July 2007
Volume 13, Number 2

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In this Issue:

Scheffler solar steam cooking system located at Brahma Kumari’s Ashram in Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India

News you send

[Editor's note: "News you send" is compiled by Tom Sponheim, Solar Cookers International's information exchange specialist. E-mail your news items to info@solarcookers.org or mail to Kevin Porter, Solar Cookers International, 1919 21st Street #101, Sacramento, California 95811-6827, USA. We want to hear from you — especially if your program is growing or if your work has not been featured in the Solar Cooker Review before. Please include your contact information. Submissions are subject to editing if printed. Clarification: The March 2007 edition of "News you send" contained an item that was unintentionally misleading. The item included a suggestion from Mr. Harvey Sherback that certain kinds of skylights could, in theory, be used with solar box cookers. The news item referred to two existing products — Solatube skylights and Tulsi-Hybrid Solar Cooking Ovens — as examples. Neither the company that makes the Solatube nor the marketers of the Tulsi-Hybrid cookers have any connection to this idea and are not promoting it.]


Kenya / Zambia

Tetra Pak’s foil-lined paper is printed in wide rollsSolar Health and Education Project (SHEP) reports holding workshops in both Zambia and Kenya for newly trained teachers preparing to go to remote villages on assignment. The workshops were five days long. The first day was used for basic education about solar cooking and solar water pasteurization, while the other four days were used to practice and implement solar cooking skills. The 70 participants all built their own solar cookers. Based on the success of these workshops two more have already been scheduled. SHEP has developed a relationship with Tetra Pak International — manufacturer of aseptic drink containers — whereby SHEP uses Tetra Pak’s excess foil-lined paper for solar cooker construction. (The foil-lined paper is printed in wide rolls, sometimes resulting in excess material begin generated.) According to SHEP, Tetra Pak is willing to accept proposals from other nongovernmental organizations that may want to use the reflective material as long as the material will be used for workshop participants to construct solar cookers. For more info on SHEP’s work or to learn more about how to submit a Tetra Pak proposal, contact: Alison Curtis, Solar Health & Education Project, Schadaulistr 1, Lenk 3775, Switzerland.. E-mail: avcurtis@bluewin.ch

Madagascar / France

An ADES solar box cookerThis past March in Paris, France, Regula Ochsner received the Yves Rocher Foundation’s international "Women of the Earth" award for her work promoting solar cookers in Madagascar. The award honors women who lead actions benefiting nature and humanity. The award ceremony was attended by Madame Nelly Olin, French Minister for the Environment. In 2001 Ochsner founded the Association pour le Développement de l'Energie Solaire Suisse – Madagascar (ADES) to help combat rampant deforestation. Ochsner lived in Madagascar in the early 1970s and was shocked, when she visited in the late 1990s, at the amount of deforestation that had occurred in a period of just 25 years. (Madagascan families use about 100 kilograms of charcoal on a monthly basis, amounting to one-sixth of an average monthly salary.) Ochsner researched cooking alternatives that would reduce firewood and charcoal use, and discovered solar cookers. Madagascar, especially in the south of the country, has close to ideal conditions for the use of solar energy. Ochsner initiated production of solar box cookers by local carpenters in 2001, followed by distribution and sales. In 2003 ADES built a more permanent carpentry workshop in Tulear and another in Ejeda in 2006. ADES currently provides employment to 13 carpenters and trainers. The teaching of the population to use solar cookers is an important part of ADES’ work. Regular demonstrations on how to use the solar cooker take place. The interest level of the population is very high. Over 1500 solar cookers have been sold thus far. A survey of the usage of the solar cookers conducted by two German students in 2004 showed that 75% of the solar cookers were used regularly. Ochsner plans to invest the prize money of 10000 euro in a further solar cooker pilot project in the south of Madagascar. Future plans include development of regional centers in Morondava and Fort Dauphin. Contact: Regula Ochsner, ADES, Lanzenstrasse 18, CH-8913 Ottenbach, Switzerland. Tel: +41 (0)44 761 20 61, e-mail: regulaochsner@adesolaire.org, Web: www.adesolaire.org

Nigeria / Canada

Rashid Adesiyan pasteurizes water in a solar CooKit in Ago-AreIn 2005, FluidIT Solutions — a company specializing in information and communication technologies (ICTs) — conducted a research project on the effectiveness of native-language training videos as tools for spreading solar cooker knowledge in Nigeria. When founder Carole St. Laurent first visited Ago-Are, community members expressed an interest in learning about solar cooking. (They had brief exposure to the idea from an earlier visitor.) St. Laurent researched solar cookers, sent literature about how to build and use them, and requested feedback about the usefulness of the information. She received minimal feedback. Given that rural Nigeria has a variety of local languages, varying literacy levels, and strong oral traditions, St. Laurent wondered if locally-made videos would be a more effective method of communicating about solar cooking. Two local nongovernmental organizations, Fantsuam Foundation and Oke-Ogun Community Development Network (OCDN), expressed interest in working with FluidIT Solutions to test this approach. Over a period of several weeks, FluidIT Solutions implemented three training programs for local staff and volunteers: solar cooking, video production, and on-line networking and publication. Two training videos were created, one in Hausa language and the other in Yoruba language. The videos were tested during a series of workshops offered to community members. Though the sample size was small, the data indicated that videos were useful in explaining what solar cookers are and why they are used. The videos were less successful at explaining how to orient a solar cooker properly with respect to the sun’s location. An in-depth project report is available on-line at http://www.fluiditsolutions.com/solar-cooking-ict4d-case-study-st-laurent.pdf. Contact: Carole St. Laurent, FluidIT Solutions. E-mail: carole@fluidITsolutions.com, Web: http://www.fluiditsolutions.com


Tom Rick of the Yancheng Sangli Solar Energy Co. Ltd. announced that the company’s price for exporting high-powered, focusing solar cookers has been reduced to $65, FOB Shanghai. More information on these durable, effective cookers can be found in the November 2006 Solar Cooker Review article "Chinese company makes, exports thousands of solar cookers." Contact: Yancheng Sangli Solar Energy Co. Ltd., No. 8 Shenzhou Road, New District of Yandu County, Yancheng City, Jiangsu Province, China.. E-mail: sljeans@yahoo.com.cn, Web:   www.chinasangli.com/website/index.htm


Foundation for Sustainable Technologies (FoST) celebrated its fifth anniversary in April. FOST designs, develops and disseminates low-cost, adaptable products that improve the quality of life of Nepal’s rural and urban poor. FoST is among 12 finalists, selected from a pool of nearly 950 applicants, for the "World Challenge 2007." The selected FOST project is called "Cooking without Gas" and is summarized on the World Challenge Web site as follows: "In 1995, Sanu Kaji Shrestha ran out of cooking gas. So too did nearly everyone else in Kathmandu, as a countrywide shortage set in. Demand was so great Sanu had to take three days off work to queue up for more fuel. This first-hand experience of his country’s dependence on external energy supplies set Sanu thinking. He began to look into sustainable energy technologies for the domestic market, researching existing designs and adapting them for the Nepalese market. In 2001 he retired from his day job to concentrate on bringing low-cost, high-efficiency energy technologies to Nepal’s rural and urban poor. Measures developed to date include simple yet ingenious solar cookers and briquette presses to make smokeless fuel from waste materials." The World Challenge competition honors individuals and organizations that make a difference through enterprise and innovation at a grassroots level. The finalists will be featured on BBC World television and in Newsweek magazine. The winner will receive a $20,000 prize. An excellent new documentary film by Gorp Productions showcases the work being done by FOST, with a focus on its efforts to promote smokeless briquette cook stoves and solar cookers. The film can be viewed on the Gorp Productions Web site at www.gorpproductions.com/fostvideo.html, and is available for purchase in DVD format directly from FOST. Contact: Sanu Kaji Shrestha, Foundation for Sustainable Technologies, P.O. Box 10776, Golkopakha, Thamel, Kathmandu.. Tel: 977-1-4361574, e-mail: fost@ntc.net.np, Web: http://www.fost-nepal.org


Each panel of the parabolic cooker is machine pressed
The hinged sides of the solar box cooker mold make precise bends in the aluminum

In partnership with Dutch organization Solar Cooker Workgroup Sliedrecht NL, Solar Serve (SLS) has developed a new solar box cooker for use in Vietnam. The previous SLS solar box cooker is made from wood, which is increasing difficult to purchase in Vietnam. The new cooker is made from aluminum sheets that are shaped using two molds, one for the inner box and one for the outer box. SLS has also been working on a new method of shaping parabolic solar cooker components. Dr. Hoang Duong Hung, an SLS supervisor from the University of Danang, has designed a machine that presses a wedge-shaped piece of aluminum into a parabolic curve, saving time over current manual shaping procedures. The six panels that comprise an assembled parabolic cooker can be disassembled for easy transport. Contact: Nguyen Tan Bich, Solar Serve, Phuc Vu Nang Luong Mat Troi, P.O. Box 21, Binh Son, Quang Ngai, Vietnam. Tel: (84) 055 520 018, e-mail: solarserve@yahoo.com, Web: http://www.vietnamsolarserve.org; Dr. Hoang Duong Hung, Research Center for Pressure Equipment and Renewable Energy, University of Danang. Tel: (84) 511 841 238, e-mail: hdhung@ud.edu.vn



The Sun Burger, cooked to perfection with solar energySun Baked, a mission-driven business dedicated to promoting solar cooking as a sustainable practice, is now selling solar cookers through its Web site. The cookers include a box cooker from Portugal and two sizes of parabolic cookers from Germany. Several pictures of solar-cooked food can be found on the site, all of which link to a description of how the food was cooked. Sun Baked also offers a small-scale solar catering service targeted at farmer’s markets and other outdoor public events in Toronto. The organic, vegan menu includes a Sun Burger and a falafel patty plate, both cooked using a parabolic solar cooker. For downtown events the equipment and food are transported using a bicycle cart. Contact: Stephen Kerr, Sun Baked, 189 Hamilton Street, Toronto M4M 2C9, Canada. Tel: 1-416-465-8189, e-mail: info@solarcooking.ca, Web: http://solarcooking.ca

United States

 Solar Roast Coffee in Pueblo, ColoradoRoast master Mike Hartkop (left) and Helios designer David Hartkop, with a Helios 2 solar coffee roaster

Michael and David Hartkop have been selling organic, fair trade, solar-roasted coffee since 2004. Their company — Solar Roast Coffee — recently opened its first cafe, located in Pueblo, Colorado. Using a 7 sq. meter solar concentrator called Helios 3, they can roast 2.5 kilograms of coffee grains in 22 minutes. According to Solar Roast Coffee, their solar roasting prevents about 2 tons of carbon dioxide each year. Contact: Michael Hartkop, Solar Roast Coffee, 4070 Willow Springs Road, Central Point, Oregon 97502, USA.. Tel: +1 (541) 231-6947, e-mail: info@solarroast.com, Web: http://solarroast.com


The film "Suncookers," by filmmaker Catherine Scott, was selected for exhibition at Ithaca College’s 2007 Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF) in Ithaca, New York. According to its mission statement, FLEFF "embraces and interrogates sustainability across all of its forms: economic, social, ecological, political, cultural, technological, and aesthetic. The festival is in the spirit of UNESCO’s initiative on sustainable development." "Suncookers" documents the efforts of Solar Cookers International (SCI) to spread solar cooking and water pasteurization skills in Kenya. The festival describes the film as follows: "‘Suncookers’ follows [SCI’s] Margaret Owino as she trains people to use solar cookers in Nyakach, Kenya, and at the Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya. Small cardboard solar cookers are clean, smoke-free, and better for the environment. Deforestation for cooking has contributed to soil loss through erosion." The film received rave reviews from FLEFF co-directors Patricia Zimmermann and Tom Shevory. Says Zimmermann, "I simply loved 'Suncookers.' It’s amazingly engaging, and we found that our faculty in the health school were delighted to find a piece on this topic with such moxie and guts. Everyone wants a sun cooker. … The work has edge and discipline — plus, unlike so many films out there today, we learned so much from it." The film was also selected for inclusion in the 2nd International Film Festival on Water, in Bangalore, India. "Suncookers" is scheduled for DVD release later this summer. Visit FLEFF on the Web at www.ithaca.edu/fleff

United States / Nicaragua

The light simulation team conducts performance tests using their indoor testing facilityThe foundation Sustainable Technology and Energy for Vital Economic Needs (STEVEN), of Ithaca, New York, is partnering with the Cornell University chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) on an upper-level engineering course, now in its fourth year. Teams of students gain hands-on experience in a variety of real-world service projects. One team is working on a solar cooking project for the Sabana Grande community of Nicaragua. The team has taken the name "Amanecer," which means "sunrise" in Spanish, a suitable title for solar cooking advocates. Francis Vanek has taken a prominent role in the service project and has made a close connection with nongovernmental organization Grupo Fenix, based at the National University of Nicaragua in Managua. Amanecer is experimenting with a variety of solar cooker designs, and hopes to improve performance and implement use of the cookers in rural Nicaragua. To promote sustainability, Amanecer is paying attention to expense, local availability of materials, and the expressed needs of the community. The specialized engineering course provides students an abundance of learning opportunities  — cultural exchange, ethics, an applied approach to engineering, resourcefulness, an understanding of user needs, and an awareness of local and international communities. Amanecer has sub-teams that focus in three areas: cooker construction, light simulation, and community and market research. The construction team worked on solar cooker designs, while the light simulation team built an indoor testing facility with controlled lighting systems. The community and market research team evaluates the social and environmental impacts of solar cooker use in Nicaragua, and is researching the Kyoto Protocol system of carbon credits in hopes of offsetting solar cooker costs in the future. The ultimate goal of Amanecer is to travel to Nicaragua to implement their solar cooker designs, and gather feedback and data useful to future design modifications. Contact: Timothy Bond, Amanecer team advisor, B02 Thurston Hall, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.. Tel: 607-255-4078, e-mail: tkb2@cornell.edu, Web: http://eswserver.cee.cornell.edu/esw/project_pages/SolarOvens/default.htm

News from the SCI Association

The Solar Cookers International Association (SCIA) is an advocacy network including 70 organizations and over 125 solar cooker leaders from 38 countries. It is affiliated with Solar Cookers International (SCI), a nongovernmental organization in consultative status with the United Nations. SCIA members advocate locally and internationally for policies that assist the spread of solar cooking, pasteurizing and food processing.

Here are some updates on recent activities.


In New York, Deling Wang and Pat McArdle from USA, Dinah Chienjo from Kenya, and Ganesh Ram Shrestha from Nepal advocated for solar cooking at the 15th session of the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development in May. In Geneva, Joyce Jett, Sonia Heptonstall, Michael Goetz, and Louise Meyer made solar cookers highly visible at the Geneva Environmental Network meeting in April.

Recent meetings

ASIA REGIONAL MEETING: The Asia and Oceania network solar cooker leaders met in mid-April in Kathmandu for an excellent conference hosted by solar cooker leaders Ganesh Ram Shrestha and Sanu Kaji Shrestha, and co-sponsored by several businesses and government ministries. About 30 solar cooker leaders from Afghanistan, Australia, Costa Rica, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, USA and Vietnam — including 19 SCIA members — joined over 40 Nepalese energy leaders for two days of papers and discussions. The Asia leaders hope to meet annually.

BOLIVIAN INITIATIVE: At a seminar in March for solar and fuel-efficient stoves leaders, German funding agency GTZ launched an effort to bring smoke-free cooking alternatives to 100,000 Bolivian households. David Whitfield and Ruth Savedra de Whitfield helped organize the event. Five SCIA members attended, and four new organizations joined the SCIA.

Margaret Owino, SCI’s eastern Africa director, exhibited at the PCIA meeting in BangaloreINDIAN MEETING ON CLEAN INDOOR AIR: An April meeting in Bangalore of the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air (PCIA), also sponsored by GTZ, was attended by SCIA members David Whitfield (Bolivia), Margaret Owino (Kenya), Louise Meyer (USA), and Jimmy McGilligan, Deepak Gadhia and Jagadeeswara Reddy (all from India).

Other SCIA action groups?

It appears that advocacy and periodic meetings will be the primary activities of this loose network. Long-distance collaboration is difficult at best, as members are consumed by their own pioneer programs. We must focus only on collective activities which best enhance the work of individual members.

Beyond these, SCIA can shine the spotlight on individual peer initiatives, such as Ajay Chandak’s current work to refine criteria by which solar cookers are judged and compared. He welcomes anyone who will work with him on this project that could be useful to us all. Similarly, Swiss members Heptonstall, Jett and Alison Curtis have negotiated with Tetra Pak International for donations of excess aluminum foil-lined paper for use in solar cooker construction. (See the Solar Health and Education Project entry in "News you send.")

Communication tools

SCIA members Tom Sponheim, Beth Ogilvie and Kevin Porter have started a wiki Web page for association members and perspective members at http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/Solar_Cookers_International_Association. From there SCIA members can easily share information about activities, access discussion forums, contact leaders, etc.

Annual Dues?

The steering committee has voted to extend current memberships one more year while continuing to welcome new members and exploring further whether and how future dues might be collected.

For general questions or comments send an e-mail to: association@solarcookers.org.

Jammin’ for Darfur

By Yolanda Torrecillas, SCI Resource Coordinator

Jeremy SabathFamed pop star Bono isn’t the only musician working to raise awareness and aid for the Darfur refugees. Late last year, Jeremy Sabath — a Katonah, New York middle school student and budding jazz musician — learned of the plight faced by Darfur refugees and decided to do more than open his wallet. Jeremy created and organized "Jammin’ for Darfur," a fundraising event that brought together young musicians in a daylong concert. Initially, Jeremy set a goal of $1,500, enough to provide training and dozens of solar cookers to Darfur women and girls in Chad refugee camps. The use of solar cookers by refugees in these, and other camps, helps reduce the danger faced by those venturing outside camp to gather limited firewood for cooking and heating water. The practical, tangible way of providing solar cookers to the refugees appealed to many in the Katonah community, with both musical acts and financial supporters responding enthusiastically.

The event was a resounding success! The concert raised over $30,000 for Darfur refugee assistance. The financial support translates into training and solar cookers for several hundred refugees. In addition to raising needed funds, the concert raised awareness about the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Led by Jeremy, who stated that "the only way violence will stop is if everyone … does something," student-musicians, parents, service groups and educators in Katonah and surrounding communities joined in concern and action for people half a world away.

Recently recognized by his local Kohl’s department store as a "Kohl’s Kids Who Care" honoree for his philanthropic work, Jeremy is not planning a retirement from his altruistic activities. When asked what he would do after the concert, he answered that "I need to keep working on Darfur and find other causes." Now, that sounds like music to our ears!

Message from the Executive Director

Patrick WidnerA large dumpster visible from my office window is being filled with wood and scrap materials from a construction site. The workers tell me it will go to a landfill; and I reflect on the scarcity of cooking fuel near the Chad refugee camps.

This week Derk Rijks of KoZon Foundation will call about his positive efforts in the Iridimi refugee camp where little is wasted and thousands of families were trained in the use of the CooKit. There is no shortage of solar energy there to fuel the CooKits. He will also discuss expansion to other camps in Chad, including Touloum.

Recently, Solar Cookers International (SCI) board member Patricia McArdle and I met with representatives of agencies including InterAction, the Peace Corps, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of State, and the American Red Cross. We discussed possible program collaboration and support for the use of solar cookers, water testing and solar water pasteurization. Most contacts were receptive and we are aware of the need to continue the education process with those not familiar with the technologies. A later meeting with the U.S. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) ambassador and Patricia paved the way for a visit to see a Solar Household Energy, Inc. (SHE) project in Guatemala. (See "SHE builds partnerships in Africa and Central America.") Staff members with USAID and U.S. Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) have become enlightened by SCI board member Dr. Bob Metcalf’s scientific knowledge of water testing and treatment. Through a World Bank contact, Bob will teach the use of his "portable microbiology laboratory" in Sudan in the coming months.

We are also impressed by the various community-based projects that incorporate the CooKit into programs such as a training program for midwives in Honduras. (See "The Birthing Project solar cooker story.") Recent visitors to SCI’s headquarters in Sacramento, affiliated with grassroots organizations in Mali and Malawi, are also excited about introducing solar cookers in their communities.

SCI Eastern Africa Director, Margaret Owino, has outlined the concept of a regional resource center in Kisumu, Kenya that will focus on issues of training, education resources, program development and the use of solar energy with counterparts in countries such as Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia. Margaret is also following up with contacts made with Freedom from Hunger Foundation and a Gates Foundation-supported project to test and treat water at schools in Nyanza province, Kenya.

Dinah ChienjoDinah Chienjo, SCI’s Sunny Solutions project officer, made her first trip to the U.S. to participate in the 15th session of the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development in New York. Dinah demonstrated the practicality of using solar cookers to international diplomats, U.N. visitors, and to a CNN reporter.

I am enthusiastic about all of these activities, the future of SCI, and the opportunities we have for expansion into other countries.

In January 2008, SCI will have been incorporated for 20 years. We would like to hear your creative ideas as to how we can celebrate this important anniversary throughout the year. Suggestions include taking part in a national or international solar day by constructing solar cookers, demonstrating solar cooking or by giving a presentation at your local service club or church. Others are interested in promoting the benefits of solar energy to their legislators or by planning a fundraiser to support expansion of solar cooker use in the U.S. and other countries. Please let us hear from you.

Thank you for your essential and caring support.

Patrick T. Widner

SCI Executive Director

The Birthing Project solar cooker story

By Arnold Trujillo, project documentarian

Children in Batalla learn to pasteurize water with CooKitsBirthing Project USA (BPUSA) is an international maternal and child health organization that facilitates better birth outcomes for women of color. BPUSA is a member of the California/Honduras Institute for Medical and Educational Support (CHIMES), a nonprofit organization founded by Bill Camp in 2005 to help build the first clinics in the Caribbean coastal region of Colon, Honduras.

The villagers are Garifuna, descendants of Africans who married Island Carib and Arawak Indians and now have a distinct language and culture. They are referred to by many Hondurans as the "forgotten people" because they benefit little from social and political programs like healthcare and education.

Last year, BPUSA’s Director Kathryn Hall-Trujillo served as a women’s healthcare specialist on a medical delegation to Honduras. In that role, Kathryn assisted women with breast exams and provided other self-care instruction. The vast majority of women who came for breast exams complained of pain in their chest, lower abdomen, shoulders and back. Kathryn learned that almost every day they walk three to six hours, into the jungle and back, hauling firewood for cooking. Girls as young as six accompany their mothers on this task. By the time the women are 30 years old their bodies are wracked by arthritis and other painful injuries.

During the back rubbing sessions, we began to discuss why their backs hurt and acknowledged how hard they work. We also talked about the idea of using solar cookers to lessen their need for firewood. Thirty women agreed to try solar cookers, which they call cocina solar.

Sotiris Kolokotronis — an American Leadership Forum Fellow and board member of Solar Cookers International (SCI) — purchased 30 of SCI’s "CooKit" solar cookers for the women. After a brief training by SCI, Kathryn and I took the CooKits to Honduras in February 2007.

In Ciriboya we were welcomed by the village women leaders and organizations. The solar cooking demonstrations were a success. We cooked rice and pasteurized water. SCI’s water pasteurization indicator (WAPI) was used to determine when the water was safe to drink. The women who participated agreed to be Solar Kitchen Leaders, sharing the information and encouraging other women to try solar cooking.

In Tocamacho, a community meeting hosted by the midwives provided the opportunity to discuss the solar cookers. Everyone watched in amazement as water was pasteurized, and as rice and fish were cooked, by sunlight. While the food cooked, Kathryn cared for a woman who had been injured cutting firewood. The women who received the solar cookers agreed to be solar ambassadors for their community.

In Batalla, solar cookers were set up in the schoolyard where both the children and their parents could see the demonstration of the WAPI and how water could be pasteurized by the sun.

Even in the small town of Limon, which is closest to the city of La Ceiba, the women must still collect firewood. They were delighted to own their first solar cooker and WAPI.

The women dared to dream of a time when their daughters would no longer carry firewood to cook a meal; they would carry a simple cocina solar instead.

Contact: BPUSA, 824 Paseo del Pueblo Norte #1, Taos, New Mexico 87571, USA. Tel: 888-657-9790, e-mail: bpusa@earthlink.net, Web: http://www.birthingprojectusa.com; CHIMES, P.O. Box 162126, Sacramento, California 95816, USA.

SCI hometown workshop: a big hit

By Katie Sisay, SCI Office Manager and Marketing Coordinator

Workshop participants trace a CooKit template prior to cutting the cardboardSolar Cookers International (SCI) passionately teaches people about the health and environmental benefits of solar cooking, and the importance of solar water pasteurization. Thanks to a group of willing participants, some outstanding volunteers, and a few staff members, SCI’s recent Sacramento workshop was a big hit.

On a beautiful Saturday in June, workshop participants learned about SCI, the solar cooking process, the science of solar water pasteurization, how to build a simple solar cooker, and how to test drinking water quality. Participants also sampled solar-cooked dishes and quenched their thirst with solar tea.

The workshop included lessons on the following:

  • How sunlight is converted into heat energy when absorbed by dark cooking pots, how the heat energy is retained (depending on the type of cooker), and how reflectors can direct additional sunlight onto the cooking pot
  • How a water pasteurization indicator (WAPI) is used to determine when water heated in a solar cooker — or by other means — reaches pasteurization temperatures of 65°C (149°F), killing disease-causing microbes
  • How to test water for contamination using a portable microbiology laboratory
  • How to construct a "CooKit" panel-type solar cooker using basic materials such as cardboard and aluminum foil

Bill Camp learns to test water quality using a Petrifilm™ testWorkshop participants benefited greatly from a lesson by California State University, Sacramento (CSUS) microbiology professor Dr. Bob Metcalf — an SCI founder, board member and volunteer. Metcalf taught simple, revolutionary techniques for testing drinking water quality using what he calls a "portable microbiology laboratory," a kit that includes Colilert® and Petrifilm™ tests for Escherichia coli contamination. With the portable microbiology laboratory, people all over the world have the potential to test their own water for contamination and to understand how germs cause diseases. With solar cookers and a WAPI, they have the ability to make contaminated water safe (see sidebar). To learn more about water testing and Metcalf’s international field work visit www.imageevent.com/bobmetcalf.

The workshop was a huge success, and now there are new faces advocating for solar cooking and solar water pasteurization with new-found abilities to build and use solar cookers, pasteurize water, test water, and spread the simple technology.

Special thanks to Donald Coan, Mojgan Fischer, Janet Nicol, John Collentine, and Patricia Johnson for making this workshop possible.

Why is water pasteurization a global necessity?

According to the World Health Organization’s "Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment 2000 Report," there are "approximately 4 billion cases of diarrhea each year" that cause "2.2 million deaths, mostly among children under the age of five."

Common pathogens in contaminated water, and temperatures at which they are pasteurized:


killed rapidly at

Worms, Protozoa cysts (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Entamoeba)

55°C (131°F)

Bacteria (V. cholerae, E. coli, Shigella, Salmonella typhi), Rotavirus

60°C (140°F)

Hepatitis A virus

65°C (149°F)

SCI expands Kenya projects to Kadibo, Kajiado

Last year, Solar Cookers International (SCI) expanded its Kenya projects to two new communities: Kadibo, on the outskirts of Kisumu City, and Kajiado, to the south near the Kenya-Tanzania border. These projects are aimed at enhancing the spread of access to solar cookers in Kenya while benefiting from lessons learned in SCI’s current Sunny Solutions project in Nyakach. The two communities were chosen in part because of contacts SCI has with the Peace Corps in Kajiado, and development agency Practical Action (formerly ITDG) in Kisumu.

Long-standing SCI volunteer Stella Odaba was selected as project supervisor in Kajiado, while John Amayo supervises the Kadibo project.

The project supervisors have successfully completed a rapid base line survey of the area, have identified appropriate entry target groups and development partners, and have completed the first phase of public awareness through a series of demonstrations.

The second phase of the project has begun. Twenty one Solar Cooker Representatives (SCOREPS) have been trained and equipped — 12 in Kajiado and nine in Kadibo. SCOREPS are responsible for creating awareness through public demonstrations, school presentations, group meetings, home visits and shows, etc. SCOREPS also train new solar cooks, and market and sell solar CooKits to women’s groups, churches, youth organizations, self-help groups, and directly to individuals.

Stella OdabaThe projects have already drawn some media attention. An October 2006 Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency article by Joyce Mulama reports on the reaction of members of the Oloika Women’s Group upon witnessing solar cooking for the first time.

The article quotes 70-year-old Esther Lokuso, a member of the women’s group, as follows: "I am shocked because I saw the food cooking without any fire. But here it is, really hot and tastier than the same foods cooked normally. This is amazing; I have never seen anything like this before."

John AmayoAnother woman from the group, Janet Sirinyi, described the daily struggle to collect firewood. "We and our children walk for over four hours every day looking for firewood. Since it has been our main source of fuel, we have had no choice but to go collecting wood and even cutting down new trees to provide us with wood, so that we can cook for our families," she said. "By using the sun for cooking, now we will be able to save our trees and forests."

According Mulama, the Oloika women "were also excited by the prospect of being able to turn their attention to other chores while food was [cooking] in the solar cookers." They envision doing domestic chores like water collection and animal husbandry while their food gently cooks unattended.

Building-size CPC reflectors for the tropics

Research architect Joel Goodman has spent several years exploring ways to integrate solar cookers into kitchen buildings. Much of his recent work focuses on the use of stationary, non-imaging reflector CPC (compound parabolic concentrator) optics. Goodman hopes to encourage development of solar-optical design projects that can define non-imaging CPC reflector patterns and inclinations for architectural use, starting in non-seismic regions.

Examples of Goodman’s current design studies for the tropics — with a large CPC reflector trough opening upward, oriented in an east-west line, and with adjustable end reflector options — include solar kitchens with HotPot™ type ovens, roll in-out batch cookers, and augmented walk-in basin water stills. (For more information on the HotPot™, see "SHE makes headway in Africa and Latin America.")

Image a: An exterior wall supports a partial ‘one-sided’ CPC trough that reflects sunlight to a series of cooking bays that hold HotPots™. Additional sunlight comes from fixed ridged reflectors between the bays and adjustable reflectors (not shown) at the front opening of the bays.

Image b: A CPC trough reflects sunlight onto multiple HotPots™ on sliding trays accessible from within the building.

Image c: Sunlight enters a CPC trough and is reflected to the underside of HotPots™ (or black woks), conveniently accessible for stirring from within the building. The inverted non-imaging reflector shape under the HotPots™ contains thermal convection.

Image d: An oval oven is housed in an insulated cooker comprised of fixed reflectors and transparent glazing at a CPC outlet. The large batch cooker vessel (approximately 250 liters / 67 gallons batch) rolls in and out of the oven.

Goodman invites comments and suggestions.

Contact: Joel H. Goodman, P.O. Box 14, Dodgeville, Wisconsin 53533, USA. E-mail: joelhgoodman3@hotmail.com, Web: http://solarcooking.org/Joel_Goodman.htm.

SHE builds partnerships in Africa and Central America

By Katie Sisay, SCI Office Manager and Marketing Coordinator

Solar Household Energy, Inc. (SHE) was founded in 1998 to introduce solar cooking where it can add quality to life and alleviate stress on the environment. The following is a summary of some of their recent activities.

New leadership

SHE welcomed Marie-Ange Binagwaho as its new executive director in 2006. Binagwaho has impressive background experience in strategic planning, systems development, and evaluation with community-based organizations. Her recent endeavors include a girls education project in Swaziland and a microfinance program in Rwanda.

HotPot™ update

SHE co-founder Louise Meyer and the HotPot™ (shown with the Morning Star reflector option)SHE spent several years developing a panel-type solar cooking system called the "HotPot™." A unique element of the HotPot™ is its custom five-liter black pot that is suspended by its flange inside a transparent tempered glass bowl, creating an insulating air space around the pot. Reflectors are available in two flavors. The less expensive model is a variation on Solar Cookers International’s CooKit, and is made of foil-lined cardboard. The more durable model, called the "Morning Star," is made of anodized aluminum and has steel hinges.

[Editor’s note: the HotPot™ and other products can be purchased using the order form on page 23, or on-line at www.solarcookers.org.]

SHE has been testing its HotPot™ solar cooking system in Burkina Faso, The Gambia, and Senegal.

Results yielded:

  • The stagnation test — an empty HotPot™ reached 146°C (295°F) in 50 minutes
  • The water heating test — 1 liter of water came to a slow boil of 90°C (194°F) in 60-90 minutes
  • The cooking test — assorted chopped vegetables reached cooking temperatures of 82°C (180°F) in 50 minutes

For more detailed information on these tests visit http://she-inc.org/art.php?id=55.

Central America Update

SHE has created solar cooker partnerships with a wide range of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in El Salvador and Guatemala, including:

These are exciting partnerships for SHE, which is facilitating the technology transfer with training sessions, follow-up services, micro-credit payment systems and work exchange programs.

Africa Update

SHE director of programs for Latin America and East Africa, Camille McCarthy, explored potential cooperative cooking partnerships in Kenya and Tanzania last summer. McCarthy met with government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and various representatives of the private sector.

While other pilot projects are being explored, work has commenced in the Bamako area of Mali. Shipments of 1,048 HotPots™ have already been received by West African distributor SYST-COM & Energie, Sarl., an energy services company operated by Cheickna and Aissata Sissoko. These cookers will supply the needs of pilot project ventures in West African countries.

SCA and SCN take solar cooking to four villages in rural Uganda

By Kawesa Mukasa, Solar Connect Association Director

This girl cooks in the CooKit while her mother works in the fieldWhat began as an exchange of information and knowledge in the cafeteria at the 2006 international solar cookers conference, between Kawesa Mukasa of Solar Connect Association (SCA) and Clara Thomas of Solar Cooking Foundation the Netherlands (SCN), has developed into a serious partnership to promote solar cookers in four villages in the Mbarara district of western Uganda. The pilot project, when successful, will be replicated in other areas of Uganda.

Thomas, and Henk Crietee of SCN, visited Uganda in December 2006 to see for themselves the solar cooker project. This sort of collaboration should be emulated by other promoters of solar cookers so as to exchange experiences from inside and outside Africa and promote international collaboration.

What has been done? How has the targeted community benefited? We have distributed 510 CooKits to as many households since February 2007. The number of CooKits distributed in four villages will reach 2000 by the end of January 2008. These solar cookers have been made affordable for the very poor by a subsidy from SCN and Wild Geese Foundation, a Dutch charitable organization. We are also encouraging the use of fuel-efficient charcoal stoves that are bought from local artisans in the city and taken to the targeted villages.

We have introduced a "revolving loan" fund for people who are interested in acquiring a solar cooker but are not able to pay the whole amount at once. Using this system, families are able to use the CooKit immediately and pay in installments. Additionally, the fund allows us to receive full payment upon sale, enabling us to continue production without interruption due to funds tied in loans. The revolving loan fund was proposed by SCN and so far it is working well; no loan taker has defaulted to date.

Another first in solar cooking in Uganda is to concentrate on just four villages with a total of about 2000 families. We are working to ensure that every household gets a solar cooker. We want to make these villages a model so that visitors interested in solar cookers can visit house to house and find clusters of people using solar cookers. This will also make it easier to study the impact of solar cookers on a community in a measurable way.

Every CooKit comes with a protective bag and an instruction manual, adding value to it in the eyes of the buyer. The solar cooking training and follow-up programs are conducted by local villagers, known in the communities as sociable persons with histories of volunteerism. The formal training we provide to the local trainers helps build capacity at the community level. We and the beneficiary families are in partnership and collaborate in information sharing about new recipes, cooking periods for different foods, and various tips for more efficient solar cooking.

Tropical rain forests trap carbon dioxide, more than any other type of vegetation or forests. It is therefore an issue of self-preservation for every individual to contribute to the conservation of these rain forests in Africa and elsewhere. Solar cooker use is one simple, tangible response to global warming, empowering communities to play a role in sustainable forest management and conservation of the environment.

Contact: Kawesa Mukasa, Solar Connect Association, P.O. Box 425, Kampala, Kyandodo 256, Uganda. Tel: 256-77-665894, e-mail: solarconnect23@yahoo.com, Web: www.solarconect.4t.com.

Shine On! 2007

Solar Cookers International cordially invites you to be our guest at Shine On! 2007, kicking off our 20th year of service to the world and its inhabitants … and on to the next 20! Come, bring a friend or two, and share in the celebration as we highlight SCI’s achievements and our continued efforts to spread this simple solar solution for the benefit of people and planet.

Wednesday, September 12
5:30 to 8:00 p.m.

The Sacramento Zoo
Kampala Center
3930 West Land Park Drive
Sacramento, California 95822, USA

Light refreshments will be served. For more information, directions, volunteer or sponsorship opportunities, contact Yolanda Torrecillas at (916) 455-4499 or yolanda@solarcookers.org.

Four reasons why SCI is outstanding

By Ramon Coyle, former SCI Information Exchange Specialist

Ramon Coyle shown on the rightI was employed by Solar Cookers International (SCI) for over 16 years. I was the third person ever hired by SCI, the first to be hired who was not already a solar cooker enthusiast, and, by a substantial margin, the longest lasting employee.

When I started with SCI, I was first impressed and inspired by the founders and leaders of SCI — by Barbara Kerr’s clarity and character, by Dr. Bob Metcalf’s devotion and enthusiasm, by Bev Blum’s boundless energy and skills — and by the dedication of each of them. These three alone impressed me a great deal, but there were many other good people who worked with skill and love to propel SCI from being an idea to being an international organization.

After a few years at SCI, I also became impressed by SCI’s member/donors and their dedication. Stories about the generous spirits of SCI member/donors made me want to do a good job for them.

I learned that many SCI donors were also solar cooking promoters. Women in Minnesota worked with educators in Jamaica to teach solar cooking. Women from Berkeley, California taught scores of women in Nicaragua to solar cook. A woman from the Mojave Desert shared solar cooking with friends and associates in India. And all contributed funds to SCI as well.

Allart Ligtenberg is an outstanding example of an SCI member/promoter. Allart has taught solar cooking in Peru and Mongolia and makes annual teaching trips to Nepal. Because of his patient years of sharing information and his attention to follow-up with his Nepali partners, there are now several Nepali organizations that have distributed cookers to either hundreds or thousands of families. When Allart is home in California, he is likely to be presiding over an SCI information booth at an Earth Day celebration or energy fair.

Allart Ligtenberg boils water on Mount Everest using a collapsible parabolic cooker he developed for use by trekking groupsFor my first eight years at SCI, most of my work assignments had to do with office support functions — maintaining the SCI mailing list being one of them. In that role, I necessarily developed a map of the world inside my head with mental thumbtacks marking the locations of active solar cooking promoters. I had absorbed a broad picture of the solar cooking world. At that point, my job shifted.

My new job was to attempt to answer non-routine or in-depth questions about solar cooking and how to promote it. In the course of doing this work, I developed relationships with leaders of a wide array of solar cooking promotion groups working in many countries.

Gnibouwa Diassana in Mali, Abdullah Paksoy in Turkey, Martin Almada in Paraguay, Wietske Jongbloed in the Netherlands, Nelly Denakpo in Benin, Nguyen Tan Bich in Vietnam, Chris Ugwu and Rose Achunine in Nigeria, a lot of people in India, David Whitfield in Bolivia, Dieter Seifert in Germany, Laura Garat de Larran in Argentina, Kawesa Mukasa in Uganda, Manolo Vilchez in Spain, Sperancea Gabone in Tanzania, Rosalyn Rappaport in England and The Gambia. Each of these people — and many, many others — is an inspiration. Many face towering obstacles in their efforts to spread solar cooking for the benefit of their neighbors. And all are endowed with a spirit of supreme generosity that I have seen not only in their zeal to serve others but also in their friendly treatment of me.

So, on top of inspiration from SCI’s leaders and founders, and from SCI’s member/donors, the third area of special reward in working for SCI has been my exposure to such a fine crop of humans from around the world; if they were flowers, I worked in a most beautiful garden. I have been honored to have given them whatever small services I was able to provide.

After 16 years, I have a pretty good "big picture" of solar cooking promotion that provides me the vantage point for my fourth appreciation of SCI: I like its basic program.

  • Create broad awareness of the low cost and high benefits of solar cooking
  • Provide the information needed to enable more organizations to promote solar cooking in their own areas
  • Help the growing number of solar cooking groups in the world communicate, coordinate and collaborate
  • Encourage investment of more resources in spreading solar cooking by large institutions, governments, and multi-lateral agencies.

SCI’s flagship program for the past 12 years has been its strategy in eastern Africa, where SCI has established a regional resource center and an array of field projects actively spreading solar cooking in different communities. The eastern Africa program builds solar cooking expertise in a region of the world that badly needs it. The field projects not only bring solar cooking to thousands, they also serve as laboratories for testing cooker variations, teaching methods, promotion plans and for measuring real benefits accrued by real families. As these field projects mature, they provide compelling evidence to persuade more organizations to back solar cooking.

In carrying out this program, SCI has made important accomplishments:

  • Development of the "CooKit," an ultra-low-cost solar cooker that can be easily mass-produced or handcrafted
  • Field testing of the CooKit with tens of thousands of refugee families, and showing that women in need will try solar cooking, will learn the skills, will adopt the practice and will gain tangible benefits
  • Launching of three field projects in Kenya to test solar cooker promotion methods and adoption patterns in settled communities (projects that continue today)
  • Proving that pasteurization of drinking water to prevent disease can be done with a simple solar cooker
  • Introduction of the inexpensive, reusable water pasteurization indicator (WAPI) to make solar water pasteurization convenient
  • Field testing of WAPIs and gathering of solid evidence in several studies of reduction in diarrhea in families that practice solar pasteurization
  • Co-sponsorship of four highly-regarded world conferences on solar cooking
  • Establishment in 2006 of an international association of solar cooking promotion organizations

I am highly aware that this multi-pronged program still has a long way to unfold before the job is done. I have a sense that at times there have been missteps made on this ultimately wise path. I am acutely aware — and reminded by every paycheck — that SCI has trod this breathtakingly ambitious path with a painfully limited budget.

Yet, the program is working. Tens of thousands of families have enjoyed real benefits from solar cooking directly as a result of SCI’s work. Tens of thousands more have benefited through the work of other promotion groups that SCI has served. Hundreds of solar cooking teachers, promoters and promotion groups are active in 100 countries or more. Even if SCI were to disappear today, solar cooking would continue to spread from these many centers of experience and action.

Meanwhile, solar cooking is getting more attention and support from important seats of power. I remember in the early 1990s when SCI celebrated the first known favorable mention of solar cooking in a World Bank report. Now, the World Bank has provided funding to several solar cooking organizations. Solar cooking promoters are winning more and more international awards in the fields of renewable energy, appropriate technology and international development. Earlier this year, I provided some information and advice to a group of Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom who were planning to urge their government to support the spread of solar cooking.

I have given four reasons why SCI is outstanding. The reasons explain why I have lasted at SCI for over 16 years. Working for an organization with big ambitions and small budgets has been frustrating at times, grueling often, and low-income always. After 16 years of employment with SCI, I am exhausted and financially insecure. I can no longer afford to continue. I gave notice in February and will have phased out before July.

The staff members who have assumed my duties are extremely well qualified. Kevin Porter’s or Tom Sponheim’s knowledge of the world of solar cooking may be more extensive than mine. Their combined knowledge certainly is. They have 29 years of combined experience in the solar cooking field, and they are both much better equipped than I to work with the modern tools of Web sites, wikis and electronic newsletters.

A great many of my colleagues at SCI have been both impressive and enjoyable to work with. In addition to those mentioned above, some of the most outstanding have been Veronica Perez, Margaret Owino, Faustine Odaba, Terry Grumley, Pascale Dennery, Yolanda Torrecillas and Katie Sisay. SCI’s newer employees, Patrick Widner and Patricia Johnson, are eager and energetic.

To all — SCI founders, members, donors, staff, and the hundreds of solar cooking teachers, activists, promoters, inventors, and facilitators worldwide — thank you, and best wishes for your continued success.

Summing it up

Barbara Kerr 

A poem by Barbara Prosser Kerr (September 2005)

Our gift to humanity has been
shepherding unquenchable fire
into food, into water
with love
providing relief, rest, confidence
for women.
Lightening the burdens of firewood and smoke,
of squatting by the stew pot stirring.
Mothers rest as healthy children
play nearby.
Women are singing in sunlight.

Written for Sherry Cole, my solar cooker partner. 

Barbara Kerr is a founder of Solar Cookers International. In the 1970s, Barbara, and her friend Sherry Cole, developed the simple cardboard solar box cooker that inspired a wave of solar cooking enthusiasts in the U.S. and across the globe. Barbara recently published a book of poetry titled "God as a Shifting Concept: poems spanning 60 years." ISBN 0-9632674-2-6. Contact: Barbara Kerr, P.O. Box 576, Taylor, Arizona 85939, USA. Tel: 928-536-2269, e-mail: kerrcole@frontiernet.net, Web: http://solarcooking.org/bkerr

New and improved SCI Marketplace

Solar Cookers International (SCI) recently launched the "SCI Marketplace," its new and improved on-line store for solar cookers and related products. The new marketplace provides a better shopping experience than the old on-line store on many levels.

Improvements include:

  • A new, more pleasing user interface
  • A more logical product categorization scheme
  • Advanced search features
  • Dozens of larger, higher-quality product images
  • More detailed product descriptions
  • User accounts and order history tracking
  • Wish lists
  • Additional payment methods, including American Express and PayPal

The SCI Marketplace is on the Internet at As always, sales proceeds directly support SCI’s nonprofit work spreading solar cooking and solar water pasteurization worldwide.

IRA rollovers at work for Solar Cookers International

By Yolanda Torrecillas, SCI Resource Coordinator

Are you over the age of 70? If so, it may interest you to know that you can donate funds from your IRA directly to charity, have it count as part of your required distribution for the year, and never pay taxes on it. Under the current provision (set to expire at the end of this year), a donor who has reached the age of 70½ would be allowed to exclude from his or her income any IRA funds up to $100,000 that are withdrawn and transferred to a charity when filing a tax return for the year of the transfer.

To qualify, the check has to be written directly from the IRA to Solar Cookers International. If you have some other type of retirement account, such as a 401(k), you'll have to roll it over to a traditional IRA before applying this technique. If you have pretax and after-tax money in your IRA, the contribution will be considered to come from the pretax part. Donations can be made from Roth IRAs, although you may not want to since Roth withdrawals are tax-free in most instances.

There’s no double dipping. If you make a direct donation of pretax money, you can’t take a charitable deduction. The rule applies to contributions made before January 2008, so time is running out! Interested? Want to know more? Contact your IRA custodian or accountant for details, or to direct transfers to Solar Cookers International.

Close-up view of India’s remarkable Eco Center ICNEER

By Louise Meyer, Solar Household Energy, Inc. co-founder

I learned about India’s first "Scheffler solar steam cooking system" — located at Brahma Kumari’s Ashram in Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India — during a presentation by Golo Pilz at the World Social Summit in 2000. I was amazed to learn that it could cook for 1,200 people! Little did I know that, seven years hence, I would see it for myself.

This past April I spent a week with Deepak and Shirin Gadhia, co-founders of the nonprofit Eco Center ICNEER (International Center for Networking, Ecology, Education and Reintegration), located in Valsad. I was able to visit ICNEER thanks to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s generous invitation to attend the 3rd biennial Partnership for Clean Indoor Air forum in Bangalore. Solar Cookers International’s eastern Africa Director Margaret Owino was also able to attend the forum and visit ICNEER.

INCEER, and the Gadhia’s technical company, Gadhia Solar Energy Systems Pvt. Ltd., share the same premises and the same goals: to promote sustainable development, taking economic and ecological issues into full consideration, changing human behavior from environmental parasites to responsible citizens of planet earth.

Visitors to ICNEER are welcomed in the meeting room, which has educational billboards displayed on all four walls. We were a party of five when I arrived — three Jesuits who run a school for tribal children, and an engineering professor from Pravara Rural Engineering College. Each visitor was introduced while we drank tea, and then Shirin took us on a tour of the outdoor exhibits. We saw solar box cookers, parabolic K-10 and K-14 solar cookers, and the large Scheffler steam system with vertical and horizontal dishes and mechanical tracking components. We then entered the workshop where Gadhia Solar’s 45 employees build and assemble parts for their orders. The engineering professor was picking up an order of 60 solar dishes. Fathers Thomas and Lazaras carried the seven K-14s they had purchased to their jeep.

Detail of a large Scheffler reflectorDeepak and Shirin met and married while studying in Berlin. After returning to India in 1985, Shirin became concerned about the environmental deterioration she was witnessing. She dreamed of setting up an eco center that promoted natural living and organic farming, and in 1988 her dream was realized.

At about the same time, Dr. Dieter Seifert, a German colleague, encouraged Deepak to promote solar cookers. "India is a perfect place," he said. Deepak, a city-boy raised in Mumbai, where apartments with small balconies are common, was not convinced. But later, through Shirin’s work in rural India, he discovered the need for alternative sources of energy, especially for cooking. (Seventy percent of India’s population lives in rural villages.)

Dieter supplied him with anodized aluminum plates to construct SK-14s, and Deepak built the steel framework to support the reflectors and the cooking vessel. Before long, Deepak met Wolfgang Scheffler, a frequent traveler to India who was experimenting with large parabolic dishes that would allow for cooking inside a building. (The dishes reflect sunlight into a building through a porthole-size opening in the wall.)

Indoor cooking appealed to Indian women, who preferred to cook in the shade. Working together, Deepak and Wolfgang built over 100 of these large solar cooking dishes and installed them in rural schools where they could cook for 60-100 children and save tons of firewood. The dishes paid for themselves in three to five years.

A breakthrough occurred when Mr. Schmitt, Deepak’s former employer, visited India. Schmitt, a practical business man, told Wolfgang that he wouldn’t live to see the day his Scheffler dishes would have any major impact in India. Brainstorming together, they transformed the individual Scheffler dish designed for one kitchen into a true industrial-sized kitchen with multiple dishes that produce steam for cooking. The Mount Abu prototype used 24 large dishes and 12 heat exchangers, and it replaced the diesel generator that consumed 70-80 liters of kerosene daily. Pilz’s success in procuring funds from the German government made the Mount Abu installation a reality. The Scheffler solar steam cooking system functioned so well that a second, larger system was installed at Taleti Ashram in Abu Road, Rajasthan, India. This system cooks solar meals and tea for 10,000 visitors daily.

Spurred by this success, more and more systems have been installed. The world’s largest solar steam cooking system now exists at Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India. This system solar cooks for 15,000 visitors daily, or 30,000 meals!

India’s Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNES) offers 50% subsidizes to schools, hospitals, ashrams and nongovernmental organizations that shift to solar steam cooking systems. Businesses also buy steam systems from the Gadhias, but they are not entitled to MNES subsidies. However, things are changing due to high demand. On my last day, I met a youthful entrepreneur — the owner of TAPI Foods, a company that makes jams and jellies. He was visiting the Gadhias to place an order for a solar cooking system. After soliciting MNES for three years he finally received a subsidy and was now able to pay for the system. He will be able to save one ton of firewood per day by using clean solar energy!

There is a bright future for solar energy in India and all over the world.

Contact: Louise Meyer, Solar Household Energy, Inc., P.O. Box 15063, Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815, USA. Tel: (202) 328-6834, e-mail: louise@she-inc.org, Web: www.she-inc.org; Deepak and Shirin Gadhia, ICNEER, 86, Old GIDC Gundlav, Valsad – 396 035, Gujarat, India. Tel: +0091-93758 24992, e-mail: icneer@yahoo.co.in, Web: www.gadhiasolar.net

SCI has a new ZIP code

As of July 2007, Solar Cookers International (SCI) has the new ZIP code 95811-6827.

The entire address is now as follows:

Solar Cookers International
1919 21st Street #101
Sacramento, California 95811-6827, USA

Please update your records accordingly.

Members call to action!

By Yolanda Torrecillas, SCI Resource Coordinator

Thanks to our alert readers and friends, Solar Cookers International’s attention turned to the June issue of Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine. In the "How Can I Help" column written by Jan Goodwin, readers were told about the Berkeley Darfur Stove, which uses 75% less fuel than traditional stoves, and is being supplied by relief agencies to Darfur refugees. The safety of the refugees is an impetus for this effort, as venturing outside the camp to gather firewood for cooking exposes them to attacks.

Since 2006, KoZon Foundation, Solar Cookers International (SCI) and Jewish World Watch have been working together to provide solar cookers, retained-heat cookers, pots, supplies and training to Darfur refugees in Iridimi and Touloum camps in Chad. These efforts not only reduce exposure to firewood collection dangers, but also provide refugees with extra income from the manufacture of solar cookers, the training of others to use solar cookers, and the making of protective solar cooker carrying bags. The added benefit of reduced fire-related injuries to young children and a reduction of smoky environments and related illnesses for women are further evidence that solar cookers are cost-effective, sustainable, healthy cooking devices. But you already know that!

Now, how do we catch the attention of Ms. Winfrey and others? Together! Please act now, and help us inform Oprah and her editorial staff about the solar solution that rises every morning. You may submit your comments via post to: The Oprah Magazine, 300 West 57th Street, 36th Floor, New York, New York 10019, USA; or via Oprah’s Web form: www.oprah.com/omagazine/omag_wehear.jhtml.

If needed, we’d be happy to send you more information about SCI’s efforts and involvement in bringing solar cookers to the refugees.


Tribute gifts have been given to Solar Cookers International by:

  • George Gibson in memory of Christine Poppoff Clark
  • Hank and Mary Ellen Gregg in memory of Dan Groce
  • Peter and Wendy Heckscher in honor of Abbie Barbar
  • Elizabeth Krecker in memory of Captain Preston Stewart Krecker
  • Kathryn Landry in honor of John Paul Summers and Charlie Company in Iraq
  • Targe and Joanne Lindsay in memory of Julia Beckett
  • Nina Lubick-Reich in honor of her daughter, Elaine Wittert
  • Karry and Phyllis Mintz in memory of David Wolfe
  • Jenny Murphy in honor of Robert Renfer
  • Ann Prego in honor of her daughter, Tamara Gonzalez
  • Lois Rosenfeld in honor of Panda Rayman
  • Ann Scheiner in honor of Arline J. Lederman
  • Cathy A. Sellitto in memory of Catherine Sellitto
  • Gabi Simbriger-Williams in memory of her sister, Uschi Tustik
  • Gwynne and Dewey Smith in memory of their parents, George and Gertrude Prosser
  • Ellen Stein in memory of David Wolfe
  • Henry and JoAnne Talbot in memory of Mary Deits
  • Margaret Telford in honor of Nina Lubick-Reich
  • Rhonda Tenenbaum in memory of David Wolfe
  • Greta Walker in honor of Arline J. Lederman
  • Amy Williamson in honor of Gordon Williamson
  • Megan Williamson in honor of Gordon Williamson
  • Laural Hull in honor of her mother, Patt Hull
  • T.O.P.S. Overland Park in honor of Dr. Norge Jerome
  • Terri Brooks in honor of Arline J. Lederman
  • Sheila Jones in honor of Lily Dancy-Jones
  • Phyllis Elliott in memory of Phillip M. Elliott
  • Lauren Herman in honor of Meagan Stacey

Calling all U.S. federal employees!

Are you a federal employee? Do you know one? Solar Cookers International (SCI) has again qualified as a participating organization in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). SCI is a beneficiary of the effort through the Aid for Africa Federation. We are proud of meeting the rigorous financial, accountability, and governance standards, and ask for your CFC support.

Federal employees have the option of supporting SCI with either a one-time gift or with recurring payroll deductions. For those interested in joining the effort, our CFC number is 11023. This code directs your donation to SCI’s Africa programs. If you’d like to learn more about Aid for Africa, information is available on-line at www.aidforafrica.org. Your questions are also welcomed by Yolanda Torrecillas at SCI .You may reach her by telephone: (916) 455-4499 or e-mail: yolanda@solarcookers.org.

Thanks, federal employees, for your philanthropy and involvement in the effort to spread this sustainable solar solution.

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.

The Review is sent to those who contribute money or news about solar cooking projects. The suggested subscription price is $10/year. Single copies are sent free to select libraries and groups overseas.

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 to Solar Cookers International (SCI), 1919 21st Street #101, Sacramento, California 95811-6827, USA. You may also submit by fax: +1 (916) 455-4498 or e-mail: kevin@solarcookers.org.

The Review is compiled and edited by Kevin Porter, SCI’s education resources director, with assistance from other staff. Layout is graciously donated by IMPACT Publications located in Medford, Oregon, USA.

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

The Review is available online at www.solarcooking.org/docs.htm#newsletters.

This document is published on The Solar Cooking Archive at http://solarcooking.org/newsletters/scrjul07.htm. For questions or comments, contact webmaster@solarcooking.org