. Local materials could be substituted in the design where needed.

Reaching Up, Reaching Out: A Guide to Organizing Local Solar Events, Disk 17, File 23-548, book, 145 pages, by the Solar Energy Research Institute, 1979, stock number 061-000- 00345-2, USGPO, out of print.

This “organizing manual” is designed to help groups and individuals organize themselves to achieve awareness of and control over the energy they use. Thirteen events are used as case studies, from solar water heater and solar greenhouse construction workshops to energy fairs and neighborhood energy conservation efforts. Suggestions are made for planning and carrying out these kinds of community events.

Half of the book is a bibliography on small-scale solar technologies (all U.S.), general organizing, and a directory of solar groups in the U.S.

The Solar Survey, Solar Energy: Suggested Readings, Disk 17, File 23-557, booklet, 21 pages, 1979, $2.00 (order no. SHH-7) from National Center for Appropriate Technology, P.O. Box 3838, Butte, Montana 59701, USA.

A collection of 31 solar designs from various community groups across the U.S. The designs range from active water and air collectors to passive Trombe wall systems. For each entry, there is a short description and often a drawing (complete.designs are not given). All were chosen as examples of low-cost, locally-built technologies.

The purpose of the survey is to exchange ideas and designs among community groups in the U.S. who work independently on similar projects. The specific technologies covered are not very relevant to developing countries.

A State-of-the-Art Survey of Solar Powered Irrigation Pumps, Solar Cookers, and Woodburning Stoves for Use in Sub-Saharan Africa, Disk 17, File 23-562, book, 106 pages, by J. Walton, Jr., A. Roy, and S. Bomar, Jr., 1978, Engineering Experiment Station, Georgia Institute of Technology, out of print.

This is a survey of technologies which might help reduce the serious problems of deforestation and water shortage in the region just south of the Sahara Desert in Africa. Solar-powered irrigation pumps, solar cookers, and woodburning stoves are examined, and research recommendations made. Few construction details are provided.

Unfortunately, what seem to be the most promising technologies for carrying out the functions of lifting water and cooking are not treated in this volume. For example, low-cost, locally-made water pumping windmills (such as can be found in Crete and Thailand) appear to be cost-competitive in many moderately windy locations and far cheaper than the solar alternative. Improved stoves save more firewood per dollar than solar cookers and do not require imported materials.

This is a useful reference on solar-thermal irrigation pumps, which, at $25,000 per installed kw of capacity, seem forever doomed to serve as toys of rich country aid programs, and may even divert government funds in some countries from more useful pursuits. Solar photovoltaic pumping systems, which have more promise, are not covered. (Other renewable energy systems such as microhydroelectric turbines cost $600 to $2000 per installed kw of capacity, while locally-made water pumping windmills can cost roughly $2000 per installed kw of capacity.)

Evaluation of Solar Cookers, Disk 17, File 23-535, booklet, 71 pages, by VITA, 1962 (reprinted 1977), out of print in 1985.

This 1962 report covers the early solar cooker designs, many of which are still being tried today. Cost (1962 prices), materials, cooking performance, and problems are presented for each of 12 parabolic reflector and 2 oven designs. Virtually all of the solar cookers that have been tested in recent years are based on designs already existing in 1962, or on ideas mentioned in this booklet.

The Solar Cookery Book: Everything Under the Sun, Disk 17, File 23-550, book, 122 pages, by Beth and Dan Halacy, 1978, Peace Press, out of print.

The first third of this book is a construction manual for two types of solar cookers: a solar oven and a solar parabolic reflector hot plate. Most of the rest of the book is devoted to detailed descriptions of solar cooking methods, with many recipes for foods that can be solar cooked.

The Design and Development of a Solar Powered Refrigerator, Disk 17, File 23-533, technical report, 74 pages, by R. Exell, S. Kornsakoo, and D. Wijeratna, 1976, $8.00 in Thailand, $10.00 in developing countries, $15.00 in developed countries, from Regional Energy Resources Information Center, Asian Institute of Technology, P.O. Box 2754, Bangkok 10501, Thailand.

This report describes work on an experimental solar refrigerator designed to be a village-size ice maker or cold storage unit. The experimental version can make 1-2 kg of ice per day in Thailand; larger capacities will be possible in future designs. The cost of the unit is figured to be $750. Ice produced in this unit is calculated to cost about 11 times the wholesale price of ice in Bangkok. This makes it unlikely that such units will be considered “appropriate village technologies” in the near future.

Refrigeration occurs in the night by vaporizing an ammonia solution. During the day, a flat plate collector uses solar energy to pressurize and condense the solution. This type of non-continuous refrigeration, while less efficient, has the advantages of needing no compressor or electricity. Thus it is suited to decentralized applications (operation requires only turning a few valves in the morning and at night).

Most of the report is quite technical. There is also a review of other solar refrigeration work from the last 30 years. Work on these concepts is continuing.


The use of photovoltaic cells for water pumping is covered in The Potential for Small-Scale Solar-Powered Irrigation in Pakistan, Small-Scale Solar-Powered Irrigation Pumping Systems, and Solar Photovoltaics for Irrigation Water Pumping, all in AGRICULTURAL TOOLS.

Energy from Water / Hydropower


 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

Pictured above: A photo submitted by an AT Library user from South Africa who built this crossflow water turbine. He got the design information from DVD 3, the section titled Energy: Water – “For building my unit, I relied heavily on “Small Michell (Banki) Turbine” to get the basic design right. I modified this design to include four nozzles (their unit only has one nozzle) each fed by a parallel channel. This allows me to block the tops of the feed channels in times of low flow so that the velocity of the water reaching the nozzle of close to design.

We have a river with a weir on it and a 4m drop to the first significant pool some 25m away. I intend building a wooden flume (made from deodar timber that does not require chemicals to prevent it from rotting when immersed in water) to direct the water to the top of the inlet channel (penstock by definition). The water will drop through four channels into four nozzles that will drive the turbine at about 310 rpm. This will be speeded up by either chain or pulley drive (still working on the consequences of each) to drive an AC, 4 pole ST generator. Frequency control will be by an electronic load controller supplied by Retrace Electronics of India. The power will partially be stored in batteries with the balance going into key circuits for emergency power during grid outages.”

For 2000 years, waterpower has been harnessed to do useful work. Waterwheels played a vital role in early industrialization in Europe and North America, powering a wide variety of decentralized manufacturing and processing enterprises. The steel water turbine provided more power at a given site than the waterwheel, and in the U.S. many waterwheel-powered mills were converted to water turbines in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Blacksmiths and foundrymen produced the turbines and modified the designs during this period of great innovation and profitable production. Water-powered mills produced: “… such household products as cutlery and edge tools, brooms and brushes … furniture, paper … pencil lead … needles and pins … watches and clocks, and even washing machines …. For the farm they turned out fertilizers, gunpowder, axles, agricultural implements, barrels, ax handles, wheels, carriages. There were woolen, cotton, flax, and linen mills … tannery, boot and shoe mills … and mills turning out surgical appliances and scientific instruments.”
Renewable Energy Resources and Rural Applications in the Developing World

The use of water power in the People’s Republic of China has reflected the same pattern, with first water wheels and then turbines being built in great numbers as power demands increased along with technical production capabilities. By 1976 an estimated 60,000 small hydroelectric turbines were in operation in South China alone, contributing a major share of the electricity used by rural communes for lighting, small industrial production, and water pumping.

With the rising cost of energy in the United States today, small hydroelectric units are returning in large numbers. Generating stations along New England rivers are being rehabilitated and put back into operation. The number of companies making small waterpower units has jumped. The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that 50,000 existing agricultural, recreational, and municipal water supply reservoirs could be economically equipped with hydroelectric generating facilities.

In developing countries, the potential for small hydropower installations has never carefully been measured. Past surveys of hydropower potential have focused on possible sites for large dams, as small hydroelectric units were considered uneconomical or ill-suited to the goal of providing large blocks of electric power for cities, industrial estates, or aluminum production. With the rapidly increasing costs of energy, however, the economics are now much more favorable for small hydroelectric units, which are also well-suited to the needs of small rural communities, and do not bring the degree of environmental disruption associated with large reservoirs. Many small units do not require reservoirs at all, and use small diversion canals instead.

The success of waterpower installations can be greatly affected by forest conservation practices in the watershed above. Rapid deforestation brings high rates of soil erosion and subsequent rapid silt filling of reservoirs behind dams. At the same time, greater rain runoff causes increasingly violent floods that threaten hydropower installations. During the months following the floods, low water flows are likely to reduce generating capacity. A program to protect the watershed and the construction of a diversion canal may be necessary to prevent damage to a small waterpower installation.

The first requirement in estimating the potential for a small waterpower site is to measure the flow in a stream during medium and low flow periods, and determine the high water level during flooding. Low Cost Development of Small Water Power Sites is one of several publications that give good stream flow measurement instructions.

For the construction of very small earth dams, the useful but out-of-print booklet Small Earth Dams may be copied at an appropriate technology documentation center. Also of interest is the soil-cement sandbag technique for low dam construction employed by Los Gaviotas appropriate technology group in Columbia.

Waterwheels still have certain advantages for rural communities in the South. The best use of these slowly turning (about 20 rpm) devices is in direct mechanical applications. They can be constructed of locally available materials (e.g., wood and bamboo) by village craftspeople, and they can pump or lift water and perform a variety of important crop processing tasks. They are well-suited to the small crop production of small farmers. Existing irrigation channels and small streams offer many potential sites at which the civil engineering works expenses can be minimized.

Industrial Archaeology of Watermills and Waterpower is one of several publications that offer valuable insights into the design and evolution of waterwheels. Design Manual for Waterwheels contains important figures for the design of overshot waterwheels. Overshot and Current Waterwheels and Water Power for the Farm are useful references that were used in rural extension efforts in the 1930’s and 1940’s and have been recently reprinted. Watermills with Horizontal Wheels and Waterpower in Central Crete describe in detail the vertical-axis, horizontal wheel, stone flour and corn mills once widely used in Europe and Asia, and still used in large numbers in mountainous countries such as Nepal. MultiPurpose Power Unit with Horizontal Water Turbine gives details of a new Nepalese steel watermill that is proving to be very popular.

The rapidly turning water turbine, made of steel or cast metals, can deliver a lot of power (e.g. 10-50 kw) from a very small unit, and is much better suited than the waterwheel to the task of producing electricity. Turbines can also be used for direct mechanical applications; they are more efficient than waterwheels, but cannot be made with local materials. The reader interested in water turbines will find Micro-Hydropower Sourcebook to be the outstanding general reference book for developing countries. Several reports and sets of engineering drawings are included on the cross-flow turbines that have been successfully built in Nepal. These turbines are built to a standard diameter, with blades cut from steel pipe, and they can accommodate a range of head and flow conditions.

All of the following books are reviewed below and available for sale as part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CD 16* or DVD 3):

The Banki Water Turbine
Cost Reduction Considerations in Small Hydropower Equipment
A Design Manual for Water Wheels
Design of CrossFlow Turbine BYS/T2
Design of Small Water Storage and Erosion Control Dams
Design of Small Water Turbines for Farms and Small Communities
The Dhading MicroHydropower Plant:
Directory of Manufacturers of Small Hydropower Equipment
Harnessing Water Power for Home Energy
Hints on the Development of Small WaterPower
Industrial Archaeology of Watermills and Waterpower
Local Experience with MicroHydro Technology
LowCost Development of Small Water Power Sites
Manual for the Design of a Simple Mechanical WaterHydraulic Speed Governor
Micro Hydro Electric Power
Micro Pelton Turbines
MicroHydro Power: Reviewing an Old Concept
MicroHydro: Civil Engineering Aspects
MicroHydropower Schemes in Pakistan
MicroHydropower Sourcebook
Microhydropower Handbook Volume 233
Mill Drawings
Mini Hydro Power Stations
MultiPurpose Power Unit with Horizontal Water Turbine: Basic Information
MultiPurpose Power Unit with Horizontal Water Turbine: Operation and Maintenance Manual
Nepal: Private Sector Approach to Implementing MicroHydropower Schemes
Overshot and Current Water Wheels
A Pelton MicroHydro Prototype Design
The Segner Turbine
Small Earth Dams
Small Hydroelectric Powerplants
Small Hydropower for Asian Rural Development
Small Michell (Banki) Turbine
Small Scale Hydropower Technologies
Water Power for the Farm
Watermills with Horizontal Wheels
Young Mill-Wright and Miller’s Guide
Your Own Water Power Plant

Nepal: Private Sector Approach to Implementing Micro-Hydropower Schemes. Micro-Hydropower Sourcebook: A Practical Guide to Design and Implementation in Developing Countries, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-541, book, 250 pages, by Allen Inversin, 1990, $29 North America, $20 elsewhere (airmail extra) from NRECA, 1800 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington, DC 20036, USA; also from ITDG and TOOL.

The most thorough reference available on small hydropower for developing countries, this book can be used as a primer for those wishing to undertake such projects. The author has personally visited and compiled the stories of many of the most successful small hydropower efforts.

“There are few publications available to serve as a guide to those implementing (micro-hydropower projects with a capacity of less than about 100kw). Some of these publications deal primarily with larger small-hydropower plants, leaving developers of micro-hydropower sites with few options but to reduce in scale the approaches and designs which are appropriate for large plants. Consequently, such publications tend to encourage the use of approaches and designs which do not take advantage of the unique factors encountered when implementing plants at the ‘micro’ end of the small-hydropower range, factors which must be considered if this resource is to be harnessed cost-effectively. Other publications are incomplete, leaving out, for example, any but cursory mention of power canals, while a survey of micro-hydropower plants around the world would indicate that such canals are used at a vast majority of sites.

“On the other hand, there is a wealth of experience in developing micro-hydropower sites which has been gained over the last several decades. But those implementing these schemes often have little time or inclination to document their efforts and, therefore, what they have learned cannot serve as a foundation on which others can build. By means of (this book, the author has gathered) information relevant to those implementing micro-hydropower schemes, preparing more complete descriptions of the many aspects of planning and implementation, and documenting some of the experiences around the world.”

Included are good presentations of the measurement of head and flow, stream flow characteristics, site selection and layout. The civil works (canals, diversion and intake structures, etc.) are given considerable attention, as they can be very costly. Turbine types are reviewed, along with coupling options (direct, belt and chain drives, gearboxes). Electrical vs. mechanical power, load controllers and flow governors are also discussed.

“It is probably the experience of many individuals working in rural villages.that electricity, especially for lighting, is a frequently sought-after amenity. But, at the same time, it is also clear that, unless the villagers are actually using kerosene for lighting, the financial resources to pay for this amenity are not available. The advantage of generating hydromechanical power is that it forces a focus on mechanical uses of power which probably already exist in a rural community and which normally generate income. Such activities include the milling of grain, the hulling of rice, the expelling of oil from seed, the saw-milling of timber, ginning of cotton, the pulping of coffee berries, and the crushing of sugar cane. A plant generating mechanical power to directly drive agro-processing or workshop equipment has, therefore, a better chance of being viable as well as of being replicable elsewhere in the region.”

Highly recommended for use in developing countries. Readers in industrialized countries will find this a valuable supplementary reference.

Micro Hydro Electric Power, Technical Paper No. 1, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-531, book, 46 pages, by Ray Holland, 1983, £3.95 from ITDG.

This booklet contains a basic introduction to the technologies and economics of small-scale waterpower plants. Readers intending to build plants will need to refer to other entries in this section, especially the Micro Hydropower Sourcebook.

Micro-Hydro Power: Reviewing an Old Concept, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-515, booklet, 43 pages, by Ron Alward, Sherry Eisenbart, and John Volkman, 1979, National Center for Appropriate Technology, out of print.

This technical manual, while aimed at those considering installing small hydroelectric systems in the U.S., presents the key considerations in so clear a step-by- step manner that it would be a useful resource for the individual or small community in any region. Most useful as a companion text to more technical reference works.

Industrial Archaeology of Watermills and Waterpower, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-511, book, 100 pages, Schools Council, 1975, Heinemann Educational Books Ltd., out of print in 1985.

This well-illustrated book provides a very good summary of the history of waterwheel development. The reasons for design improvements are discussed. This will allow the reader to better judge what materials and designs are needed for a particular application. For example, in the early 19th century, a very large slow-running waterwheel would develop high torque on the wooden main shaft, which might cause it to break. This was solved in two ways: by using iron shafts, and by using power drives off of the rim of the waterwheel (the main shaft then had only to be strong enough to support the wheel). Smaller waterwheels, for example, do not necessarily need these more expensive design elements.

By 1850, the British had built a number of very large industrial scale waterwheels, producing 65kw to 190kw of power, and ranging from 7m to 21m in diameter. Some of these waterwheels were kept in operation for 100 years. Such waterwheels would likely be very expensive to build today; but smaller wheels in the range of .3 to .5kw built locally in the rural South may be economically viable in many places.

Options for different installations are discussed: water course layout, types of wheel construction, bucket design, mechanisms for flow control, and gearing system (belts, wooden teeth, iron gears) to take the power off the wheel and run it to the equipment.

The second half of the book is a guide for teaching students about waterwheels. This shows how to measure water flow in a stream, figuring torque on the waterwheel shaft assuming a certain wheel rpm, and calculating horsepower. Several working models can be used to illustrate principles. A brief but informative section on water turbines is included.

Those who want to design waterwheel installations will find this book helpful with its background information and 200 drawings and photos. However, the design formulas (for number of buckets, bucket depth, wheel width and diameter, etc.) that were well-developed by 1850 are not included and will have to be found elsewhere (for example, in Design Manual for Waterwheels).

Small Scale Hydropower Technologies, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-540, book, 108 pages, by J.J. Tiemersma and N.A. Heeren, TOOL, out of print.

This is an introduction to the historical range of small waterpowered devices, including waterwheels, turbines, and other units. We prefer Industrial Archaeology of Watermills and Waterpower for the historical coverage.

Water Power for the Farm, Bulletin No. 197, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-525, booklet, 42 pages, by O. Monson and A. Hill, Montana Agricultural Extension Service, 1941, $7.00 from

Interlibrary Loan Service, Roland R. Renne Library, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana 59717-0022, USA.

“Information given here is intended to be helpful in the proper selection and installation of small waterpower equipment. Directions and specifications are included for the construction of some types of dams and water controls which are practical for use with waterpower plants.’ Discusses waterwheels and water turbines, how to estimate the power available in a stream, cost considerations, and methods of power transmission.

The water measurement section is inferior to Low Cost Development of Small Water Power Sites and the Popular Science article. But this booklet provides more than the others on electrical systems. There is brief information on switches and wiring, for people not familiar with electricity. A wiring chart gives sizes of wires needed for different transmission distances, voltages, and total capacity. However, it does refer to equipment that is out of date (32 volts) in the U.S. Another useful chart shows power output at the wheel shaft and from a generator, given different heads and different waterwheels and turbines.

Low-Cost Development of Small Water Power Sites, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-513, booklet, 43 pages, by H. Hamm, 1971 (reprinted 1975), $7.50 (overseas orders add $3.00 for surface mail, $5.00 for airmail), from VITA; also available in Spanish and French.

This important booklet is a guide to the desirability, selection, construction, and installation of a small waterpower plant. “The manual begins by describing in simple language the steps necessary to measure the head (the height of a body of water) and flow of the water supply, and gives data for computing the amount of power available. Next it describes the construction of a small dam and points out safety precautions necessary … a discussion of turbines and water wheels ….

Guidelines are given for making the right choice for a particular site …. The manual also describes in detail how to make a Michell (or Banki) turbine in a small machine shop with welding facilities, from usually available pipe and other stock material.” The booklet includes 32 drawings and sketches of different installations and pieces of equipment. The author recommends several companies that manufacture waterpower equipment, cautioning that “the hazards accompanying the manufacture of so delicate a machine by do-it-yourself methods and the difficulty of achieving high efficiency should warn the ambitious amateur to consider the obvious alternative of securing advice from a reliable manufacturer before attempting to build his own.”

Your Own Water Power Plant, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-510, article with drawings, 16 pages, by C. Basset in Popular Science magazine, 1947, reprinted in Hydropower.

This is a classic how-to article, written in simple language and covering much of what you need to know to build your own waterpower plant. Its usefulness is underlined by the fact that it has been reprinted so many times recently. The article covers choice of location for a small dam, the measurement of flow and head with simple common tools, small dam construction, making a wooden flume and wooden overshot waterwheel, and fabricating a Pelton impulse wheel.

This article does not cover the final use of the power produced—neither electricity-generating equipment nor mechanical power are discussed.

Hints on the Development of Small Water-Power: Leffel Pamphlet “A” Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-509, leaflet, 8 pages, James Leffel and Company, Ohio, out of print.

This pamphlet was prepared for those who are thinking of building small waterpower plants on small streams to generate electricity. It is intended to give necessary information to people unfamiliar with the general rules and requirements of such developments. Explains the terms “fall” and “head,” and how to measure the “head.” Includes a simple table for measuring the quantity of water. Discusses the importance of ponds for water storage.

James Leffel and Co. have been manufacturing waterpower equipment for 115 years. The pamphlet is quite useful in itself, and does not require the reader to buy any of the company’s equipment.

Hydropower, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-510, book, 72 pages, edited by Andrew MacKillop out of print.

This was published to encourage the use of small-scale waterpower systems in Britain. Includes reprints of Your Own Water Power Plant and Leffel Pamphlet “A” (see reviews). One additional 6-page article on waterpower is included, plus articles on other unrelated subjects. Written with a humorous tone.

Young Mill-Wright and Miller’s Guide, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-528, book, 400 pages plus 28 plates (drawings), by Oliver Evans (watermill engineer and inventor),1850 (reprinted 1972), $32.00 from Ayer Co. Pubs., P.O. Box 958, Salem, New Hampshire 03079, USA.

A handbook written and used during the era when waterwheels were most common. This is a remarkable, classic book on the use of waterwheels to grind grain into flour and to operate equipment such as saws. The entire book is oriented toward practical applications. The major subjects include the relevant principles of mechanics and hydraulics, descriptions of the different kinds of wheels including tables with proportions and power, descriptions of gears and cogs along with the additional equipment needed for grinding grain into flour, and information for building mills including the wheels and all auxiliary equipment. You can also find short discussions of the strength and durability of teeth of wheels, the bearings and shafts, constructing cogwheels, and mills for hulling and cleaning rice.

“The stones are to be dressed with a few deep furrows, with but little draught, and picked full of large holes; they must be set more than the length of the grain apart. The hoop should be lined inside with strong sheet-iron, and this, if punched full of holes, will be thereby improved. The grain is to be kept under the stone as long as necessary. The principle by which the grains are hulled, is that of rubbing them against one another, between the stones with great force; by which means they hull one another without being much broken by the stones.” (From description of “a mill for cleaning and hulling rice.”)

The language used may well prove difficult at times for non-native English speakers; old forms are frequently used which may not appear in current two-language dictionaries. There are fewer drawings than we would like to see; they are grouped at the back instead of appearing with the corresponding text. On the other hand, this appears to be by far the most complete book still in print on large, powerful waterwheels.

Mill Drawings, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-517, 30 large sheets, measurements and details, by W. Forman, 1974, The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, England, out of print.

Each of these 30 sheets contains a set of perspective and scale drawings of a different old, large watermill installation. These are actual sites, and the drawings include lots of details of the wheels, machinery, and layout of each mill. Some of them are very unusual. There are overshot, undershot, and breast waterwheels shown. A possible source of ideas.

A Design Manual for Water Wheels, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-501, booklet, 71 pages, by William Ovens, 1975, $7.25 from VITA; also available from ITDG and TOOL.

This booklet is a result of a Papua New Guinea University of Technology project involving the development of low-cost machinery (waterwheels) to provide small amounts of mechanical power in remote locations. The manual is “for the selection of proper sizes required to meet a specific need and to set out design features based on sound engineering principles” in easily understood language. Wooden overshot wheels were selected as “the most likely choice to give maximum power output per dollar cost, or per pound of machine, or per manhour of construction time.” The booklet covers the general principles of bucket design, calculating power output, bearing design (use of wooden bearings recommended), shafts, some information on construction techniques, and waterpumping applications. A set of sample calculations for the design of a village waterwheel/pump combination is given. No specific plans are provided.

The slow speed of rotation of wooden waterwheels (5 to 30 rpm) “is advantageous when the wheel is utilized for driving certain types of machinery already in use and currently powered by hand. Coffee hullers and rice hullers are.two which require only fractional horsepower, low-speed input. Water pumping can be accomplished at virtually any speed …. A usable water wheel can be built almost anywhere that a stream will allow, with the crudest of tools, and elementary carpentry skills”

This leaflet’s major weakness is the lack of illustrations. There are a variety of graphs, but only 7 drawings—only two of these have to do with the design of the wheel itself. There are 4 good drawings of mechanisms to convert the rotational motion of the wheel into the up and down stroke that a piston pump requires. The piston pump design provided is questionable—it must be cut open for inspection or repair.

Despite the lack of illustrations, we highly recommend this booklet to anyone considering the construction of overshot waterwheels. (See also Oil Soaked Wooden Bearings.)

Overshot and Current Water Wheels, Bulletin 398, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-520, booklet, 30 pages, by O. Monson and A. Hill, reprinted September 1975, photocopies $7.00 from Interlibrary Loan Service, Roland R. Renne Library, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana 59717-0022, USA.

This 1920s booklet is a valuable supplement to others, such as the Design Manual for Water Wheels and Low Cost Development of Small Water Power Sites. It gives details of bucket construction and mounting, hubs, and bracing for wide wheels. Useful hints are provided on bearings, wheel mountings, and assembly and balancing of the wheel. A chart compares steel shaft diameters to wooden shaft diameters for equal strength in twisting (shear). There is some discussion of the special problems presented by current (undershot) wheels.

This does not include the design formulas needed to design your own waterwheel if you know the available flow and head (height).

Watermills with Horizontal Wheels, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-526, booklet, 22 pages, by Paul Wilson, 1960, The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, London, out of print.

This is a survey of the vertical-axis, small “horizontal stone” watermills widely used around the world for 1500 to 2000 years, and still in use today in isolated areas of countries like Nepal. A number of different installations around the world and six different mill wheel designs are shown. These machines are “not as efficient as an overshot or breast wheel, but they have the virtue of simplicity due to the absence of gearing,” and they are very cheap to build. (Another book notes that this type of mill is able to produce 40 to 50 pounds of cornmeal per hour; Nepalese watermills grind about 30-35 pounds per hour.)

Most of these watermills had a wooden trough bringing fast-moving water to strike the blades of the wheel, with a head of 4-10 feet. Two types of pressurized systems also evolved, one using wooden channels with nozzles, and the other using stone towers with nozzles. “The Aruba Penstock (water tower) was introduced (in Israel), giving much greater efficiency and enabling power to be obtained from quite small flows of water using heads up to 25 or even 30 feet.

“On Watermills in Central Crete”, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-519, booklet, 8 pages, by N. Calvert, 1973, 70 pence in sterling including postage (prepayment only) from The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, 37, Spital Square, London E1 6DY, England.

This is a look at two kinds of waterwheels in Crete. The most interesting one is a traditional vertical axis watermill, that has a stone tower and a pressurized jet with a deflector (almost like a modern high-speed Pelton wheel). “The constructional materials are of the simplest and most local description. With one important exception: (the millstone) stones are small and unworked, timber is of small dimensions … clay is used and a very little iron. An effective and sweetly running machine is built from what is literally little more than a supply of sticks and stones.”

The author notes that the basic layout of these wheels is so technically sound that modern improvements (in nozzle and blade design) could improve efficiency by only about 20%.

New Himalayan Water Wheels, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-538, booklet, 84 pages, by Andreas Bachmann and A.M. Nakarmi, 1983, UNICEF/Nepal, out of print.

Nepal is probably the leading country today in the installation of improved water-driven wheels and turbines for mechanical power. The many photos in this booklet illustrate details of traditional Nepalese watermills and a variety of newer alternatives, both well-established and experimental. The text summarizes the experimental work to late 1983.

Multi-Purpose Power Unit with Horizontal Water Turbine: Basic Information, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-518, booklet, 60 pages, by A.M. Nakarmi and Andreas Bachmann, 1983, UNICEF/Nepal, out of print.

An estimated 30,000 ghatta, traditional water-powered mills, are in use in Nepal. This book describes the Multi-Purpose Power Unit (MPPU), a modular design mill which is based upon the traditional ghatta but is more efficient and can be used to power other machines such as a rice huller, oil expeller, or small dynamo for generation of electricity. Although the MPPU would not typically be constructed entirely on site and the MPPU is more expensive than a ghatta, it is produced in the country, and can be installed and operated under the same conditions as a ghatta. Its simple design makes local maintenance possible. Detailed plans for construction are not presented, but many diagrams and photographs are included so that the basic design concepts for the MPPU are easily understood.

Multi-Purpose Power Unit with Horizontal Water Turbine: Operation and Maintenance Manual, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-536, booklet, 36 pages, by A.M. Nakarmi and Andreas Bachmann, 1984, UNICEF/Nepal, out of print.

This second volume on the Multi-Purpose Power Unit is an operator’s manual for the turbine and the milling equipment (small rice huller and oil expeller) commonly used with it in Nepal. Included is a trouble-shooting chart to help identify and solve mechanical problems.

Nepal: Private Sector Approach to Implementing Micro Hydropower Schemes, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-537, booklet, 26 pages, by Allen Inversin, 1982, $4.00 surface mail from Small Decentralized Hydropower Program, International Programs Division, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, 1800 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington DC. 20036, USA.

Possibly the most successful developing country experience with low-cost steel water turbines (outside of The People’s Republic of China) has been in Nepal. Blades for the small turbines, which cost only a fraction of the cost of similar units in industrialized countries, are cut from steel water pipe and welded in place. Production is done in workshops in Kathmandu and Butwal, and the units are trucked and then hand-carried into the inaccessible middle hills. The turbines are sold to mill owners, who use them to drive grain grinders, paddy hullers, and oil

presses. This insightful case study describes the typical mill layout and the organizational structures that have been set up to work with customers do site surveys and install the units.

Small Water Turbine, book, 123 pages, by H. Scheurer, R. Metzler, B. Yoder, 1980, from German Appropriate Technology Exchange, Postfach 5180, D-6236 Eschborn 1, Federal Republic of Germany.

This book covers much of the same material as Nepal: Private Sector Approach. In addition, background information on the history of the Butwal water turbine program indicates the problems faced and why particular components and fabrication techniques were finally chosen. Technical drawings are provided.

Micro-Hydropower Schemes in Pakistan, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-532, booklet, 38 pages, by Allen Inversin, December 1981, $4.00 surface mail from Small Decentralized Hydropower Program, International Programs Division, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, 1800 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington D.C. 20036, USA.

Village electrification is being done in Pakistan using a variety of design simplifications, low-cost locally made turbines, Chinese generators, and village materials and labor. This booklet describes 25 ATDO-sponsored installations in the range of 5-15 kw that attracted great interest and enthusiasm in the villages. The crossflow turbines have rudimentary governing systems. Penstock for water delivery from the canal to the turbine is made of wood or oil drums if the head is less than 6 meters. Costs were US $250-400/kw (1978 dollars).

Local Experience with Micro-Hydro Technology, SKAT Publication No. 11, Vol. 1, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-512, book, 176 pages, by U. Meier, 1981, Swiss Francs 32.00 from SKAT.

A comprehensive examination of the potential for hydropower, particularly micro-hydro (installations producing less than 100 kw), in meeting the energy needs of developing countries. Considerations of technology choice emphasize in-country production and appropriate application of energy, relaxed standards for local manufacture of components, cooperative ownership, and on-the-job training to encourage adoption of this promising energy alternative. Includes ease studies, some technical data, bibliography, and a list of institutions and organizations involved in hydropower development.


Design of Cross-Flow Turbine BYS/T1, Construction Manual, Drawings Set, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22- 502, booklet, 113 pages, by U. Meier, 1982, Swiss Francs 30.00 from SKAT.

Engineering drawings and parts lists for construction of the BYS cross-flow turbine developed in Nepal, including housing and hand-operated flow control mechanisms. Steel plate and pipe are the construction materials, and a well-equipped metalworking shop is required.

Design of Cross-Flow Turbine BYS/T3, Construction Manual, Drawings Set, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22- 503, drawings, by U. Meier, 1982, photocopy, Swiss Francs 30.00 from SKAT. Similar to Cross-Flow Turbine BYS/T1. Produces 10 kw to 20 kw with a 5-70 meter head.

The Banki Water Turbine, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-500, booklet, 27 pages, by Mockmore and Merryfield of the Engineering Experiment Station, Oregon State University, 1949, $2.00 in U.S., $4.00 foreign, from Engineering Experiment Station, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA.

This booklet has lots of somewhat sophisticated mathematics and diagrams that explain the theory behind the Banki turbine, filling up most of the text. Oregon State University built an experimental version that worked quite well—a brief discussion of that unit is included.

Small Michell (Banki) Turbine: A Construction Manual, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-524, booklet, 56 pages, by W.R. Breslin, 1979, $9.50 from VITA; also available from TOOL.

This is basically a reprint of the VITA booklet, Low Cost Development of Small Water Power Sites (see review), with an expanded (15 page) section on construction of a Banki turbine.

Specifications are given for only one turbine diameter (30 cm), but turbine width can be varied to accommodate different volumes of water. The plans require 10 cm diameter steel water pipe for the turbine blades, and steel plate for the sides and nozzle. Welding, cutting and grinding tools are needed. The turbine can be used for direct drive of agricultural equipment or for producing electricity. (You will have to look elsewhere for the information to help you set up a proper electrical installation.)

A site with a head (total height water will fall) of 25 feet (7.6 m) and a flow of water of 2.8 cubic feet per second (81 liters per second) would produce about 6.3 hp (4.8 kw) of power at the turbine. Transmission losses or generator losses can be expected to cut this by 1/3 to l/2.

Manual for the Design of a Simple Mechanical Water-Hydraulic Speed Governor, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-514, booklet, 40 pages, by U. Meier, 1980, Swiss Center for Appropriate Technology, out of print.

This manual describes the mechanical speed governing system developed by Balaju Yantra Shala (BYS) in Nepal to control their cross-flow turbine. Schematic drawings help explain the operation of the unit, and detailed drawings provide information for construction of the key load-regulating valve.

“It is mostly cost that has stood in the way of speedy and large-scale development of small hydropower potentials (in developing countries). Imported and sophisticated equipment becomes costlier and costlier and is in most cases not economically feasible. This applies mostly to hydraulic equipment such as water turbines, accessories and governing devices. The case is different for alternators and switch gear which are produced in great number in industrialized countries and are therefore relatively cheap.”

“Experience in Nepal shows that it is possible to reduce costs of hydroelectricity generation projects vastly by minimizing civil engineering and structural works and by producing hydraulic equipment in local workshops with simple designs and technology.”

“Nonavailability of a simple mechanical governor has long been a major obstacle in implementing small hydro projects with acceptable standards of safety. The Swiss Association for Technical Assistance, Helvetas, in Zurich has sponsored a project to develop a simple governor that would be sufficiently accurate and reliable and could be manufactured by local workshops in Nepal …. A prototype was built and tested in early 1979. The governor was designed for operating the gate of a crossflow (Banki) turbine, but may in fact be utilized on the flow regulator of any turbine…. This construction manual may enable other organizations and

individuals to adapt this governor to their own needs and improve it further as a contribution to the design of simple but reliable hydraulic equipment for small electricity generation units.”

The Dhading Micro-Hydropower Plant: 30kWe, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-506, booklet, 29 pages, by U. Meier, 1983, SKAT, out of print.

This paper describes a micro-hydropower plant using a BYS MWH/P-governor and complements Manual for the Design of a Simple Mechanical Water-Hydraulic

Speed Governor. Diagrams and photographs include a hydraulic profile of the turbine, a schematic of governor hydraulics, a proposed hydraulic damping arrangement, and photographs of equipment installed. General information presented includes technical specifications, plant performance and operation, plant safety, and a summary of the data collected

The Segner Turbine: A Low-Cost Solution for Harnessing Water Power on a Very Small Scale, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-522, booklet, 13 pages, by U. Meier, M. Eisenring, and A. Arter, 1983, $2.00 or Swiss Francs 4.00 from SKAT.

This very simple turbine is currently being produced in Nepal for US $670 (1983 prices). The history and operation of the turbine are presented along with basic design details. The authors find that for Nepal, the Segner turbine is only economical for certain functions such as oil extraction and rice hulling. The traditional ghatta was found to be more economical for milling of grains, and the Segner turbine cannot be scaled up sufficiently to replace the standard turbine for applications requiring a high-power output.

Small Hydropower for Asian Rural Development, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-542, book, 353 pages edited by Colin Elliott, 1981, $27.50 to developing countries, $35.00 to developed countries, from Regional Energy Resources Information Center, Asian Institute of Technology, P.O. Box 2754, Bangkok 10501, Thailand.

This well-matched set of conference papers provides a good introduction to the technical, environmental, and financial aspects of micro and mini (10 kw to one MW capacity) hydroelectric plant development. More extensive than Small Hydroelectric Plants, this volume also includes some case studies from Asia, most of the text would be relevant in any developing country. For readers interested in rural electrification using hydropower, this is a good place to start.

Small Hydroelectric Powerplants, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-539, book, 333 pages, 1980, Small Decentralized Hydropower Program, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, out of print.

The English and Spanish text side by side in this volume cover some of the same ground as Small Hydropower for Asian Rural Development, but with case studies from Latin America. This too is a compendium of conference papers. Typical installations are described. A glossary is included.

Microhydropower Handbook, Volume l, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-533, and Volume II, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-534 books, 920 pages, by EG&G Idaho for the U.S. Dept. of Energy, January 1983, order no. DE83-006697 (Vol. I) and order no. DE83-006698 (Vol. 2), paper copies of each volume $45.00 domestic, $90.00 foreign, from NTIS.

Intended as a guide for individuals attempting to develop small hydroelectric power sites in the U.S., the handbook “assumes that the reader has little working knowledge of hydropower or the engineering concepts behind the use of hydropower.” The authors have attempted “to provide a mechanically proficient lay person with sufficient information to evaluate micro hydropower site potential, lay out a site, select and install equipment, and finally, operate and maintain the complete system. The actual construction details of the site are not included; rather, pointers are given as to what help he should expect from a construction contractor, and general guidelines on construction details are provided. In addition, information about obtaining financing and permits is provided. To help offset the cost, the person performing the work, referred to as the ‘developer’, is encouraged to do as much of the work as possible”

This is probably a necessary book for people in the U.S. who wish to develop a micro hydropower site and sell the power to the utilities. Where to get government stream flow data and the necessary permits are among the topics discussed that are essential in the U.S. but irrelevant elsewhere. The two volumes are lengthy and expensive, but probably represent the most accessible in-depth presentation of the technical considerations for anyone without a previous background in the field who is seriously interested in developing a site (e.g., of 100kw potential). For projects based in the South, the Microhydropower Sourcebook by

Inversin will be much more helpful than this book, as it concentrates on the different problems and opportunities found in these places.

Mini Hydro Power Stations (A Manual for Decision Makers), Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-535, book, 163 pages, UNIDO, 1981, document #UNIDO/IS.225, available from UNIDO.

This manual provides project managers with an overview of the steps and considerations involved in the establishment of medium-scale (“mini”) hydroelectric units, from prefeasibility studies to operation and maintenance. Common problems are noted, as are advantages and disadvantages of different materials and operational structures. For the intended audience, this should prove to be a useful reference. The reproduction quality of the text (particularly the charts which are often too small to read) is below average; this is likely to be corrected when this material is reissued as part of UNIDO’s Development and Transfer of Technology series.

Directory of Manufacturers of Small Hydropower Equipment, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-530, booklet, 71 pages, by Allen Inversin, 1984, Small Decentralized Hydropower Program, National

Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Washington, D.C., out of print A good summary of cost saving strategies for small hydropower installations (1-1000 kw range) starts off this volume. This is followed by a description of manufacturers worldwide, some of them quite small, and some of them located in developing countries. This information should be quite helpful in obtaining price quotes.

A “method for reducing the cost of a hydropower installation which is gaining popularity is to use pumps in reverse as turbines …. Because they are often mass produced by numerous manufacturers, costs are reduced. Since they are standardized and available off-the-shelf, delivery times are minimized …. One major difference between pumps and turbines is that the former are designed to operate under a single set of conditions. There is no efficient way of controlling flow through a pump …. (However,) by using at least two pumps, preferably of different capacities, it is possible to harness a significant portion of the energy available in varying flows … the relatively low cost of pumps still permits the economical use of multiple units for power generation.”

Cost Reduction Considerations in Small Hydropower Equipment, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-529, paper, 12 pages, by D. Minott and R. Delisser, 1983, publication no. ID/ WG.403/21, UNIDO, out of print.

A useful summary of alternative materials for penstock construction is the unique feature of this brief paper. PVC, wood stave, fiberglass-reinforced polyester and asbestos cement penstocks are discussed.

“PVC pipes can be supplied to withstand heads of over 150 meters so long as an appropriate method of making joints is utilized to guarantee proper sealing. Although in many developing countries it is not possible to obtain PVC pipes in excess of 5 meters long with more than a 12 inch internal diameter, it is possible and even desirable where required to run two pipes in parallel in order to approximate a larger diameter penstock. But PVC has a low-impact resistance and becomes fragile from prolonged exposure to sunlight ultraviolet radiation, so it is recommended that such penstocks be installed underground to increase the life of the installation.”

Harnessing Water Power for Home Energy, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-507, book, 112 pages, by Dermot McGuigan, 1978, Garden Way Publishing, Schoolhouse Road, Pownal, Vermont 05261, USA; indefinitely out of stock.

This is a good book for someone who wants to learn about the different small-scale water turbines that can be used to generate electricity. The Pelton wheel, Turgo impulse wheel, Banki (Ossberger) cross-flow turbine, and Francis turbine are shown in a total of 6 actual installations in England and the United States. Costs are provided for many of these examples. Only the Pelton wheel and Banki turbine are really suitable for construction in a small workshop. Manufacturers of turbines and whole systems are listed from around the world.

Useful notes are included on alternators, transmission drives, dams, and the electronic governor (a device which switches part of the electric current away from the main line—to heat water, for example—when the electric demand falls; this eliminates the need for an expensive mechanical governor which regulates the amount of water flowing through the turbine).

There are many drawings and photos, but these are poorly explained. Electrical circuitry is not shown, and mechanical governors are not explained. Waterwheels are only briefly covered in a few pages. The examples are all single homes in rich countries, using large amounts of electricity. The language is relatively easy to understand, although a number of waterpower engineering terms are used without explanation.

You will not be able to build anything from the information contained in this book, but you can get a better idea of what would be required to install a small waterpowered electric system, on a useful scale for village electrification.

Micro Pelton Turbines, Harnessing Water Power on a Small Scale Volume 9, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22- 543, book, 84 pages, by Markus Eisenring, 1991, GATE/ SKAT, available from SKAT.

A small Pelton turbine can be a good choice of water turbine for circumstances in which a modest amount of water is available at a high head. The Pelton turbine can be less than a foot (30 cm) in diameter, rotates at a high rpm, and is generally used to produce electricity. This manual provides a good introduction to the design and production of Pelton wheels in developing countries. The Pelton wheel is the second easiest turbine to make, after the more widely applicable cross-flow turbine (covered elsewhere). Little coverage is given to the actual use of the power produced or the governing equipment necessary to control the speed and power output. Four examples of small installations in Switzerland are provided.

A Pelton Micro-Hydro Prototype Design, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-521, report, 41 pages, by Allen Inversin, 1980.

“Is it possible that introducing electricity into rural villages could be one factor towards rejuvenating life in these villages? Can a technically and socially appropriate system with active villager participation in the planning, installation, management, and evolution of their own scheme have beneficial effects?”

“This report describes work to date on a modular design for a Pelton micro-hydro generating set with an electrical output up to … 5 kVA and with a ‘typical’ installation cost of about K300/kVA ($400/kw) including penstock costs …. This is less expensive than diesel generating sets, and, when recurring costs are included, less costly than both diesel and petrol. Also covered briefly are ideas on governing bucket design and prototype performance, and cost/kw of PVC penstock pipe for different site configurations and pipe diameters.”

Pelton wheels requiring a head of 50 feet or more were chosen, due to the mountainous terrain and small water flow required by these units. General design guidelines were to develop a low-cost but rugged design, which could be locally fabricated with a minimum of special skills, and which could be easily installed with little site preparation.

Notable design simplifications include: 1) a low-cost easily-made iron pipe cover for the main shaft, which prevents water from entering the bearings; 2) use of holes in steel plate to replace nozzles; 3) pulley substitution to adjust for actual head at the site; 4) bolted assembly. The author also discusses a variety of ways to eliminate the need for expensive mechanical flow governing systems.

This well-illustrated report is a valuable description of the state of the art of.low-cost micro-hydroelectric systems using Pelton wheels. It incorporates ideas and suggestions based on pioneering work in Colombia at Universidad de los Andes. The technology is widely relevant in mountainous areas of developing countries.

Design of Small Water Turbines for Farms and Small Communities, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-505, book (including working drawings for a selected water turbine), 163 pages, by Mohammed Durali, 1976, Technology Adaptation Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, out of print.

This is a report of a project “to study alternative water turbines producing 5 kw electric power from an available hydraulic head of 10 m and sufficient amount of flow, and to recommend one for manufacture,” for use on Colombian coffee farms.

Much of the book presents the sophisticated mathematics and physics of turbine design for optimum performance. This requires some technical training to comprehend. The relationships between the various elements in the design are given in equations, allowing choice for simplicity in particular elements.

The design criteria included: simplicity of operation and maintenance (the machine is intended for use by farmers with little technical knowledge); and lower cost of electric power over the life of the machine when compared with transmitted power from the main electric grid. Choice of turbine would be determined in part by which of two production alternatives was selected: 1) use of a simple workshop capable of welding, drilling, and cutting steel parts (local farming area production); or 2) use of more sophisticated production methods like casting and molding with some plastic parts (industrial production at a centralized level).

“The work consisted of the preliminary design of different types of water turbine which could be used for this application. Then one was selected and designed completely. A complete set of working drawings was produced for the selected type.”

“Four different types of water turbine were studied: a cross-flow (Banki); two types of axial-flow turbines; and a radial-flow turbine. Each one has some advantages and some disadvantages (explained in the text). One of the axial-flow turbines … was chosen for detailed design as presenting the optimum combination of simplicity and efficiency.”

The materials range from riveted pieces of thin-wall steel tubing for the blades, wooden bearings, and bicycle sprocket/chain drive (Banki turbine) to molded, extruded, or cast plastic blades (axial-flow turbine).

“A big portion of the price of each of the units is the generator cost. The rest of the construction cost seems likely to be similar for all units for small-scale production. For large-scale production the cross-flow will be much more costly than the axial-flow types. This is because the material cost for the axial-flow machines is small, but initial investments for molds and dyes are required.”

Design of Small Water Storage and Erosion Control Dams, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22504, booklet, 79 pages, by A.D. Wood and E.V. Richardson, 1975.

Covers design criteria and construction methods (mechanical and manual) for small earth and rock-filled dams. Includes discussion of several types of ponds, foundation conditions, and water uses, with special attention to outlet spillways. An.appendix covrs seepage and its influence upon design. The text is somewhat dense and a bit dry in style, but contains much useful information.

Small Earth Dams, Publication No. 2867, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-523, booklet, 23 pages, by Lloyd Brown, 1965, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, out of print 1980, contact an appropriate technology information center for a photocopy.

This introductory booklet has practical suggestions for those who want to build small dams to make ponds for irrigation or watering animals. Although the focus is on U.S. climate and methods, the booklet could be useful as a starting point for building low-head dams for micro-hydroelectric systems anywhere. The information is only for use in small (6 feet and under) dams and those dams that back up a limited amount of water. There are suggestions for selecting a site, a few hints on construction, and maintenance and management practices for the reservoir and spillway (water outlet).

Micro-Hydro: Civil Engineering Aspects, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 22-516, paper, 11 pages, by D. Mansell, G. Atkins and S. Kiek, free from Dr. Don Mansell, Appropriate Technology Section, Faculty of Engineering, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia 3052.

This paper identifies “some of the aspects of small hydro-electric schemes which are of particular concern to the civil engineer, and provides some guidance to non-engineers who wish to build such power sources …. (Includes) facts, problems and ideas which may be of interest to a person wishing to investigate the feasibility of a small scheme.”

Discusses calculations for low flows, flumes and channels (earth, timber, concrete, and steel), and soil problems in small earth dams. The perspective is that of using local materials for small waterpower schemes in isolated rural areas.

“It is possible to build small dams with reasonable certainty of success with the use of a little simple technology. Such dams should not exceed 5 meters in height.”


The Power Guide contains information on commercially available water turbines and a stream flow water pump; see ENERGY: GENERAL. Hydraulic ram pumps are the subject of several publications reviewed in WATER SUPPLY.

Wind Energy


 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

The wind has been a significant source of power for centuries. Early windmills in China and Southeast Asia lifted water into rice fields. In Europe the windmill developed into an enormous structure, nearly the size of a small sailing ship, developing power in the range of 25 hp and higher, for use in grain grinding, drainage and a multiple of small industrial tasks. The first windmills in North America and the Caribbean were of this type. In the late 19th century, water pumping windmills were manufactured by the thousands, and several million machines were operated by the end of this century. These were mostly lifting water for farm houses and livestock.

Wind generators for electricity spread by the hundreds of thousands across rural North America in the 1930s supplying the farm houses with small amounts of power for radios and a few lights. Both the water pumping windmills and the wind generators went into decline with the coming of rural electrification, which offered cheap electricity for running electric pumps and many more household uses. With the energy crisis, however, sales of water pumping wind mills and wind generators have greatly increased in the United States.

It is the water pumping windmill that appears to be the most immediately relevant for rural energy needs in the developing countries, both for high value community water supplies and for irrigation pumping. Irrigation is the biggest single factor in improving farm yields, and there are many places where low-lift irrigation on small plots could be accomplished with windmills. Thailand, Greece, Japan, Peru, and Portugal are among the nations where significant numbers of irrigation windmills have been used in recent times. In North America, farmers built thousands of scrap wood water pumping windmills before the manufactured steel machines appeared. In all of these national experiences, local windmill designs were developed to fit pumping needs, wind conditions, and materials available. These machines were built in small workshops; this kept prices low and repair skills nearby. In other countries where manufactured windmills have been directly introduced, the initial high cost and lack of repair skills have greatly reduced their attractiveness. (South Africa and Australia may be exceptions. In these industrialized countries, variations in the American fan-bladed windmill have been widely used to water livestock and isolated farmhouses. These are expensive high performance machines requiring infrequent but skilled maintenance and repair.)

Thus the historical record suggests that successful windmill promotion programs in developing countries will need to focus on locally adapted designs and craftsperson based production using local materials, with a limited number of manufactured parts. Promotion programs might include credit mechanisms whereby the windmill itself is both loan and collateral. Also of interest is the Las Gaviotas approach in which the buyer assembles and installs a metal windmill from a kit (see Un Molino de Viento Tropical).

Water pumping windmills for irrigation purposes are most economically competitive in areas that do not already have electricity for powering irrigation pumps. In these circumstances the alternatives are generally small engine driven pumps that are expensive to fuel and maintain. Low-lift applications for high value vegetable farming may be economically competitive in many parts of the world. The economic appeal of locally built windmills is even greater when the savings of scarce foreign exchange from reduced foreign imports and village level economic multiplier effects are considered. Other advantages of locally built windmills include the creation of village capital using local labor and materials, much lower initial cost, and avoidance of maintenance problems associated with engine-driven pumps. Such windmills appear to have more frequent but simpler maintenance requirements than manufactured windmills.

A small number of people are working on water pumping windmill designs in developing countries. The interesting contemporary examples of locally evolved designs include the Cretan sail windmills, the bamboo and cloth sail windmills of Thailand’s salt ponds, and the locally built windmills of the Cape Verde Islands. All of these were built and maintained by local craftspeople. New designs of fabricated steel windmills that attempt to reduce costs have been built and tested in India, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere, for both water supply and irrigation applications. In the United States, isolated houses have become a major market for wind generators for electricity. Wind Power for Farms, Homes and Small Industry and The Wind Power Book are recommended for readers considering such an installation. Technical advances now also allow a windmill to feed surplus power back into a conventional electric grid, a practice which makes wind-generated electricity in urban and suburban settings much more attractive than before, as the substantial expense of a battery system can be avoided.

For any wind machine, the choice of site is very important. Trees and buildings can greatly reduce the useful winds reaching a windmill. A small difference in wind speed can mean a big difference in power available, because the power in the wind varies with the cube of the wind speed. Thus a 12-mph wind has 8 times as much power as a 6-mph wind. Wind generators operate at the highest possible wind speeds, and the user will usually want to find the windiest spot possible for such an installation. Water pumping windmills, on the other hand, need greater protection from the extremes of high wilds, and are usually designed to operate in low and medium winds. We have included several publications on site selection for wind machines, including vegetative indicators of high average wind speeds at particular locations.

All of the following books are reviewed below and available for sale as part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CD 15* or DVD 3):

Aspects of Irrigation with Windmills
Considerations for the Use of Wind Power for Borehole Pumping
Construction Manual for PU350 and PU500 Windmills
Construction Manual for a Cretan Windmill
Electric Power from the Wind
Energy from the Wind
Food from Windmills
The Gaudgaon Village Sailwing Windmill
The Homebuilt WindGenerated Electricity Handbook
Homemade 6Volt WindElectric Plants
The Homemade Windmills of Nebraska
Horizontal Axis Fast Running Wind Turbines for Developing Countries
How to Build a “Cretan Sail” Windpump for Use in LowSpeed Wind Conditions
How to Construct a Cheap Wind Machine for Pumping Water
Low Cost Wind Speed Indicator
LowCost Windmill for Developing Nations
Matching of Wind Rotors to Low Power Electrical Generators
Optimization and Characteristics of a Sailwing Windmill Rotor
Performance Test of a Savonius Rotor
Piston Water Pump
Report on the Practical Application of WindPowered Pumps
Rotor Design for Horizontal Axis Windmills
Sahores Windmill Pump
Savonius Rotor Construction
Selecting Water Pumping Windmills
Set of Construction Drawings for PU350 and PU500 Windmills
Simplified Wind Power Systems for Experimenters
A Siting Handbook for Small Wind Energy Conversion Systems
A Survey of the Possible Use of Windpower in Thailand and the Philippines
Syllabus for Irrigation with Windmills
Technical Report
Trees as an Indicator of Wind Power Potential
Un Molino de Viento Tropical Gaviotas
Vegetation as an Indicator of High Wind Velocity
Vertical Axis Sail Windmill Plans
The Wind Power Book
Wind Power for Farms Homes and Small Industry
Windpower in Eastern Crete
Windpumping Handbook
Windpumping: A Handbook
Windpumps for Irrigation

The Wind Power Book, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-495, hardcover book, 255 pages, by Jack Park, 1981, $21.95 plus $2.00 postage (add $10.00 for airmail shipping) from Cheshire Books, 4532 Cherryvale Avenue, Soquel, California 95073, USA.

This book incorporates many developments in the field of windpower since the author wrote Simplified Wind Power Systems for Experimenters and Wind Power for Farms, Homes and Small Industry (see reviews). As with Simplified, Jack Park has made his presentation simple and understandable in order to allow innovative people to adapt the basic concepts to fit their own situation. For example, he explains the necessary formulas for calculating windpower available, and what to expect from different types of machines. This is the best book available for an overview of the topic Written for a North American audience, but useful for people in developing countries.

Wind Power for Farms, Homes, and Small Industry, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-497, book, 229 pages, by Jack Park and Dick Schwind, 1978, Document Number RFP 284111270/7814, paper copies $31 domestic, $62 foreign; microfiche $8 domestic, $16 foreign; from NTIS.

This is a no-nonsense introduction to windpower and windmachines for the North American. It is not a design manual, but a book to help the reader understand how to decide whether to buy a windmachine, considering needs, wind conditions, and other power options. The author discusses the different kinds of wind measuring equipment, different electrical systems, possible legal problems, and the routine tasks that come with owning a wind system. Monthly wind data for most of the United States is included. If the reader decides to get a windmachine, the book will help him/her decide what kind, what size, and what kind of energy storage system to use. Windgenerators and waterpumpers are considered. Highly recommended for North Americans considering installing a wind system.

Windpumping Handbook, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-510, book, 85 pages, by Sarah Lancashire with Jeff Kenna and Peter Fraenkel, 1987, £7.50 from ITDG.

An introduction to windpumping with primary emphasis on developing countries, this will help the reader understand many of the central factors that determine whether windpumping is a good choice of technology for a particular need. Other books contain more detailed coverage of wind measurement and site selection for wind machines, agriculture and windpumped irrigation, and windpump design and construction.

A Siting Handbook for Small Wind Energy Conversion Systems, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-489, book, 120 pages, by H.L. Wegley et. al., 1978, acc. no. PNL-2521 (plus Rev.1 for 1980 ed.), paper copies (1978) $23 domestic, $46 foreign; paper copies (1980 revised ed.) $17 domestic, $34 foreign; microfiche (1980 ed.) $8 domestic, $16 foreign; from NTIS.

“The primary purpose of this handbook is to provide siting guidelines for laymen who are considering the use of small wind energy conversion systems.” This kind of information is essential in promoting the effective use of windpower in the best locations.

The choice of a site for a wind machine is very important because: 1) the energy in the wind is proportional to the cube of the windspeed, and thus small differences in windspeed mean large differences in windpower available; 2) small obstacles on the ground in flat terrain can slow the wind considerably; and 3) wind patterns are greatly affected by hilly and mountainous terrain. This handbook will help identify the sites with the highest windpower potential. This is most important for windgenerators, which take advantage of the high range of winds at a site, for maximum electricity production. The manual will also be of value in choosing sites for waterpumping windmills, which need more protection from high winds and operate in the low range of windspeeds to allow more dependable water pumping.

Most of the information included can be used anywhere in the world. The core of this book is a well illustrated presentation on the effects of trees (including windbreaks), shrubs, and buildings in flat terrain, and the effects of ridges, passes, valleys and other features in mountainous or hilly terrain. Groups in other countries could substitute their own data for the section on special weather hazards of the United States (snow, hail, icing, tornadoes, thunderstorms, high winds and dust storms), with maps that identify affected areas. Most Developing countries do not have as firm a data base for these country maps, but some of the problems are avoided also.

“To understand and apply the siting principles discussed, the user needs no technical background in meteorology or engineering; he needs only a knowledge of basic arithmetic and the ability to understand simple graphs and tables.”

“According to manufacturers … the greatest cause of dissatisfaction among owners has been improper siting …. This handbook incorporates half a century of siting experience … as well as recently developed siting techniques.”

Wind Pumping: A Handbook, World Bank Technical Paper No. 101, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21509, book 273 pages, by Joop van Meel and Paul Smulders, 1989 $17.95 from World Bank Publications, Box 7247-8619, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19170-8619, USA.

“This handbook has been prepared to give an insight into the merits of using wind energy for small-scale water pumping and to enable a comparison between the use of wind pumps and use of … solar pumps, engine driven pumps, animal traction and hand pumps.” The book has been written for a broad audience, from policymakers to farmers and engineers. The authors have for the most part succeeded in making this information easily understood for the general reader, although there are many technical details that will prove challenging. “Where other forms of energy are difficult or expensive to obtain … windpumping in many instances represents the most effective and economic alternative.”

The book begins with a discussion of typical water pumping applications, and follows with coverage of wind pump technology, sizing of wind pumps and other small pumps, the economic and financial assessment of pumping technologies, and field testing of windpumps. An additional chapter on logistics and supporting activities has been written for managers of large-scale projects. This is a good starting point for readers who wish to consider windpumps. Many of the topics are covered in greater depth elsewhere.

Report on the Practical Application of Wind-Powered Pumps, 26 pages, by Marcus Sherman, 1977, Natural Resources Division, United Nations Economic and

Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), out of print; also reproduced in.”Proceedings of the workshop on biogas and other rural energy resources held at

Suva, and the roving seminar on rural energy development, held at Bangkok, Manila, Tehran and Jakarta,” Energy Development Series No. 19, ESCAPE, 1979, out of print.

This short paper contains a unique and very useful set of tables comparing the operating characteristics, design features, and costs of a wide variety of waterpumping windmills. The author’s intent is to “assist in the design and evaluation of future wind-powered water pumps projects for a wide range of environments. Water source, water use, local wind conditions, and availability of labor, capital, and materials are the major determinants of design selection.”

Most windmill types are covered. These include Greek (Cretan) sail, multi-vane, Savonius, Chinese vertical axis, Thai cloth, Thai bamboo, medium speed cloth, medium speed metal, and high speed windmills. Categories for comparison include rotor diameter, blade material, pumping rates, starting and rated wind velocity, initial capital cost, expected lifetime, maintenance costs and cost per cubic meter of water lifted a standard distance. The format allows quick comparisons of different windmill types, though for some (e. g. Chinese vertical axis windmills) little performance information is available.

“It appears that local design and construction of wind-powered water pumps is generally feasible …. The selection of low capital cost, low technology, high labor input designs is usually preferred for agricultural applications unless farmer credit schemes can be used. Higher cost is tolerable for public drinking water supply because the initial cost can be amortized through a long term community budget.”

A Survey of the Possible Use of Windpower in Thailand and the Philippines, Publication No. PNAAB481, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-490, book, 74 pages plus appendix, by W. Heronemus, 1974, on request from AID Document and Information Handling Facility, 7222 47th Street, Suite 102, Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815, USA; also from NTIS (quote accession number PB-245 609).

This report answers favorably the question “could windpower be used by the peasant farmer in Thailand or the Philippines to improve the quality of his life?”

“Numbers of six-sail wind machines are currently in use in the salt works around the northern shore of the Gulf of Thailand. The machines are of about 6 meters diameter and use bamboo spars, rope and wire to form a wheel which carries 6 triangular sails, each woven from rush or split bamboo.” These machines drive the paddles of the traditional water ladder low-lift pumps. The author recognizes that while efficiency could be greatly improved, the current machines are “admirably sized to the task they are to perform” and the primary limiting factor is not in the machines but in the land available for salt evaporation.

For use in irrigation, the author makes some stimulating suggestions for improvements in the sail windmill design and for local adaptation of a wooden, 16- bladed fan mill. “The blades would be of molded plywood, made between matched concrete molds in the existing Bangkok plywood factories …. Each laminated blade would be inserted into a wood spoke and the spokes would in turn be brought to an iron banded wood hub. The entire wheel would be a timber (plus glue) product, producible by native artisans possessing the same skills and tools required to build the water ladders.”

Most of the report is focused on Thailand, but the contents are of general interest to people in any area where there is a need for low-lift pumps for irrigation.

Photos of the sail windmill and water ladder are included.

Wind pumps for Irrigation, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-508, book, 96 pages, by H.J. van Dijk and P.D. Goedhart, 1990, CWD, Dfl. 35.00 from TOOL.

This recent release from CWD is the latest word on the use of windpumps to provide irrigation water, incorporating recent experience and describing the record of indigenous windpumps used in Crete and in Sao Vicente, Cape Verde Islands. The intention is to provide the reader with sufficient information about windpumps and irrigation to judge whether it makes sense to consider windpumps for a specific task.

The rapid spread in the 1970s and 1980s of indigenous wind pump technology in Sao Vicente is particularly interesting. The command area per windpump is about 0.120.16 ha. The farmers grow vegetables and drought resistant crops, and use storage tanks of about 1.5 days capacity. Many farmers use motorized pumps to back up their wind pumps, but, as one farmer put it: “The supply of wind for the wind pump is more secure at Sao Vicente than the supply of spare parts for a motor pump.”

“Chapter 1 introduces the key factors to be studied in connection to the viability of windpumps in different farming systems …. Chapter 2 introduces the technical aspects of windpumps …. Chapter 3 provides information on collecting and analyzing climatic data with special reference to the wind regime …. Only after reliable wind data has been analyzed can it be determined whether or not there is potential for the use of windpumps in the region …. In Chapters 4 and 5, the relationships between the output of a windpump and the use of the water output for irrigation is discussed. Estimating the area that can be cultivated (command area) and the factors influencing this command area are the subjects of Chapter 4 …. Windpump irrigation has specific problems related to the fact that the windpump output is not constant all the time. The effects of this phenomenon on farm water management are discussed in Chapter 5. Several measures such as storage tanks are suggested …. A method of estimating the required storage tank capacity is included

…. In Chapter 6, the economics of wind pump irrigation are analyzed, taking into account the national economics and farm economics …. Chapter 7 summarizes the book with an example set up for a wind pump project.”

Construction Manual for 12PU350 and 12PU500 Windmills and related books (see below), TOOL, all out of print. These waterpumping windmills are the product of a three-and-a-half year collaboration between Dutch engineers and some local organizations in India. The windmills were designed for irrigation pumping, and are manufactured in local metalworking shops. They still represent a relatively expensive investment, and the economic viability is not certain.

Four reports exist on the windmills themselves.

Technical Report 1982 (TOOL Windmill Projects) (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-504, book, 110 pages, by Niek Van de Ven, 1982) describes the problems and design changes made, and testing equipment used, during the program.

Construction Manual for 12PU350 and 12PU500 Windmills (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-501, book, 80 pages, by Niek Van de Ven, 1982) contains the necessary drawings, photos, and instructions to build these windmills.

Set of Construction Drawings for 12PU300 and 12PU500 Windmills (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-502, 14 large sheets, 1979) contains many of the same technical drawings, but of a larger size for use in the workshop during.fabrication.

Syllabus for Irrigation with Windmills: Technical Aspects (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-503, book, 75 pages, by Willem Nijhoff, 1982) is, despite the title, mostly concerned with the design calculations for this windmill, plus how to measure the windmill output.

Aspects of Irrigation with Windmills (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-500, book, 100 pages by A. van Vilsteren, 1981) is a review of the agricultural and economic factors that affect the viability of windpowered irrigation. This material is certainly applicable to other windmill designs as well.

Un Molino de Viento Tropical Gaviotas, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-479, booklet, 45 pages, in Spanish, by Centro Las Gaviotas, Colombia, 1980, out of print.

Presented in a popularized “foto-novela” (picture novel) format, this manual introduces a small waterpumping windmill designed by the Colombian appropriate technology center Las Gaviotas. The large number of photos and drawings are intended to allow the buyer of a windmill kit to assemble and install it him/herself. The windmill described is the production version of the latest in a series of 56 prototypes built by Las Gaviotas in their attempt to develop a low-cost windmill that would operate in low wind speeds. This one is l.9 meters in diameter, with a double-acting piston pump, able to pump to a depth of 25 meters. From a 10-meter depth, this windmill will pump 2 cubic meters of water per day in a light and sporadic wind, and 45 cubic meters of water per day in a moderate continuous wind. These windmills are made in a well-equipped large workshop.

Selecting Water Pumping Windmills, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-487, booklet, 14 pages, 1978, by the Energy Institute, New Mexico State University, out of print.

This booklet is an introduction to the multi-blade windmill commonly seen on North American farms. It describes the parts of a windmill, tank sizes, and the pumping scheme for American farm windmill lifting capacity of windmills of different sizes. “Selecting” in the title refers to the size (diameter), not the type of windmill.

Considerations for the Use of Wind Power for Borehole Pumping, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-464, leaflet, 15 pages, by the Appropriate Technology Unit of the Christian Relief and Development Association, Ethiopia (out of print in June 1978).

An introduction to the basic considerations for the use of multi-bladed windmills for water pumping. Explains the importance of site selection, rotor design, and the other major components along with the criteria that affect these choices. No plans or detailed information given.

The Homemade Windmills of Nebraska, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-472, book, 78 pages, by E. Barbour,1898 (reprinted 1976), Farallones Institute, California, out of print.

Sketches are provided of more than 60 different windmills. They appear roughly in order of efficiency, and the text explains the advantages and disadvantages of each. The book was written with the express purpose of providing good models to copy, so that builders would benefit from the experiences of others.

This is a great idea book: many of these designs could be adapted to use bamboo poles and woven bamboo mats for the blades or sails, along with wooden bearings and power transmission arms. In fact, if combined with simple low-lift pumps, a waterpumping windmill could be put together for an extraordinarily small cash outlay in many developing countries. The designs are so simple that any carpenter could put one together just by looking at an existing machine. This is exactly how they spread all over the state of Nebraska in the United States.

The majority of the machines do not have the capability of turning to accept wind from any direction; they were designed for areas with a prevailing wind from a dependable direction. However, some of the machines do rotate to face the wind and others are vertical-axis machines for which wind direction is not important. “Labor, it is found, is contributed freely to such work, at times when more important work is practically at a standstill.” Many of the farmers “put them to work in various ways to save hand labor, such as running the grindstone, the churn, the feed grinder, the corn sheller, the wood saw, and other farm machinery.” It is also interesting to note that many of the farmers were wealthy and didn’t purchase a shop-made mill (which was more efficient) because they could build a heavier duty, cheaper mill themselves.

The text is full of “case studies” of the farmers and their mills.

Vertical Axis Sail Windmill Plans, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-493, 16 pages, 1976, reprinted 1979, $4.00 from Low Energy Systems, 63 Greenlawns, Skerries Co., Dublin, Ireland.

This design combines some of the principles of sail and sailwing rotors. “The rotor consists of two or more sailwings mounted vertically at equal distance from a vertical axis …. Each sailwing is formed from a rigid spar … at the leading edge of thesail …. The surface of the sailwing is made from a cloth envelope …. When the wind impinges on the sailwing it takes up an airfoil shape with a concave surface facing into the wind …. During one complete revolution of the rotor the sailwing switches the concave surface from one side to the other automatically …. It is self starting, unlike the Darrieus rotor, to which it is similar in some other respects.”

This small lightweight windmill is used by its designers to grind grain. It develops a maximum power of about 1/4 hp in a 20 mph wind. (This design should not be confused with the traditional Cretan sail windmill which has a horizontal axis, and is used for irrigation water pumping in Crete.)

Sahores Windmill Pump, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-485, booklet, 80 pages, by J. Sahores, 1975, in French only, Commission on the Churches’ Participation in Development, World Council of Churches, out of print.

French language edition only; however, the step-by-step construction plans are so detailed that the unit has been built without a translation of the text. A group of French engineers has developed a light, simple windmill, mainly using bamboo sticks, cloth and string, which sets in motion a standard water pump (design not included). Only the welded transmission mechanism needs some sophistication for manufacture.

There are three innovations of particular note: 1) The 3-meter diameter wheel is made of bamboo (or wood) with cloth sails in the shape of the American multi-blade design; its light weight and automatic feathering mechanism mean that the tower can consist only of a pole with 4 cord or steel guy wires rather than a large, expensive (usually steel) structure. 2) The automatic feathering system consists of pieces of inner tube attached so that the blades open more as the wind becomes stronger, thus protecting the windmill from damage while also allowing it to make use of light winds. 3) A counterweight system is employed which enables the pumping action to be adjusted by the owner, for operation at windspeeds from 2 m/sec up to strong winds.

The cost of materials in France was approximately US $85 (this included a purchased pump). The first prototypes worked for at least 3 years. Twenty of these machines were built in 1974 and tested in Africa.

Low-Cost Windmill for Developing Nations, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-477, booklet with dimensional drawings, 40 pages, by H. Bossel, $7.25 (overseas orders add $3.00 for surface mail, $5.00 for airmail), from VITA.

Despite the title, the need for a car axle and differential make this a design better suited to do-it-yourself construction in industrialized countries.

“Construction details for a low-cost windmill are presented. The windmill produces one horsepower in a wind of 6.4 m/sec (14.3 mph), or two horsepower in a wind of 8.1 m/sec (18.0 mph). No precision work or machining is required, and the design can be adapted to fit different materials or construction skills. The rotor blades feather automatically in high winds to prevent damage. A full-scale prototype has been built and tested successfully.”

Performance data is included. The windmill is best used to transmit mechanical energy, but also can be connected to a generator.

Windpower in Eastern Crete, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-499, booklet, 9 pages, by N. Calvert, 1971 Newcomen Society, 70 pence (in sterling) including postage from The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, 37 Spital Square, London E1 6DY, England.

This booklet provides a good description of the techniques and materials used to build the Cretan sail windmill. It is not a construction manual, and it does not provide precise dimensions.

These machines, thousands of which still operate in the plain of Lassithi, were evidently mostly built during the period 1900 to 1950. Many of them were constructed partially from military debris from the two world wars. There seem to be three basic types: 1) those which could have been made by a blacksmith-wheelwright using wood and metal and fastened with wedges and rivets; 2) those which could have been built by mechanics, using mostly metal parts welded or bolted together; and 3) those which have a stone tower instead of a steel one.

“Observations were made on a number of machines in the fully rigged state and in rotation, at wind speeds commencing at 2.2 m/sec (5 mph). A useful output of water appeared at a wind speed of 2.75 m/sec (6 mph). When the wind rose to 3.5 m/sec (8 mph), a four meter diameter machine would run at a speed of up to 25 revolutions per minute (the highest observed).” The author later built a similar waterpumping windmill for testing in Britain, and notes that a four meter machine under full sail would develop power of 220 watts in a wind of 3.5 m/sec (8 mph). “There is no doubt that the Cretan Mill excels in its ability to utilize low windspeeds. This is consistent with the maximum number of operating hours per year and, in an irrigation context, is probably a criterion of excellence …. The efficiency of 30% noted in the author’s tests compares satisfactorily with that recorded for any other type of windmill.”

The Cretan Mill “can hardly be improved for the efficient use of material. Aerodynamically, the low speed efficiency is high and it has an inherent stability.against accidental overspeed.”

Food from Windmills, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-468, book, 75 pages, by Peter Fraenckel, ITDG, 1975, out of print.

Fraenckel describes adaptation of the Cretan sail windmill to fit the circumstances of an isolated area in Ethiopia. (For design improvements that double the efficiency of these machines, see review of How to Build a Cretan Sail Windpump for Use in Low Speed Wind Conditions.)

The report contains drawings and photos of the necessary components. Much of the text discusses the design, problems, and resulting modifications. By “racing” one design against another (rather than getting involved with expensive monitoring devices), the Presbyterian Mission was able to come up with a windmill that would pump at almost twice the rate of a commercial American Dempster multi-blade windmill. (This was partly because the sail windmill, due to its relatively light weight, was constructed so as to sweep a larger cross-sectional area.)

The sail windmill also performed better than three Savonius rotor windmills. The most impressive design was a 16-foot diameter rotor, which when rigged with four sails and operating at a static head of 9 feet, was able to pump 1300 gallons of water per hour in a 14.5 mph wind. Water was pumped from a river that had a water level variation of 6 feet; a float was used on the intake system. The experiments resulted in a design which has 8 arms. The number of sails actually used depends on the wind at the time. The owner/operators put up the sails in the morning and adjust them while the mill is in use; when work is finished in the fields, the sails are removed for safe keeping (which also protects the mill from damage in case of a sudden storm and high winds). Thus these windmills are not taking full advantage of the 24-hour availability of wind, though in these circumstances the windmills are in operation during the peak wind velocity period.

The sails were made of donated Dacron sail cloth, which was both strong and resistant to the deterioration that comes from continuous exposure to strong sunlight. Cotton is claimed to be not generally strong and long lasting enough; the kind of cloth sail used in Crete is not identified …. Some experimentation was done with detachable aluminum sails, made from surplus roof cappings; these were claimed to be “readily available and cheaper than Dacron in most areas … more durable than locally-available textile.”

By August 1975, 19 windmills of various types were being used by villagers, and another 5 were operating on the mission grounds. The 11-foot design has a cost estimate of US $250-350, almost all of which goes for the steel, the pvc pipe, and the commercially-produced pump. Costs might be significantly reduced in areas with a supply of strong bamboo and wood materials.

How to Build a “Cretan Sail” Windpump for Use in Low-Speed Wind Conditions, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-474, construction manual, 56 pages, by R.D. Mann, 1979, £6.95 Mom ITDG.

This waterpumping windmill design was based on the low-lift windmills which had been built on the Omo River in Ethiopia (see review of Food from Windmills), which had themselves evolved from the sail windmills of Crete. The author adapted the design for the lighter winds of the Gambia, and succeeded in nearly doubling the efficiency of the Omo River design. He reports on field testing done in 1978, and provides complete drawings and text for the construction of the windmill..This machine was developed for irrigation use on small farms. In this region of the Gambia, there is no wind 31% of the time, wind of more than 12 mph only 6% of the time, and moderate winds to 12 mph 63% of the time. Needed is a windmill that will operate in winds of 5-10 mph. “The wind speed required to start the windpump from rest was calculated to be between 5.2 and 5.6 mph, and once started the windwheel continued to run in a steady wind down to 4.5 mph.” During a series of 9-hour pumping trials spread over four months, the windmill lifted 1700 to 3400 gallons of water a height of 13’4″; windspeed averaged 5.1 mph at the low end and 6.75 mph at the high end of this range.

The windmill has 6 sails, three full-sized and three smaller sails that help in starting. There is a 23-foot tower. Estimated cost of the windmill is £750 ($1650). As of this report, the windmill had only been used to operate a lift pump, with a 14 foot lift. Future tests will involve a force-pump and 45 foot head (lift). The drawings are separated from the text, making the book a bit awkward to use. However, the drawings can be clipped from the book and spread out separately, and with study they become clear to the reader. There are also 12 photos.

Construction Manual for a Cretan Windmill, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-465, book, 59 pages, by Niek Van de Ven, WOT/CWD, October 1977, serial no. CWD77-4, in English and Dutch, out of print.

This is a construction manual for a waterpumping sail windmill similar to the ones found in Crete. This version was built at the Twente University of Technology in The Netherlands.

The low-cost design shown here could be built almost anywhere in the world with mostly local materials. It is best suited for low-lift pumping. The rotor diameter is 6 m, but could be made smaller. Sail windmills are especially interesting in areas where the winds are occasionally very high—the sails can be removed and the windmill protected under conditions that would destroy a commercial windmill.

Plans are also included for a pedal-powered woodworking lathe, which can be built with hand tools using wood and a few bicycle parts. The lathe is used in making some of the windmill parts. A shallow borehole, hand-drilling method using locally-made drill bits and augers is shown. A piston pump design is also provided. The manual is well-illustrated, with over 100 photos and drawings.

The Gaudgaon Village Sailwing Windmill, VITA Renewable Energy Series, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-506, booklet, 94 pages, by William W. Smith III, 1982, $10.95 from VITA; blueprints also available for $29.00.

Aspects of erecting low-cost, labor-intensive windmills in rural India are covered in a thorough, if somewhat disjointed, manner. Includes checklists, appendices, scale plans, fabrication techniques, and construction tips that have proven relevant in the author’s experience and should be useful for others engaged in similar work with local craftspeople in developing countries.

How to Construct a Cheap Wind Machine for Pumping Water, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-475, leaflet, 13 pages, Brace Research Institute, 1965 (revised 1973), $1.75 from BRACE.

This device is a Savonius rotor, adapted to water pumping for irrigation where windspeeds are 8-12 mph or more, and water level is not more than 10-15 feet below ground..Brace has tested the unit to find out its potential for low-cost water pumping.

“From the tests the following conclusions can be drawn: the Savonius Rotor, although not as efficient as a windmill of comparable size, lends itself to waterpumping for irrigation due to its low initial cost, simplicity of materials and construction, and low maintenance cost …. The only important points to be observed in erecting such a machine is the proper choice of the site and careful assessment of the average wind speeds. From this information, the proper pump size and stroke can be chosen from the graphs at the back of this pamphlet.”

Another graph is included which gives the output at various windspeeds. One pump designed to operate at 10 mph and lift water 15 feet will have an output of 181 Imperial gallons per hour at that windspeed. The rotor has been designed in this form for moderate windspeeds and waterlifting up to 30 feet. Brace reports that a fair amount of “experimentation was needed to determine the best location of the pump relative to both the source and the discharge.” Design of a simple diaphragm pump is also included.

Performance Test of a Savonius Rotor, Technical Report T10, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21481, technical report with charts and graphs of the test results, 17 pages, by M. Simonds and A. Bodek for Brace Research Institute, 1964, $2.55 from BRACE.

Performance tests were carried out using an 18 sq. ft. rotor on an open site. “It is concluded that a Savonius Rotor pumping system operates quite satisfactorily and is indeed a practical design of windmill. It is, however, only about half as efficient as the conventional fan mill” which costs 4 or more times as much. Two rotors would thus have the same output as a conventional fan mill, but the total cost would be less than half that of the conventional machine.

“The system seems best suited for pumping in cases where the well-depth does not exceed 20 ft … the windmill should be designed to look after itself safely in storms.”

This is clearly an important report for anyone who plans to experiment with Savonius rotors. Torque, power coefficients, and tip speed ratios are examined.

Savonius Rotor Construction, Vertical Axis Machines from Oil Drums, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-486, booklet, 53 pages, by Jozef Kozlowski, 1977, $7.25 (overseas orders add $3.00 for surface mail, $5.00 for airmail), from VITA; also available in French.

The author “has built two Savonius rotors—one in Wales and the other in rural Zambia. This manual details the construction of these machines … puts the rotors in a perspective which allows potential builders to judge the applicability of such machines for meeting their needs and then provides effective guidelines for constructing each.” One of the rotors is for pumping water, and one is for charging automobile batteries.

The rotors are not very effective compared to other low-cost windmills. For example, “The data from Bodek and Simonds’ experimental S-rotor in the West Indies shows that the useful energy from a 12 mph wind … means that one can pump 75 Imperial gallons/hour up to 30! above the water level (341 liters/hour up to 9.14 m). In an 8 mph wind … only 25 Imperial gallons/hour (104 liters/hour) can be pumped to the same height.” (This compares unfavorably to the 5.4 m Cretan sail windmill, which is reported to pump as much as 15 times this volume of water in an 8 mph wind. Low-cost sail or bamboo mat windmills in Thailand also appear to be considerably more productive.).

The summary of performance data on Savonius rotors and the reviews of other S-rotor publications are useful. The construction details are good, although many of the drawings are poorly reproduced.

Electric Power from the Wind, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-466, booklet, 40 pages, by Henry Clews, 1974, Enertech, out of print.

In readable non-technical language, this booklet contains the basics about producing electricity from the wind. Examples are given from Clews’ own wind generator (a commercial unit). A good place to start.

Matching of Wind Rotors to Low Power Electrical Generators, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-478 book, 85 pages, by H.J. Hengehold, E.H. Lysen, and L.M.M. Paulissen, December 1978, CWD, serial no. CWD 78-3, out of print.

Here is a much-needed, good presentation of the design choices for the most likely application of windgenerators in the South: isolated, rural, low voltage, small capacity systems with battery storage. The text explains a number of design “rules of thumb” for this kind of application, to maximize daily electricity output while minimizing cost. A good set of charts shows the important relationships between windspeed, power output, rotor diameter, and generator size. Readers will require some knowledge of basic physics, though an appendix explains the operation of a generator.

The authors begin by showing how to use information on the local wind conditions, and the computed energy demand, to calculate the necessary rotor diameter and rated power of the generator. ” The emphasis (of the book) lies on the electrical part of the system and its optimum matching to the rotor …. In the case of rural applications most windgenerators will be used to charge batteries for lighting purposes and to feed radio or TV equipment. Therefore we will limit ourselves here to DC loads, to avoid the complications of computing reactive loads” Particular attention is given to automobile generators and alternators. “These components are not the most suitable for our purpose, but since they are low priced and readily available they cannot be neglected.”

Homemade 6-Volt Wind-Electric Plants, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-471, booklet, l9 pages, by H. McColly (Ag. Eng.) and F. Buck (Elec. Eng.), North Dakota Agricultural College Extension Service, 1939 (reprinted 1975), out of print.

“This publication deals entirely with a homemade wind-driven 6-volt battery charger system which may be used to generate energy to keep batteries charged for radios, autos, and small lighting systems for farm houses and other farm buildings where the energy consumption is not large.” The booklet was written for small farmers in the U.S. in 1939, and reprinted in 1975 due to the large current interest in windgenerators.

Dimensional drawings (English units) with text, step-by-step instructions, and many useful hints are given. The blades are hand fashioned out of wood. This low-cost system charges 2 6-volt batteries and powers several lights, radios, etc. It is designed to charge the storage batteries when the wind velocity is between 15 and 30 mph— probably too high for most situations. (Modification for charging during periods of lower windspeeds would involve either a gearing system, rewinding the generator, or using an alternator.).

The Homebuilt, Wind-Generated Electricity Handbook, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF21-470, book, 194 pages, by Michael Hackleman, 1975, Earthmind/Peace Press, out of print in 1986.

Much of this book is not on homebuilt systems at all, but on how to find and rebuild one of the hundreds of thousands of windgenerators that were manufactured in the United States between 1930 and 1950, before the completion of rural electrification. But there is a lot more to this book that is valuable to the person building his or her own windgenerator.

Potentially the most valuable are the 29 pages of simple explanations and drawings of the control box. “The point of this chapter is to detail the components of the wind-electric controls—how they work …. If you’re building a wind-electric system, this chapter will tell you what you must account for and protect, and how you can do it.” Covers relays, voltage regulator, current regulator, and other components (ammeters, voltmeters, fuses, etc.) in non-technical language. There is a very simple design for a control box system for units producing less than 400 watts (see below) and a complete wiring diagram and explanation of the owner-built control box for higher wattage systems.

“Let’s trace the path of current in this unit. The generator current goes through the heavy coil on the relay but is blocked by the open switch, so it goes through the smaller winding of wire on the relay. When the voltage from the generator is sufficient to begin charging, the current in this part of the relay will be sufficient to pull in the relay and close the contacts. Now the current will flow into the batteries through the ammeter. When the windspeed drops, the windplant will slow; when it’s at a lower voltage than the battery voltage, current will flow in a reverse direction through the heavy wire winding and this will neutralize the magnetic field of the small wire winding portion of the relay and the contacts will open. If the wind is not present, and you want to be sure that all is okay with the wind plant you can hit the PTT (push to test) switch and this will short the batteries out to the generator and motor the wind plant if it starts turning up there all is okay.

If it doesn’t, the batteries are dead or the windplant is frozen up or has a broken connection somewhere.”

Also covered in this book is the art of tower-raising (57 pages). These are towers in the 40-foot and taller range, that are fully assembled on the ground. This is a rather delicate maneuver, and the text with photos and diagrams seems to cover the do-it-yourself methods nicely.

Simplified Wind Power Systems for Experimenters, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-488, book, 80 pages, by Jack Park, 1975, out of print in 1985.

Most of the windpower information available “requires engineering training or is not complete enough …. It is hoped that (in this book) the reduction of complex mathematics into simple graphs and arithmetic problems will allow a greater segment of the innovative public to use the fundamentals an engineer has. To make this book as useful as possible, a page has been devoted to graph reading, and numerous examples are used to illustrate each step in the windmill design process.”

Over 50 illustrations and photos of all kinds of windmachines and an equal number of simple graphs and minor drawings are included. This book comes close to reaching Park’s goal of providing “the reader with the engineering tools necessary to accomplish a respectable job of designing and planning the construction of windmills”.Major topics are power required, wind energy available, windmill efficiency, airfoils, windmill augmentation, structural design, and mechanical design. Very little is actually said about pumping water, electrical systems or direct mechanical conversion; you’ll have to go elsewhere for this essential information. This is a good book to have for the design of the wind rotor itself.

Rotor Design for Horizontal Axis Windmills, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-484, book, 52 pages, by W. Jansen and P. Smulders, May 1977, Consultancy Services Wind Energy Developing Countries, serial no. CWD 77-1, out of print.

“This publication was written for those persons who are interested in the application of wind energy and who want to know how to design the blade shape of a windmill rotor … a lot of attention is given to explaining lift, drag, rotor characteristics, etc. …. In the selection of a rotor type, in terms of design spread and radius, the load characteristics and wind availability must be taken into account …. The availability of certain materials and technologies can be taken into account in the earliest stages of design. We therefore hope that, with this book the reader will be able to design a rotor that can be manufactured with the means and technologies as are locally available.”

The reader will need at least a good high school mathematics and physics background and familiarity with abstract technical presentations to be able to use this book.

Horizontal Axis Fast Running Wind Turbines for Developing Countries, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-473, book, 91 pages, by W. Jansen, June 1976, CWD, serial no. CWD76-3 order code HAFR/24, Dfl. 13.00 from TOOL.

This is a highly technical report of some work on the design of rotors for high-speed windmachines. The authors argue that “in contrast with airplane propeller design, a maximum energy extraction is reached by enlarging the chords of the blades near the tips.”

“A simple method for manufacture of twisted, arched steel plates is given. Six rotors were built of blades that were manufactured with this method.” This report will be of value to readers with an engineering background. “Final conclusion is that with simple materials high power coefficients are possible.”

Optimization and Characteristics of a Sailwing Windmill Rotor, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-480, report, 82 pages, by M. Maughmer of Princeton University, March 1976, accession no. PB 259898, paper copies $17.00 domestic, $34.00 foreign; microfiche $8.00 domestic, $16.00 foreign; from NTIS.

This is the final report of the Princeton sailwing windmill project. “Through many years of extensive research, the sailwing has been found to provide a simple, lightweight and low-cost alternative to the conventional rigid wing, while not suffering any performance penalties throughout most low-speed applications.”

This unusual wind rotor design uses a sail cloth sleeve over a spar and tension cable, instead of a solid blade. Rapid evaluation of comparative performance of 8 different rotor shapes was made possible by using a test tower mounted on a jeep, and a homemade cup anemometer, demonstrating that effective testing can be carried out at low cost. Many technical terms are used.

Vegetation as an Indicator of High Wind Velocity, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-492, and Trees as an Indicator of Wind Power Potential, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-491, papers, 35 pages plus bibliography and 21 pages, by J. Wade, E. Hewson, and R. Baker, $2.00 and $1.50 respectively, from Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA.

These papers describe the development of a technique for using trees as indicators of the long-term average winds in a particular place. “Plants provide a quick, at a glance, indication of strong winds and when calibrated by the degree of wind shaping provide a rough, first cut assessment of wind power potential …. This technique could appropriately be used as a first stage in a wind survey prior to instrumentation with anemometers.”

A widespread obstacle to the use of windgenerators is that the energy available— and therefore the economic feasibility—varies dramatically from site to site. The approach described here is intended to aid in the selection of sites for wind generators, which require relatively high average windspeeds if they are to be economically feasible. The basic approach could also be used in identifying sites for waterpumping windmills, but they do not use—and in fact need protection from— the higher winds. New calibrators would be required for species of trees common to other areas, and a substantial amount of long-term windspeed data is needed in order to do such calibrations. Exposure and slope also affect the data.

Low Cost Wind Speed Indicator, Publication No. T-113, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-476, single page of blueprints, 1979, $2.50 from Brace Research Institute, MacDonald College of McGill University, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada H9X lCO.

Plans for a simple tilting pointer windspeed indicator. Requires plastic tubing, aluminum sheet and aluminum rod, steel tubing, and a piece of wood.

Piston Water Pump, Publication No. T-114, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-482, two pages of blueprints, 1977, $5.00 from Brace Research Institute, MacDonald College of McGill University, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada H9X lCO.

The fabrication and assembly of a piston water pump for use with waterpumping windmills is shown. Materials required include galvanized water pipe and steel rod. Some welding is required.

Energy from the Wind: Annotated Bibliography, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 21-467, first edition plus three supplements up to 1982, compiled by Barbara Burke, write for price information to Publications, Engineering Research Center, Foothills Campus, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA.

The literature described in this bibliography ranges from “a popular review to a technical aerodynamic study, from do-it-yourself homebuilt projects for house or farm to large scale commercial production for power networks.” Some 6300 references are covered. Very few of the documents listed contain any practical construction information, and the index does not identify them for the reader. No addresses are provided for documents. For people with special topic interests and access to a university library, this bibliography will, however, provide very helpful.access to a wide literature on the economic, policy and theoretical design aspects of wind power. The center that produced this bibliography is now offering low-cost computer searches of wind energy references.


LeJay Manual has information on homebuilt windgenerators and how to rewind an automobile generator so that when used with a windmachine it will begin charging at a lower rpm; see THE WORKSHOP.

Roger Wendell’s Wind Energy and Appropriate Technology page

Energy: Improved Cookstoves and Charcoal Production


 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

The world’s forests are shrinking under tremendous pressure from agricultural and lumbering activities. In some areas, the intensifying search for fuelwood, the primary cooking fuel for the South, is an important contributor to the problem. Most of this wood is burned in open fires or inefficient stoves. When wood is simply too expensive or too far away, animal manures and crop residues formerly returned to the soil as fertilizers frequently are burned as fuel instead. This practice, increasingly common in many parts of Africa and South Asia, adds to a downward spiral in soil fertility. Once the trees and vegetation on hillsides are removed, soil erosion proceeds rapidly with rain water runoff and flooding, and the land can be turned into a desert. Current patterns of daily firewood consumption around the world are thus important factors in an advancing environmental crisis.

Since the late 1970’s, much work has been done on the design and dissemination of simple, low-cost improved cookstoves. Such stoves can save up to 40% of the wood fuel normally consumed in open fires, and 25-35% of the fuel consumed in typical traditional stoves. The collective experience of this work is described in Burning Issues. After much enthusiastic pursuit of a variety of strategies to encourage owner-building of stoves, experienced observers are concluding that the small industry production of stoves is one of the most promising routes to take. The advantages of this approach include better quality control and therefore higher efficiency and longer stove life than can be achieved with owner-building. Costing $1-5 each, the stoves can often pay for themselves in.fuel savings within 1-2 months if the fuel is purchased. In rural areas where most fuel is gathered, very low-cost stoves can still be sold to some people, but the distribution problem is much more difficult, and clearly successful strategies have yet to be worked out.

Fuel conservation through improved cookstoves appears to be the cheapest way for a nation to invest in new sources of energy. The typical artisan-produced cookstove conserving 35% of fuelwood costs less than $5. Three improved stoves have the same effect on fuel supply as one family biogas plant (which would cost 40- 50 times as much)—both mean that one additional family’s cooking fuel needs can be supplied. The capital investment will be higher for electric or kerosene stoves, and one must also consider the cost of adding to the electrical generating capacity and extending the electrical grid. Both electric and kerosene stoves have the added daily cost of fuel, which in the case of the improved stove is nil (because improved efficiency alone accounts for all of the gain). The common subsidies and the foreign exchange requirements make kerosene imports burdensome for the national economies of many countries.

The secondary effects of existing cooking systems must be understood before acceptable improvements can be made. In many places, smoke from indoor cooking fires is a significant contributor to lung and eye disease. Yet this smoke also serves to dry crops hung over the cooking area and to protect thatched roofs from insect damage. In highland regions and other colder areas, the space heating function of the indoor cooking fire may need to be included in cookstove design. Successful stove promotion efforts may depend on the availability of effective alterations for these secondary functions of the cooking fire.

Experience has shown that despite the need for wood conservation on a massive scale, adoption of improved stoves cannot occur immediately for an entire nation or region. It will, instead, depend on involvement of local people in careful, systematic work which emphasizes testing and cooking methods. Existing stoves and new prototypes can be tested with a minimum of equipment. Testing techniques are covered by several of the books in this section.

Most knowledgeable people have revised their estimates of the fuel savings possible with the typical new stove. A 35% savings is now considered a realistic figure for the better stove designs. Similarly, most agree that the distribution of improved stoves alone is not going to greatly affect the rate of deforestation in most places. Nevertheless, improved cookstoves are now considered to be a cost-effective component in reforestation programs in some countries, and clearly they have a role to play in improving the quality of life by conserving family resources of cash and time, and reducing smoke in the cooking area.

Many of the entries in this section provide ideas and construction details for a variety of low-cost cookstove designs. A Woodstove Compendium is a good introduction to the range of design choices, and it nicely describes the physics of the cooking fire.

All of the following books are reviewed below and available for sale as part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CDs 14-15* or DVD 3):

Brief Notes on the Design and Construction of Wood-burning Cook-stoves
Burning Issues
Charcoal Making for Small Scale Enterprises
Charcoal Production Using a Transportable Metal Kiln
Comparing Simple Charcoal Production Technologies for the Caribbean
Comparison of Improved Stoves
The Complete Book of Heating with Wood
The Construction Installation and Operation of an Improved Pit-Kiln for Charcoal Production
The Construction of a Transportable Charcoal Kiln
A Cooking Place for Large-Sized Pots
Cook-stove Construction by the TerraCETA Method
Designing a Test Procedure for Domestic Wood-burning Stoves
Double Drum Sawdust Stove
From Lorena to a Mountain of Fire
Guidelines on Evaluating the Fuel Consumption of Improved Cookstoves
Helping People in Poor Countries Develop Fuel Saving Cookstoves
How to Build an Oil Barrel Stove
Improved Wood Waste and Charcoal Burning Stoves
The Kenya Ceramic Jiko
Lab Tests of Fired Clay Stoves the Economics of Improved Stoves and Steady State Heat Loss from Massive Stoves
Laboratory and Field Testing of Monolithic Mud Stoves
Less Smoky Rooms
Lorena Owner Built Stoves
Modern Stoves for All
New Nepali Cooking Stoves
One Pot Two Pot…Jackpot
Report on Training of District Extensionists
Rice Husk Conversion to Energy
Rice Husks as a Fuel
Sawdust Burning Space Heater Stove
The SocioEconomic Context of Fuelwood Use in Small Communities
Splitting Firewood
Technology Markets and People
Testing the Efficiency of Wood Burning Cookstoves
Testing Timber for Moisture Content
Wood Conserving Cook Stoves Bibliography
Wood Conserving Cook Stoves: A Design Guide
A Woodstove Compendium

Improved Wood, Waste and Charcoal Burning Stoves is an outstanding reference book for practitioners running programs to improve stoves. It gives a valuable sense of what has and has not worked around the world, and the elements that should be incorporated into a successful program.

Technology, Markets and People: The Use and Misuse of Fuelsaving Stoves is another book to be read by all who would manage stoves programs. In the rural areas of developing countries, rice husks (or hulls) not consumed as fuel are usually returned to the soil or used as a binder in building materials such as bricks. Rice Husk Conversion to Energy notes that most rice hulls are already being used in one way or another, and that only about half of the remainder could be used. There is much work to be done, though, in the search for more efficient rice hull burning methods. (See Rice Hulls as a Fuel for 18 stoves and kilns from Southeast Asia.)

Charcoal has a high energy content per unit of weight and is thus easier than wood to transport long distances. When fuelwood hauling becomes a serious problem in communities in developing countries, charcoal production tends to increase significantly, so that more fuel energy can be transported in a single load.

Charcoal contains less energy than the wood from which it is made, because energy is required to fire the kiln and volatile gasses are removed. Included in this chapter are several publications on making and using improved kilns which produce more charcoal from the same amount of wood than most traditional kilns and pit-fired techniques.

Burning Issues: Implementing Pilot Stove Programmes, A Guide for Eastern Africa, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-464, book, 184 pages, by Stephen Joseph and Philip Hassrick, ITDG, 1984, out of print.

Whereas much has been written elsewhere about the design, testing, and construction of improved cookstoves, there is little available on how to start up and manage a program to disseminate new stoves. This book fills the gap by drawing together the experiences of many stoves programs in Africa and Asia, and summarizing important management principles and options that have proven to be successful. Needs assessment, training workers, extension, marketing, monitoring and evaluation are all discussed. Although this was not intended to be a design guide, the material on options and matching stoves to needs and resources is good.

“In Kenya, successful market demonstrations have been held with the Ministry of Energy’s pottery-lined charcoal jiko. Side by side with the traditional jiko, the two stoves simultaneously cook the same size pot of beans. The women watching determine when to open and close the doors, add fuel, and add water to the beans. The stoves start out with equivalent piles of charcoal and it becomes readily apparent that less charcoal is added to the improved jiko.”

“It is important to have stoves available for sale at the time of inciting interest by offering such obvious proof of a good product. ‘What good does this do for us?’ people ask if you have no stoves for sale.”


Helping People in Poor Countries Develop Fuel Saving Cookstoves, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-448, book, 148 pages, by Aprovecho Institute, 1980, free to serious groups from German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), P.O. Box 5180, 6236 Eschborn 1, Federal Republic of Germany.

Aprovecho’s involvement in the development of fuel-saving stoves in Guatemala resulted in publication of Lorena Owner Built Stoves (see review). Since that experience, Aprovecho has carried out further research on how Lorena and other low-cost stoves might be improved, and continues to provide assistance to cookstove popularization efforts in other developing countries.

This book is about such efforts, written for field workers (such as volunteers and extension agents), administrators and planners (especially those responsible for forestry and soil conservation programs), and researchers. The purpose of the manual is not to present construction methods in detail for specific stoves. Instead, the emphasis is on how to encourage poor people to develop solutions to their problems, with the focus on cooking technologies. Topics covered include important background information on how deforestation, declining agricultural production, and stagnating rural economies are related; working with villagers to design stoves; and systems for spreading information and training stove builders.

“There are as many ways of going about dissemination as there are cultures, but (several points covered here are) raising public awareness; setting up an approach for dissemination; where to go for help in distributing information; promotion: ideas to try; where and how to start dissemination; setting up stove centers; training; involving women; evaluation and follow-up; use training; sponsoring and advising small businesses.”

Three final chapters discuss how woodstoves work and how to design simple comparative stove testing procedures, and provide brief illustrated instructions for building a variety of Lorena, clay, metal, and other stoves. Historically, efforts to introduce “appropriate technology” have relied on convincing people that they need a manufactured product. This valuable book is a down-to-earth discussion of how development workers can help people make use of their own ideas about what they need to develop an improved technology for themselves.

The Socio-Economic Context of Fuelwood Use in Small Communities, Special Study #1, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-475, book, 293 pages, by Dennis Wood et. al., 1980, publication no. PNAAH747, $2.00 from AID Document and Information Handling Facility, 7222 47th Street, Suite 102, Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815, USA.

“Community fuelwood programs should take into account the socioeconomic organization and the environmental constraints and potentials of each community; usually little attention is paid to these critical village-level aspects.” This is a summary of the literature on these aspects of fuelwood use in developing countries, and the problems commonly encountered by fuelwood programs. It should be useful background reading for people involved in fuelwood, reforestation, and cookstove programs, to help them better understand what is actually going on in rural areas and why.

Technology, Markets and People: The Use and Misuse of Fuelsaving Stoves, UNEP Energy Report Series Volume 18, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-479,1989, book, 46 pages, Bellerive Foundation, available from UNEP Information and Public Affairs, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya.

Here is an exploration of the real ground-level problems and confused information that face people managing improved stoves and reforestation programs. The authors relate a variety of cautionary stories about such things as anecdotal fuelwood prices that proved to be exaggerated, and stove makers who, once trained, had no market for their skills because there was no tradition of custom construction work in homes. The authors identify flexibility in project activities as one of the most important keys to making a useful contribution.

On improved stoves: “It may seem paradoxical to begin considering dissemination before we have developed or identified a product to disseminate, but that is precisely what we are advocating. It seems less paradoxical when we recall that designing improved stoves never seems to have presented very many problems, while designing effective dissemination mechanisms certainly has.”

On afforestation: “Our priority must be to target the seedlings towards individuals who will look after them. Left untended, they have an extremely poor chance of survival. This targeting should be relatively easy to achieve, but involves a move which many rural afforestation programmes may find unpalatable: the use of price as a means of controlling seedling distribution …. If … we set the price of the seedlings such that it becomes a substantial factor in the decision as to how many to buy, then the individual will only purchase seedlings up to the number he/she can afford to look after …. The other attractive feature of charging a higher price for the seedlings is that private-sector seedling production then becomes a possibility in the long term. No one is going to set up in the business of seedling production as long as the project is distributing them for free.”

But, on the other hand, “… if all the trees supplied are healthy and well-tended but concentrated in the compounds of the four well-off farmers who could afford the seedlings, then the programme may not be contributing towards the community development priorities of the district.”

A thought-provoking piece for people who are involved in or considering becoming involved in these activities.

Testing the Efficiency of Wood-Burning Cookstoves: International Standards, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-459, book, 75 pages, 1983, $9.75 (overseas orders add $3.00 for surface mail, $5.00 for airmail) from VITA; also available in French and Spanish.

The procedures outlined in this manual were developed by a group of experienced stove workers with the hope of standardizing worldwide testing to the point where the efficiencies of stoves developed in different areas can be usefully compared. It is recognized that there is a tradeoff between tests which cover the widest possible range of cooking applications and those with the closest possible fit with local cooking practices. Three tests are presented with complete instructions, including forms for data collection and reporting. The authors stress that the tests are provisional, and that they seek feedback to help improve the standards.

Testing Timber for Moisture Content, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-478, booklet, 31 pages, CSIRO, 1974, out of print.

Some cookstove improvement programs use moisture meters to measure wood fuel moisture content before cookstove tests. This allows a more accurate comparison of tests of different stoves that take place at different times using wood from different sources. This booklet explains the simple steps necessary to ensure that accurate readings of wood moisture content are obtained from proper use of the moisture meter. Instructions for proper testing by oven drying are also provided.

“Test the electrode circuit regularly by bridging the electrodes with your hand; the meter should then show an apparent high moisture content …. Take several readings in different parts of a board to check evenness of drying.”

This booklet will also be of interest to furniture and cabinet makers, who need to control swelling and shrinking of wood in their products.

Designing a Test Procedure for Domestic Woodburning Stoves, Interim Report No.1, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-443, booklet, 53 pages, by Stephen Joseph and Yvonne Shanahan, 1980, £1.50 from ITDG.

This report was written to help people develop procedures for testing woodburning stoves. Treatment of laboratory testing procedures for various measurements of efficiency is good but in some cases complicated. Most of the tests can be carried out with simple apparatus (thermometer, scale, watch, ruler). Useful appendices include “Standard Test Method,” “Laboratory Test Data Sheets,” “Example of Area Profile,” and “Example of a Stove Checklist.”

Guidelines on Evaluating the Fuel Consumption of Improved Cookstoves Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-447, booklet, 30 pages, Aprovecho, 1981, publication PN-AAJ-811, $4.82 from AID/DIHF, 7222 47th Street, Suite 102, Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815, USA.

Evaluation is an important but often neglected component of programs which develop and disseminate improved cookstoves. Most published techniques for evaluation have focused on calculating “efficiencies” of the stove. This manual focuses instead upon how to evaluate stoves within the village or city setting in which they are being used. Information is collected at a household level, without complicated apparatus or calculations.


Improved Wood, Waste and Charcoal Burning Stoves: A Practitioners’ Manual, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-484, book, 229 pages, by Bill Stewart et. al., 1987, £12.50 from ITDG.

This is the best book available on improved stoves, for people involved in running programs, with valuable insights into how to make a program successful. It covers the important designs that have evolved in the last ten to fifteen years and the field experience with these stoves.

Initial assessment of local need and circumstances, choice of stove design, laboratory and kitchen testing, production, and marketing are major topics. Twenty-one stove designs are reviewed.

“For all stoves it is important to work out whether the stove will ‘pay’; that is, will the benefits people get out of the stove more than compensate for the costs in money, time or effort spent in acquiring it. Any stove that is perceived not to be ‘worth it’ will not catch on, and as soon as subsidies are removed it will disappear without a trace.”

“Perceptions are all-important here. While we may be able to show in a laboratory that a stove can save fuel or time or reduce smoke in the kitchen, it is people’s perceptions of these savings that will determine their willingness to purchase or install one and to recommend it to their friends. For example, a saving of 20% of fuelwood might be perceived as no savings at all, while in some programs savings of 30% have been perceived as substantial.”

A Woodstove Compendium, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-462, book, 379 pages, by G. De Lepeleire, K. Krishna Prasad, P. Verhaart, P. Visser, Wood-Burning Stove Group, 1981, $12.00 from the Eindhoven Institute of Technology, Wood-Burning Stove Group, Den Dolech 2, P.O. Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

This compendium is the most complete work to date on woodburning cookstoves, and we highly recommend it. The authors begin with a clear and simple explanation of how food is cooked, how wood burns, and basic considerations affecting combustion, efficiency, and the structural integrity of woodburning cookstoves. This is followed by data on construction, fuel, testing results, etc. (depending upon available information) for over 100 new and traditional

cookstoves. Diagrams of each are usually sufficient to convey the basic design characteristics, and references lead the reader to one or more of nearly 100 bibliographic entries (no ordering information, though). There is, however, no information from comparative tests of these stoves. The final third of the book takes a more technical and in-depth approach to design considerations, and is written with engineers, rather than generalists, in mind. Evaluation is briefly discussed, and useful forms for data collection are presented. Citing the importance of intricacies of design and quality control, the authors argue for stove development to be carried out by engineers and building to be done by trained specialists, rather than by the owner.

Modern Stoves for All, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-453, book, 87 pages, by Waclaw Micuta, revised 1985, $8.95 (add 10% in Europe, 15% elsewhere for postage) Mom Bellerive Foundation, Case Postale 6, CH-1211 Geneva 3, Switzerland; also From ITDG.

This important manual begins with an easily understood discussion of combustion of wood and considerations for design of woodburning stoves. Part Two discusses different types of pots and alternative fuels such as briquettes pressed from materials such as dry weeds, husks, cotton waste, coconut fiber, sawdust and municipal garbage. A simple diagram of a hand press for briquette production is included. Part Three presents 12 stove models from Africa, Europe, and Thailand, and methods for testing efficiency.

Wood Stoves: How to Make and Use Them, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-461, book, 194 pages, by Ole Wik, 1977, Alaska Northwest Publishing Company, out of print.

Unlike most North American books on woodstoves, this one is concerned with making stoves. It also contains many ideas on design and construction of cooking stoves, which tend to be ignored in the literature. Those people experimenting with the design of improved efficiency cookstoves will certainly want to read this book.

Only metal stoves, requiring purchased metal stovepipe and made primarily from discarded oil drums, are discussed. In the South, these stoves are expensive to build and corrode quickly. In addition, this book is based on years of experience in a very cold climate where wood is abundant and efficiency of combustion is not as important as in most semi-deforested regions. Also, protecting the cook and kitchen from excess heat is of little concern to the author. Designers using this book in developing countries will want to keep these differences in mind.

Cookstove Handbook (Pilot Edition), Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-441, book, 247 pages, June 1982, write for exchange, N.K. Gopalakrishnan, Tata Energy Research Institute, Documentation

Centre, Bombay House, 24 Homi Mody Street, Bombay 400 023, India.

This is primarily a compendium of more than 40 cookstoves. Several diagrams are presented for most stove models, with comments on fuel, materials, advantages, and disadvantages. This handbook is a survey of stoves and thus may provide new ideas for design, but it is not a construction manual. Many of the stove models are taken from other publications, which would be better sources for design details, as well as background information related to each stove. There is some discussion of design considerations and the principles of combustion, and 14 laboratory tests are presented in a standardized format.

Wood Conserving Cook Stoves: A Design Guide, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-460, book, 111 pages, VITA, 1980, out of print.

The first half of this book gives construction and cooking procedures for four fuel conserving cookstoves: a Lorena stove, a smokeless chula, a Singer stove, and a sawdust stove made from a rectangular 5-gallon can and sheet metal. Construction information is not detailed, but includes good drawings that can be followed by someone with good manual skills.

More detailed information on each of these stoves can be found in other publications. This book is valuable because it explains in non-technical English how fuel provides heat as it burns, and how traditional and improved stove designs contain this process and direct the transfer of heat for maximum cooking advantage.

The chapter “How to make stoves efficient” explains how stoves lose heat energy and how these losses can be reduced by modifications in combustion chamber, chimney, damper, wall, and pothole design. Clear and well-illustrated.

Wood Conserving Cook Stoves Bibliography, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-476, paper, 31 pages, VITA, November 1983, out of print. 200 articles, reports and books on wood stoves are listed, with a short description of each. Copies of half of the entries can be obtained from VITA.

New Nepali Cooking Stoves, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-454, booklet, 19 pages, by Andreas Bachmann, UNICEF/Nepal, out of print.

This booklet explains and diagrams a stove with prefabricated components which is being introduced in rural areas of Nepal. A potter who has received special training makes the stove body and pipes out of clay. These parts are fired and then assembled in the home. A rock or brick aggregate is packed around the fired parts to give the stove mass. This promising approach to cookstove dissemination has the potential to overcome problems of poor quality control experienced in many large mud stove dissemination projects. Other sources of information on improved and prefabricated cookstoves are listed at the end.


From Lorena to a Mountain of Fire, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-446, booklet, 52 pages, by Marcus Kaufman, 1983, $12.00 postpaid from Publication Section, Yayasan Dian Desa, P.O. Box 19, Bulaksumur, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Over the course of five years of improved woodstove dissemination in Central Java, Dian Desa—a local A.T. group—moved away from a monolithic

Arena stove based on the Guatemalan model to progressively smaller and simpler stoves, better matched to local cooking patterns. The need for standardization and quality control of large numbers of stoves eventually led the project to adopt a simple pottery-liner approach, allowing for widespread dissemination without requiring a large number of highly trained field workers. This is a case study, not a construction manual, and it is hoped people doing stove work elsewhere can learn from Dian Desa’s experience.


One Pot, Two Pot…Jackpot: Some Suggestions for Future Directions for Woodburning Stoves in Sri Lanka, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-473, book, 49 pages, by Simon Burns, 1985, ITDG Stoves Programme internal publication (but available for purchase to the public), £5.50 from ITDG.

Burne presents an interesting discussion of the advantages of single-piece two-pot ceramic stove liners as a design option in Sri Lanka. Training and marketing needs are explored. Many of the observations about economics and marketing have implications for stoves programs in other countries, particularly those involved with pottery stoves.


Report on Training of District Extensionists, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-474, book, 48 pages, internal publication of ITDG Stoves Programme, 1985, £5.50 Mom ITDG Stoves Programme, Myson House, Railway Terrace, Rugby CV21 3HT, United Kingdom.

Large-scale stove promotion programs have substantial training needs for staff members and for potters or production workers. This report contains material used in training stove promoters who work with potters, as part of the Sarvodaya/CEB stove program in Sri Lanka. Advice is given on how to select potters and work with them, how the pottery stove production process works, and where there are likely to be problems.

Lab Tests of Fired Clay Stoves, the Economics of Improved Stoves, and Steady State Heat Loss from Massive Stoves, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-471, paper, 48 pages, by Georges Yameogo et. al., November 1982, CILSS/VITA, out of print.

Five single-pot chimneyless ceramic stoves were laboratory tested and compared with the performance of an open fire. All the stoves saved at least 50% of the wood, while the best stove saved 2/3 of the wood. Cooking performance tests are not covered. Drawings and descriptions of the stoves are provided, along with the test data. The financial attractiveness of stoves is also explored, assuming various interest and discount rates. The authors conclude that very low-cost stoves, even with a short lifetime, are the most financially attractive. A brief discussion of heat loss and stove wall thickness is included.

Comparison of Improved Stoves: Lab, Controlled Cooking, and Family Compound Tests, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-467, book, 67 pages, by Georges Yameogo et. al., IVE/ THE/GTZ/CILSS/VITA, 1983, out of print.

A team that tested a variety of stoves in the Sahel concluded that lightweight, single-pot, chimneyless metal and ceramic stoves had the greatest potential for fuel savings (40-50%), while the more massive 2 or 3-pot chimney stoves would use as much or more firewood than the open fire if the cook attempted to boil on the second pothole.

“Chimneyless stoves have A) more surface area of the pot exposed to the hot gases, B) a shape that also forces the hot gases close to the surface of the pot to improve convective heat transfer, C) grates to improve combustion and D) low mass to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat the stove body itself.”

Test methodology and results, sample data sheets and drawings of all of the tested stoves are included.

The Kenya Ceramic Jiko: A Manual for Stovemakers, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-480, book, 99 pages, by Hugh Allen, 1991, ITDG (in association with ATI and CARE), £9.95 from ITDG.

Many stove designs have been promoted as “the” best stove for everyone, but few have truly broad applicability. Yet the Kenya ceramic jiko should probably be on anyone’s short list of designs, because it has so many promising features. It is small and portable, relatively efficient and durable, yet rather low-cost. It burns “25 to 40 percent less charcoal” than the traditional stoves on which its design was based. The combination of ceramic materials inside a metal body results in a durability that all ceramic stoves and all-metal stoves lack. Now in production in at least seven African countries, at a rate of at least 8000 units per month, this is an interesting survivor of the stoves development efforts of the past decade.

This manual is dedicated to exploring the conditions under which this stove design seems to be desirable, and showing how the stove is made. The metal case of the stove is fabricated in a straightforward manner. The ceramic liner, on the other hand, requires the use of good clay materials, a special locally made wheel with molds and shaping tools (jigger jolly, plans provided) to turn out substantial volumes, and effective kilns for firing. While a considerable amount of information on kiln design and construction is provided, this is in itself a challenging topic covered in more depth elsewhere.

Lorena Owner-Built Stoves, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-452, book, 144 pages, by Ianto Evans and Michael Boutette, 1981, published by A.T. Project, Volunteers in Asia, $5.00.

“What is the Lorena stove? It is a permanent cookstove made with a mixture of sand and clay. Almost anyone can build it, without special tools, at almost no cost and with only this book or a few days training” This inexpensive stove, originally developed in highland Guatemala, was designed for improved fuel efficiency using a variety of organic waste fuels in addition to wood.

In illustrated step-by-step fashion, this manual explains Lorena stove construction: how to test for suitable sand-clay mixtures, design the stove, and build and carve out the sand-clay block. Cooking methods and possible design modifications are suggested. A final section describing research on acceptance and use of the stove by Guatemalans shows that builders continually alter the designs.

These innovations improve (rather than reduce) fuel efficiency only when builders and users fully understand how the stoves work. Training courses must therefore communicate the operating principles in addition to the construction techniques. The 1981 revised edition incorporates some designs from Java and an appendix on evaluating fuel savings and testing at the village level. Another appendix describes and illustrates rice hull burning stoves from Java.

After years of experimentation and field testing, in many countries the Lorena stove now represents an early prototype that has since been abandoned in favor of stoves designed for cooking and eating habits for these areas.

Laboratory and Field Testing of Monolithic Mud Stoves, Interim Report No. 3.2, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-451, booklet, 50 pages, by Joseph and Y.J. Shanahan, ITDG Stoves Program, out of print.

This report presents the conclusions of field tests on the Chula and Lorena stoves in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, along with details of testing and conclusions from laboratory tests. Procedures were based upon the ITDG report Designing a Test Procedure for Domestic Stoves (this section). Discussion includes effects upon performance of stove size, combustion chamber size, shape and chimney design; length and shape of connection flues; pot hole size and shape; and chimney design. Useful design guidelines are presented. Also includes a discussion of three-stone fireplaces.

Cookstove Construction by the Terra-CETA Method, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-440, booklet, 6 pages, by Roberto Lou Ma, 1982, Centro de Experimentation en Tecnologia Apropiada, Guatemala, out of print.

Recognizing the difficulty in disseminating large numbers of well-built cookstoves, CETA developed an adjustable mold design which will allow rapid production of clay/sand stoves, through a rammed-earth type method. The pot holes and firebox are formed by removable inserts. This seems to be a promising alternative to ceramic inserts (see New Nepali Cooking
Stoves, this section) for those wishing to simplify or standardize stove construction.

Brief Notes on the Design and Construction of Woodburning Cookstoves, with Particular Reference to the CETA System, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20437, booklet, 11 pages, by Roberto Lou Ma, 1982, Centro de Experimentation en Tecnologia Apropiada, 15 Avenida 14- 61, Zona 10, Guatemala City, Guatemala, out of print.

CETA, working in Guatemala, home of the original “Lorena” stove, has developed a method for cookstove construction which facilitates rapid construction through a modular design, with the critical components produced centrally by a local artisan. Although this approach may be of higher cost for materials, the on-site set-up of this stove would be simple and quick. Standardized production, the author points out, makes possible greater quality control. See also the more recent paper, Cookstove Construction by the Terra-CETA Method in this section.

A Cooking Place for Large-Sized Pots, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-469, booklet, 28 pages, by Andreas Bachmann and Thondup D. Kongtsa, 1984, UNICEF, Kathmandu, Nepal, out of print.

Small cottage industries are often large users of firewood, for dyeing wool, paper-making, and many other kinds of processing. This fact has led some observers to propose alternative fuel sources (e.g. biogas, producer gas, water turbine-driven heat generators) that typically have high investment costs for the amount of wood fuel saved. Relatively simple, low-cost large stoves can significantly reduce fuel consumption. Such stoves are relatively familiar and require a much lower investment for the energy saved than does virtually any other alternative. The promotion of such stoves should be the first priority of programs to reduce cottage industry fuel use.

This booklet describes and provides drawings for one such stove that was designed for wool-dyeing in Nepal. The stove requires 2000 bricks, a cast-iron grate, and a brick or metal chimney.

How to Build an Oil Barrel Stove, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-449, booklet, 24 pages, by Ole Wik, Alaska Northwest Publishing Company, out of print.

This woodburning stove is primarily for cooking. Whereas most oil-drum stove designs retain the round shape of the drum, this design is a rectangular shape which provides the user with a fairly large cooking surface.

“The author has provided simple directions for making this stove … requiring shaping and assembling 12 pieces of metal cut from a discarded oil barrel, entirely without welding equipment or power tools.” Very well-illustrated with photos and dimensional drawings.

The author is experienced at metalworking with simple tools, and includes many helpful suggestions, such as how to make a metal-cutting tool out of a piece of scrap metal. See also Ole Wik’s other book Wood Stoves: How to Make and Use Them.

The Complete Book of Heating with Wood, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-439, book, 123 pages, by Larry Gay,1974, Garden Way Publications, Schoolhouse Road, Pownal, Vermont 05261, USA; indefinitely out of stock.

The author covers many different aspects of heating with wood, concentrating on ways to burn wood efficiently. The chapters include information on choosing the proper type of fuelwood, log splitting, cutting enough wood without destroying forests, woodlot management, efficient stove designs, tips on ventilation, and using heat exchangers in the chimney to heat water. There are quite a few drawings of stoves, intended as ideas and not detailed designs.

Some parts of the book are aimed at American users, such as a section on choosing fuelwood that includes North American trees and climate considerations.

Splitting Firewood, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-477, book, l42 pages, by David Tresemer, 1981, $4.50 plus postage and handling from Ag Access, P.O. Box 2008, Davis, California 95617,

North Americans who split their own firewood for heating stoves will find this to be an interesting and entertaining book.

“As we shall see in the section on modern splitting tools, helves (or handles) are made of several materials, including wood, steel, fiberglass, and new types of plastic-coated fiberglass. Comparing the performances of the different splitting devices makes it very clear what one wants in a handle …. The helve must be firm but not stiff in order to absorb the vibration of impact without jarring the hands and arms. That is, it must have resilience, defined as ‘the amount of strain energy which can be stored in a structure without causing permanent damage to it.’ I prefer to carry the attitude of the old woodsman who bragged he had used the same ax for fifty years. ‘Really?’ inquired the listener. ‘Yep,’ said the woodsman. ‘And it’s had five new handles and two new heads.’ ”

Based on the author’s painstaking research, this volume covers the art of splitting firewood in detail, with excellent illustrations, useful charts, and interesting historical quotations. Topics include the selection, care, and use of tools; proper procedures and techniques: and the spiritual dimensions of splitting.

Less Smoky Rooms, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-472, book, 104 pages, by Andreas Bachmann, 1984, UNICEF/Nepal, out of print.

A collection of chimney and stove ideas from Bhutan and Nepal fill this book. Most unusual are the cement chimney blocks, the back-draft protection devices for the tops of chimneys, the small metal room heaters, the wood-fired water heaters, and several cast-iron stoves. The other material is covered in more detail in other books by the same author.

Rice Husks as a Fuel, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-456, book, 76 pages, by Craig Thorburn, P.T. Tekton Books, 1982, Volunteers in Asia, out of print.

Rice husks, usually regarded as a waste product of rice processing, can easily be used as a fuel for cooking or for firing bricks, tiles, or earthenware vessels, thus alleviating pressure upon rapidly diminishing sources of firewood. But burning unaided, rice husks smolder slowly, producing thick acrid smoke. This book documents 18 simple stoves and kilns developed by people in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines to overcome these poor burning characteristics, and to take advantage of this plentiful and inexpensive fuel. Text in English and Indonesian with 60 illustrations.

Rice Husk Conversion to Energy, FAO Agricultural Services Bulletin No. 31, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-455, book, 175 pages, by E. Beagle, 1979, $9.00 from UNIPUB.

This is an extensive reference book on the enormous variety of energy applications for rice husks around the world. About half of the world’s 60 million tons of rice husks produced annually are currently used; another 20% (12 million tons) apparently could be used as well.

The author discusses the general processes for converting rice husks into energy along with existing technologies for doing this. Steam engines, producer-gas engines, paddy dryers, and domestic cooking stoves are among the topics considered. Where parboiling is done, small steam engines can effectively be used to power the mills and provide heat for parboiling. Where parboiling is not done, the best power choice for small (less than 5 tons per hour) mills would be “an engine fueled by gas produced from rice husk …. This system of ‘producer gas’ is of proven technology, having been in continuous use for over 75 years.” The great range of technologies discussed is unfortunately not supported by enough drawings..The format allows the reader to go on to find more detailed information when relevant. For example, it is noted that the standard rice mill in Thailand is driven by a rice hull fired steam engine. A 224-entry list of contacts includes makers of such equipment in Thailand, and the 264-entry bibliography leads to further information on a wide variety of other topics.

The author concludes that rice husks are used far more extensively as an energy source than is generally recognized, that manufacturing capabilities for the related equipment are greater than realized, and that difficulties in information exchange prevent wider progress in applications. This book is a major step in overcoming the information exchange problem.

Double Drum Sawdust Stove, Research Note #NE-208 and Photo Story #30 Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-444, leaflet, 7 pages, by J. Wartluft, 1975, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station, Ohio, $5.25 (overseas orders add $3.00 for surface mail, $5.00 for airmail) from VITA; also available in French and Spanish.

This is a brief description of experiments done with a sawdust burning stove which consists of an inner drum filled with packed sawdust, and an outer drum used to channel updrafts. Rice hulls could also be used as the fuel. Photos are included as well as a simple dimensional drawing of the original design (reproduced here). Installation and operation are also described.

These two papers are short but concise, providing enough information to enable someone to build a stove using this design. Although designed for space heating, this stove could be adapted for cooking as well.

Sawdust-Burning Space Heater Stove, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-457, dimensional drawings with text, 9 pages, by D. Huntington, 1975, out of print.

This is a stove very similar to the one above, which can be used for heating or cooking. The plans are easy to understand. Welding facilities are recommended but not necessary for construction. The stove provides a steady heat output. Ideas are given for using the stove as the basis of a forced air heating system in colder climates, where it may be placed in a room apart from the area to be heated. Rice hulls can be used as the fuel.

Comparing Simple Charcoal Production Technologies for the Caribbean Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-466, book, 42 pages, by Jeffrey Wartluft and Stedford White, 1984, $8.75 in U.S., $9.00 international surface mail, $11.75 international air mail, from VITA.

Comparative testing of four charcoal kilns and retorts and a traditional Caribbean method revealed some interesting results. “The traditional Montserratian coal pits can provide yields of charcoal that are comparable to the yields from larger metal kilns and retorts, and are superior in yield to single-drum kilns.” The traditional pits are also by far the least expensive technology, with lowest initial investment, longest equipment life, and least time investment per unit of charcoal produced. Construction details are provided for the pit system and for each of the other technologies.

This report and independent results from Thailand provide evidence that well-made and operated earth charcoal pits can be used to produce charcoal efficiently and at very low cost. This contradicts the general literature which portrays earth pits as quite inefficient.

The Development of the Subri Fosse Charcoal Kiln, paper, 28 pages, by J.M. Lejeune, FAO/Ghana, Field Document No. 28 Mom project GHA/74/013, 1983, available in microfiche form only from FAO.

This unusual charcoal kiln design was developed in a research project in Ghana, in an effort to minimize foreign exchange costs and total wood handling and labor costs. The application was in forest clearing operations, in which transportation was difficult and costly. Large fixed metal kilns resulted in high foreign exchange costs and high wood handling costs. Existing portable metal kiln designs also had high foreign exchange costs. The traditional earth pit/mound kilns could be constructed on the spot of use, but had high labor costs associated with covering the mounds with earth and sifting the charcoal from the top layer of dirt, which tended to collapse into the pit during or after firing.

The investigators came up with a compromise design that included an earth pit with loose steel sheets as a cover. This kiln could easily be moved from place to place, produced good quality charcoal at an economical price, and required only a relatively small amount of foreign exchange. The investigators solved the problem of the metal sheets being damaged by the charcoal by holding them in an arch with steel angle iron at each end; in this way they did not come into contact with the charcoal.

The Construction, Installation and Operation of an Improved Pit-Kiln for Charcoal Production, Rural Technology Guide 15, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-481, booklet, 20 pages plus construction drawings, by A.R. Paddon, 1986, no charge for single copies sent to governmental and educational establishments, research institutions, and nonprofit organizations in countries eligible for British aid, available from NRI. This is an improved traditional pit-kiln with portable metal sheets as a cover, very much like the Subri Fosse charcoal kiln. These instructions provide better construction details and contain clear photographs that illustrate each step in the process of building, loading, lighting, and unloading the kiln. The fabrication of the cover is very simple. A sieve chute for loading charcoal into bags is also presented.

Charcoal Production Using a Transportable Metal Kiln, Rural Technology Guide 12, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-465, booklet, 18 pages, by A.R. Paddon and A.P. Harker, free to recipients of British aid, £1.00 to others, from NRI.

Photos and text show how to properly load and operate a lightweight sheet metal charcoal kiln that can be rolled from place to place. When properly operated, this kiln is more efficient than traditional pit systems. Production is 1/2 to 3/4 ton of charcoal per batch. With two kilns, two people can produce 2-3 tons of charcoal per week. Construction details for the kiln have been published separately as Rural Technology Guide 13, The Construction of a Transportable Charcoal Kiln (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20468, booklet, 19 pages, by W.D.J. Whitehead, 1980, same source).

Charcoal Making for Small Scale Enterprises: An Illustrated Training Manual, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 20-438, 26 pages, International Labour Office, 1975, out of print.

This short, large-format booklet is a good source of details of correct operation for two kinds of low-cost charcoal making kilns (most common and virtually no-.cost) and small portable steel kilns (approximately $2000 each). “Earth kilns are simple to construct and operate, and produce good results when managed by experienced people.”

The language is simple and there are many drawings and photos. Notes on the preparation of wood, tools required, calculation of production costs, marketing, and charcoal-making cooperatives are included. Unfortunately, there are no rules given for estimating efficiency of a kiln, nor is the end-use efficiency of charcoal vs. direct wood burning discussed.



 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

It is the experience of most developing countries that energy produced through centralized thermal, hydroelectric and nuclear power stations rarely flows to rural areas where the bulk of the population lives. A typical distribution for such centralized power production is about 80% for urban industry (based on energy intensive Western technology), about 10% for urban domestic consumption, and only about 10% for rural areas.”

CERES: The FAO Review on Development, March-April 1976

The use of alternative natural sources of energy is attractive because of the uncertain price and limited availability of oil, the pollution that is associated with the burning of fossil fuels, the tremendous experiences and dangers of nuclear power, and a variety of other reasons. In developing countries the first reason is of particular importance because their industrial development, coming at a time of low cost plentiful oil supplies, has resulted in greater reliance on this single source of energy than is true in the developed countries, despite the fact that the latter use tremendously larger quantities. For industrialized countries such as the United

States, practical and economically competitive alternative energy systems already exist that could replace the entire nuclear power contribution to U.S. energy supplies. (Editor’s note: Wood space heating stoves [selling 1-2 million units a year] (surpassed nuclear power in total contribution to U.S. energy supplies in 1980!)

For village level applications, there are many promising existing technologies. The five sections which follow explore of these in more depth: sun, wind, water, wood and biogas. These technologies are small-scale and necessarily decentralized . This, rather than any other technical inferiority, is the primary reason earlier forms of these technologies were eventually passed over in the industrialized countries. While these systems cannot very effectively be used for the power needs of large industry, they can be well suited to the needs of villages and small communities. They can be low in cost relatively simple in construction and maintenance, made of materials available in villages and small towns, and non-polluting.

With each price increase in the worlds diminishing oil supply, renewable energy sources are made more attractive. The decentralized supply of these renewable energy sources wind power, solar energy, water power and biofuels matches the decentralized settlements of the rural South. Planners and program administrators are increasingly convinced that these technologies have a major role in the energy supplies of rural communities.

Rays of Hope makes the argument that the exponential increases in energy consumption characteristic of industrial societies cannot continue, and therefore industrial development in all countries will have to shift towards decentralization, conservation, improved energy conversion efficiency, and better matching of energy quality to end use needs.

Other books in this section review the most attractive renewable energy technologies likely to fit the circumstances in the rural South. Renewable Energy Resources and Rural Applications in the Developing World also notes the domestic and foreign policy implications that come with choice of energy strategy. Energy for Development: Third World Options points specifically to reforestation programs for fuelwood and soil conservation as high priorities in energy planning. A catalog of commercially available small-scale power generating equipment, entitled The Power Guide, has been introduced by ITDG. This book includes both renewable energy devices and diesel and gasoline engines. A good place to find an overview of technology options is in Renewable Energy Technologies: Their Applications in Developing Countries, which includes coverage of some of the lesser known choices such as briquetting of agricultural wastes and use of vegetable oils as an engine fuel.

The increasing acceptance of an important role for renewable energy systems, noted earlier, has led to proliferation of pilot projects. Economic feasibility has not been properly considered in many of these projects, a fault perhaps most common in large international and bilateral aid agencies, who should know better. The Economics of Renewable Energy Systems for Developing Countries offers three case studies illustrating this problem, and a methodology for evaluating the economic appeal of any renewable energy project. Author David French notes that, in particular, large agencies seem to have forgotten that most of the rural poor do not use commercial fuels and thus cannot simply switch cash payments towards the purchase of new equipment:

“Most renewable energy devices now tend to be attractive primarily to people already using costly commercial power. Just as is happening in the United States, for example, some Third World city-dwellers are discovering that solar energy may be cheaper than electricity for heating water …. Such systems will be of greatest use to the wealthy; there is little reason to suppose they will be of comparable interest to the poor.”

In the rural South, most of the energy used is in the form of firewood and crop residues gathered and burned in cooking fires. Low-cost locally built cooking stoves can greatly increase the efficiency of cooking, reducing the demand for fuelwood up to 40%. This would both slow the rate of deforestation and lighten the burden of long distance wood hauling. Technologies that use local materials and skills, such as improved wood stoves and village wood lots, are more likely to be immediately affordable than expensive devices such as solar pumps, photovoltaic systems, and biogas plants in almost all cases.

Other renewable energy technologies relevant to developing countries include locally built water pumping windmills (increasingly attractive for small plot irrigation and community water supplies) and wind generators (more expensive but of interest where a small amount of electricity production has a high value); both can be found in the ENERGY: WIND chapter. Water wheels and water turbines could play an expanded role in rural crop processing and in supplying the energy needs of rural industries, as has been the case in China (see the ENERGY: WATER chapter). Direct solar technologies for crop drying, currently probably the most important area for solar energy use, are examined in CROP DRYING, PRESERVATION AND STORAGE. Solar home heating and cooling, water heating, cooking, refrigeration, water pumping and electricity production are all reviewed in the ENERGY: SOLAR chapter. The anaerobic fermentation of animal manures and crop residues to produce biogas and fertilizer is covered in the ENERGY: BIOGAS chapter, including two translations on Chinese biogas plants.

A significant locally available energy source is animal power, which could be made more efficient through the design of better pumps, crop processing equipment, harnesses, carts, and agricultural implements. The Management of Animal Energy Resources and the Modernization of the Bullock Cart System (see review in the TRANSPORTATION chapter) examines the largely neglected topic, noting that for agricultural activities on the Indian farm, two thirds of all energy is provided by animals, while humans contribute 23% and electricity and fossil fields together amount to only 10%.

Alcohol fuels have received a great deal of attention recently, bringing the hope that they could replace increasingly expensive and scarce gasoline. The technical requirements of alcohol production are presented in Fuels from Farms and Makin’ It On The Farm. Alcohol fuels can be made from crop residues and tree crops. However, large-scale alcohol fuel programs ignore these feed stocks in favor of more economically attractive grain, cassava, and sugar cane. In Food or Fuel: New Competition for the World’s Croplands, Lester Brown argues that this will tend to reduce food supplies, as the major exporting nations could easily consume all their surplus crop in alcohol conversion programs. The first people to be affected will be the urban poor in developing countries.

Pedal power offers some possibilities for use in small tasks that otherwise would require hand-cranking or high payments to the owners of engine-driven equipment. The small amount of power that a healthy person can produce (75 watts-0.1 hp continuously, 200 or more watts for brief periods) is best suited to short, intermittent tasks, such as the operation of small workshop equipment. While pedal-powered agricultural processing equipment, particularly pedal threshers, can be much more efficient in labor than traditional techniques, larger quantities of crops require the power available from draft animals, water wheels, or small engines. The Use of Pedal Power in Agriculture and Transport in Developing Countries summarizes the potential applications, and is accompanied by books that present construction detail s for pedal-powered equipment. Bicycling Science (see review in TRANSPORTATION chapter) reviews the performance of human beings operating stationary pedal power units.

Steam engines can be used for a wide variety of rural power requirements, and can be fired with agricultural residues; they are reportedly built in several small workshops in Bangkok. Five of the entries in this chapter are concerned with the design and construction of very small-scale steam engines and boilers, mostly in the range of 1-2 hp equivalent to the pedaling power of 10-20 people. Steam engines are inefficient in conversion of fuel energy into work, and they are heavier and require more materials and space than small gasoline or diesel engines of similar power. Yet they are less technically demanding to make, with larger acceptable tolerances when fitting parts. They are probably most commonly found in small sawmills in the South, where a ready supply of saw dust, bark, and wood scraps is available. (For repair and maintenance of small gasoline engines, see How to Repair Brigg and Stratton Engines and Small Gas Engines, in the AGRICULTURAL TOOLS chapter.)

The final two entries in this chapter are on electrical systems. One is a reference on installing electrical lines in small communities. The other describes synchronous inverters that allow the direct linking of wind generators or small hydroelectric units to the electrical grid, thereby avoiding the need for costly battery systems.

All of the following books are reviewed below and available for sale as part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CD 14* or DVD 3):

Design for a Pedal-Driven Power Unit for Transport and Machine Uses in Developing Countries Disk 14, File 19-405
The Economics of Renewable Energy Systems for Developing Countries Disk 14, File 19-407
Energy for Rural Development (Supplement) Disk 14, File 19-411
Energy for Rural Development Disk 14, File 19-412
Energy: The Solar Prospect Disk 14, File 19-413
Food or Fuel Disk 14, File 19-414
Foot Power Disk 14, File 19-415
Fuel Alcohol Production Disk 14, File 19-416
Fuel from Farms Disk 14, File 19-417
Gemini Synchronous Inverter Systems Disk 14, File 19-418
The Haybox Disk 14, File 19-419
The Heat Generator Disk 14, File 19-437
Hot Water Disk 14, File 19-438
Independent Energy Disk 14, File 19-439
Manege: Animal-Driven Power Gear Disk 14, File 19-402
Model Boilers and Boilermaking Disk 14, File 19-422
Model Stationary and Marine Steam Engines Disk 14, File 19-423
Pedal Power: In Work Leisure and Transportation Disk 14, File 19-424
The Planning Installation and Maintenance of Low-Voltage Rural Electrification Systems and Subsystems Disk 14, File 19-425
The Power Guide Disk 14, File 19-426
Proceedings of the Meeting of the Expert Working Group on the Use of Solar and Wind Energy Disk 14, File 19-427
Rays of Hope Disk 14, File 19-428
Renewable Energy Research in India? Renewable Energy Resources and Rural Applications in the Developing World Disk 14, File 19-430
Small Scale Renewable Energy Resources and Locally Feasible Technology in Nepal Disk 14, File 19-431
The Solar Energy Timetable Disk 14, File 19-433
Steam Power Disk 14, File 19-435
The Use of Pedal Power for Agriculture and Transport in Developing Countries Disk 14, File 19-436

The Economics of Renewable Energy Systems for Developing Countries, Disk 14, File 19-407, report, 67 pages, by David French, 1979. Available in the AT Library.

The author examines three projects employing some of the more sophisticated renewable energy technologies: solar pumps in Senegal, biogas plants in India, and solar-electric pumps in Chad. He presents a careful economic analysis and concludes that none of these technologies is now a good investment, nor does any of them appear likely to become a good investment in the next decade.

“Most renewable energy devices now tend to be attractive primarily to people already using costly commercial power. Just as is happening in the United States, for example, some Third World city-dwellers are discovering that solar energy may be cheaper than electricity for heating water … Such systems will be of greatest use to the wealthy; there is little reason to suppose they will be of comparable interest to the poor.”

“Rather than concentrating on devices of the sort described above, organizations concerned with the poor might seek to meet basic energy needs through simpler systems: village woodlots, improved wood stoves, hand or pedal pumps and grinders, hydraulic ram pumps, and so on. Emphasis would be on systems whose benefits were likely to be commensurate with their costs, and whose costs were likely to be within reach of the poor. Given this approach, ways might be found to make energy widely available to people most in need of it.”

In addition to pointing out the dubious appeal of the higher cost group of alternative technologies, the methods of economic analysis clearly presented here can be used to help evaluate other renewable energy technologies. This report will also be helpful to people who need to understand the methods and concepts of analysis often used by major aid agencies.

Renewable Energy Resources and Rural Applications in the Developing World, Disk 14, File 19-430, book, 168 pages, edited by Norman Brown, 1978, American Association for the Advancement of Science. Available in the AT Library.

This set of papers offers a valuable look at the potential for use of renewable energy resources in rural areas of developing countries. Norman Brown provides a thoughtful introduction to the topic:

“Choosing conventional large-scale capital-intensive technologies implies a priori decisions, conscious or not, about many important policies. These include the course of urban development, expanding industrialization, environmental impact, large-scale borrowing (or foreign investment) with long-term indebtedness and problems of debt servicing, and last but not least, the foreign policy stance dictated by these requirements .”

“On the other hand, the choice of small-scale decentralized power systems (e.g. solar heating, cooling, and generation of electricity; windmills; small-scale hydroelectric plants) implies a different set of a priori decisions. These include, for example, de-emphasis of western style industrialization as the sole or primary immediate goal of development; dispersal of industry and, perhaps, changes in financial mechanisms; and a shift from western agricultural techniques to emphasis on improvement of indigenous agricultural practices, with consequent reduced demand for energy consuming nitrogenous fertilizers. All of these factors could contribute significantly to a slowing down of migration to the cities and urban growth, with important effects on the rate of growth of dependence on commercial energy supplies.”

The other papers include a general introduction to rural energy requirements, a description of the U.S. photo voltaic program, a look at the potential for solar energy use, an evaluation of wood waste as an energy source in Ghana, a summary of the process of methane production, and discussion of a wide variety of alternative energy technologies in Brazil. An article on wind energy conversion in India argues that water pumping windmills seem to be the most promising new energy technology in the rural areas. There is also a good historical summary of the development of water wheels and water turbines, and their importance in the growth of the rural economies of the United States and Europe (and China today).

“The history of small scale hydropower development provides sound suggestions of how to aid … rural areas of developing countries (that have water power potential) in achieving an improved standard of life. . .The major role in this development was played by the simple water wheel … Later the small turbine provided more power at a given site than was feasible with the water wheel … (In the rural areas of the United States water turbine production) was rapidly taken over by blacksmiths and foundrymen who found it easy to make, in great demand, and an extremely profitable business … By the middle of the 19th century the French turbine had been so radically altered by rural American craftsmen that American turbines began to take the names of their many improvers.”

These mills showed the potential for rural industry based on decentralized power sources. They “turned out such household products as cutlery and edge tools, brooms and brushes … furniture, paper … pencil lead … needles and pins … watches and clocks, and even washing machines.”

“For the farm they turned out fertilizers, gunpowder, axles, agricultural implements, barrels, ax handles, wheels, carriages. There were woolen, cotton, flax and linen mills; … tannery, boot and shoe mills … and mills turning out surgical.appliances … and scientific instruments.”

Renewable Energy Technologies: Their Applications in Developing Countries, Disk 14, File19-440, book, 326 pages, by L.A. Kristoferson and V. Bokalders, 1991. Available in the AT Library.

This is a recommended single source treatment of the state of renewable energy technologies for developing countries at the beginning of the 1990’s. In addition to the energy topics covered by the A.T. Sourcebook, this book provides relatively hard-to-find coverage of such topics as briquetting of agricultural wastes, the use of peat, vegetable oils as an engine fuel, and Stirling engines. The reader will get a sense of which options might be considered under his or her conditions. The six pages of summary information (“Abstracts”) on each energy topic at the beginning of the book represent a good, concise overview of the whole field. For in-depth coverage of any of these topics, other books will need to be consulted.

Rays of Hope: The Transition to a Post-Petroleum World, Disk 14, File 19-428, book, 233 pages, by Denis Hayes, 1977. Available in the AT Library.

Beginning with an overview of patterns of petroleum resources depletion, Denis Hayes shows that our planet cannot continue to support the way of life now characteristic of advanced industrial societies. With costs of delivering increasingly scarce petroleum skyrocketing, it will ultimately require more energy to deliver dispersed fuel in marginal deposits (e. g. tar sands and shales) than is available in the fuel itself. And while coal reserves are relatively plentiful, their use is limited by the capacity of the environment to process waste carbon dioxide. Public opposition to nuclear power is growing because of waste problems, rapidly rising capital costs, and vulnerability to accident and misuse (in weapons production around the world).

Following these arguments, most of this book explores more attractive, sustainable energy consumption patterns based upon direct solar, wind, water, and biomass resources. An analysis of energy use patterns in space heating and food and transportation systems shows that conservation efforts using technical approaches could save great quantities of energy: “A $500 billion investment in conservation would save the U.S. twice as much energy as a comparable investment in new supplies could produce.” (In fact, since this book was published, another major oil price increase was followed by substantial investment in conservation in all of the industrial economies.)

Looking to the medium and long term future, Hayes also stresses the importance of policy and the pivotal nature of decisions made today: “Oil and natural gas are our principal means of bridging today and tomorrow, and we are burning our bridges. Twenty years ago, humankind had some flexibility; today, the options are more constrained. All our possible choices have long lead times … inefficient buildings constructed today will still be wasting fuel fifty years from now; oversized cars sold today will still be wasting fuel ten years down the road ….”

Energy: The Solar Prospect, Worldwatch Paper 11, Disk 14, File 19-413, 40 pages, 1977, by Denis Hayes, out of print; and The Solar Energy Timetable, Worldwatch Paper 19, Disk 14, File 19-433, 78 pages, by Denis Hayes, a few copies available from Worldwatch Institute. Available in the AT Library.

In these two papers, Denis Hayes outlines possible strategies for a global transition to a “solar-powered world” within 50 years, an ambitious goal. In discussing solar resources, he notes that the possibilities range from the simple to the complex, and from the decentralized to the centralized. This makes solar applications adaptable in many different societies, rich and poor, urban and rural.

The Power Guide: A Catalogue of Small-Scale Power Equipment, Disk 14, File 19-426, book, 240 pages, compiled by Peter Fraenkel, 1979, ITDG, out of print. Available in the AT Library.

This is a guide to commercially available equipment. The authors list criteria for selection, but make no specific recommendations of equipment, as ITDG has no facilities for testing machinery. No prices are given, as they are rapidly changing. Names and addresses are listed for manufacturers and their agents, information services, and organizations doing R&D work on small-scale power production. Major topics are: solar electric cells, solar engines, solar space and water heaters, wind generators, windpumps, hydroelectric units, hydraulic ram pumps, iron and steel cooking and heating stoves, methane digesters, steam boilers, wood gas producers, diesel engines, gasoline (petrol) engines, steam engines, alternators and generators, electric generating units, and batteries.

The lowest-cost small-scale energy devices, however, are rarely available from commercial sources, and cannot be found in this catalog Such devices are built within many developing countries. For more information on these see the other reviews in this chapter and the other energy chapters of the A.T. Sourcebook.

Energy for Rural Development: Renewable Resources and Alternative Technologies for Developing Countries, Disk 14, File 19-412, book, 301 pages, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., 1976, out of print. Available in the AT Library.

A summary of what was the state of the art of manufactured or already tested technologies frequently suggested as solutions to rural or individual family energy needs in developing countries. Covers direct uses of solar energy, wind power, hydropower, photosynthesis, microbiological conversion of plant materials to liquid fuels, geothermal energy and energy storage The text is primarily a technical and economic evaluation of the applicability of these systems based on production by current methods in the industrialized countries. The authors do not include in their calculations the potentially very different forms such technologies might take in developing countries. Somewhat out of date in 1985, following 10 years of experimental work around the world.

Energy for Rural Development (Supplement): Renewable Resources and Alternative Technologies for Developing Countries, Disk 14, File 19-411, book, 236 pages, National Academy of Sciences, 1981, out of print. Available in the AT Library.

This is a supplement to the 1976 book by the same title “Although there have been few remarkable new discoveries in the past five years, steady progress has been made in research and development on renewable energy resources and alternative technologies.” This supplement includes information on new technologies developed during this period and on advances made in technologies described in the original volume. Like that volume, this report serves merely to direct the reader where to go for information, and is not intended to be a “how-to manual or detailed.catalog.”

Small Scale Renewable Energy Resources and Locally Feasible Technology in Nepal, Disk 14, File 19-431, booklet, 60 pages, by Andreas Bachmann and Gyani Shakya, 1982, free from Swiss Association for Technical Assistance, P.O. Box 113, Kathmandu, Nepal. Available in the AT Library.

A booklet filled with pictures of traditional and new technologies that can be seen in Nepal. Nearly 100 photos of stoves, solar dryers, watermills, microhydroelectric turbines, solar water heaters, biogas plants, and passive solar buildings.

Proceedings of the Meeting of the Expert Working Group on the Use of Solar and Wind Energy, Energy Resources Development Series No.16, Disk 14, File 19-427, book, 147 pages, by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, 1976, U.N. Publication Sales No. E.76.II.F.13, out of print. Available in the AT Library.

This book contains reports and documents from a March 1976 conference in Bangkok.

Wind power: basic information and characteristics of different rotor types; pump characteristics; recommendations for activities in support of further development of wind power in the region; discussion of characteristics of Greek cloth sail windmills, industrially produced wind pumps, and wind generators; many drawings of simple low cost windmills and pumps; use and potential use of wind energy in India, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, Korea and Indonesia.

Solar energy: sample drawings and discussion of solar water heaters, stills, cookers, driers, and pumps; conversion to electrical and mechanical power; use and potential use of solar energy in India, Japan, Australia, Southeast Asia, and Pakistan. For both topics there is a list of references and organizations worldwide.

Renewable Energy Research in India, Disk 14, File 19-429, book, 269 pages, Tata Energy Research Institute, August 1981, out of print in 1985. Available in the AT Library.

This compendium reports on the activities of 64 groups active in renewable energy research in India. Reports are organized alphabetically within categories: government departments, academic institutions and universities, research institutions and industry, and state government and community agencies.

Pedal Power: In Work, Leisure and Transportation, Disk 14, File 19-424, book, 144 pages, edited by James McCullagh, 1977, Rodale Press, out of print in 1985. This is the broadest collection of practical ideas for pedal-powered equipment. Available in the AT Library.

The authors feel that human energy can be most efficiently harnessed using pedal-powered machines, including but not limited to the bicycle, and that such machines can make significant contributions in any society: “At the time when the ‘appropriateness’ of technology is being questioned daily, the bicycle, perhaps the most appropriate and efficient machine ever invented, is making a comeback in many countries.” These claims are backed up with a wealth of information on past and present uses of bicycles and other pedal-powered machines, as well as potential future uses.

This volume contains most of the information found in the article entitled “Pedal Power” (reviewed in this section). An excellent chapter by Stuart Wilson is devote to pedal-powered equipment currently in use or being developed in the South. Included are descriptions of various transportation machines, and stationary pedal machines, such as a two-person pedal-driven winch and a “dynapod” which uses a flywheel to smooth out power variations. Pedal-powered pumps shown include the traditional Chinese square pallet chain pump for irrigation and a two-person borehole pump capable of lifting water 100 meters. There are old catalog drawings of foot-powered cast iron workshop equipment, such as woodworking and metalworking lathes and jig saws. (Similar machines can he seen today in India and Sri Lanka.)

Another chapter gives a description and full set of building instructions for the Rodale Energy Cycle, as well as test results. The Cycle is a stationary pedal power unit which can be used to drive a variety of machines, from lathes and grinders to pumps, winches and a cable-plow. It uses a bicycle frame and various pieces of angle iron, bearings and pulleys. Some welding and drilling is required.

Construction details are provided for a rear wheel bicycle adapter to allow power to be taken from any ordinary bicycle. Both this and the Energy Cycle are straightforward and could easily be adapted to locally available materials. With 72 photos and 65 illustrations, Pedal Power is an excellent idea book on the possibilities of using and/or designing pedal-powered machines.

Pedal Power, article, 18 pages, by Stuart Wilson, 1975, in Introduction to Appropriate Technology, Disk 14, File 01-9 (see review). Available in the AT Library.

A person on a bicycle is the most energy efficient moving thing that exists (measured in calories per unit of weight per unit of distance). By measuring the energy output of a bicyclist, Wilson has found that “the normal cyclist has an expenditure of about 75 watts roughly 0.1 horsepower … the fullest sustainable output of the human body, using the right muscles, right motions, and the right speed.”

The author gives consideration to stationary pedal power, used to operate pumps, for example. A rotary pump is shown with pedal attachments. “It is such a simple type of pump and suitable for direct pedaling for heads of 3 to 8 meters that it is, I think, worth developing” Wilson notes that some traditional water lifting devices in India require 4 men to raise the same volume of water that one man on a pedal-power pump could lift.

An optimum stationary pedal power unit, called a “dynapod,” is described. “It takes the drive forward and you can gear it down for something like a winch or gear it up for a winnowing fan … One of the requirements in a stationary application is a flywheel to steady out the torque, and here the flywheel is made from a bicycle wheel with cement filling in between the spokes.”

Other pedal-powered machines shown are the traditional Chinese square pallet chain pump (also called the “water ladder”); a two-person powered milling machine; a hand driven winnowing machine which could be adapted to use pedal power; a peanut thresher (see drawing); and a cassava grinder.

Notes on an improved cycle rickshaw (three-wheeled pedicab) are included, explaining how two bicycle “freewheels” are combined to form a differential a device that allows a rickshaw with two rear wheels to turn corners with the two wheels rotating at different speeds. The author suggests a design for local production of bicycles in developing countries, relying on sheet steel and angle iron instead of imported steel tubes; he has built prototypes. The “Oxtrike,” a rickshaw using these materials, also has a very low-cost 3-speed gearbox to allow easy starting and.climbing hills.

Design for a Pedal-Driven Power Unit for Transport and Machine Uses in Developing Countries, Disk 14, File 19-405, report, 27 pages, by David Weightman of Lanchester Polytechnic for the Intermediate Technology Development Group Transport Panel, 1976, out of print. Available in the AT Library.

This report describes a proposed pedal-powered unit for use in rural areas of developing countries. The author discusses the need for and the desired characteristics of such a device, and the range of human power outputs that is possible. Ten photographs and a number of drawings are included.

An attached bicycle, an integral pedal drive mechanism, and a dynapod are compared as alternative ways to use pedal power efficiently for different machines and circumstances. The author lists a wide variety of agricultural and workshop equipment that is suitable for pedal power, including winnowers, threshers, grain mills, cassava grinders, maize shellers, winch plows, coffee pulpers, winches, blowers, air compressors, bandsaws, drills, grindstones, lathes, and potter’s wheels.

For maximum utility and lowest cost, the author proposes a design for a one wheeled basic unit. It could be used to power equipment, and could have a two wheeled trailer attached to allow use as a tricycle for transport. It is not a proven design, but suggests an interesting avenue for further investigation.

Foot Power (Bike Generator Plans), Disk 14, File 19-415, 4 pages, 1983, $10.00 postpaid from North Shore Ecology Center, 964 Greenbay Road, Winnetka, Illinois 60092, USA. Available in the AT Library.

These are non-detailed drawings, with very little text. They show mechanical setup, and electrical wiring; the general idea of using a bike to run a generator. Three different designs.

The system provides a 12-volt power source and can be used to charge auto batteries. The bike can also be used to operate grinders and pumps. Note: It is generally said that human beings can produce about 75 watts when pedaling at a coDisk 14, Fileortable speed that can be maintained for an hour or more. Also, 12-volt electricity requires very large diameter wires if carried over any distance; otherwise there will be large losses of electricity due to the resistance of the wire.

The Use of Pedal Power for Agriculture and Transport in Developing Countries, Disk 14, File 19-436, report, 22 pages, by David Weight man of the Faculty of Art and Design of Lanchester Polytechnic for the ITDG Transport Panel, England, out of print. Available in the AT Library.

“This report examines the existing and potential applications of pedal power for simple agricultural machinery and transport devices in developing countries.” For these uses, pedal power is compared to other power sources, such as draft animals, electric motors, biogas plants, wind machines, and internal combustion engines. Built-in pedal and treadle mechanisms, separate pedal drive units, and bicycle-connected drive systems are all compared.

“Both treadle and pedal actions are used to drive machinery The treadle action is commonly operated by one leg, only using half the available power, but enabling the operator to support himself on the other leg and load the machine. Treadle mechanisms are commonly inefficient and much higher power outputs are obtained from the pedal crank arrangement.” However, pedal drive systems restrict the operator’s freedom of movement, making lathes, potter’s wheels, and sewing.machines better suited to a different foot-powered approach.

“If more widely used, the lower speeds and lower axle loadings (of pedal powered vehicles) could enable savings in rural road construction costs to be made . . . Certainly the Chinese transport system, being based on the bicycle rather than the car or lorry, indicates the particular suitability of pedal power to the transport requirements of developing countries.”

No photos or drawings included.

Manege: Animal-Driven Power Gear, Disk 14, File 19-402, 30-page booklet with separate 8- page leaflet containing instructions for associated machinery, by U.N. Division of Narcotic Drugs, 1975, out of print. Available in the AT Library.

The manege is adapted to any task that can use mechanical power transmitted through a drive shaft especially agricultural activities such as threshing grain. The booklet describes two sizes of the manege, along with five associated pieces of equipment that can be operated with it: thresher, chaff-cutting chopper, grinding mill, winnower, and root-cutter. All of the above pieces of equipment are on operating display at the Laboratoire de Techniques Agricoles et Horticoles de Chatelaine, near the U.N. office in Geneva.

“The animal-driven power gear works on the same principle as a bicycle … an arrangement of levers and gears that transforms slow leg movement into the speedy rotation of a wheel …. Two wooden bars or levers, each about 4 meters long, are bolted to the center of the large horizontal input gear. They extend like two spokes of a large wheel.” Speed of rotation is increased by a factor of 50. Equipment to be operated is located 10 meters away from the center of the power gear.

No complex or precision parts are necessary. The production of all the components in developing countries should not present serious problems. Gears are rough iron casting which can be made from scrap metal. Melting and pouring facilities are needed, as are sand molds. The gears are used just as they come from the mold no finishing. Other metal parts could be forged by a reasonably-skilled blacksmith. Only machining requirement: a drill to cut holes for bolts to join the components. Animal fat can be used for occasional lubrication. The instructions for use of the associated equipment give technical specifications and a description of the operation of each of these pieces of equipment.

Photos but no detailed plans are given for the manege and the associated equipment. With a great deal of imagination, only the manege could be constructed with this booklet alone. The U.N. Division of Narcotic Drugs may be willing to send technical drawings.

The Heat Generator, Disk 14, File 19-437, book, 108 pages, by Reinhold Metzler, 1983. Available in the AT Library.

The heat generator is essentially a fan turning in a closed box, converting mechanical power on the shaft into heat as it stirs up the air. In small water powered mills this may allow some very interesting possibilities for small industry applications for drying crops or boiling liquids. This book reviews some heat using small industries in Nepal, discusses the economics of the heat generator as compared to several alternatives, and provides construction drawings of the equipment. The author concludes that under certain circumstances a heat generator would have the lowest unit cost of energy.

The technical attractiveness of this technology is unfortunately not matched by its financial appeal, at least for Nepal. To make his case that the heat generator would provide low-cost energy, Metzler assumes the following: it will be used with a turbine mill that is already installed and underutilized, full capacity utilization of the heat generator will be achieved, maintenance costs will be low (3.5%), fuelwood for small industries will all be purchased, and a low real interest rate (after inflation) of 5.5% can be achieved on the invested capital ($800 plus 30% of the mill investment $2100 for a 5-kw output). He neglects the facts that local firewood consuming units are often built at virtually no cash cost by family members, that in the rural areas firewood is usually gathered rather than purchased, that these small industries are usually seasonal and part-time, and that small investments in design improvements in small industry stoves and kilns can yield large fuel savings (e.g.. 33%). When all of these factors are taken into account, the heat generator is likely to produce energy that costs at least twice as much and requires an investment at least 10 times as much as the fuelwood alternatives.

In other countries and under other circumstances, there may be a place for this device, and therefore we include it here.

Hot Water, Disk 14, File 19-438, booklet, 31 pages, by S. and C. Morgan, D. and S. Taylor, 1974, out of print in 1981. Available in the AT Library.

Drawings, materials lists, and step-by-step construction details are given for three kinds of solar collectors, hot water storage tank connections (pressure and drum), and water heater adaptations for wood and coal burning units. Drawings are not to scale.

“If you are running a pressure system you must use a storage tank built to operate under pressure. An oil drum and similar units do not qualify. They will deform and burst under pressure greater than 10 pounds per square inch … (However) a clean, 30-55 gallon drum will serve as a hot water storage tank for a non-pressure system.”

The authors claim that “you can adapt any wood or coal burning unit to include a water heating device. Essentially this is a coil system. A tightly coiled copper tube is inserted into the chimney stack or stove pipe. The water feeds through the coil and into a storage tank.” (Editor’s note: The drawback to this kind of system is a large build-up of creosote condensation on the copper tubing, especially with inefficient stoves. This must be cleaned regularly; a heavy coating of creosote reduces the efficiency of heat transfer to the water, and increases the risk of a chimney fire.)

The Haybox, Disk 14, File 19-419, pamphlet, 1977, Low Energy Systems, Ireland, out of print in 1985. Available in the AT Library.

This describes the principles of a fireless cooker. Ideas for design and materials are given. For use with foods which can be cooked slowly (2-4 hours): beans, sauces, stews. The food is brought to a boil in a heavy pot, then removed from the heat and placed inside the Haybox. It cooks in its own heat which is unable to escape.

Food or Fuel: New Competition for the World’s Cropland, Worldwatch Paper 35, Disk 14, File 19-414, 43 pages, by Lester Brown, 1980. Available in the AT Library.

This well documented paper claims that if present trends continue, the world’s alcohol fuel programs will be taking food away from the poor, especially the urban poor in developing countries. Full scale national alcohol fuel programs could easily consume all of the surplus crops of the major grain exporting countries. Operating a typical American ear 10,000 miles/year at 15 mpg would require almost 8 acres of cropland for the alcohol fuel enough to feed 39 people in the developing countries or 9 people in the United States. (These figures do not include the amount of liquid fuel needed to produce the grain in the first place.)

In Brazil, “the decision to turn to energy crops to fuel the country’s rapidly growing fleet of automobiles is certain to drive food prices upward, thus leading to more severe malnutrition among the poor. In effect, the more affluent one-fifth of the population who own most of the automobiles will dramatically increase their individual claims on crop-land from roughly one to at least three acres, further squeezing the millions who are at the low end of the Brazilian economic ladder.”

“Brazilian officials claim that the production of energy crops will be in addition to rather than in competition with that of food crops. Yet energy crops compete not only for land but also for agricultural investment capital, water, fertilizer, farm management skills, farm-to-market roads, agricultural credit, and technical advisory services.”

“A carefully designed alcohol fuel program based on forest products and cellulosic materials of agricultural origin could become an important source of fuel, one that would not compete with food production.”

Fuel Alcohol Production: A Selective Survey of Operating Systems, booklet #FE-3, Disk 14, File 19-416, 48 pages, 1981. Available in the AT Library.

Surveys eight intermediate scale fuel alcohol production operations in a brief yet pertinent and very informative overview. The plants covered demonstrate a cross section of the available options, and the accompanying diagrams and charts make this a valuable resource for those considering going into fuel alcohol production.

Fuel from Farms: A Guide to Small Scale Ethanol Production, Disk 14, File 19-417, book, 163 pages, by the Solar Energy Research Institute, 1980, accession no. SERI/ SP-451-519. Available in the AT Library.

This Solar Energy Research Institute publication is a part of the Department of Energy’s effort to encourage the production of alcohol for fuel in the United States. It “… presents the current status of on-farm fermentation ethanol production as well as an overview of some of the technical and economic factors. Tools such as decision and planning worksheets and a sample business plan for use in exploring whether or not to go into ethanol production are given. Specifics in production including information on the raw materials, system components, and operational requirements are also provided. Recommendation of any particular process is deliberately avoided because the choice must be tailored to the needs of each individual producer. The emphasis is on providing the facts necessary to make informed judgments.”

This analysis is aimed at the American farmer, demonstrating how an ethanol plant can support and complement other farm activities. Surplus grains and.spoiled or marginal crops can provide the feedstock base for ethanol production, which can then be mixed with gasoline or burned directly in farm vehicles. The remainder can be sold to blenders of “gasohol” (a commercially available fuel mixture composed of 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol). The solid byproduct can be fed directly to animals or mixed with other fodder as an animal feed supplement.

While ethanol can be produced from a wide variety of crops and agricultural byproducts and wastes, profitable production depends on many factors such as current prices of feedstocks, availability of a low-cost source of fuel for the distillery apparatus, and how much of the ethanol produced would be used directly by the farmer. Another key factor is high initial equipment investment for the cookers, wells, pumps, still, condensers, and storage tanks. The sample business plan includes a feasibility analysis of a 25-gallon/hour installation on a 1,200 acre farm and feedlot operation, and assumes an initial plant and equipment investment of nearly $125,000. This is hardly small-scale in most countries.

It is clear that farm-based production of ethanol is not the whole solution to increasing scarcity and cost of petroleum fuels. Even if all the crop land in the United States were devoted to cultivation of ethanol feedstocks, the fuel produced would not meet current demand from the transportation sector alone. A move toward renewable sources of energy is, however, crucial to a sustainable agriculture. Decentralized ethanol production may be a way for some American farmers to reduce their dependence on traditional fuel sources.

Makin’ It On the Farm: Alcohol Fuel is the Road to Energy Independence, book, 87 pages, by Mieki Nellis, 1979. Available in the AT Library..

This low-cost report has been published in the belief that small-scale ethanol production can be an important step toward viability for the American family farm. “Community size alcohol plants using locally grown farm products could make towns independent of Big Oil almost overnight. Alcohol fuel plants would … provide fuel, use up those ‘burdensome surpluses’ that are blamed for depressing farm prices, and provide a high-protein feed byproduct for local use that is oftentimes as valuable as the raw commodity that went into the alcohol … The farmer has the advantage over large alcohol plants because he can put up a small plant in a few weeks, compared to a two-year lead time on large plants. The farmer can use his own wastes when they are available … He can use the crops he grows best, produce as much fuel as he needs, adjust his livestock numbers for the amount of high-protein feed he will produce, and work at making fuel during slack times.”

The core of this book is a discussion of how ethanol is produced by fermentation and distillation of mash made from grains and other crops. Several brief ease studies document construction and performance of privately and cooperatively financed plants producing up to 30 gallons of fuel-grade alcohol per hour, fired with crop residues and/or steam injection. All the plants described involve an airtight vat or tank for fermentation of the grain mixture, a vertical column through which alcohol vapors rise, and a condensing apparatus. Drawings and parts lists are provided for construction of a plant with three fermentation tanks and distillation columns. (How to generate the dry steam which vaporizes the alcohol in the columns is not explained.) The authors claim that this plant can produce about 30 gallons/hour of 192 proof alcohol (96% ethanol, 4% water).

Other chapters briefly cover simple solar ethanol stills, ideas for using waste irrigation pump heat in alcohol plants, and modifications to improve performance. of engines burning alcohol fuels. Appendices include lists of alcohol plant manufacturers, informative papers, farm products that can be used to make alcohol, and a glossary. Fuel from Farms (see review) gives a better cost and technical analysis of ethanol plants which produce a relatively high volume of high-quality alcohol. Makin’ It On The Farm stresses a low-investment, do-it-yourself approach. For this reason it should be a more useful resource for many family farmers and groups in developing countries interested in alcohol fuels. These are the only two alcohol fuel books we are aware of that are not simply high-priced booklets full of exaggerated claims.

Steam Power, Disk 14, File 19-435, quarterly magazine, 60 pages. Available in the AT Library.

This magazine reports on the latest advances and most useful technologies in steam power. It covers many different steam power topics, such as vehicles, boats sawmills, engine plans, history, solar steam power, boilers, fuels, machine shop techniques for making equipment, and conferences.

Letters from interested individuals and many advertisements for kits and plans for fully functional steam engines help make this a useful magazine. Well-illustrated. Back issues are available.

Model Stationary and Marine Steam Engines, Disk 14, File 19-423, book, 168 pages, by K.N. Harris, 1964, Model and Allied Publications, U.K., out of print in 1986. Available in the AT Library.

A detailed treatment of the design of small steam engines for many different uses is provided in this book. Readers who would like to build small-scale steam engines should find it valuable. The model engines shown are 1 hp and smaller in rated power.

There are no steam engine construction plans contained in this book, but the design principles should be valuable when building a steam engine from plans acquired elsewhere. Knowledge of metalworking, including lathe techniques, is an important part of steam engine construction and necessary for effective use of this book. Many illustrations.

Model Boilers and Boilermaking, Disk 14, File 19-422, paperback hook, 185 pages, by K.N. Harris, 1967, revised edition 1984, Model and Allied Publications, U.K., out of print in 1986. Available in the AT Library.

Steam engines cannot operate without steam, and the steam boiler is where steam is produced and fuel is consumed. This book presents the theory and construction of small steam boilers. These boilers can be used to power engines of up to several horsepower. There are illustrations covering many types of boilers and fuel systems. Safety considerations are carefully outlined for both boiler construction and operation.

“Fig. 3-32 shows the Babcock, probably one of the most extensively used boilers in full-size pattern for both land and marine work.” A very useful book for anyone interested in producing steam boilers for steam engines or other uses such as heating.

The Planning, Installation and Maintenance of Low-Voltage Rural Electrification Systems and Subsystems, Disk 14, File 19-425, book, 151 pages, 1979, VITA, out of print in 1985. Available in the AT Library.

Originally compiled in 1969 by American electricians, this manual was written for the training of Peace Corps volunteers who were to be assigned to rural electrification projects in developing countries. An introductory chapter provides a simplified introduction to electrical theory. Succeeding sections discuss wiring of houses, wiring for distributing power to houses, and connection of a village-scale electrification system to a generation plant or other power source.

Some attention is given to the differences between electrical installations in rural areas of developing countries and in the U.S. For example, the authors suggest that the trainees should wire two homes, one with standard techniques and one with “techniques applicable to mud construction ” Yet in fact, the subsequent discussion assumes availability of commercial U.S. cable, connectors, meters, fuseboxes, switches, and other components. And the reader is informed that (convenience outlets) are normally located about 12 inches above floor level. They should be placed near (2 or 3 feet) corners of rooms rather than in the center of the wall to lessen the chance that they will be blocked by large pieces of furniture. With this perspective, the authors have missed an opportunity to present information on simpler systems (providing 50-100 watts per house) commonly found in developing countries.

A brief section on “Planning Requirements” explains how to calculate materials, labor, and overhead costs of an electrification project. There is no discussion of the needs for electricity in rural areas, how new electric installations might complement existing sources of power, or whether rural people will be able to afford their new electricity. Still, this manual provides a good overview and bibliography on the fundamentals of electricity and electrification.

Gemini Synchronous Inverter Systems, Disk 14, File 19-418, booklet, 11 pages, Windworks, out of print; for other information on inverter systems write to Omnion Power Engineering Corp., 188 Hwy ES, Mukwonago, Wisconsin 53149, USA. Available in the AT Library.

A synchronous inverter is a device that allows the connection of small alternative energy systems to the large electric distribution networks (grids). All of the available power from the alternative energy system is converted to alternating current (AC) for normal use. Any extra electricity need is supplied by the grid, and any surplus electricity generated is fed back to the grid, where it can be used by other consumers on the same grid. In this way, the owner of a small wind generator,

microhydroelectric system, or solar photovoltaic array can use the grid in place of a costly battery storage system, or in place of no storage system at all. A synchronous inserter could be used with a combination 10 kw diesel generator set and wind generator, for example, if the wind generator never exceeds 1/3 the diesel generator capacity.

Windworks has a booklet and three similar papers describing the theory behind synchronous inserters and the possible applications. Synchronous inverters are available for single phase and three phase equipment, and cost (in early 1976) $160 per kw capacity for small units, down to $40 per kw capacity for 1000 kw installations..

Independent Energy (formerly Alternative Sources of Energy), Disk 14, File 19-439, magazine, ten issues each year, 60 pages average length. Available in the AT Library.

“The magazine of the independent power production industry,” ASE serves an audience of engineers and developers. U.S. government tax credits and other legislation requiring utilities to buy surplus electricity from private producers created a burst of investment in renewable energy systems in the U.S. in the 1980s.

This magazine covers the relatively high technology, electricity-producing technologies: 200-kw wind turbines in wind farms with thousands of machines, water turbines for installation in existing dams and old abandoned sites, solar photovoltaics, and cogeneration systems. Lots of coverage of equipment components.


More Other Homes and Garbage is an excellent reference book on most small-scale alternative energy systems; see GENERAL REFERENCES.

Two books on the maintenance and repair of small engines are reviewed in AGRICULTURAL TOOLS.

The Employment of Draft Animals in Agriculture reviews the power associated with draft animals and the use of animal power gears; see AGRICULTURAL TOOLS.

Water Supply and Sanitation


 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

Books Reviewed in This Chapter

Ferrocement Water Tanks and Their Construction
Construction Manual for 3500 gal. Ferrocement Water Tank
Bamboo Reinforced Concrete Rainwater Collection Tanks
From Ferro to Bamboo
How to Make a Solar Still (Plastic Covered)
Installation of a Solar Distillation Plant on Ile de la Gonave Haiti
Plans for a Glass and Concrete Solar Still
The Purification of Water on a Small Scale
Simple Solar Still for the Production of Distilled Water
Simplified Procedures for Water Examination
Slow Sand Filtration for Community Water Supply in Developing Countries Design and Construction Manual
Slow Sand Filtration Construction Operation and Maintenance
Solar Disinfection of Drinking Water and Oral Rehydration Solutions
Solar Distillation as a Means of Meeting Small Scale Water Demands
Water Treatment and Sanitation
Aquaculture: A Component of Low Cost Sanitation Technology
The CoComposting of Domestic Solid and Human Wastes
Compost Toilets
The Design of Small Bore Sewer Systems
The Design of Ventilated Improved Pit Latrines
The Social and Ecological Effects of Water Development in Developing Countries
Double Vault Composting Toilets
Dry Composting Latrines in Guatemala
Excreta Disposal for Rural Areas and Small Communities
Goodbye to the Flush Toilet
How to Build a Pit Latrine
Human Faeces Urine and Their Utilization
Manual on the Design Construction and Maintenance of Low Cost PourFlush Waterseal Latrines in India
Natural Sewage Recycling Systems
Sanitation Handbook (Nepal)
Sanitation in Developing Countries
Sanitation Without Water
Septic Tank Practices
Ventilated Improved Pit Latrines
Wastewater Irrigation in Developing Countries
Management of Solid Wastes in Developing Countries
Recycling from Municipal Refuse
Residential Water ReUse

A good clean water supply and adequate sanitation system are considered to be the most important factors in ensuring good health in a community. Improved water supply and sanitation systems were major elements of the public health measures that drastically cut death rates and improved health levels in the industrialized countries. Though it is not generally appreciated, these measures have been considerably more important than curative medicine in contributing to good health, long life expectancy and low infant mortality. Infant diarrhea, the largest killer in developing countries, is closely related to poor water quality.The first books in this section provide a context for discussion of water supplies— the social and ecological effects of water systems (including large dams and irrigation projects in addition to community water supplies), and the nature of water supply needs, constraints, and possibilities for communities in the south.

Due to their great potential benefits, village water supply systems have been favorite development projects of government and international agencies for several decades. They make a revealing topic of study for appropriate technology advocates, as they represent one task for which small-scale technology has been widely promoted. A basic conclusion: a water supply or sanitation project that is imposed on a community, without community involvement in determining the need for and nature of the system, or without an effort to train some community members to do maintenance and repair, is very likely to fail.

Participation and Education in Community Water Supply and Sanitation Programmes: A Literature Review offers valuable insights into the requirements for successful programs that fully involve the community. With 20-50% of handpumps in rural areas of the South broken down at any one time, the appropriate technology solutions seem to depend on local people and institutional arrangements that can ensure good maintenance and rapid repair. This also implies the use of equipment that can be repaired at the local level.

More than 20 of the entries in this section are manuals on the various aspects of the planning and installation of small water supply systems, including wells, pipelines, storage tanks, and drainage. Another thirteen publications on pumps and water lifters range from broad inventories of water lifting devices to construction plans for particular pumps. Laboratory Testing of Handpumps for Developing Countries presents the results of extensive testing of 18 widely-used handpumps. Four additional entries describe the construction and use of ferrocement and bamboo-reinforced tanks (sometimes used in roof rainwater catchment). These are followed by seven publications on water filtration and treatment. In sand filtration, water is passed slowly through a tank filled with sand. The sand traps large particles, and it holds the bacteria that digest fecal matter naturally so that it will be harmless to humans. Solar distillation is another option for water treatment; this is covered by five entries.

The bibliography Low Cost Technology Options for Sanitation: A State of the Art Review offers an excellent summary of the sanitation technologies relevant to urban and rural settings in developing countries and is a guide to the technical literature (mostly hard-to-get research reports). Small Excreta Disposal is a valuable small reference manual on the range of waste disposal alternatives that can be used in small communities. The next books describe dry composting toilets and ventilated pit latrines as alternatives to expensive water-borne sewage systems. Many variations have been tried in many different countries; some have been built by the tens of thousands. Most of these books are primarily relevant to conditions in the South, while Compost Toilets: A Guide for Owner-Builders and several others were written for North American audiences. Natural treatment of water-borne sewage in a marsh pond is a relatively low-technology approach that seems to have potential for some communities in North America. Natural Sewage Recycling Systems describes work done on this technique in the United States. This type of system is now being used by the city of San Diego in southern California. A similar system using fish ponds in cities of China and India is described in Aquaculture: A Component of Low Cost Sanitation Technology.

With several drought y