Solar Cookers International
1919 21st Street, #101
Sacramento, CA 95811

Tel. 916-455-4499 Fax 916-455-4498

Solar Cooker Review

Solar Cooking Archive:

Vol 4, No 3
Back Issues  E-mail PDF

December 1998

Circulation 8,200

The Solar Cooker Review is published two or three times a year to exchange information from around the world on solar cookers' uses, dissemination strategies, educational materials, and adaptations to diverse social and cultural needs. From time to time we cover related topics such as women's issues, trees, wood shortages, health, nutrition, air pollution, environment and climates.
The Solar Cooker Review is sent to all who contribute money or news about solar cooker projects. Single copies are sent free to selected libraries and groups overseas.   Visit the Solar Cooking Archive at for back issues and many more solar cooking materials.
We welcome reports and commentary related to solar cookers for possible inclusion. These may be edited for clarity or space. Please cite sources for data where possible. We will gladly credit your contribution. Send to SCI REVIEW, 1919 21st St., Suite #101, Sacramento, CA 95811 USA, fax 916-455-4498, Email

In two refugee camps, Kakuma and Aisha, SCI is beginning to build long-term
sustainability by 1) turning management over to local organizations, 2)
encouraging local entrepreneurs to provide replacement supplies ongoing, 3)
helping set up support systems for local trainers and promotional

In the last few months the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has
conducted evaluations of solar cooking projects in Kenya, Ethiopia, and
Pakistan. SCI has also conducted several assessments in Kenya. None of the
reports is yet available, but the findings clearly affirm that solar cookers
are used regularly and appreciated by refugees, who can cook most of the
local staples 8-9 months of the year. With even one cooker per family wood
savings appear to be 15-20 per cent. The remaining challenge is to
demonstrate sustainability and cost-effectiveness.

SCI's first pilot project was in Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwest Kenya. To
date about 8,000 families have received solar cookers and instruction. An
estimated 6,000 remain to be served. Recent conflicts in southern Sudan have
brought large, new influxes of Sudanese. Also 15,000 Somali refugees from
eastern Kenya were recently transferred. Thus the camp has doubled in size
since we began in 1995.

Kakuma Camp is managed by Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Recently LWF
agreed to integrate the solar cooking project into its ongoing community
development programs, and we are working with them to transfer management of
supplies and staff to assure ongoing support for the refugee women trainers.

Dadaab Camp in eastern Kenya has a temporary windfall from a US government
grant to supply wood for cooking fuel. Previously about 2000 solar cookers
had been distributed, but flash floods in 1997 destroyed many of them and
cut off all roads to this huge camp of 120,000 refugees. Also our partner
agency is in transition, and there have been increased security concerns in
the region. For these reasons SCI has temporarily suspended programs in
Dadaab to focus our efforts in Kakuma, where the needs of refugees are
currently more urgent. We hope to resume Dadaab efforts in a year or two, a
possibility we are exploring with other local agencies.

In Ethiopia, the project in the remote camp of Aisha Camp has been plagued
with lack of supplies. Cookers imported from Kenya were delayed in customs,
after which ground transport to the remote camp was also difficult.
Nevertheless, a recent evaluation by the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees found that, when supplies are available, families use their
solar cookers 60-80% of the time, can cook most of the local foods eight
months of the year, and appreciate wood savings.

There is urgent need for production of solar cookers in Ethiopia, and SCI
hopes to explore that possibility with UNHCR. For the plastic bags, already
available in Ethiopia, the plan is to make them available to local vendors
in the camp.

In Zimbabwe, the national project launched by UNESCO and SCI stimulated
enormous interest throughout the country. Requests for training and supplies
have grown far faster than the capacity to fill them. Of the two pilot
communities, the Bulawayo-area community project has gotten a grant of
$US40,000 from Rotary International and enormous local support and volunteer
help from Bulawayo area Rotary clubs, coordinated by Mr. Philip Whitehead of
Rotary of Bulawayo South. Hlekweni Friends Rural Training Center is also
supporting the day to day management.

In the other pilot community, Epworth, which is near the capital city of
Harare, four of the original trainers have continued, despite lack of
outside support, to provide demonstrations, trainings and to sell supplies.
Despite lack of funds the Development Technology Centre at the University of
Zimbabwe has also continued to respond to requests for training and supplies
from other communities. For example, a local indigenous group near Masvingo,
called AZTREC, requested and received initial supplies and training for a
cadre of local women to teach their neighbors. Barby Pulliam, one of SCI's
International Volunteers, provided one week of training.

The projects in Zimbabwe, all in the beginning stages, need ongoing support
and encouragement. The challenge now is to follow up, per the original
national plan, to make supplies and training available and insure a support
system for local trainers so they can succeed as independent entrepreneurs.


In 1995 SCI launched its first field project. Its first purpose was to test
whether the newly-developed simple panel cooker, costing about $3 US, would
be useful and used in a semi-arid refugee camp. If so, then we would proceed
to implement a well-documented successful field project which would become
sustainable by local agencies.

We chose to start in Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwest Kenya. It was quickly
clear that the solar cooker was accepted and useful to the seventy pilot
refugee families, so SCI then committed to a longer project.

We offered additional training to sixteen of the most enthusiastic new solar
cooks in the group so they could train their neighbors. These trainers have
now grown to a group of thirty-two trainers overseen by four "monitors," all
refugees, and they have been running training programs ever since.

Although some refugee families have been able to leave the camp, the influx
of new refugees has been much greater, so the total camp population has
doubled from about 30,000 to about 60,000.

From the beginning the biggest difficulty has been transporting of cookers,
pots and plastic bags produced in Nairobi to this remote, almost
inaccessible camp. We are continuing to explore ways for cookers to be made
closer to the camp. We are also turning now to the need for larger families
to have two or three cookers. To be sustainable on its own, the project also
needs a system whereby families can buy a replacement cooker when their
first one wears out. Then we can total the costs for such a pilot project
for comparison with the few other cooking options available to the refugees.

We are well on our way to a long-sought, well-documented successful
dissemination of solar cooking. These results will be widely shared with the
many other development organizations that wish to explore a solar cooker

Dr. Norge Jerome

Solar Cookers International is small and the world's need for solar cooking
is great. Our field projects have demonstrated that solar cookers are
useful, appreciated, and well-used by people in sunny, fuel-scarce areas,
and also that family savings in time, work and money are significant.

What remains is to fully transfer responsibility and support from SCI to
local agencies for long-term sustainability of solar cooking projects.
Support from SCI to local agencies includes maintaining systems for
replacement of supplies and, where possible, helping individual trainers
build successful businesses teaching about and selling solar cookers. When
this is accomplished, we can turn our efforts to helping other organizations
begin new projects.

On behalf of the many thousands of people who have a new skill to make their
lives a bit easier, I would like to say thanks once again to our dedicated
members and supporters. We have come a long way with your help. We will stay
the course and multiply these accomplishments with your continued


Dr. Barbara Knudson is SCI's 1998 Volunteer of the Year. Her contributions
this year were abundant: she volunteered her time to conduct several studies
of the solar cooking project in Kakuma Refugee Camp (see her article
elsewhere in this Review).

Dr. Knudson was a keynote speaker at SCI's first conference, held in 1989 in
Washington, DC. From 1992-97 Barbara not only served as a hard-working Board
member, a demanding job by itself, but also was our key, pioneer launcher of
our refugee training project in Kakuma Refugee Camp. She also assisted the
launching of a solar cooking project in Dadaab Camp and the UNESCO project
in Zimbabwe. We are grateful for her follow-up evaluations of the Kakuma
Project. She has also represented SCI on numerous occasions in many
    SCI is deeply grateful for the dedication, multiple professional skills,
countless hours and other support Barbara has given to SCI.


SCI's HONOR ROSTER: individuals honored by gifts in their name:
Sherry Cole, Clark & Eleanor Shimeall, Gordon Williamson, USA

The two most recent memorial gifts were sent by Mrs. Richardson Okie in
memory of Ruth Beardslee Newcombe and Patsy W. (Mrs. David) Raudenbush.

SCI sends condolences to Erma E. Herrera whose husband, David, recently
passed away. She still enjoys the solar cooker he built for her, one of
several he built which are still enjoyed by children and grandchildren.
Others whose memory has been honored by gifts to SCI: Imogene Hyde Alexieff,
USA; David Ciochetti, USA; Ann Curtis, USA; Robert (Bob) Dibble, USA; Howard
Dresbach, USA; Mary Courter Euwer, USA; Elaine Imus, USA; Pablo Frank, USA;
Cecil Gomez, USA; Marjorie R. Green, USA; Barbara Hartley, USA; Gerri de
Graaf, USA; Prof. George Metcalf, USA; Molly Mills, USA; George and Gertrude
Prosser, USA; Tudor Roberts, ZIMBABWE; Dr. Richard Shoupe, USA; Mae and Omar
Smith, USA; Nebaj Spitzer-Nadeau, MEXICO; Jerome Tucker Stewart, USA; Mary
O. Wilson, USA

Hats Off to St. Martin's Table

The volunteer servers at St. Martin's Table in Minneapolis, MN, USA, donate
their tips each month and on special occasions to hunger-related causes.
Tips collected for the month of June 1998, $1593.81, were designated for the
work of Solar Cookers International in the Kakuma Refugee Camp. Our very
special thanks to Mark J. Kile and all the other volunteers that made this

Contributors to this Review
Many thanks for design and layout donated by Dave Ruppe, Impact
Publications, Medford, OR, USA, and Dr. Barbara Knudson's summary of studies
in Kakuma Refugee Camp.

Intern Studies Cookits
A student from Germany, Dmitrij Sverdlov, volunteered for two month's for
SCI in California. His work included testing and measuring variations of the
cookit to help us improve it.

Water Pasteurization Indicators
SCI continues to study extended use of both the WAPIs (with soy wax that
melts at Pasteurization temperatures) and SAF-WATs (bi-metal disks that snap
when water is hot enough to kill water-borne diseases. New studies on WAPIs
used more than 90 times suggest the melting point of the wax may rise, that
is, err on the side of safety. Similarly, the SAF-WAT in some water supplies
begins to rust at the edge, and eventually the SAF WAT doesn't snap anymore.
Again, this extended-use change is on the side of safety - it won't snap
even when water is Pasteurized.

SCI recommends that you check your indicator from time to time, and invites
you to return questionable WAPIs or SAF WATs to SCI. We will exchange each
for a new one.

After a previous invitation to return indicators, all those we received were
tested and all were found to be working perfectly.

Alternative Gifts International offers gift-giving that remembers the less
fortunate. SCI is one of the fortunate beneficiaries of AGI's work. Over the
past three years people through AGI have contributed 1886 solar cookers for
refugee families in East Africa, almost 15% of the total distributed through
SCI. For a free catalog call AGI (in the USA) at 800-842-2243. AGI's web


Here's the latest on the plastic bags used around the dark pot in the open
panel cookit:

1. Try HDPE bags: Many plastic grocery bags are slightly milky transparent
and they rustle noisily when you handle them. These are made from HDPE (high
density polyethylene) plastic. When used in a solar cookit these bags handle
high temperatures well. SCI studies indicate that cooking is a little slower
than with transparent high-temperature bags, but except on marginal days the
difference may not be noticeable. Just put them upside down over the pot and
tuck the open end under the pot. These are much cheaper than what we have
recommended in the past (polypropylenes and polyesters). The latter are
found in nearly all countries, but are more expensive and are mainly sold to
hospitals for use in sterilizers.

2. Environmental harm or boon? There was recent concern in one of our field
projects that plastic bags are harmful. On the contrary, plastic bags are
beneficial when used in solar cooking:

- Production of plastic bags consumes almost no energy, because the chemical
changes from oil to these plastics are minor molecular changes.

- The amount of fossil fuel (oil) needed to produce a plastic bag is a tiny
fraction of that consumed when someone instead cooks a meal with paraffin

- Not all plastics give off harmful fumes when heated or burned, only those
containing chlorides, fluorides or iodide additives - such as PVC pipes, and
styrenes (Styrofoam) where there is insufficient oxygen. Others, including
all plastic bags used in solar cooking (polyethylenes, polypropylenes and
polyesters) are all simple hydrocarbons which, when heated or burned, give
off only carbon dioxide and water, no other fumes.

- After bags are worn out they can be safely burned as fuel - just like
paraffin or wood, but they can also first be recycled into useful items such
as durable ropes and mats and then later burned to release the last bit of
stored energy. Thus from production, through use and disposal, environmental
harm is a non-issue. Even in places where the plastic bags need replacing
every week, they may still be the least environmentally harmful cooking
option for many women in semiarid regions.

Wietske Jongbloed believes her bags last longer when she just hangs it to
dry without wiping. They need not even be turned inside out, which adds to
wear and tear.
Does the pot stand go inside or outside of the plastic bag? It doesn't seem
to matter much.

Lizzie Pomeroy's Polyester Tent from Sunseed, Spain, replaces plastic bags.
Lizzie started with a polyester cuff a little taller than the pot. She
folded over the top 1 cm (slit at 3 cm intervals to allow the sides to
curve) and fixed a lid to it, either flat or slightly conical, of the same
material. This can be glued with contact adhesive, or silicone
sealant...Staples, wire or thread could also be used for strength. The whole
cover can be lifted off to allow stirring, and if the air space at the
bottom is well sealed, it works well. Another Sunseed volunteer noted that a
locally available detergent comes in a large, translucent plastic tub which
also does the job if inverted over the pot.

For other technical topics, join "Solarcooking-L," the email discussion
group: send a message to with SUBSCRIBE SOLARCOOKING-L
in the body of the message. Recent topics have included glass for box
cookers, how to blacken pots, and food canning.


SCI has developed two new field guides for groups wanting to introduce solar
cooking in a new area:
A Field Guide, Spreading Solar Cooking describes what to expect and how to
plan a project. 18 pp. $5
A Trainers Manual, Teaching Solar Cooking outlines the basics of solar
cooking, and how to teach others to become successful solar cooks. The 32
page booklet also includes instructions for making a simple cookit and
language-free diagrams. $10


I was interested to read Mr Owen's letter (SCR Mar 98). I...also have in the
past felt that some of SCI's output has not concentrated enough effort on
the practical problems encountered by solar cooks in the developing world.

I am quite sure from our own small scale efforts over 4 years in Tanzania
that solar cooking will be a useful technology for a proportion of
Tanzanians, but also that several different cheap cooker designs (both solar
and conventional) are required to suit variable family circumstances.

...As a scientist with the Institute of Occupational Medicine
(Edinburgh)...I can assure Mr. Owen that his belief that burning dried wood
causes fewer health problems is entirely unfounded...while the visible
component of wood smoke is due mainly to water vapor, the particulates given
off in wood burning are scarcely affected by the moisture content, and being
typically under 10 micrometers diameter are largely invisible. These are
essentially similar to the vehicle emissions in cities (often referred to as
PM10 and PM2.5) which are clearly implicated in the occurrence of
respiratory disease. Also,...not [all wood stoves are] designed for use with
a chimney... so while these cookers undoubtedly do save fuel, any health
benefit might be marginal. To give the best health benefits, stoves need to
be designed with chimneys, and this puts up the cost.
Geoff Beaumont, energy engineer Sunseed Tanzania Trust c/o 8 Marchmont
Crescent, Edinburgh, EH9 1HN, UK, web page:

We are able to learn and share information with other development colleagues
with the help of your magazine which always brings current information
useful in our field activities.
Thank you.

Gamini Gunasingha, Int'l Assoc. for Volunteer Effort, Hs 117, Rd. 4, Banani,
Dhaka 1213, Bangladesh. Fax 880-2-882449, Email:

Your publication has very useful information. Splendid!
Prof. Dr. Jose Blanco, Inorganic Chemistry Dept. Havana University, Havana,
10400 Cuba. Tel 537-783922, fax 537-335774, Email:

I was considering not renewing my membership, since...we are on a tight
fixed income. However our July electric bill changed my mind! Our bill was
less than last year's even though we were in the middle of of Florida's
worst heat-related disaster and most people's electric bills were nearly
double. The reason is...I used my solar box cooker nearly every day...Now we
will donate what we saved to help you help others.
Thank you, SCI!
Mrs. Sarah E. Branham, Interlachen, Florida

I work in Argentina spreading solar cookers in...the arid zones of the
province...I am a researcher, but I work in the spreading of the devices,
too. I am very happy because SCI informs me on different aspects that are
necessary to work.
Ing. Alfredo Esteves, engineer C.C. 131 - 5500 Mendoza, Argentina. Tel
54-61-288797, fax 54-61-287370, Email:


Have you -
invented a new, better solar cooker?
taught others to be successful solar cooks?
developed solar recipes?
developed teaching materials and activities?
created a business that uses or sells solar cookers?
found unusual uses for a solar cooker?
Please share with thousands of others through the SCI Review.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has announced that one-tenth of the
world's trees species face extinction. Nearly 9000 tree species are now
listed as endangered.


Africa and Europe

Risto Kekkonen of Technology for Life sends information on a new parabolic
cooker, "V-4." Parabolic cookers are especially ideal for higher latitudes.
The Finnish government has also funded a fine booklet by TFL, Manual TFL-2
on Solar Cookers, which is free for asking: For information: R.Kekkonen,
Vattuniemenkatu 18 F 115, 00210 Helsinki, Finland.

Roger Bernard, "father" of the idea that led to the cookit, continues
developing innovative variations on solar cookers

Roger Bernard, with one of many solar cookers he uses regularly.

Amat Cham, a metal worker, works with Baboucar Touray of the Development
Organization of the Gambia (DOOG) to build solar cookers to sell. A. Cham,
PO Box 609, Banjul, The Gambia.

Rosalyn Rappaport works with the Gambia Renewable Energy Centre, a branch of
the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Employment and also the Methodist
Mission Agricultural Program. She sends a report describing a group of women
at the Marakissa Mission that meet weekly as a solar cooks club. This group
recently arranged a demonstration in a nearby community, Kitty, which drew a
large crowd and led immediately to starting a solar cooks club in Kitty.
R.Rappaport, 31 Lodge Lane, Finchley, London N12 8JG, England. Tel

For a Dutch-language flyer on solar cooking contact Stichting Solar Cookers,
Lariksstraat 2 3881 EK Putten, Holland. Tel 0031-0341-35 28 54, fax 353569.

Meredith Bunting sends a very nice "How to Make and Use" booklet based on
SCI's which she translated into Tamajaq for Taureg women. She notes, "The
families here spend too much of their food budget on scarce wood, and the
sun is too great a resource to neglect." Societe Internationale de
Linguistique, BP 10151, Niamey, Niger

Svetlana Tomanova uses SCI information in her environmental magazine. Email:

Work continues on the Germany/RSA joint government solar cooker pilot
program which aims to clarify and document the acceptance and dissemination
for solar cooking options. In the dry northwest region six types of solar
cookers were tested by 66 families and 14 institutions. Conclusions include,
"Solar energy is a promising option capable of being one of the leading
energy sources for cooking." They found cooker acceptance and considerable
fuel and time savings, and predict a viable market for solar cookers.

Manolo Vilchez organized the 3rd Annual Solar Encounter on July 4-5. It
featured a live camera on the internet web showing the outdoor solar cooking
activities. Email:

Mrs. Genesa Giovanna of the Women Development Office of the Catholic Church
Yambio Parish is grateful to Rotarian Dave Evans of the Kenya Rotary Project
for helping transport solar cooker supplies to her program.

Geoff Beaumont of Sunseed Spain and Tanzania writes that over the past 4
years volunteers have been testing, demonstrating and developing solar
cookers in the Mbeya and Dodoma regions with the assistance of local groups
and individuals.
"Initially we concentrated mainly on a mud and straw cooker of Sunseed
design, but after 3 years experience we decided that other designs,
particularly the Cookit and a plastic-glazed version of the plywood box
cooker, are currently more viable.
Sunseed has set up a new charity, Sunseed Tanzania Trust, (STT) with the aim
of establishing a Tanzanian centre for research, development and
dissemination of appropriate low-cost technologies of use to those living in
arid or semi-arid lands. See also his letter in "From the Mailbag."

Phil Whitehead, Rotarian in Bulawayo, is not only Chair of the Solar Cooking
Project working with Hlekweni Friends Rural Center in Ntabazinduna. He also
is helping other groups in the region, such as the Ingwenya Mission, to get
solar cooking supplies.

The Americas

The 8th Int'l Biannual Conference on Solar Energy in High Latitudes
announces a call for papers for its next conference for 11-14 August 1999 in
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Abstracts are due February 26, 1999 (email, fax
or postal mail). For inf.: North Sun '99 Secretariat, c/o SESCI, 116 Lisgar
St., #702, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K2P 0C2, tel 1-613-234-4151, fax
1-613-234- 2988, Email: Web:

Rachel Gold met with Dr. Maria Teresa Guzman, who gave her an update on the
pioneer solar cooking village, Villa Seca. A solar restaurant is scheduled
to open in January, 1999, and already they are selling solar-made breads and
jellies. The women regularly teach other nearby communities. Rachel's email:
Albert Sireau writes, "The twenty founders of SCI...boldly decided to try to
bring solar cooking to 2.4 billion people. That goal has been a guiding
beacon." Mr. Sireau is in charge of solar cooker workshops at the 19th World
Scout Jamboree which will be held in Chile from Dec. 26, 1998 to Jan. 7,
1999. He also notes that the Villa Seca experiment (see above) "becomes more
and more known."

Dr. Sophie Jakowska reports that Elisa Zeiter organized a solar cooking
demonstration with several types of solar cookers at a public celebration in
July. She also appreciates being able to pasteurize water in the sun. "It
saves money." Dr. S. Jakowska, Arz. Merino 154, Santo Domingo, Dominican
Republic. tel/fax 809-687-3948.

New Forests Project notes they raised $ US30,000 for a rotating fund for
families throughout Central America to get solar cookers.

In the Village of Hope, a school outside of Port-au-Prince, children now
have 90 per cent of their lunches solar cooked, thanks to a Burns-Milwaukee
SUN OVEN on the roof of the kitchen. Meals include rice, beans, corn meal
and noodles. The school hopes to eventually branch out into commercial
enterprise, baking items for sale on the highway and surrounding

Barbara Horak took some solar cooking supplies to Cieneguita in the Sierra
Madre Mountains hoping to demonstrate solar cooking and help people build
about ten cookits. Interest was immediate, and twenty-six cookers were made
in two days. B Horak, 8900 Mettler Drive, El Paso, TX 79925-4047. Fax
Cienequita, Mexico

Solar water distillation information is available from Horace McCracken: PO
Box 1217, Taylor, AZ 85939, USA. Tel 520-536-4883, fax 520-536-7187.

The Northern California Solar Energy Association organized a tour of Solar
Homes for October 17.
The Sustainable Community Action Network (SCAN) in San Diego sponsored a
Solar Cookoff on July 11. It also displayed a giant solar oven at the US
International University in San Diego and afterward took it to the CECUT
Fiesta del Sol in Tijuana, Mexico. SCAN, email, tel
Don Coan and Barbara Jodry held the 8th Annual Block Party Solar Cookout in
Sacramento with a growing number of their neighbors who also solar cook.
Eloise and Sam Norton gave a workshop at their home to teach friends about
solar cooking, and Eloise also demonstrated solar cooking for 3500 women
from over 35 countries at the 11th Quadrennial Assembly of International
Christian Women's Fellowship of the Christian Church held at Purdue
University in June. Eloise Norton, 26501 Rio Vista, Hemet, CA 92544, USA.

District of Columbia
Girl Scout Troop 1064 made solar cookers at their Camp last year and have
linked their web page to the SCI website with plans for building the cookit.
Web: http: //

The Rhode Island Solar Energy Association forwards news that Safe Water
Systems in Hawaii has developed a water pasteurizer utilizing gravity to
flow water through a standard solar panel. A thermal valve opens at a set
water temperature. It it totally passive - no electricity or pumps. It costs
less than $US 2000 and can pasteurize 200 gallons/ 760 liters of water
daily. For inf.: tel 808-539- 3937.

The Presbyterian World Service contributes supplies to the minor boys of
Kakuma Refugee Camp, paid for by children in the USA.

New York
At the Cooper-Hewitt Museum exhibit, "Under the Sun," in New York, artist
Mary Frank conducted a solar cooking demonstration and workshop in June.

Aprovecho Research Center starts new groups of interns every March, June and
September for ten- week Sustainable Living Skills Internship Programs.
Aprovecho, 80574 Hazelton Road, Cottage Grove, OR 97424, USA. Tel
541-942-8198, fax 541-942-0302, email, web page

The El Paso Solar Energy Association newsletter, SEASUN reports that its
solar still is being tested at New Mexico State University. Many stills will
be installed in Columbus, New Mexico. EPSEA also offers guidelines on solar
water heating and solar pool heating. EPSEA, PO Box 26384, El Paso TX 79926,
USA. Web
Ken Hargesheimer forwards a news item about Jim Banks of Fort Worth, who
cooks "anything from armadillo to zucchini" in his home-made panel-type
solar cooker. He likens it to an electric crock-pot without the crock, the
pot or the electricity. K Hargesheimer, Box 1901, Lubbock, TX 79408-1901,
USA. Email:

Martin Nix hopes to persuade Seattle residents to support solar energy use
by the local public utility, Seattle City Light. He notes that richer people
think solar cooking is just "cute," whereas low-income families are
genuinely interested. Nix is an inventor of a large, powerful trough-type
solar cooker. M.Nix, PO Box 95173, Seattle, WA 98145, USA.

Dave Piper of SUN TOYS, who sells a flexible version of the cookit, reports
that a frozen taco can be easily heated in a cookit inside its clear plastic
wrapper if put inside a black plastic bag. D.Piper, 14837 206th Ave.,
Renton, WA 98059, USA.

Asia and Pacific

The Solar Collector newsletter put out by the Solar Cooking Interest Group
in Western Australia reminds its readers that the solar season is beginning.
One news item cautions them how to keep their solar water heaters from
getting TOO hot. They also regularly include solar recipes sent to them.
Solar Cooking Interest Group, 23 Morley St., Maddington.

Wayne Hosking of Geraldton Fishermen's Co-operative painted the shell of an
uncooked egg black and solar cooked it in a 40 cm diameter stainless steel
bowl. He also boiled a cup of water in a jar-within-a-jar in the same
stainless steel bowl putting a piece of black cloth in the water.

In an area with frequent clouds, Dave Johnson uses a solar cooker to speed
the pre-soaking of beans and rice. Even when it doesn't cook food completely
it greatly reduces cooking time.

The Solar Foundation in Lucknow sends information about its award-winning
solar cooker with electric back-up called Nutrenguard, which they
manufacture and sell. For information: FRP POINT G-3, Sarojininagar
Industrial Area, Lucknow -226008, India. Tel/fax 0091-522-440299 or 522-
9628-555569, email

Another promoter of solar cooking in Lucknow is the Non-Conventional Energy
Development Agency of Uttar Pradesh, B-46, Mahanagar Extension, Lucknow,
India. Tel 73975, 72994.

In the rainy season S. Narayanaswamy still uses a solar cooker for drying
the many condiments essential in an Indian kitchen which are prone to insect
attack during humid months. For example nutmeg which is harvested in rainy
months must be immediately dried. Other uses include pasteurizing water,
drying garden produce such as okra, bitter-gourd, some kinds of beans,
chilies,and roasting cashews, almonds and peanuts. "It is the sheer
simplicity and God-given beauty of solar cooking which attracted me." S.
Narayanaswamy, J-7, Jawaharnagar, Trivandrum 695 041, India. Tel

S.K. Philip of the Sardar Patel Renewable Energy Research Institute in
Gujarat sends two recent studies: Evaluation of Solar Box Cookers with
Electrical Back-up, by Ms. H.N. Mistry and Ms.H.G. Panchal. It compared four
commercial solar cookers with electric back-up. Its general conclusion noted
the electric back-up is regulated by thermostat, so electricity would be
drawn during the initial solar heating of the food and electricity would
also turn on at the end of the day, when the food is already cooked. Some
consumer expressed concerns about high electricity bills. In much of India,
solar cooking is possible 200 days of the year and not possible during 90
days of monsoons, leaving about 75 days when one would need electric
back-up. However in many parts of the world there will surely be a future
for solar cookers with electric back-up, and the study recommends further
The second study, Development of Concentrating Type, Portable, Family Size
Solar Cooker was carried out by Ms. Nimisha Patel, Mr. M. Motiani, Ms.
H.N.Mistry and Ms. Hema Panchal. The group studied the performance of three
commercial cookers from Germany, China and the Philippines. They developed a
fresnel reflector model of 1.5 meter diameter which was found to cook all
usual foods, including chapathis and frying puries, which can't be done in
an Indian model of box-type solar cookers. The next step will be to make a
small quantity to test by users prior to large scale popularization. Dr.
S.K. Philip, Sardar Patel Renewable Energy Research Institute, PO Box 2,
Vallabh Vidyanagar-388 120, Gujarat, India. Tel (02692) 31332, 45011, fax
(02692) 47982.

Mark Paul of Action for Food Production (AFPRO) sends a copy of its Rural
Energy Journal, vol. 5, edited by Dr. S. Sharma in New Delhi. An article on
solar cooking notes that in India about 500,000 solar cookers have been
sold, but "sub-standard cookers of a single type were sold" during a
government subsidy period from 1980 -1993. A survey estimates only about ten
per cent are being used or in working order. Most were sold in urban areas,
whereas the fuel shortages are felt most in rural areas. The article
summarizes various other kinds of solar cookers and concludes, "Unless the
(solar) cookers are available in several sizes and price ranges, are lighter
and sturdier, they are unlikely to be seen under the sun where they belong.

Al Ligtenberg reports that on a trip to teach about photovoltaics he also
demonstrated solar cookers, and a number of local organizations hope to
bring solar cooking into their programs. The nomads in the far west were
especially enthusiastic about solar-baked Mongolian bread. Al is currently
in Nepal to check on several solar cooking projects he helped start there.

K.M. Sandon of Rotary International reports that, based on ten box-type
solar cookers sent by District 5390 to Ulaanbaatar in 1996, a company in
Ulaanbaatar is now manufacturing solar cookers.

Sama Shrestha of the Centre for Rural Technology reports that a solar
cooking and drying demonstration was held in February 1998 in Kathmandu.,
co-sponsored with the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre, and the Liver
Foundation Nepal. By noon all the food items were well cooked. Booklets and
manuals in several languages were available. CRT, PO Box 3628, Tripureswore,
Kathmandu, Nepal. Tel 256819/241065, fax 977-1-257922. Email:
Kathmandu, Nepal

Sanu Kaji Schrestha of the World Bank Field Office in Kathmandu learned
about solar cooking from a friend, purchased a parabolic solar cooker from
CRT (above) and has built his own solar box cooker/dryer for about US$ 15,
and has demonstrated both to many friends.

Leonarda N. Camacho of the Metro Manila Council of Women Balikatan Movement,
Inc., writes that they have been promoting solar cooking for ten years, and
have developed an improved box-type cooker.
Manila, Philippines


SCI seeks invitations from organizations that would like to host and
co-sponsor the 4th International Conference on Solar Cooker Use, Technology
and Dissemination in the year 2001 or another future one. The conference is
usually 2-3 days, depending on the program. The conference serves as a
valuable way for persons and organizations to share, network, and learn of
the activities and advancements in all aspects of solar cooking and its

The 3rd International Conference was held in India in January 1997. Other
previous venues were Costa Rica (1994) and USA (1992).

SCI as a co-host would:
- process abstracts, papers, and related correspondence.
- provide guidelines for hosting a conference, based on past experience.
- help organize the program, find speakers.
- share fund raising for the conference and a few travel scholarships.
- publicize the conference

A co-host would:
- designate a person to be the local conference coordinator
- supply clerical and logistical support.
- correspond with registrants about housing.
- help organize the program, find keynote speakers.
- print program and copies of paper abstracts
- help with visa needs of foreign participants
- arrange facilities for paper presentations, exhibits
- arrange food, accommodations, and local travel/transport.
- advertise the conference locally and regionally
- possibly print the Conference Proceedings
- possibly arrange a local tour to a local solar cooking project and to
nearby tourist attractions
- seek support, financial and otherwise, from local and regional sources to
cover travel for local dignitaries to attend
- encourage sponsorships from various U.N. agencies.

Preference will be given to sites in Africa near existing solar cooking
projects. Other criteria will include: a range of meals and accommodations
which include low-cost options for those on limited budgets and where the
conference fees can be kept low.
The World Conference on Solar Cooking is an exciting event for solar cooking
users, promoters and organizations. Interested organizations should contact:
International Conference Committee, c/o SCI, 1919 21st St., Sacramento, CA
95811 USA. Fax 916-455-4498, email:

To get an Alternative Givt Catalog send name and address to: ALTERNATIVE
GIFTS INTERNATIONAL 9656 Palomar Trail - PO Box 2267 Lucerne Valley CA

by Barbara Knudson, ph.d., and William Lankford, ph.d.

In August of 1998 a pilot research project was carried out by Drs. Barbara
Knudson and Bill Lankford, SCI volunteers, to explore the potential impact
of solar cooking on people and on the environment where they live. The
following summarizes the report of this study. For more details or questions
on this study, contact B.Kundson,, tel 612-378-2634 or
800-925-3368, fax 612-338-5092, USA.

The work of SCI in Kakuma Refugee Camp has proven already that in this sunny
areas where fuelwood is scarce and expensive, individuals have adopted and
are using solar cookers. This study asks if the potential saving is
significant in their lives and in preservation of their environments. Kakuma
Refugee Camp, in the northwest corner of Kenya lies near the equator in a
fragile semi-desert environment with trees found only along (usually) dry
river beds. The area receives less than ten inches of rain a year and the
majority of days have bright sunshine.

Kakuma is the site of SCI's first field project, begun in 1995. To date more
than 8,000 households have been equipped and trained for solar cooking.
Logistical difficulties in this remote area have been a continuing problem,
but refugee households have enthusiastically adopted solar cooking. Seventy
refugee households were selected as participants and were divided into three
groups, distributing various ethnic groups and family sizes as evenly as
possible: 1) MAXIMUM GROUP: trained solar cooks who agreed to use their
solar cookers on every day possible during the research period, 2) NORMAL
GROUP: trained solar cooks asked to follow their usual cooking pattern, and
3) NON-SOLAR COOKS: households which have not yet been trained or equipped
for solar cooking.

Each of the 70 households was visited daily by a trained enumerator from the
same ethnic group (important since communication is difficult across the
camp's multiple ethnic groups and languages). For twelve days each
enumerator carried a spring scale to each household to weigh the fuel. The
study's 12- day period included two rainy and one cloudy days, and nine with
perfect sun.

As the study began, the camp's wood distribution was concluding and the food
distribution was beginning. Refugees are provided with bundles of wood
estimated to provide 1/3 to 1/2 of the fuel need to cook the subsistence
level food allotment of 1900 calories per day per person. Refugees are not
allowed to gather in the surrounding area, nor is there much to gather.
Therefore, to get the rest of the needed cooking fuel, refugees mostly
purchase or barter with local tribes for charcoal. This complicates the
study, but based on advice that a unit of charcoal cooks about twice as much
as the same weight of wood, this study doubled the weight of charcoal
consumed when calculating and comparing average fuel consumed by the three

The study's results show, even with this short time and small scale, there
are statistically significant differences in fuel usage between the three
groups. Overall fuel consumption averages per day were: 4.0 kilograms (kg)
for the Maximums, 4.1 kg for the Normals and 5.6 for the Non-solar Cooks.
Thus the Maximums and Normals used 71.4% and 73% of that the Non-solar Cooks
did. These represent savings of 28.6% and 27% respectively.

If one looks at only the fuel used for cooking family meals and omits other
wood "consumption" such as "gave 11 kg to a lady," "gave some to a
neighbor," "used in our hotel," (we would call it a restaurant),the Maximum
group's average drops way down to 1.8 kg per day, or 32% of the Non-solar
Cooks' usage, or a 68% savings. This suggests that solar cooks have wood to
share. It also suggests that a concerted educational campaign to encourage
solar usage could probably bring wood savings for users well above 50%.

Extrapolating those estimates to the camp's population of 60,000 (roughly
10,000 households) shows a significant potential for protecting the
environment. The camp purchases 500 metric tons of wood per month for
distribution (1,100,000 kg). Refugees purchase an estimated additional 1000
metric tons (2,200,000 kg) per month. Using only the most conservative
estimate of 27% savings, if all families were trained, equipped and
systematically encouraged to use solar cooking, at least 400 metric tons per
month could be saved in this one camp alone.

Beyond wood savings, a final section of the report focuses on the
consequences for human welfare where refugees must purchase or barter to
obtain fuel to cook the meager food allocation. Less than one- fourth of
families have income from working in the camp, most do not. For the rest,
the only item to barter is part of their food. In the study period, 95
household days out of a possible 840 (70 households X 12 days) families did
not cook, hence did not eat. Reasons were lack of food or fuel or both. Thus
over 10% of the time a family does not eat at all in a given day. Solar
cooking could indeed help both people and environments, if used maximally
wherever solar insolation permits. Yes, solar cooking does matter in the big
picture. The challenge is how to spread this message to policy makers,
donors, and, most importantly, the end users for whom the benefits may be

Solar Carol for the holidays (melody Angels we have heard on high) Lyrics by
A. Austill, C. Dorsey, C. King, M. Taylor, K. Coyle
Chorus: So-o-o-o-o-olar power
Inexpensive energy

See the sun how bright it shines
on the nations of the earth.
All who share this thing called life
celebrate each day's rebirth..CHORUS

How we love complexity
when the answer's rather plain.
Join the sun in jubilee,
sing with us this joyous strain..CHORUS

Now the sun can cook our meals
as we just sit back and relax
Think about how good it feels,
now the dream has become a fact...CHORUS

Picture living in a searing hot, windy desert. You cook your daily meals
over a hot, smoky fire (and hope the wind won't blow yur fire out of control
to burn your children or your small hut). Having had to flee your country,
you are one of many thousands crowded into a refugee camp in a desert region
which normally sustains only a few nomadie tribes. There is no longer any
wood left as far as the horizon in every direction.

Do you walk beyond the horizon every few days to gather wood and carry it
home on your back? Do you barter away some of your meager food rations for
fuel to cook the rest? Do you skip heating the milk and drinking water to
pasteurize them to save fuel? Probably all of the above.

A few lucky ones have another option: cooking with sunlight. Over 11,000
refugees in eastern Africa have been empowered to solar cook. THE SOLUTION
COMES UP EVERY MORNING. SCI support comes mostly from individual donations.
SCI's goal is to make 2.4 billion people aware of solar cookers and help 24
million become solar cooks. This can empower women, improve their health and
relieve their heavy burdens caused by growing fuel shortages in many arid
parts of the world. SCI meets all standards for program quality and
financial accountability of InterAction, a consortium of international
development organizations and of the National Charities Information Bureau,
though we are too small to be included in their Wise Giving Guide. SCI has
special consultative status with the United Nations, entitling us to provide
expertise where needed. MAKE A DIFFERENCE Begin or renew a contribution to
SCI today. You'll get two Solar Cooker Reviews and the satisfaction of
giving life-long skills where needed most. Quarterly or monthly payments
welcome of a possible 840 (70 households X 12 days) families did not cook,
hence did not eat. Reasons were lack of food or fuel or both. Thus over 10%
of the time a family does not eat at all in a given day.
Solar cooking could indeed help both people and environments, if used
maximally wherever solar insolation permits. Yes, solar cooking does matter
in the big picture. The challenge is how to spread this message to policy
makers, donors, and, most importantly, the end users for whom the benefits
may be life-saving.


Clark and Eleanor Shimeall were honored at SCI's 11th Annual Meeting for
their twenty years of work with solar cooking. The Order of Excellence
recognizes those individuals whose sustained efforts have contributed most
to empowering people to cook food and pasteurize water with solar energy.
The three previous honorees are Barbara Kerr, Sherry Cole, and Bob Metcalf.

Clark and Eleanor have inspired many others to solar cook. They also have
served on SCI's Board, Clark as President. They have lead fund raising
efforts and also conducted solar cooking demonstrations in the USA, Mexico
and Guatemala. Proceeds from Eleanor's popular solar cookbook have been
donated to SCI, and SCI's endowment was established by Eleanor and her
sister, Eloise Norton, in memory of their mother, Mary Courter Euwer.

A special surprise for the Shimealls was the announcement of The Shimeall
Special Response Fund, established by friends of the Shimealls. A sum of
$23,700 was raised to date. Since SCI's small budget is tightly allocated
each year, this fund will allow the Board to respond quickly to selected,
unexpected opportunities as they arise.


Begin or renew a contribution to SCI today. You'll get two Solar Cooker
Reviews and the satisfaction of giving life-long skills where needed most.
Quarterly or monthly payments welcome

Organization members

Adobe Inn,Buena Vista,CO,USA
Africa Tree Center Support Group,Ayase, Kanagawa, 252-111,JAPAN
Aklilu Alternative Energy Resrch,Asmara,ERITREA
Animal Farm Pet Hospital,San Francisco,CA,USA
Appalach.Science/Public Interest,Livingston,KY,USA
Asociacion de Estudios Geobiol.,Castellon,SPAIN
Barbara & Robert Stuart Foundntn,Lake Forest,IL,USA
Blackhawk Solar Access,Quincy,CA,USA
Blue Construction,Joliet,MT,USA
Bob's Haus,Sacramento,CA,USA
California Cedar Products Co.,Stockton,CA,USA
Camp Latgawa,Eagle Point,OR,USA
Casa Ballena del Sol,Santa Fe,NM,USA
Centr.American Solar Energy Proj,Fairfax,VA,USA
Central Valley Press, Inc.,Sacramento,CA,USA
Centre for Rural Technology,Kathmandu,NEPAL
Centro Estudios Exp. Artes.Rural,Chiapas 29200,MEXICO
Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church, Gifts of Hope Market,Washington,DC,USA
Church Women United,Hemet,CA,USA
Comite Cuiseur Solaire,St. Marc,HAITI
Compatible Technology Inc.,Hudson,WI,USA
Concept Communications,Mill Valley,CA,USA
Craft Co-op of the Northwest,Seattle,WA,USA
Dept. of Education, Audubon Zoo,New Orleans,LA,USA
Diocese of Erie Mission Office,Erie,PA,USA
Dominican Sisters,Edmonds,WA,USA
Earth Share of California,San Francisco,CA,USA
Earth Spirit,Nevada City,CA,USA
Earthlab,Dept.of Environ.Studies, Sonoma State Univ.,Rohnert Park,CA,USA
Ecology Action,Willits,CA,USA
Economics for Everybody,Escondido,CA,USA
Energy Mgmt.Program, ENSP, Sonoma State Univ.,Rohnert Park,CA,USA
Estufas Solares Dominicanas,Santo Domingo,DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
First Christian Church,Hemet,CA,USA
First Christian Church CWF,Bellingham,WA,USA
First Unitarian Church,Stockton,CA,USA
Gold Mine Natural Food Co.,San Diego,CA,USA
Grady's Copy Shop, Inc.,Sacramento,CA,USA
Healing Grace Sanctuary CS-59,Shelburne Falls,MA,USA
Herb Gathering Inc.,Kansas City,MO,USA
History of NYC Project, Inc.,Bronx,NY,USA
Home Power,Ashland,OR,USA
Hornos Solares-Ambas Californias,San Diego,CA,USA
Hunger Comm.Presbytery of Geneva,Dresden,NY,USA
I.T. Services,Sacramento,CA,USA
If All the Hands that Reach Could Touch,Carbondale,CO,USA
Impact Images,El Dorado Hills,CA,USA
IMPACT Publications,Medford,OR,USA
James Hill, Insurance,Stockton,CA,USA
Kerr-Cole Enterprises,Tempe,AZ,USA
Kilili Self Help Project,Menlo Park,CA,USA
Los Altos United Church,Long Beach,CA,USA
Manitou Institute,Crestone,CO,USA
Marketing Systems, Inc.,,USA
Maryknoll Fathers,Maryknoll,NY,USA
Minn.Home Economics Assn.,Minnetonka,MN,USA
Minturn of Houtex,Houston,TX,USA
Mission Opportunities Short Term,Ann Arbor,MI,USA
Mohr-Fry Ranches,Mt. Eden,CA,USA
Montcalm Community College,Sidney,MI,USA
National Renewable Energy Lab.,Golden,CO,USA
NorthernServices/Sturge Town Div,Discovery Bay, St. Ann,JAMAICA
Office of Energy,Perth, WA 6000,AUSTRALIA
Oomoto,Kyoto-hu, 621-8686,JAPAN
Panama Sol,Panama 3,PANAMA
Parroquia,San Lucas Toliman 07013,GUATEMALA
PCB Engineering, Inc.,Milpitas,CA,USA
Presbyterian Women, First Presbyterian Church,Bellingham,WA,USA
Religious of the Sacred Heart,St. Louis,MO,USA
Renewable Energy Policy Project,Washington,DC,USA
Rhema Training Center,Wahiawa,HI,USA
Rod Brezina & Associates,Strawberry,CA,USA
Rotary District 5390,Polson,MT,USA
Rotary of Stockton,Stockton,CA,USA
Safewater Systems,Honolulu,HI,USA
Sarmento Family Charitable Trust,Carmichael,CA,USA
Sasakawa Global 2000 Mozambique,Maputo,MOZAMBIQUE
Senioract of Southern Nevada,Las Vegas,NV,USA
Servants in Faith & Technology,Lineville,AL,USA
Setzer Forest Products Foundation
Shepherd of Sierra Presbyterian,Loomis,CA,USA
Sol de Vida,Guadalupe,COSTA RICA
Solar Cooker Project, Rushmore Rotary Club,Rapid City,SD,USA
Solar Energy Program,West Palm Beach,FL,USA
Solar Freedom International,Saskatoon, SK S7K 4S1,CANADA
Solar Network of Tanzania,Dar Es Salaam,TANZANIA
Solar Now,Beverly,MA,USA
Solar Toby,Tucson,AZ,USA
Solidarity House,Sacramento,CA,USA
St. Martin's Table,Minneapolis,MN,USA
Star Ranch,Eagle Point,OR,USA
Sun Frost,Arcata,CA,USA
Sun Power 101,Germantown,MD,USA
Sunseed Tanzania Trust,Edinburgh EH91HN,GREAT BRITAIN
Synchronos Design,Corrales,NM,USA
Technology For Life,40100 Jyvaskyla,FINLAND
The Alabama Conservancy,Birmingham,AL,USA
The Earth Shop,Ballston Lake,NY,USA
The Setzer Foundation,Sacramento,CA,USA
Theological College-Cent.Africa,Ndola,ZAMBIA
Trace Engineering Co.,Arlington,WA,USA
UTEP Energy Center,El Paso,TX,USA
Vermont Energy Education Program,Lyndonville,VT,USA
Waljo'k Foundation,Sonoma,CA,USA
Women Build Houses,Tucson,AZ,USA
Women's Fellowship, Congregational Christian Church,Yakima,WA,USA
World Christian Relief Fund,McCrory,AR,USA


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