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South Africa: Central Energy Fund to start 'safer paraffin' project

CEF (Pty) Ltd has embarked on a project aimed at reducing the hazards associated with the use of illuminating paraffin – a potentially dangerous fuel that, when used incorrectly or with inefficient devices, results in devastating disasters.
“Homes frequently burn down, especially in winter, and there is a high incidence of burn injuries – and even loss of life. The resulting trauma and economic losses have a heavy impact on poverty-stricken households that grapple with the human tragedy that can be associated with this fuel,” says Mr Tebogo Snyer, a Project Officer at CEF.

“None of the paraffin appliances currently on the market comply with South African Bureau of Standards’ specifications. CEF’s Safer Illuminating Paraffin Appliances Pilot Project will identify suitable manufacturers on the market to supply illuminating paraffin appliances that are safer and fully comply with SABS standards,” says Snyer.

Once the safer appliances have been identified and procured for the pilot project, they will be rolled out to 500 households in selected areas in Gauteng and the Western Cape – areas which have previously been devastated by fires associated with the use of paraffin.

The project will also investigate mechanisms for subsidising the cost of the new appliances for the end-user, as an incentive for making the switch from the current appliances to new SABS-approved ones. The subsidy structure will be designed to benefit end-users who cannot afford the high cost of new appliances.

The project will be conducted over six months, after which an evaluation of its successes will contribute to the Department of Minerals and Energy’s National Strategy on the Domestic Use of Energy, which is currently being formulated.

Illuminating paraffin is used by millions of people to varying degrees in almost half of all South African households. There are often no operating instructions on appliances, and many users are unaware of the fuel’s dangers.

Many users are found in informal settlements, living in shacks constructed from highly flammable materials. When a match is lit, or when a faulty appliance leaks paraffin, there is always the risk of not only the dwelling itself burning down, but those surrounding it as well.

“There are many inefficient and unsafe stoves in circulation, and you cannot simply eliminate them – we need to develop a strategy for replacing them,” says Snyer. This may entail a system of exchanging “old for new” appliances.

“Currently, wick-based paraffin stoves retail for around R30 to R50 each,” he says. “The new ones will be more expensive and it is necessary to bridge this price gap.”

The pilot project entails the supply of safer paraffin stoves. This will be accompanied by an educational campaign to promote safe handling and use of the fuel in the home. The campaign will involve going into households and demonstrating how paraffin should be handled and how to operate the stove.

It is envisaged that this will complement the work of other Non Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) on paraffin safety.

Additional information: More information in an article by Engineering News
News date: 30/05/2007

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