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Small-scale lime production in Kenya

Photo: Pablo Moñino.

Current advanced lime production processes cannot always be employed and even less so in countries and territories where natural resources are limited, sometimes complicating the locals chances of survival.

This is the actual situation in Turkana, a region in the north-west of Kenya, where there are very few alternatives to nomadic animal husbandry; with severe droughts and famine affecting the zone.

Over the last 30 years the missionaries known as the MCSPA (Comunidad Misionera de San Pablo Apóstol y María Madre de la Iglesia) have led the initiative that aims to bring water to the area by constructing dams to retain water from torrential rains. The MCSPA carries out this initiative in collaboration with the Emalaikat foundation, an NGO that promotes the creation and development of sustainable aquifers in Africa.
Photo: Fundación Emailakat.

Optimization of available resources in the zone

The construction of dams in Turkana requires the use of specific binding materials, which because of their high cost and distance from the zone make their use unfeasible.

This is how the “Chokáa” (“lime” in Swahili) project came about in 2013, led by the engineer Pablo Moñino whose objective was to produce lime on a small scale so it could be used to create an alternative binding material for construction and for dams that need repairing.

By using naturally occurring materials from the zone, such as limestone and bushes, to fire the oven, the project concluded with the construction of the first lime oven in the zone.

But to work in the lime sector experience is essential, and the first oven to be built in Turkana did not produce the type of lime expected.

Factors like the quality of the limestone, the temperature of the oven, the layout of the stones, the smoke flue….multiple factors were, without them knowing, making it impossible to turn this very necessary project into a success.

Calcinor helps the project in Kenya.

Life is strange and by luck our Honorary President, Juan J. Santa Cruz met Pablo Moñino, and a strong friendship grew between them.

This friendship led them to share their concerns and when Pablo was about to throw in the towel a lifeline was found, this involved among others, Cales Gordillo and the Museo de la Cal de Morón de la Frontera, technicians at Calcinor, friends of Juan J. Santa Cruz, his family, Calcinor… all the team were really enthused by this very important project, not only in humanitarian terms but also at the environmentally sustainable level. And so a decision was taken to install an oven similar to the one in Turkana in the Museo de la Cal de Morón.

To make a faithful copy, funds were sought, so were builders, lime technicians…then a first attempt to make lime was made in Pablo`s presence, accompanied by Juan J. Santa Cruz, in an oven installed for this specific reason, in the historic lime town of la Sierra de Morón. There he learnt all he needed to know about this age-old practice.

And so with this newly-acquired experience, Pablo went back to Turkana and completed a successful attempt to make lime…A big step and a milestone in the region.

Foto: Fundación Emailakat.

Future challenges in Turkana.

A choice was made to create a small home-made oven around the existing one, designed so it could be extended with more ovens if there is demand for them.

Calcinor continues to participate actively in the installation of the ovens in Turkana by making its laboratory, technical office and financial resources available to them as well as the affection of its technicians.

Other anonymous donors have helped with the financing.

All participants are confident that the Turkanos will be successful in their quest to make the basic building-blocks of construction: lime, cement and ceramic bricks.

Worthy of a special mention among the structures built with the lime produced in Turkana are the construction of the Nursery-Nutritional Centre that the missionaries have in Lobur, a project that also saw tests of several construction techniques using local materials which have started to be baked in situ: clay bricks, cement, etc.

If all of this manages to improve the habitat many villages will be saved as the local people can no longer live from grazing cattle due to local conflicts that have substantially reduced the land available. The creation of this oven to make building-materials aims to turn construction into an effective tool in the development of the region allowing the population to settle down there some time in the future, become self-sufficient and improve the economy at family level.

We at Calcinor, as an expression of our solidarity, continue to support this project in Kenya, as we believe we have to employ our knowledge responsibly, providing them with all the means we have available.