Category Archives: COSDEC

Recycling when there is no recycling program. Part 2: aluminum cans

alcohol stove in action

Our power was out earlier today, so the alcohol stove came in very useful even in our relatively modern flat. The empty steel food cans are being used just as a tripod for the pot of water. As a disclaimer, the stoves should not be used in an enclosed space indoors, but we had windows open and used the alcohol can right on our stove top.

Due to the long distances between towns and the low overall population density, it is not cost-efficient to implement recycling programs in the far reaches of Namibia. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Rundu, Kavango East Region, it was difficult to see all of the aluminum cans and other recyclables scattered in trash piles all over town, when there is such economic potential. In my first post on recycling, I highlighted some uses for glass bottles.

As a hiker and backpacker (trekker), I was familiar with alcohol stoves made from aluminum cans, but never tried one until our friend Ryan made one for us as a gift. His stove is featured in the photo above and, as Ryan is an engineer, it is pretty advanced for this genre of stoves. I was looking for a technique to make these can stoves not requiring as many materials or tools and found this great tutorial on YouTube.

alcohol can stove

Test run of the easy-to-make alcohol stove.

The other nice thing about the stoves in the YouTube video is that the pot can go directly on the stove itself so you don’t need a separate pot stand, but elevating it a bit would probably be more efficient. A windscreen is also definitely recommended for these types of stoves. I’m going to research making a windscreen out of aluminum cans cut into strips as shown below. I’m hoping to run a short course sometime next month at COSDEC to demonstrate how to make these stoves.

aluminum can rectangle

Aluminum can cut into a rectangle for potential use.

These can stoves are also great because the fuel is just denatured alcohol or methanol (sold sometimes as HEET), which is available all over the world in hardware stores, grocery stores or pharmacies. The fuel burns cleanly, especially if your stove is well-made and produces nice blue flames.


Here in Namibia, alcohol that can be used in these can stoves is sold as “methylated spirits.”

This Instructables link has an interesting idea to use aluminium can rectangles as roofing shingles. I’m not going to attempt aluminum smelting in my remaining time in Namibia, but I think it would really have potential especially since the molten aluminum can be cast in sand (of which there is plenty here). Here is an example of how to make an aluminum foundry. Here is another good post on how to cast a bowl out of molten aluminum.



Filed under COSDEC, Peace Corps Namibia Blog

COSDEC Handover Ceremony

This post is a bit belated but represented an important day in my service: the official handover ceremony between the Millennium Challenge Account – Namibia and COSDEF/COSDEC on 8 October 2014. COSDEC Tukurenu in Rundu was honored to be the host of this event which featured dignitaries from Namibian local, regional and national government as well as diplomats from the United States.

COSDEC stands for the Community Skills Development Centre. Our mandate is to train out-of-school youth and other community members in trades so they can find employment or start their own businesses. COSDEF is our foundation and central office in Swakopmund.

From the MCA-N wesbite:
The MCA Namibia Compact, providing grant funding for public investments in Education, Tourism and Agriculture (livestock and indigenous natural products),was signed on 28 July 2008 between the Republic of Namibia and the US Government, acting through the MCCAn amount of US$304.5 million will be available for development in the target sectors, over and above current Government allocations and assistance from other development partners.

The Goal of Namibia’s MCA Compact is to reduce poverty through economic growth in the Education, Tourism and Agriculture sectors.


Some of our trainees line up to welcome the guests.

A major beneficiary of this donation was COSDEC/CODEF. Many COSDECs around Namibia received brand new centres, including the centre in Rundu. Other centres received additional training facilities, tools and equipment. Since moving to the new facility and receiving equipment, COSDEC Tukurenu has doubled the number of trades offered to eight. It has also allowed us to serve more trainees in our existing courses. As an example, we increased the number of office administration students from 40 to 80.


On the right is COSDEC Tukurenu Centre Manager Clemence Kafuro holding the MCA plaque that is now viewed by all visitors as they enter our administrative building.

All of the centre managers from the various COSDECs around the country attended the ceremony. Other dignitaries attending included COSDEF founder and Chairman Hon. Nahas Angula (He is also the former Prime Minister and Education Minister) and U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, John Kowalski.


The VIP table and other attendees of the ceremony.

COSDEC choir

The COSDEC choir performed original music at the ceremony.


Cultural performance group in traditional Kavango dress.


From left, a representative from MCA-N, U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Kowalski and U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer Joshua Shusko.

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Filed under COSDEC, Peace Corps Namibia Blog