Solar Power isn't Feasible!

Solar Power isn't Feasible!
This cartoon was on the cover of the book "SolarGas" by David Hoye. It echoes the Sharp Solar slogan "Last time I checked nobody owned the sun!"

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Use of Hot Water Heating Systems in Old Cairo

Photo 1: 231 water heaters in the Darb El Ahmar Project Area (Red = Electric, Green = Gas, Blues = Different kinds of Cooking Stoves, Yellow = Kerosene flame):

(Download the .kmz file for display in your copy of Google Earth here)



Photo 2: 231 water heaters in the Zabaleen Zurayib Project Area (225 from the official survey, 6 additional from personal observation; Red = Electric, Green = Gas, Blues = Different kinds of Cooking Stoves, Yellow = Kerosene flame; Orange = campfire):

(Download the .kmz file for display in your copy of Google Earth here)







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Eyeballing for Fast and Frugal Spatial Analysis:

Differences between communities ascertained by eye.





Rationale:



Of the two paradigms in Urban Sociology described in Nancy Kleniewski's "Cities, Change and Conflict -- A Political Economy of Urban Life" (2006, p. 41) -- those being 1) Urban Ecology and 2) Urban Political Economy -- the effort displayed here reflects a bias toward Urban Ecology.



Urban Ecology has, stemming from its theoretical foundations, an interest in Human Ecology, Neoclassical Economics and Social Area Analysis. As such it extends the insights of Tonnies, Durkheim and Simmel (as opposed following the ideas of Marx, Engels and Weber).



Urban Ecology makes the assumption that the built environment and urban land use are influenced by the spatial separation of different functions, their relation to the city center and to land values within a free market. It posits that residential patterns are influenced by human adaptation to the natural environment, that there is competition among groups for space and that there is cohesion of racial and ethnic groups. The paradigm also assumes that urban social norms are influenced by the size and density of the population and its differentiation into subcultures.



The Urban Ecology paradigm suggests therefore that cities in the third world differ from Western cities primarily due to their culture (rather than their occupying a low position in the world economic system), and that they have potential for economic development because of, rather than despite, their differences from the hegemonic or wealthier nations.



If the urban ecology perpsective is useful for interrogating the preferences and choices that the urban poor of Cairo make in hot water system demand, then, following Kleniewski, a typical research project would involve 1) the "Mapping of natural areas (CBD, ghetto), examining realtionships among neighborhoods, identifying group norms and patterns, and tracing population change and stability."









While it is beyond the scope of my research to trace population change and stability, it is suggestive to consider that of the two groups living in the ghettoes of Cairo, separated only by a 15 minute walk through the city of dead and Al Azhar Park, one population has dwelt in their area of urban residence for nearly a millenium while the other has recently immigrated from the countryside. We can use this as a starting point for thinking through possible factors influencing the norms and patterns of water heating technology use, and see if it maps onto observed practice.



Certainly my research does help identify group norms and patterns as regards hot water systems, and does so by examining relationships among neighborhodds (as opposed to the political economist's task of investigating how public policy affects urban areas).



Significantly for this part of my research, my effort in mapping the spatial distribution of hot water system use falls easily within the Urban Ecology paradigm, and the photographs reproduced here are a bid to see how this approach "maps onto" the theory that there is something more than an understanding of income needed to explain the differences we see between these two poor communities.



This kind of work goes back to the ideas of Robert E. Park (1864 -1944), the founder of the Chicago School of Urban Sociology (appropriate since I was born and raised right near the University of Chicago!)

Park's insistence that we investigate the social world through direct observation of ethnic ghettos and other aspects of city life normally hidden from view has definitely influenced my work, and his patterning of urban work on the emerging biological field of ecology also resonates with me, since I began my career as a researcher in rainforest ecology at Harvard's Gunung Palung study site in Borneo. In that work we tried to map the spatial relationships between tree fruiting phenology and the population density patterns and fruit choice preferences of large mammals and birds (particularly orangutans, gibbons, fruit bats and hornbills). In a similar vein, taking Park's argument that cities are like living organisms whose parts must be related to the structure of the city as a whole and its otehr parts (Kleniewski, p. 29), my attempt here is to show that there is something about the space in which people are operating, its topography, its relation to the city center and its underlying resource affordances, that is influencing their hot water technology decisions.



Spatial analyses of urban patterns have a long history. Park's disciple, Ernest Burgess laid a theoretical foundation for the growth of cities by suggesting that competition within the land market would result in each group getting the best location it can afford, and we certainly see this in looking at the map of where the Zabaleen live, on the outskirts of the city by the desert at Muqattam hills. Nonetheless, in historic cities like Cairo, the idea that there are gradations of class moving outward from a prosperous city center to a peripheral informal ghetto is disrupted by centuries of development imbrication and radically mixed neighborhoods throughout most of the city, disregarding the current growth of rich suburbs outside the city, even in Muqattam hills themselves.



Homer Hoyt back in 1939, disputed the simplicity of Ernest Burgess 'concentric zone model' and developed instead a "sector model theory" which was further modified by Harris and Ullman (1945) to reflect the complex reality of the American city (to say nothing of old world cities!). The Harris and Ullman analysis suggested a mosaic pattern of development which they called "the multiple nuclei" model. This model showed that in many cases there is little predictability about where different land uses and social groups are to be found in different cities (Ibid, p. 34).



Further refinements in the 1950s created a "factorial ecology" approach to urban sociology that used "factor analysis", a statistical technique, to understand urban questions. The approach, in the hands of Shevky and Bell (1955), became known as "social area analysis" and in many cases was able to show regularities in the characteristics of different neighborhoods.



Shevky and Bell are known for famously reducing population differences to three dimensions - the average socioeconomic status of households in the area, the family size and structure and the area's racial or ethnic makeup. Using just these three basic characteristics "could help predict man other features of life in those different settings" (op cit, 34).



Like many models, the reduction met with many critics, chief among those William Form (1954) who argued that there was too much reliance in these models on economic competition and not enough attention paid to shared cultural factors such as social prestige and ethnic prejudice or cultural practice.



In this exploration of the use of hot water heaters by indigent Cairenes, we want to see what yields can be obtained by a cursory spatial or social area analysis, and we use Google Earth as a quick and dirty tool to eyeball the differences between the Zabaleen and the Darb El Ahmar communities, both with similar economic status, yet apparently different with regard to hot water system use. Later we will subject these to statistical analysis and try to explain any significant differences that emerge.
This is the aggregate data...





... and this is how it lays out spatially:





Photo 3: Darb Al Ahmar Project area Water Heater use with underlying GPS maps:

(Download the AKTC GIS maps for use in Google Earth here, 20 MB)





I. Distribution of hot water heaters from a household survey sample of 231 homes in the Darb Al Ahmar project area.



Red represents electric heater apliances (wall mounted in the kitchen or the bathroom, usually under 50 liters). There are 126 of these (54.5% of the sample)

Green represents gas heater appliances (wall mounted in the kitchen or bathroom, fueled by exchangeable butagas bottles). There are 45 of these (19.5% of the sample)

Dark blue represents families that heat water on the kitchen stove (fueled by butagas bottles). There are 48 of these (20.5% of the sample).

Light blue represents families that heat water on small portable "one eye" butagas stoves. There is 1 of these (0.4 % of the sample).

Blue balloons with stars represent families that use a "Hamil" (a floor grill connected by a rubber hose to an exchangeable butagas bottle). There is 1 of these (0.4% of the sample)

Yellow balloons with stars represent families that use the "Babour" - a small portable kerosene stove. There are 9 of these (3.9 % of the sample.)

Amazingly one family was cleverly using the hot water from the electric washing machine in order to heat bathing water because a previous hot water system had broken and they couldn't afford to replace it! Though its frequency in our sample is the same as tha of the one eye and the Hamil, we don't consider it a "heating system" because in our informal surveys and experience living in the community we haven't seen it used elsewhere, whereas we have seen other families using Hamils and One Eye portables (in fact we have one ourselves). Thus we don't believe that a larger sample would scale up the number of households using washing machines as heater for bathing water.



The map does not reflect the 2 solar hot water systems we built or the 3 others currently under construction. There were no other solar hot water systems in the community. Khalis.



A fast and frugal attempt at spatial analyis (by eye!) suggests that there is greater use of electric and gas heaters toward the downtown area, near Bab Al Khalq, and more people relying on kitchen stoves up toward the old wall by Al Azhar park, i.e., deeper into the community.



This intuition has to be corroborated by statistical analysis and correlated with income and other variables.



Photo 4: Zabaleen Zurayib Project Area with Underlying handdrawn maps:

(Download the Roh El Shabab maps for use in Google Earth here, 1MB)





II. Distribution of hot water heaters from a household survey sample of 225 homes in the Zabaleen project area.



Red represents electric heater apliances (wall mounted in the kitchen or the bathroom, usually under 50 liters). There are 64 of these (28.4% of the sample)

Green represents gas heater appliances (wall mounted in the kitchen or bathroom, fueled by exchangeable butagas bottles). There are 16 of these (7.1% of the sample)

Dark blue represents families that heat water on the kitchen stove (fueled by butagas bottles). There are 105 of these (46.7% of the sample).

Light blue represents families that heat water on small portable "one eye" butagas stoves. There are 10 of these (4.4 % of the sample).

Blue balloons with stars represent families that use a "Hamil" (a floor grill connected by a rubber hose to an exchangeable butagas bottle). There are 26 of these (11.6% of the sample)

Yellow balloons with stars represent families that use the "Babour" - a small portable kerosene stove. There are 3 of these (1.3 % of the sample.)



One family was using a "Kanoun" (a traditional balady campfire, fueled with waste wood and trash -- indicated in the photo by a "volcano" icon) It would be tempting to consider this an abberation, but we found that this heating system, which descends from the rural practices from the Zableen region of origin, is the system many poor families say they will return to if the price of electricity and heating gas goes up. Some families in our sample still use this "heating system" to boil water for washing white clothing (underwear) even when they have another way of heating bathing water. Women will carry the white laundary down to the street and light a "kanoun" campire and boil water there. Mina's house, however, on the edge of the community in an open space, was the only one regularly using the kanoun for all hot water because they live at the edge of the quarry in a shanty with no internal water pipes or bathroom and live as if they are still in the countryside.



Because in our informal surveys and experience living in the community we haven't seen it used regularly elsewhere, we don't believe that a larger sample would scale up the number of households using Kanouns as heaters for bathing water -- at least not until the price of other systems gets out of reach.



The map does not reflect the 8 solar hot water systems we built or the 3 others currently under construction. There were no other solar hot water systems in the community besides the one's that Solar CITIES has created. Khalis.



A fast and frugal attempt at spatial analyis (by eye!) suggests that there is greater use of electric and gas heaters toward the central business area of the community, where Warsha Street (Workshop street) and Furn Street (Furnace Street) intersect near the post office, and more people relying on kitchen stoves and Hamil's deeper in toward the Association for the Protection of the Environment Recycled Paper Making and Rag Recycling factory (the open green area to the right). This could reflect greater prosperity of people living on the central artery leading out of the community to downtown Cairo.



This intuition has to be corroborated by statistical analysis and correlated with income and other variables.



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Methodology: For Darb Al Ahmar, I took the 10 district area (shakhiya) GIS "street and building number maps" (generously supplied by Heba from the AKTC) and transformed them into reasonable sized .jpgs that can be zoomed in without losing resolution (i.e. you can still read the street names and the house numbers). I did this using The Gimp (open source graphics software for those without the funds to purchase Photoshop). For the Zabaleen community of Zurayib in Muqattam I took the hand-drawn paper maps given to me by Amal from Roh El Shabab and scanned them into my computer. while the general area map was successfully scanned, only one of the close-up district maps was scanned before my HP 1315 All-in-one printer/scanner started giving me "overcurrent on USB port" (on my Mac) and "powersurge on USB hub" (on my PC) messages. After this it stopped working completely. Fortunately I was able to do most of the work with the general area map, which had a few squiggles on it in difficult to read arabic handwriting helping me orient the streets. There are no formal maps of the area.



I then pulled the maps into Google Earth with the "use image overlay" command, and carefully stretched, rotated, sized and adjusted them to fit with the underlying google earth image. In most cases they are now pretty accurately overlaid on the satellite photos. This was important to do because there are as yet no street maps in Google Maps for Cairo and certainly no address books with house numbers. Since the areas being studied are the ancient historic Medieval area of Cairo and the informal housing area of Muqattam/Manshiyat Nasser, they were never "rationalized" by surveyors. It's all winding unpaved alleys and streets, filled with donky carts, sheep and goats, cows and camels; absolutely wonderful but difficult to navigate. The AKTC are the first to produce reliable street maps of their area and Roh El Shabab are the first to begin mapping their community. Hopefully this project will help in both those efforts.



The next step was to look at the address information in my Excel data base and extract the house number, street name, district and type of hot water system used from the data base. I then plotted this information in Google Earth using post pins of different colors for different heating systems. In all cases the post pins are in the shakhiya, or district, they belong to and in most cases the pins are located precisely on the home they pertain to. In some cases they are within a hundred meters but must still be ground truthed; one of the difficulties of an informal or slum area is that there is no rationale for the numbering system and there can be several names for any given street. Rarely are their street signs. Some exist in Darb El Ahmar, but there are practically none in the Zabaleen informal community. So when conducting household surveys it is extremely challenging to get the exact address.



Some of the locations were captured on my handheld GPS, but it was not feasible to do this for all the data -- for one thing I only have the one GPS and there were 5 of us in the field doing the surveys. For another thing, GPS devices are considered "illegal" and "forbidden" in Egypt (I had mine confiscated crossing the border to Israel when I was on my way to conduct a workshop at the Arava Institute for the Environment, but the nice Egyptian border guards later returned it to me after we spent an hour discussing our solar cities work and demonstrating foldable solar panels and model fuel cell cars and other props we use for teaching about renewable energy. When I came back to the country they cheerfully helped me cross the border and said, "you are welcome back in Egypt Mu'allam (teacher) but we must warn you that you should be careful about where you try to use your GPS -- other security forces may take it away from you if they see it". It is not supposed to be in the country. We understand your work and appreciate it, but these things cause problems". We discussed how in the age of Google Earth a hand held GPS isn't going to give a would be terrorist or spy any given advantage, but Google Earth is not well known among the average population of police and state security officials, and a handheld GPS is still regarded by the Mukhabarat as a suspicious device that demands explanation: i.e., "why are you so interested in this data". This kind of questioning could take hours and create deep complications since conducting household surveys itself or doing any research without a permit is also not allowed. To avoid problems we simply don't bring the GPS with us often, and I turned over most of my surveying to the competent and friendly local team that I hired working through friends in Darb Al Ahmar and through Dr. Layla Iskander at Roh El Shabab).

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