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Solar Cooker Review

July 2002

Solar Cooking Archive:

Volume 8, Number 2
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Africa and Europe

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Barnabé Kalawu Mutondo of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, writes that he works at a vocational school as a carpenter and trainer and that he specializes in building wooden solar box cookers and in promoting their use. The cookers have been well received by people in his district due to the benefits solar cooking offers for saving fuel wood and preserving the environment. In spite of the difficult conditions that rural Congolese are currently experiencing, he is an optimist and helps when he can.

Contact: Barnabé Kalawu Mutondo, Centre de Formation Professionnelle et Artisanale Disadisa, c/o Révérend Père Zénon, Missionnaire Clarétain, B.P. 7245, Kinshasa 1, Democratic Republic of the Congo.


André Kotowski presented three types of solar cookers ¾ a parabolic, a box, and a panel ¾ at a clean energy exhibit organized by MJC Beauregard Nancy this past April. He says, "Our solar apparatus function very well even in [less] favorable conditions such as Nancy, France in spring."

The box cooker developed by André and Sophie Kotowski, heated ½ liter of oil to 185ºC (365ºF) during the month of April.

Contact: André Kotowski, Virtual Laboratory of Solar Domestic Applications. E-mail:


According to R.D. "Del" Anderson, solar cookers are being constructed and increasingly utilized in and around Eldoret, Kenya. Solar cooking courses are taught at the Ukweli Training Center.

Contact: R.D. "Del" Anderson, 1131 Via Alamosa, Alameda, California 94501, USA.


In May 2001 in the capital city of Bamako, Wietske Jongbloed conducted a solar cooking workshop for 40 members of the Association de Femmes Ingénieurs de Mali, a women’s engineering association. The association has since developed a plan to spread solar cooking to nine communities within Mali, including Timbuktu, Gao, Kayes, Ségou, Mopti, and Sikasso. In each site they will introduce the production of the CooKit and its use to local women’s groups. They expect to start with an initial supply of 200 CooKits per site. Currently various organizations are being approached for financial support.

Contact: Wietske A. Jongbloed, Hollandseweg 384, 6705 BE Wageningen, Netherlands. Tel: 0317 412370, fax: 0317 410732, e-mail:


The Nigeria Society for the Improvement of Rural People (NSIRP), led by Chris N. Ugwu, has been teaching the construction and use of solar box cookers for a number of years. Mr. Ugwu learned solar cooking skills from former Solar Cookers International (SCI) I board member Dr. Bob Metcalf during a training conducted in Nairobi, Kenya in 1992. The beneficiaries of the NSIRP solar cooking program are rural women of Enugu State who use solar cookers to pasteurize drinking water and cook maize products equivalent to Kenyan ugali. According to Mr. Ugwu, there are currently about 50 families using solar cookers regularly, and the plan is to continue to teach and distribute cookers to at least 100 families per year. In accordance with SCI’s program recommendations, there are procedures in place for measuring the benefits of solar cooking, as well as the provision of follow-up services and training. NSIRP would like to correspond with other solar cooking groups in Nigeria.

Contact: Chris N. Ugwu, Nigeria Society for the Improvement of Rural People, P.O. Box 3125, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria. Tel: 234-42-259761, fax: 234-42-258317, e-mail:


For many years, the Esperanto Club of Lund, Sweden, has corresponded with a group of individuals living in Tanzania. One ongoing topic of conversation revolves around the difficulties faced by many Tanzanians in obtaining cooking fuel. The Esperanto Club has helped bring about an affordable, reliable solution: solar cookers.

Club member Sture Andersson, with communication assistance from Anna-Maria Lange, has developed two types of solar cookers made of simple materials that have begun to be produced and used in two communities in Tanzania. Using plans developed by Mr. Andersson, 30 basket-and-clay cookers have been built in Kukoba-Kajanga, as have 20 cardboard cookers in Bunda.

Mr. Andersson’s cardboard cooker utilizes a modified parabolic shape for efficient use of the sun’s reflected energy. The cooker is assembled from eight wedge-shaped cardboard pieces cut, folded, and joined through a series of overlapping tabs that are sewn together with string or bast fibers. The inside of the entire unit is lined with foil, which is secured using glue or cellulose powder thinned with water. For added strength, a band of steel wire or osier shoots is sometimes sewn around the rim of the finished cooker. Mr. Andersson’s second design is for a woven parabolic cooker lined with a clay/manure mortar.

Sections of a cardboard solar cooker are sewn together

The modified parabolic cardboard cooker ready to use

Early construction stages of the woven cooker

Contact: Sture Andersson, Qvantenborgsvägen 14, S-227 38, Lund, Sweden. Tel: 046-211 92 02, e-mail:

Solar Cooking Zanzibar, a project of German NGO Green Ocean, reports that they currently assist rural women who work in cooperatives producing crafts, such as woven bags and mats. The products are made from the leaves of wild growing date palms, harvested in an environmentally safe manner. After the leaves are dried and bleached by the sun, they are dyed in a solar cooker. This raw material is then woven into long strips and sewn into bags, hats and mats. The fair trade of these products will provide an alternative to cutting and selling firewood for income, and thus hopefully reduce pressures on the last remaining forests of Zanzibar. Some of the profits are used to promote solar cooking in the region.

For more information about the solar cooking project or any of their products, contact: Antje Förstle and Rainer Vierkötter, P.O. Box 152, Zanzibar, Tanzania. Tel: +255 (0) 24 225 0 542, e-mail:



 "Encuentro Centroamericano De Investigadores Y Experimentores Campesinos" was held March 7-9, 2002, in the rural community of Unile, Nicaragua. Campesinos from Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua presented the results from their research and experimentation in sustainable agriculture and rural production techniques to over 200 participants. Village resident and Grupo Fenix member Teresa Lopez, a solar cooker promoter trained by the Central American Solar Energy Project (CASEP), presented two types of box cookers ¾ a CASEP cooker and one of Grupo Fenix design. She also presented a parabolic cooker of German origin. Unile has 11 solar cookers in daily use and is planning a permanent carpentry workshop for building solar cookers, dryers and water heaters.

A women removes bananas from a Grupo Fenix solar box cooker

Residents of Unile show off a CASEP-designed solar box cooker

Members of Grupo Fenix, with technical support from solar technician Jaime Muñoz, have constructed over 200 solar cookers of various designs and materials, some of which reach temperatures of 180ºC (355ºF).

Contact: Susan Kinne (English), e-mail:; Teresa Lopez (Spanish), e-mail:; web:


Professor Pedro Salazar reports that the University of Panama has published a small guide book on solar cooking, focusing on an easy to build version of the "CooKit" panel cooker. Five hundred copies were printed and are being distributed to university students who are working on studies and field projects in economically marginalized areas of the country. Demonstrations of solar cooking have also been done. "We think that some 500 people will make use of such marvelous technology during our three to four month dry season," says Salazar.

The Guidebook is dedicated to Don Alberto Fajardo Cruz, "a tireless builder and promoter of solar cookers in Panama."  Professor Salazar writes that Don Alberto has presented many large demonstrations of solar cooking in poor areas near Panama City, adding, "I estimate that some 1000 people know the value of solar cookers and to some degree are using them, especially during the dry months."

Contact:  Prof. Pedro Salazar, University of Panama, Apartado Postal 7964, Panama 9, Panama.


The "First Solar Village ¾ Zero Pollution" has begun in the village of Chamococo in the Karcha Baluth region of Alto Paraguay. Solar power lights a school and 25 homes, and a solar refrigeration system preserves fish. The program also includes solar cookers of several types and a solar food dryer for preserving fruit and medicinal plants. This project received financial support from the British government and technical support from Jean-Claude Pulfer of the Swiss solar cooking organization ULOG. Leading the project is Paraguay’s Centro de Energia Solar (CEDESOL), which is in turn supported by The Celestina Perez de Almada Foundation.

In exchange for the solar energy services of CEDESOL, the villagers in Chamococo agreed to protect the forest resources, rivers and streams in the area for at least ten years. To help them do this, additional sustainable projects will be delivered to the community.

The Celestina Perez de Almada Foundation has been active in solar energy for nearly a decade, with programs that combine micro-credit, training, support to women’s small business ventures, and a range of solar energy applications, including solar cooking and solar water pasteurization. In 1999, with support from the Swiss government, the foundation installed ten solar driers in a village that suffered from malnutrition and poverty, while thousands of tons of fruit rotted for lack of means for preserving it. Now, dried fruit is distributed to school children, teachers and their families to reduce hunger, while surplus dried fruit is sold in Paraguay’s capital city to increase incomes in the village. One hundred small banana farmers benefit, as do 300 children.

Dr. Martin Almada, president of the foundation, was recently inducted as a member of the French-based Virtual Laboratory of Domestic Solar Applications.

Contact: Dr. Martin Almada. E-mail:

United States

The September 2002 issue of Dwelling Portably will contain plans for making a panel cooker designed especially for people living in mid to high latitudes. The cooker can be constructed with cardboard, foil, and other simple materials. When folded the cooker is small enough to fit inside of a 5-gallon bucket for weather-safe storage. Current and past issues of the zine are available, postpaid, for US $1/issue (domestic) or US $1.50/issue (international).

Contact: Dwelling Portably, P.O. Box 190-d, Philomath, Oregon 97370, USA.

SCI member Judith Hicks of Birmingham, Alabama, USA, reports an innovative way to make CooKit-style cookers. She uses the shiny reflectors that drivers of large trucks use to keep the cab shaded when parked in the sun. She found she can sew the ends together using a sewing machine to form a bowl-like shape, which performs similarly to a CooKit. However, it is somewhat larger than a CooKit, and, Ms. Hicks says, seems to cook a little hotter.



Construction of a large community solar box cooker has been completed at Hillside Farm in Gosnells, Western Australia. This unique farm ¾ a cooperative effort between local community groups, the city of Gosnells, and the Department of Education ¾ is a multi-use area that promotes ecologically sustainable living practices through educational and recreational opportunities. Activities include farming, camping, horseback riding and educational activities such as school classes and community workshops.

The design of the 2-meter by 1-meter box-type cooker is based on working models in India and Mexico. The body of the cooker consists of an outer metal "skin" surrounding an inner wooden box, which is divided into two chambers, each insulated with semi-rigid fiberglass and lined with black powder-coated steel to absorb heat. The two chambers allow for simultaneous cooking by two different users. Sunlight enters each chamber through double-paned glazing. Additional sunlight is reflected into the cooking chamber via two large reflectors, the primary one lined with anodized, chrome-finished aluminum. The cooker is accessible through a small door in the rear of each chamber. A small, photovoltaic-powered fan is installed in one of the cooking chambers to circulate the heated air for more even heating.

The community cooker will travel throughout much of the year to various events and demonstrations. During the summer months, when fire bans are enforced, the cooker will be available for general use by the public at the Hillside Farm camping area.

Contact: Sunny Miller, Solar Cooking Interest Group, c/ 23 Morley Street, Maddington, W.A. 6109, Australia. Tel/fax: (08) 9459-3606, e-mail:


The India International Clean Energy Expo 2003 (CLEAN 2003) is scheduled for February 20-23, 2003, in Bangalore, India. The objectives of the exposition are to provide a platform for showcasing clean energy technologies, products and services for worldwide buyers and sellers; to showcase India as a leading destination for clean energy products, services and technology; to highlight policies and incentives of world bodies and governments for clean energy; and to help achieve the potential of clean energy to reduce the effect of global warming and pollution.

CLEAN 2003 will be an interactive forum for manufacturers, technology providers, energy producers, funding agencies, scientists, universities and training institutes from all over the world. It will also focus on the commercial application of clean, sustainable energy sources available today and will strive to provide an interactive platform for clean, sustainable, renewable energy.

Contact: Yogesh Srinivasan, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, Pradeep Deviah & Associates Pvt. Ltd., PDA House, 32/2 Spencer Road, Frazer Town, Bangalore - 560 005, India. Tel: +91 80 5547434, fax: +91 80 5542258, e-mail:, web:


Yasuko Torii, a longtime solar cooker developer and promoter, recently had plans for her portable solar cooker published in the April, 2002 issue of Do it yourself (DoPa!) magazine. The article also describes a number of other types of solar cookers that are available and explains some solar cooking principles.

Contact: Yasuko Torii. E-mail:, web:

SCI and AHEAD runners-up for prestigious renewable energy award

Solar Cookers International (SCI) and Adventures in Health, Education and Agricultural Development (AHEAD) were two of just four organizations worldwide to share the 2002 Ashden Award for Renewable Energy. The award aims to "identify an outstanding community-level renewable energy project in the developing world that provides economic, social and environmental benefits. The cost, design and application of the technology has to be appropriate to the communities at which it is aimed." It is the world’s only award for renewable energy.

SCI was recognized for its solar cooking and water pasteurization efforts in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya. Margaret Owino, SCI’s East Africa Regional Representative, attended the award ceremony held this past March in London. Her response: "I am thrilled to win the Ashden Award of £7,500 for renewable energy applications. This award means that 1,500 refugee families will own a solar cooker and thus reduce pressure on the environment. This is a first for Solar Cookers International in Europe."

HRH Princess Royal (left) congratulates Margaret Owino (right) as Sarah Butler-Sloss of the Ashden Trust and Edward Whitley of the Whitley Laing Foundation look on. Photo courtesy of the Whitley Laing Foundation

AHEAD ¾ a nonprofit organization that works closely with SCI ¾ was recognized for its efforts to reduce incidence of waterborne disease, especially in infants, throughout the Shinyanga Region of Tanzania. This is accomplished by pasteurizing water using SCI’s CooKit ¾ a simple solar cooker ¾ and Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI). Dr. Irving Williams represented AHEAD at the award ceremony.

HRH the Princess Royal was on hand to present the awards.

For general information about the Ashden award, visit the Whitley Laing Foundation website:; for information about this year’s award finalists, visit:

Ashden award finalists (left to right): Dale Lewis, Wildlife Conservation Society of Zambia; Dr. Irving Williams, AHEAD; Margaret Owino, SCI; and Dr. A.D. Karve, Appropriate Rural Technology Institute, India. Photo courtesy of the Whitley Laing Foundation

Afghanistan: Return of Solar Cookers?

by Virginie Mitchem

Laila Petty, resident of Los Altos, California, left for Kabul on May 27, 2002. Her mission is to show internally displaced persons near Kabul, Afghanistan, how to solar cook using Solar Cookers International’s solar panel cooker, the CooKit. Dr. A.J. Lederman, a new SCI friend from New York, is busy planning her solar cooking project near Kandahar. She’ll start as soon as the sun comes back early next year, and she plans to use the CooKit as well. Huge Villager Sun Ovens are arriving in Afghanistan too, ready to feed school children and offer micro-bakery opportunities for women. A member of International Foundation of Hope is on his way from Colorado to Istalif village, a suburb of Kabul, equipped with a durable, lightweight box-type cooker produced by the Solar Oven Society, led by Mike and Martha Port. Representatives of the Afghan Renewable Energy Association (AREA), and Afghan refugees in the San Francisco Bay Area, remember when SERVE, a European nonprofit organization, introduced box cookers to Afghans back in the 1980s and continued to produce them through the mid 1990s. Can this solar technology help Afghanistan now?

The solar cooking community thinks it can, and so do their partners. Indeed there are lessons to be learned from past experiences. Training, support, appropriate cost, quality control, and available follow-up have always been essential to successful projects. SCI’s "train the trainer" model of dissemination has been shown to transfer successfully from Kenya and Ethiopia to Turkey with very few modifications. Micro-enterprise opportunities are the key to success in many places. Just providing the means to cook food and pasteurize water with reduced risk of stepping on landmines is sufficient reason to introduce the cookers in places like Afghanistan.

There are many groups involved in this groundswell of activity: These include ¾ but are almost certainly not limited to ¾ Shelter Now International, International Rescue Committee, American Friends Service Committee, the Afghan Coalition of Fremont (California), Mercy Corps, World Vision, International Foundation of Hope, Hope Worldwide, ex-SERVE workers, Knightsbridge International, Tzu Chi Foundation, Samaritans’ Purse, Greenstar, and Rotary International, the latter having provided funding for the large Villager ovens. Each is playing their part.

And SCI? Following the October 2001 board meeting, knowing we could not watch from the sidelines, a group of SCI board members formed the SCI Ad Hoc Committee for Afghanistan. Our goal is to "explore the use of solar cookers to help improve the circumstances of the Afghan population." A subsequent goal defined for potential partnerships is, "to equip needy people in Afghanistan with solar cookers and the knowledge to use them," by partnering with organizations that already have a presence in Afghanistan. SCI is equipped to add our implementation skills and lessons learned to their local experience. The committee has made it our task to learn what our colleagues are doing, exchange contacts with other organizations, and make sure that people in the solar cooker community know who is working in areas close to them, thus helping add to a collective awareness wherever possible. Since October we have talked to many of the people and organizations listed above as well as others. Allart Ligtenberg, a world traveling solar engineer and cook, put me in touch with Laila Petty and I immediately started training her to cook in the sun back in February. Mary Frank, a long-time supporter and friend of SCI, introduced us to A.J. Lederman, who is using the implementation plan written by the Ad Hoc Committee as input for her own plan. Mike Port is a member of the Ad Hoc Committee, and we stand ready to provide training support to his project if required. Paul Munsen of Sun Ovens International Inc., Steve Troy of The Sustainable Village, and I talk or e-mail with the latest news, as does Louise Meyer of Solar Household Energy, Inc. The Ad Hoc Committee is looking at its next steps. Perhaps an on-site assessment? Perhaps helping set up training and support for one of the planned programs using our tested techniques? Many people we speak with express a concern that many Afghans are dealing with issues of survival and do not have the resources to look at long-term projects. We expect that to change as immediate needs are addressed, and we are ready with the data and contacts we have been gathering since last fall. We wish all our colleagues and their beneficiaries well, and we continue to look at ways we can help.

Meanwhile, from small to large, simple to complex, solar cookers are showing up in Afghanistan, an area with a huge need, abundant sun, and little fuel wood or animal dung for cooking fires.

Virginie Mitchem is an SCI Board Member and Task Force Coordinator of SCI’s Ad Hoc Committee for Afghanistan.

Motivation: experiencing life in the real world

by Meredith Richardson

Solar Cookers International board of directors

Many more years ago than I care to remember ¾ 1978 to be exact, when I was a healthy, strapping twenty-something ¾ I was working in a village in the northern region of Burkina Faso (then Haute Volta). I was there collecting information about literacy levels, infant death rates, and life expectancy of people in the Kaya region of the Sahel.

I was attempting to live the way that the villagers lived in order to understand them better and to have them accept me, so I ate what they ate, wore what they wore, and spent a great deal of time with the women and children as they went about their daily routine. They were extremely hospitable and insisted that I spend my nights sleeping in the grain mill, which was probably the most substantial building in the village.

One morning I decided that I needed to pull my weight a little more, so I accompanied the women and girls as they went to gather water and firewood for the day. We set off at sunrise with jars and water pots, but by the time we had walked far enough to find an area where some trees were still growing, and where the river bed with clean water was located, we had traveled nearly two kilometers ¾ or more than a mile ¾ and the sun was hot and high in the sky. We had set out with no breakfast as the wood and water were needed in the preparation of breakfast.

By the time we gathered the wood and filled the water pots I was hot, tired, hungry and grumpy. As I walked back with a relatively light load of firewood balanced on my head I was mentally complaining and bewailing my lot and wondering why on earth I was subjecting myself to this hardship.

Then I became aware that walking in front of me was a little eight-year-old girl from the village, who was balancing on her small head a five gallon, metal "kerosene can" as we call them in Australia. It was filled to the brim with water and she walked with great care but grace and speed as she carried it along. I was beginning to think that it must be quite heavy when I noticed that on either side of her neck the muscles were knotted and swollen into lumps the size of tennis balls. Such was the strain that the weight of the water placed upon her small frame.

All of the two kilometers back she unfailingly, and without spilling a drop, bore that heavy load. By the time we reached the village I knew that I was beat but I also knew that my load had really been much lighter than hers. I spent the rest of the day observing the grandmothers and teenagers and quite small girls who had also made that trip with myself and the other women of the village. They all spent the rest of the day going from one task to the other as they washed clothes, prepared food, cleaned their compounds and cared for their children. Even when it came time to rest from the afternoon sun, they spun and wove goat hair into cloth and cords. My eight-year-old walking companion was as unceasingly active as anyone else. I, on the other hand, was very glad that my work was of the type that I could sit and "observe" them all for the rest of the day. I did not have much energy for anything else.

Eventually I found that one woman in the village could read and write, two out of every five babies died before their fifth birthday, and that villagers rarely lived beyond fifty years old.

In the years since my experiences in Burkina Faso, I have tried to find ways in which I can help girls, such as my eight-year-old walking companion, to spend their time in school, to not be so cruelly burdened, and to live a full life span. Supporting Solar Cookers International is one of the ways in which I am achieving this, as the women and girls of the Sahel are enabled to use the power of the sun to cook food and pasteurize village water.

Rotary, church in Brookings offer know-how to Haiti

by Chuck Cecil

Editor’s note: Solar Cookers International has been in contact with the Brookings Rotary Club for a number of years, and continues to supply them with informational materials and the Water Pasteurization Indicators mentioned in the following article.

BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) ¾ In partnership with the Methodist Church, Brookings Rotary Club members are manufacturing solar ovens and teaching fuel-starved Haitians how to use them.

Solar Oven Partners has distributed 300 of the ovens, with nearly 300 more on site and available.

More importantly, the program has trained 2,500 Haitians in how to use the ovens, and it is hoped this cadre will influence thousands more.

Alan Rogers, a Brookings businessman and Rotary member who has been active in the program, said solar ovens are needed in Haiti because deforestation there is the cause of hunger and poverty.

"People in developing countries often spend as much on fuel to cook food as they spend on food," he said. "That is certainly the case in Haiti."

For centuries, the poor of Haiti have cooked with charcoal made from the trees and brush that have been nearly depleted. Only 2 percent of Haiti's forests remain and much of the land is becoming desert, Rogers said.

In 1998, Brookings Rotary members were intrigued with the idea of solar ovens.

"At first we considered just raising funds to buy solar ovens," said Ron Fesler, Brookings Rotary president. "But we decided to expand on that, and with the help of other clubs in our club's district, to do more."

The club signed on to form Solar Oven Partners with the Dakotas Conference of the Methodist Church and the Methodist Church of Haiti.

"Specifically, our goal is to place solar cookers in the hands of the poor in deforested lands to help alleviate human suffering and environmental destruction," said Rick Jost, a United Methodist missionary in charge of the Dakotas Conference solar oven project.

The cookers prepare food and are efficient in water pasteurization.

In 1999, two Brookings Rotarians, Rogers and County Commissioner Don Larson, loaded with 13 solar ovens, paid their own way to Haiti with a Methodist Church missionary team. They practiced cooking with the solar oven in their back yards before the trip so they'd know how they worked.

"They're very versatile," Rogers said. "You can cook just about anything in them. They're like a crock pot in your kitchen."

Rogers and Larson took along the "two-pot" ovens the club had purchased in Minnesota and assembled in Brookings.

"We found the people eager to learn, especially those in their twenties and younger," Larson said. "Everyone was curious and very friendly. We felt good about what we hoped to do."

While in Haiti, the two Rotarians met with the Haitian Methodist Church's office of development and signed a formal agreement with the then-president of the church, Moise Isidore.

"We wanted to ensure that our effort wasn't the flash-in-the-pan variety," Larson said. "We were looking to become involved in a long-range project."

Club members also agreed to assist the church in missionary work, including the building of schools, school desks, church pews and other items. Club members agreed to each purchase one or more of the ovens, which at that time cost about $40. They also spoke before other Rotary Clubs.

"We believe that much of the success so far is because of the involvement and interest of Rotarians throughout our district," Fesler said.

In preparation for a second trip to Haiti, Brookings Rotarians held work bees in an old warehouse in Brookings to assemble the solar ovens. Members worked evenings on a production line, assembling and packing ovens for the 3,000 mile trip.

From January to June 2000, the team took 150 two-pot ovens to Haiti.

Their destination again was the small 300-square mile Haitian island of La Gonave. The approximately 110,000 people there are considered the most impoverished and the most in need of an alternate cooking method.

Since that trip, the program has switched to larger, three-pot ovens when it was learned that the firm making the smaller ovens had to quit.

Rotarians and church members decided to build their own, larger ovens. While they easily hold three pots, that can be expanded to six pots in one oven on clear, very hot days in Haiti.

The team members have been sobered by what they have seen on La Gonave. They found nearly 100 percent unemployment, no electricity, no running water, no telephones and rutted, nearly impassable roads.

On some training trips, club members had to hike from town to town carrying their tools and supplies.

Included with each solar oven are three cooking pots, a cooking thermometer, a recipe book and a small but important item called a Water Pasteurization Indicator that signals when water heated in the ovens is clean [safe to drink].

Rotarians on the Brookings "oven production line" are discovering that the actual cost of each solar oven is about $50, not counting the volunteer labor involved to assemble them, or the cost of transportation to Haiti.

To encourage pride of ownership, the club and the Methodist Church are determined to make the $50 ovens available to interested Haitians for $20 each.

And with the help of unique Haitian "micro-banks," families can finance that $20 purchase with negotiated loan payments.

"Our goal has never been to see how many solar ovens we can build and send to Haiti," said Fesler.

"Our goal is to create an interest in solar ovens and a desire among the Haitian people to use them and someday, perhaps they can then organize solar oven projects themselves."

This article is reprinted with permission of The Associated Press. For more information about Rotary solar cooking projects worldwide, contact: Wilfred Pimentel, 1035 East Cambridge, Fresno, California 93704, USA. Tel: 559-222-4193, fax: 559-222-6450, e-mail:

Solar cooker researcher, promoter passes away

It is with great sorrow we report the passing of a pioneer leader in solar cooking research and promotion, Chancellor Dr. Rajammal P. Devadas of Avinashilingam Deemed University in Coimbatore, India. Many of us came to know her well at the first and second International Conferences on Solar Cookers and worked closely with her and her faculty when Avinashilingam University graciously agreed to host the Third International Conference in January 1997. All who attended remember the exciting sessions and the extraordinary hospitality of the faculty and students.

Dr. Devadas and her staff also promoted pioneer research, field-testing and mass production of solar cookers and worked closely with India's Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources. It was a privilege to have known Dr. Devadas, whose energy and enthusiasm seemed limitless and who inspired thousands of young women through her work. SCI sends many thoughts and best wishes to her excellent staff as they carry forward her important work.

Girl Guide trainers now in 17 countries

With the international trainer course held in the Côte d'Ivoire last October, the number of countries in which Girl Guide Associations have solar cooking trainers increased to 17. The other countries are Malaysia, Singapore, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Madagascar, Togo, Burkina Faso, Benin, and Guinea. It is believed that there are still trainers in Mozambique, but they have not been heard from since the catastrophic floods of 2000.

Girl Guides and Boy Scouts make solar cookers at a "training of trainers" workshop for French-speaking African countries in 2001

Girl Guide trainers prepare a water pasteurization skit for new solar cooks from Burkina Faso, Benin and Côte d'Ivoire

Girl Guide solar cooking trainer Barby Pulliam, a former Solar Cookers International board member, estimates that by 2001 there were more than 600 Girl Guide-certified solar cooking trainers in Africa and Asia. Approximately 400 workshops had been given by that time, leading to an estimated 8000 end users trained by Girl Guides.

Ms. Pulliam believes that Girl Guide Associations are extremely qualified to spread solar cooking skills because of their skills, reputation for community service, historical commitment to preserving the environment, and their gender ¾ which gives them credibility when it comes to convincing other women that solar cooking really works and is a serious alternative to cooking with traditional fuels.

Girl Scouts in Ms. Pulliam’s region keep solar cooking interest high by creating projects and events that incorporate solar cooking skills and stories of solar cooking projects around the world. For example, every troop that attended a recent service unit camping event built a solar cooker and cooked at least one dish in it. A recurring event called "an afternoon with African Girl Guides" consists of a slide show of Girl Guide solar cooking and other projects, followed by music and dancing with African musical instruments.

Contact: Barby Pulliam, 3523 Rolph Way, El Dorado Hills, California 95762, USA. E-mail:, web:

Accessing NASA’s Surface Solar Energy website data

by Louise Meyer

Solar Household Energy, Inc.

Editor’s note: Surface solar energy data, useful for assessing potential solar cooking sites worldwide, is now available on the Internet. The following procedures show how to access this information from an Internet-connected computer. First-time users of the website are required to enter their name and create a password.


·        Ground site information is likely to be more accurate than the satellite data, the scope of which can include multiple mini-climates. As promoters of solar cooking, we are often likely to be interested in remote areas far from ground sites. In this case, we suggest double-checking the satellite data against data from the nearest ground site. Where they differ significantly, prudence would dictate assuming the lower figure. For example: Ground site readings for June and July in Chittagong, Bangladesh, are over 1KwH/meter squared/day higher than the satellite readings of that area. For January through April, satellite readings are a bit higher; August through December they are essentially the same.

·        There are multiple solar cooking parameters listed in the satellite data file. We have not exploited most of them to date because average monthly insolation seems adequate to us. We would welcome instruction from anyone finding the other values to be of practical importance.

·        We believe that graphs of insolation can often strengthen the case for a solar oven promotion project. Sites we are interested in are likely to have dramatically higher readings that are much more sustained over the year than places like Washington D.C. or Sacramento, California, USA.

For Ground Site data:

  1. Open website:
  2. Homepage: Click "GROUND SITE" in box at left.
  3. Next page: Click "MONTHLY PLOTS" at left.
  4. Next page: Follow instructions and click on "LOG IN."
  5. Next page: Under map, in box at right, select "COUNTRY." Submit.
  6. Next page: Select place name. Submit.
  7. Next page: Select the words "MONTHLY AVERAGE" at right. Submit.
  8. Next Page: You should have graph and tabulation of monthly average insolation. We consider any readings above 4 to be adequate for solar cooking.

For Satellite data:

  1. Open website:
  4. Next Page: Follow instructions and click on "LOG IN."
  5. Next page: Enter latitude and longitude per instructions. Submit.
  6. Next page: Under "GEOMETRY," put check in "VALUES" box for "GEOMETRY INFORMATION." Under "PARAMETERS FOR SOLAR COOKING," put check in "VALUES" box for "AVERAGE INSOLATION." Click Submit at top.
  7. Next page: Scroll down to the tabulation of monthly average insolation.
  8. There is no graph. We consider any readings above 4 to be adequate for solar cooking.

Contact: Louise Meyer, Solar Household Energy, Inc. E-mail:, web:

Sunny Bolivia

"For us women, the solar cooker loosed the bonds of slavery that were around our necks for millennia." ¾ quote from a Bolivia Inti project participant

Bolivia Inti is a nongovernmental organization based in France that promotes solar cooking in Andean countries, particularly Bolivia and Peru. It was created in 1999 by professor Robert Chiron, of Nantes University, and Hernan Mercado Vasquez, a Bolivian musician who lives in France. It already has more than 1,000 members.

Participants of Bolivia Inti training programs ¾ mostly women ¾ commit to a six-month contract during which they will build and use a solar cooker, participate in follow-up meetings, and complete periodic evaluation forms. During the initial training, participants are taught solar cooking concepts, and are exposed to panel-, parabolic-, and box-type cookers. The cookers that they assemble during the training ¾ wooden solar box cookers designed by the Swiss organization ULOG ¾ are built from a kit over a period of five days, during which meals are solar cooked on three sample ovens and shared by the participants. Heat-retention devices, known as fireless cookers or "hay boxes", and the "rocket stove" type of fuel-efficient wood stoves are taught as complimentary technologies. On the sixth day, each participant prepares a solar-cooked dish to be shared by the entire community during a public demonstration. Each group of trainees selects a leader who organizes meetings every 15 days for the remainder of the contract period. The meetings are used to ask questions, exchange recipes, and address issues as they arise. More formal meetings, led by the trainers, are held every two months during the contract period. Each trainee commits to solar cooking at least three times per week, and must complete evaluation forms weekly. The forms contain a pictorial listing of many common foods, such as chicken, rice, potatoes, and cakes, and provide space for documenting cooking times, weather conditions, and level of success or failure. Depending on income, participants are required to pay 15 to 50 percent of the total cost of the cooker. Payments for the cooker are spread out over the six-month period through an interest-free micro-credit system. After the six-month period, project participants are capable of training others.

Interest and participation in the Bolivia Inti training program is growing rapidly. In 2000, five trainings were held, averaging 15 participants each. Thirteen trainings were held in 2001, resulting in 267 new solar cooks. Robert Chiron hopes to reach 1,000 people this year. And according to training leaders David and Ruth Whitfield, many of the project participants use the cookers almost daily. "This year we can claim about 75 percent of the participants use the cookers at least 5 times a week," said Mr. Whitfield. In addition to the training programs, several public demonstrations have been held as well ¾ in La Paz and Cochabamba, Bolivia, and in Chucuito, Acora, and Puno, Peru. Newspaper and television coverage have occurred on multiple occasions.

Bolivia Inti hopes to expend its program to Nigeria, Senegal, Burkina Faso, India, and Morocco, where women are already learning to insulate solar box cookers with sheep’s wool.

Contact: Bolivia Inti, 41 rue du château d’eau, 44240 Chapelle sur Erdre, France. Tel: 00 33 (0)2-40-72-05-30, e-mail:, web:; David and Ruth Whitfield, P.O. Box 4723, La Paz, Bolivia. Tel: +591-2-2414882, e-mail:

Solar recipes

Okra Kakuma style (Submitted by SCI staff at Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya)

4 okra, chopped
½ kg. tomatoes, chopped
1½ cups of water

Combine okra and tomatoes, and add to a dark pot. Add water, and cover pot with lid. Cook in sun for 2 hours. Serve over rice, pasta or the traditional East African staple ugali (white corn meal cooked to a texture similar to polenta).

Chicken "a la good" (Submitted by Ted and Eleanor Van Leigh of Canyon Country, California, USA)


4 chicken breasts, skinned
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 carton sour cream
1 can small whole potatoes, drained
1 15 oz. can peas/carrots, drained
garlic powder

If using a solar box cooker, preheat oven to approximately 250º F. Mix soups, sour cream, and peas/carrots together. In a dark 9" x 13" pan, pour in enough soup mixture to cover bottom of pan. Put chicken breasts in pan and sprinkle tops with garlic powder. Pour remaining soup mixture over chicken and sprinkle with paprika. Place potatoes on top. Make a lid by inverting a second dark pan of equal size over the first one and securing it with clothespins or binder clips. Cook in sun for 2 ½ to 3 hours.

Stewed fresh fish (submitted by the SCI East Africa Regional Office, Nairobi, Kenya)

Fresh fish, scaled
4 tomatoes (or 2 teaspoons tomato paste)
1 medium onion
1 teaspoon garlic
2 teaspoons oil
spices (optional)
salt to taste

Cut fish into three or so pieces and place them in a dark pot. Cover the fish with the remaining ingredients, and cover the pot with a lid. Cook in sun for 1-2 hours. Serve with ugali, rice, chapatti or chips.

Seed bread recipe

This wheat-, yeast-, and dairy-free recipe comes from the Summer 2001 edition of The Solar Collector, newsletter of the Solar Cooking Interest Group (Australia). Thanks to Tin of Fremantle, Australia, for the submission.

1 cup soy or rice flour
1 cup arrowroot flour
½ cup buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
½ cup sunflower seed
¼ cup sesame seed
¼ cup linseed
¼ cup caraway seed
1¼ -1½ cups soymilk
2 teaspoons honey

Sift first five ingredients. Add seeds. Mix honey and milk together, and stir in the dry ingredients. Pour into a lightly-greased, dark baking pan. Bake in a solar cooker at midday for 2 hours or until bread comes away from the sides of the pan and is nicely browned on top.

Zucchini meatless stew (submitted by Margaret Lee, of Sacramento, California, USA. Based on a recipe from Lebanese Cookery by Isabelle David, 1981.)

1 pound zucchini, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
¼ cup olive oil
1 8oz can tomato sauce

Place all ingredients in a dark, 3-quart pan with lid. Cook in sun for at least 2 hours.


Tribute gifts have been given to SCI by:

  • Eric Johnson in honor of Carol N. Gerlitz
  • The Oklahoma Ethiopia Society in memory of Marie Canaday
  • Joan and Martin Rosen in honor of Clark Shimeall
  • Disabled Technicians (u) Ltd. in memory of Bob Larson
  • Dr. David Menche in honor of Mary Frank
  • Carol Veder in honor of Virginie and John Mitchem

Refugee students write essays on life and solar cooking

Solar Cookers International (SCI) and the school at Aisha Refugee Camp are working together to integrate solar cooking into the school’s environmental education curriculum. The school offers education from grades one through seven to boys and girls. Some years, if qualified teachers are available, the school also offers grade eight. Girls tend to have a harder time getting the full benefits of education as they are often called away to help with household chores such as herding of sheep and goats and collecting firewood from as far as 30 kilometers away. Since 95 percent of the 14,000 refugees at the camp belong to households where at least one person knows how to solar cook, the majority of pupils eat solar-cooked dishes, drink solar-heated tea, and have seen the CooKit solar cooker in use. In January 2002, upper level students were asked to write essays describing their journey from Somalia to Aisha, the role solar cooking has played in their lives, and their thoughts on the future. Nadir Aden Hassen, SCI’s Aisha Project Coordinator, selected three of the best stories. Here are some highlights from those essays.

Mohammed Ahmed Hassen, an 18 year-old grade seven student, left Somalia in 1989 after his family’s shop was looted during the civil war. Throughout the civil war and flight from Somalia, Mohammed’s family was tired and hungry, and they lived in constant fear. He is thankful for the food and supplies his family received upon arrival at the camp. Mohammed learned solar cooking skills from SCI, and he plans to teach family members and other camp residents who have not yet received training. His advice to students across the world is to learn about solar cooking technology to save money, time and the environment.

Ahmed Farah Gedi, a 15 year-old grade six student, remembers seeing the bodies of people slain by gunfire as he and his family were fleeing from Somalia. He appreciates the solar cooking training he has received since arriving at the camp. Of the training he says, "They enable me to cook for my family without any efforts or expenditure." He concludes by saying, "I am always thinking of ways I can further develop my solar cooking knowledge to help people and the environment."

Faisal Hussein Aden stands with his wife and two sons, while SCI’s Nadir Aden Hassen conducts a follow-up interview

One young man, Faisal Hussein Aden, is a 19 year-old grade eight student as well as a husband and the father of two boys. He received top scores for his essay. He recalls being in Somalia and seeing a shower of bullets before his eyes. Faisal did not know whether he would live through this incident. Upon arriving safely at Aisha Camp in 1989, at age eight, Faisal sometimes had to miss school to help his mother collect firewood. Once, when his mother was away gathering firewood, his younger sister wandered off and it took many people several anxious hours to find her. Overall, his mother is very happy to have been trained to solar cook as it eases her workload and helps her save the money she would have normally spent on supplemental firewood. She can afford to buy high protein foods such as meat with the money she saves. Commenting on the benefits of solar cooking, Faisal indicated that when he returns to Somalia, he hopes to teach others how to solar cook.

African delegation pleased with meeting

Last May, in Seattle, members of an African delegation on sustainable trade and economic development met informally with Mark Aalfs, former Solar Cookers International (SCI) board member and self-proclaimed "Seattle SCI satellite," to discuss solar cookers. French-speaking visitors from Mali, Guinea, Togo, Niger, Cameroon, Congo, Rwanda and Madagascar eagerly attended the impromptu meeting.

The international visitors were in the United States as part of a three-week professional visit sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. The participants were knowledgeable about solar power and the conversation was lively. Several members of the group are involved in micro-credit banking and were particularly interested in how solar cookers might be used to generate income for small businesses. Topics ranged from the social aspects of launching a solar cooking project to the technical aspects of solar cooker production.

Thanks to speedy coordination by Clark and Eleanor Shimeall and Joan Rosen, the impromptu meeting was organized in under 48 hours. Virginia Callaghan, an SCI staff member, fired off a packet of materials which arrived just in time for distribution at the closing session, where enthusiastic participants told State Department Africa Branch representative Damon Woods that the SCI meeting was one of the highlights of their three-week U.S. visit.

Contact: Marika Rosen (French interpreter). E-mail:

About Solar Cooker Review

Solar Cooker Review is published two or three times per year, with the purpose of presenting solar cooking information from around the world. Topics include solar cooker technology, dissemination strategies, educational materials, and cultural and social adaptations. From time to time we cover related topics such as women's issues, wood shortages, health, nutrition, air pollution, climatic changes, and the environment.

Solar Cooker Review is sent to those who contribute money, or news about solar cooking projects. The suggested subscription price is US $10/year. Single copies are sent free to select libraries and groups overseas. Back issues are available online here:

We welcome reports and commentary related to solar cooking for possible inclusion. These may be edited for clarity or space. Please cite sources whenever possible. We will credit your contribution. Send contributions to Solar Cookers International, 1919 21st Street, Suite 101, Sacramento, California 95811-6827, USA. You may also send them by fax: (916) 455-4498, or e-mail:

Solar Cooker Review is compiled and edited by the staff of Solar Cookers International (SCI), with layout graciously provided by IMPACT Publications located in Medford, Oregon, USA.

SCI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization assisting communities to use the power of the sun to cook food and pasteurize water for the benefit of people and environments. We do not sell, rent or trade names of our donors. Tax ID # 68-0153141.

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

Tel: +1 916-455-4499
Fax: +1 916-455-4498


Board of Directors

  • David Anderson
  • K.C. Bishop
  • Beverlee Bruce, PhD
  • Dick Cochran
  • John Collentine, JD
  • Paul Funk, PhD
  • Joyce D. Hightower, MD
  • Gary Hursh, JD
  • Barbara Knudson, PhD
  • Joseph McCabe
  • Virginie Mitchem
  • Judith Ricci, PhD
  • Meredith Richardson
  • Carolyn Ristau, PhD
  • John Roche
  • Jim Uhl
  • Elvira Williams

SCI assists communities to use the power of the sun to cook food and pasteurize water
for the benefit of people and environments.

This document is published on The Solar Cooking Archive at For questions or comments, contact