Agro-Charcoal in Chad as Vocational Enterprises

by Enterprise for Vocational Development
Aquilas Dadje doing a pyrolysis demonstration
Aquilas Dadje doing a pyrolysis demonstration


I have dedicated the past five years to developing meaningful and lasting vocational opportunities for the people of Southern Chad.  Many of you have joined with me in this endeavor, and in the process we have learned about a place and people that few take time to notice. Thank you for your encouragement and your generous financial support.

I'm very proud to see the seeds we have planted in and around Moundou begin to sprout. To date, 70 people in five surrounding villages have been trained and equipped to convert agricultural waste into a source of energy.  In Moundou, where this energy is highest in demand, 15 people have been trained to convert charred waste from the pyrolysis process into a charcoal that competes with wood in both quality and price. We've experimented with two types of improved cook stoves, and these will be produced and sold on local markets, creating jobs for masons and carpenters.

While I am obviously extremely attached to the work I have been involved in since 2009, the time has come for me to step back and allow local leaders to take the helm. In many ways, ENVODEV has worked itself out of a job! After much consideration, our various programs will be turned over to in-country partners. Aquilas Dadje, our Chadian program manager, has literally bought into the idea, buying out the charcoal project and implementing the new cook stoves to reinforce his enterprise. We are preparing the way for a local organization to stay alongside Aquilas and his employees over the coming months and years. I know Aquilas well and know his determination to see meaningful change in his country. ENVODEV would be nothing without him. Many others will follow his lead. I have little doubt that each year we will continue to see more and more eco-charcoal in Chadian marketplaces.

Your financial contribution along with the support of many other people has made this possible.


THANK YOU for your dedication to this project, we will be sure to continue to give updates through our website on how things are progressing.






David De Armey

Dear friends,

When humidity reaches 93%, temperatures hover around 90 degrees, and storms bring heavy showers every day, nothing else matters more than cultivating the land. The vast majority of Chadians solely focus on working in the fields. The land is vast and offers the population's majority of its food stock for the rest of the year. Three-fourths of Chad is rural. Agriculture and stock farming are the country's main source of activity. 

Cities in Chad are rapidly growing, but the majority of city dwellers stay attached to their parcels of land outside the city. Every year, the rainy season is the time to put aside other activities and spend the entire day planting seeds, tending the land, and often spending hours in knee-deep water. Small groups of people who work the same field stop working every few hours to huddle around a person who is there making tea. 

Some of these cultivators are experts in carbonizing agricultural residue. All the members of our partner cooperatives are caring for their rice plantations, and many of them their sesame fields. This time, however, they are not just expecting earnings selling the seeds. They know that every sesame branch that grows has potential energy. This potential, once converted to energy, is a source of income through our Eco-Charcoal project. While these farmers contribute to the country's food supply, access to goods and services remain closed to the majority of rural Chad. Urban economic trends exert so much pressure on prices. What farmers earn is hardly enough for the food they really need to get from the cities to their villages. Commercial exchanges are all too often a one-way street.

Our 2012-2013 Eco-Charcoal program revealed the potential for rural Chad to provide cooking energy for urban Chad. Many challenges also came to light. Working within a context with an extraordinary amount of variables was only possible through Aquilas and Ghislain's leadership. They knew not always what to expect, but they knew not to get discouraged. They brought solutions when problems would arise. 

Our production has yielded several results. The production team at Belaba produced several thousands of Eco-Charcoal briquettes during the intensive two-week production sessions. This allowed us to measure production capacity, identify areas of improvement, and start building a long-term production system. We also identified ways to help pyrolysis teams in the villages to improve the carbonization process. Though extremely simple in concept, the entire production system — from gathering the biomass to drying the briquettes — is exposed to unforeseeable pitfalls all along the way. Our goal now is to work on preventing all the possible disruptions. The following is an example: Rain is inevitable in Chad. Sometimes, storms can move through any area very rapidly with little time for people to take shelter. When large beds of briquettes are drying out in the sun, it is not easy to quickly remove them, especially when there are up to 2,000 briquettes drying out. Thus it is important to find the best way to remove them without damaging them. This is one of many examples of what our team is to take into consideration for next year's production. 

Our entire team is grateful for your participation, generosity, and interest in this project. Please continue to support ENVODEV as the rainy season comes to an end. New opportunities will present themselves for us to train new pyrolysis teams. Your contribution will increase our impact and make our next production season more successful. A better production will give more households access to Eco-Charcoal.

- David De Armey
International Director

Bio-char in Moundou
Bio-char in Moundou

Moundou - Chad / ENVODEV received its long-awaited first shipment of bio char from the villages of Badei and Domane. The bags were brought to Moundou at the end of the month of May. Nearly 1000 pounds of bio char were shipped to our centralized production site on local transportation, consisting of a pick-up truck that routinely drives through remote areas to pick up and drop off all different types of goods and fresh produce.

Each bag of char was purchased from the trained teams in Domane and Badei, giving the team members a new source of income they never could have imagined before. Once Eco-Charcoal is produced and introduced on the local market, the profit will be reinvested into the program. The ENVODEV team is thrilled to see that production is finally happening.

But our program has not been without its challenges. To name a few:

1. Our vehicle, though completely repaired two years ago, needs to be replaced. Our Toyota Hilux is taken to the repair shop after each trip to a village. We are exploring different ways of obtaining a new vehicle that will garantee the expansion of our program in the coming months.

2. Part of training a team in the pyrolysis process is insisting that kilns be left to cool off completely before opening. This garantees full carbonization. If the kiln is opened prematurely, there is a risk that a small amount of biomass ignites upon contact with oxygen. Even just a pinch of ember will slowly but surely consume the entire bag of bio char. The team at Domane learned the importance of respecting cooling instructions the hard way. After losing a few bags of bio char to combustion from within the bag, Domane made sure to give kilns enough time to cool. Fortunately, the biomass used is free, and all they really wasted was time.

3. The biochar has been transported out to Belaba, where production will have to take place for some time. The property we have been using has been partially taken by the City of Moundou for the expansion of the nearby bridge. The team we trained last year in Belaba will oversee production and help with sales. The team, Association pour la Protection de l'Eco-Système (APRO-ECO), has been waiting for this moment for a long time. Unable to collect enough raw material around the Moundou area, they knew it had to come from rural areas. (See picture of the property during the construction work).

But challenges are to be expected. Good things do not come without problems. In fact there is a saying in Chad. If a project doesn't come without problems, it's not a real project.

We still need capital to pay APRO-ECO members for the upcoming production of Eco-Charcoal. Please continue to support our project! Here is how you can help!

1. Continue to engage in our project by making another donation.

2. Share our project by emailing or 'liking' our GlobalGiving page.

3. If you have a personal website, embed our project widget, it's easy and can really help us raise awareness among contacts, friends and family. (see instruction on this page)

Aquilas standing where courtyard once was.
Aquilas standing where courtyard once was.
Ghislain oversees sealing of the kiln at Domane.
Ghislain oversees sealing of the kiln at Domane.

Moundou - 20 April 2013 - It took armed forces to keep people under control. Domane, located beyond Badei, had heard about ENVODEV's training sessions in the area. When Dadje Aquilas organized a demonstration and training session with the Domane group called Mekasna, many merchants, businessmen, and cultivators eagerly came. The training took place on the last day of the month of March.

The crowd that turned up forced Ghislain Rodoumbaye, our administrator, to find the village chief and ask for help. The chief sent his armed forces to keep people from mingling with Mekasna group. A total of nine members of the group received direct training and equipment while dozens of people watched. While stressful, the high level of interest and enthusiasm is always encouraging. Many are excited to discover that what was once waste can become a source of income.

By the end of the month, a first shipment of carbonized biomass bags should arrive from Domane to our production site in Moundou.

Photos: The photos might become redundant... fields, people, a simple kiln, agro-waste... perhaps our lovely vehicle. We are happy to share these key moments though. The training phase, out in the fields, is where all operations have to begin. Our staff in Chad is always eager to share what they are doing with all of you!

Urgent needs: Our vehicle has explored African roads, paths and bush for over 20 years, and it is showing signs of much desired retirement. With increasing technical problems and car parts breaking, the need for a solid new vehicle has become a pressing matter. Doing demonstrations, training and equiping carbonization partners is not possible without a vehicle. We will keep you posted on solutions and how you can get involved.

Preparing biomass (sesame straw) for pyrolysis
Preparing biomass (sesame straw) for pyrolysis
Fifteen bags are expected by May 1st from Domane
Fifteen bags are expected by May 1st from Domane
Members of KOSGUELBE (Tilo group) gathering straw
Members of KOSGUELBE (Tilo group) gathering straw

Moundou - 20 January, 2013. - The Eco-Charcoal Project, well on its way, has taken our staff to Nya and to new areas outside Moundou. We could not have reached them without local insight and connections that our staff has. The local leadership taking place is a demonstration of one of ENVODEV's core values: That local managers feel ownership of the projects. 

After a preliminary demonstration in Tilo, the ENVODEV team went back to impart a full training session. Dadje Aquilas and Ghislain were helped by two members of APRO-ECO, Ramadji Zizel and Chrisine Dadje.

On January 14, a total of 17 people, all members of KOSGUELBE, learned how to transform biomass (sesame chaff and rice-straw) into char. Well organized, KOSGUELBE is now producing bags of carbonized biomass. On the 6th of February, ENVODEV will return to Tilo to evaluate how well the team is carbonizing the biomass and will pick up the first batch of char bags for briquette production back in Moundou.

Tilo is an exciting addition to the charcoal project. The villagers are motivated and grateful to be part of a project that will provide a new and much needed source of income. The district chief was present at the training, marking the importance of what this charcoal project represents to the local population. 

Dadje Aquilas (center) training the group
Dadje Aquilas (center) training the group
KOSGUELBE group leaders reading pyrolysis manual.
KOSGUELBE group leaders reading pyrolysis manual.
Tilo member preparing a kiln.
Tilo member preparing a kiln.
Learning about biomass density in a kiln.
Learning about biomass density in a kiln.
Pyrolysis ready for three kilns.
Pyrolysis ready for three kilns.
Seeing "useless" biomass transformed into energy.
Seeing "useless" biomass transformed into energy.



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Organization Information

Enterprise for Vocational Development

Location: Winona Lake, Indiana - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Winona Lake, IN United States

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