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Solar Cooker Review

March 2006

The Solar Cooking Archive:


Volume 12, Number 1
(Back Issues at (E-mail PDF)

Paper Circulation: 10,000
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In This Issue

News you send

[Editor’s note: "News you send" is compiled by Ramón Coyle, Solar Cookers International’s information exchange specialist. E-mail your news items to or mail to Ramón Coyle, 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.]



The Eritrea solar cooker project organized by the foundation Solar Cooking Eritrea Netherlands (SCEN) continues to spread solar cooking knowledge in the Anseba region. As of January 2006, women from eight villages in the region, who previously purchased CooKits, attend monthly classes to further their skills and work through any issues. SCEN hopes to extend these classes to 32 more villages in the region by the end of this year.

Local women are fabricating CooKits in the city of Keren. One hundred CooKits have been made, and more are in the works (pending re-supply of aluminum foil, which must be imported). According to SCEN representative Janine Pater, local fabrication is important: “This is a major step forward in accomplishing the objective that now, and in the future, everyone in Anseba will be in a position to buy and/or make a CooKit without restriction.”

Contact: Clara Thomas, Solar Cooking Eritrea Netherlands, Prof. van Reeslaan 11, 1261 CS Blaricum, Netherlands. E-mail:, Web:


Sperancea Gabone (on left in photo) recently held a solar cooker exhibition at Mawenzi primary school in Moshi, Tanzania. Over 20 people gathered to learn about solar cooking and to taste solar-cooked food, including ugali, meat, beans and rice. Rolf Behringer, of the International Solar Energy Society (ISES), led a solar box cooker construction workshop at nearby Karanga Technical School, and joined Ms. Gabone at the exhibition. In addition to solar box cookers, retained-heat cookers were also used. (A retained-heat cooker, also known as a fireless cooker or “hay box,” is an insulated enclosure in which is set a pot of food that has been brought to a boil, allowing it to continue to cook after being removed from its heat source.)

Contact: Sperancea Gabone, Kilimanjaro Biogas and Solar Center, P.O. Box 7322, Moshi, Tanzania. E-mail:



French organization Bolivia Inti credits three “Ps” for their successes in spreading solar cookers: passion, perseverance, and positive attitude. In 2005, they trained around 800 new solar cooks. Over the past six years, Bolivia Inti has distributed 3,600 cookers in the Andean countries of Bolivia, Chile and Peru, benefiting 25,000 people in 200 communities. They have 25 solar cooking trainers, and have recently added a fourth training team. Bolivia Inti also has several initiatives in Africa, where an emphasis is placed on the wood saving aspect of solar cookers. These initiatives have met with considerable success.

Contact: Robert Chiron, Bolivia Inti, 41 rue du Château d'eau, 44240 La Chapelle S/Erdre, France. Tel: 02 40 72 05 30, e-mail:, Web:


Enthusiastic new solar promoter Jose Albano (see “Solar Cooking Archive informs, inspires Brazilian promoter,” has developed an interesting solar box cooker lid system that creates a double-paned plastic window effect and stops air loss through the lid/cooker joint. Mr. Albano notes that this idea works best in areas near the equator, where the sun is often directly overhead and reflectors are not required. The system can be used with cookers made from various materials, including cardboard and wood.

Wires are attached in a crosswise fashion (left) while a rubber tube seals against air loss (right).

The first step is to build a four-sided lid frame using wooden boards about one-inch thick. Next, tautly attach wires in a crosswise fashion on both sides of the wooden frame, creating a “skeleton” that will serve to separate two layers of plastic sheeting and allow for insulating air space between them. Spread a sheet of transparent plastic across one side of the frame, wrap the ends around to the opposite side of each board, and secure with staples. After food has been placed in the cooker, place the lid on top of the four walls of the cooker with the plastic side down. A larger sheet of transparent plastic is then draped over the lid partway down all four sides of the cooker. This sheet is secured using a rubber tube or similar fastener, preventing air from escaping. [Editor’s note: Solar Cookers International recommends polypropylene, polyester or polycarbonate plastic sheeting.]

Contact: Jose Albano, Rua Mar del Plata, 265, Lagoa Redonda, 60832-300 Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil. Tel: (85) 3476  8625, e-mail:

Costa Rica

Sol Verde—a cooperative formed with the support of Sol de Vida and the Central American Solar Energy Project—coordinates promotion activities of 15 community groups, presents the annual “Fiesta del Sol” event, and operates a small solar restaurant with “delicious home cooking.” Sol Verde is headquartered in the Casa del Sol (Guanacaste province), which houses a permanent demonstration facility for solar applications with emphasis on solar cookers.

Contact: Juan Arriaga Mora, Casa del Sol, Apartado 755-2100, Guadalupe, Guanacaste, Costa Rica. E-mail:


Kathy Dahl-Bredine, who works with the Nino a Nino organization, reports that solar cooking is taking hold in the state of Oaxaca. She gave nine workshops in her first year and helped about 150 people learn to make and use solar cookers. In the workshops, new solar cooking students are given homework — to teach others how to make and use a CooKit-style solar panel cooker. Ms. Dahl-Bredine reports that many of her students have done their homework and taught others. She has also taught solar cooking skills to Indian development promoters who are spreading the idea to many other families. She writes, “It sounds like a great many of the cookers are getting used. … One woman I work with said, ‘Now I know that I don’t have to worry about whether I’ve turned the beans off when I leave the house, because if they are in the solar cooker, I know they are fine.’ … One woman I know here in Oaxaca City told me about a certain dish she makes, a particular chicken enchilada, that her 10-year-old son never especially liked, but the first time she made it in her solar cooker … her son said, ‘Wow, this is delicious. What makes it so different?’” Ms. Dahl-Bredine reports that the major motivation for using the solar cookers is that people have little income, and benefit from reduced fuel costs. The CooKit-type solar cooker is practical because it is inexpensive and can be made by the families themselves. She emphasizes follow-up visits with new learners, because people don’t always get everything they need to know from one workshop. When people are learning, she says, “you want all the conditions to be right to succeed at first.” After people have some experience, they can try more challenging cooking problems. She believes that experienced solar cooks can use their solar cookers most days even during Oaxaca’s rainy season, by starting early in the day and planning carefully.

Contact: Kathy Dahl-Bredine, Apartado Postal 1332, 68000 Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico. E-mail:


Last year, 300 unassembled “SPORT” solar box cookers were purchased by St. Edwards Catholic Church of Bloomington, Minnesota (USA) for the community of Jinotega. The cookers were assembled locally under the direction of volunteers Sue Kellet and Andrew Knutson, who were also responsible for trainings. SPORTs were sold to families at a subsidized price of $10. Staples like rice, beans and bananas were popular solar dishes. Other solar foods included chicken dishes, vegetable stews with milk, and cooked mangos. One solar cook commented that the mangos cooked better in the solar cooker than over a fire.


Paraguay continues to be an exciting place when it comes to transforming lives through solar energy. Responsible for a long chain of successes are two closely entwined organizations: la Fundación Celestina Pèrez de Almada and the Center for Solar Energy (CEDESOL). Led by Professor Martin Almada and engineer Jean-Claude Pulfer, the twin organizations bring solar energy out of the laboratories and universities to people in need. Their projects provide enough solar equipment and training to transform whole villages, creating solar futures in several villages, and bringing those futures into the present, one village at a time. With support from the Swiss Embassy in Paraguay, the Almada-Pulfer team recently supplied solar cooking equipment to two schools for lunch preparation. Solar dehydrators will provide out-of-season healthy fruit snacks to students. Dr. Almada (center in photo) was recently awarded a prestigious European Solar Prize from EUROSOLAR, the European Association for Renewable Energies. The award honors his “commitment for the use of renewable energies in order to give people hope and find a way out of poverty.” Congratulations! For more information on this award, and to view a short video of Dr. Almada’s work, visit

Contact: Dr. Martin Almada, Fundación Celestina Pèrez de Almada, Av. Carlos Antonio López, 2273 Asunción, Paraguay. E-mail:; Jean-Claude Pulfer, CEDESOL, Boqueron 532, 1404 Asunción, Paraguay. Tel: 59 5 21579831, e-mail:

United States

The STEVEN Foundation has quantities of reflective Mylar® polyester film available for solar cooker construction. The 3-mil film comes in rolls 62-inches wide. This film proved more resistant to ultraviolet (UV) damage than did a similar product from a different manufacturer. Interested parties would be responsible for shipping expenses, and would be invited to provide a modest donation in support of the foundation.

Contact: Jaroslav Vanek. Tel: 607 257 7109, e-mail:

Christopher Nyerges reports that solar cooker classes are offered at the School of Self-Reliance, an institute that has taught various aspects of solar use for over 30 years. The school offers classes and educational materials on a number of other self-reliance topics, including wild food foraging, primitive tools, orienteering, gardening, and conservation. (Photo shows Christopher Nyerges with high school teacher Joan Stevens.)

Contact: Christopher Nyerges, School of Self-Reliance, Box 41834, Eagle Rock, California 90041, USA. Tel: (626) 791-3217, Web:



China (Tibet)

A group of six undergraduates from Tufts University traveled with their faculty advisor to Gymthang, Tibet, to investigate adaptation of solar cookers for medical waste disinfection. Under the guidance of the Health Ministry of Gyatsa county, China (Tibet), and the KunDe Foundation, the students formulated plans prior to their visit as part of an interdisciplinary undergraduate design program affiliated with the Engineers Without Borders organization. Their design — a modified solar cooker — consisted of a double-walled box with a removable base, fixed dual-paned glass top, and four-sided reflector. Medical waste could be placed in a container on the removable base. (Photo shows faculty advisor Douglas Matson (right) with carpenter Mikmar and the modified solar cooker.) By design, the cooker had to be fabricated locally from local materials. Mikmar, the village carpenter, built an internal hewn framework to which internal and external plywood walls were nailed. The corners of the box were sealed against air loss with high-quality reflective tape readily available across Asia for use with parabolic-type solar cookers. The glass was sealed in place using a mixture of animal collagen glue and epoxy. Felt, between the removable base and the walls of the box, limited hot air loss. The device was able to boil water in less than 20 minutes, and attained a maximum temperature of 120°C. In celebration, the students baked an apple pie for their hosts using yak butter and barley flour. The approach selected by the students was intended to encourage a motivated high-profile member of the community — the village doctor — to adopt use of the technology for a new application that would significantly improve current ground-dispersal methods for waste disposal. (The doctor did not have any patients during the time the students were in Tibet, but they intend to return to follow up on usage.)

Contact Douglas Matson by e-mail:,  Web:


Representatives from hotels and educational institutions gathered recently in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, to learn about solar concentrating systems for steam generation that can cook thousands of meals daily. Representatives from other industries that could benefit from solar steam generation also attended. The meeting was organized by the Non-Conventional Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh (NEDCAP) and sponsored by the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNES).

Mr. Deepak Gadhia, Managing Director of Gadhia Solar, detailed how solar concentrating systems work and mentioned several industrial uses in addition to cooking: incineration, waste water evaporation, solar desalination, solar air conditioning and solar space heating, to name a few.

Two testimonials were provided. First, Mr. Malliah, Vice President of Sanghi Employee Welfare Association, told of how he attended a lecture by Mr. Gadhia a few years earlier and was convinced that his organization needed to install such a system, given that they are always looking at ways to reduce costs, improve efficiencies and protect the environment. Their system, which cost about $12,500 after a 50% government subsidy, is working well. Costs were recouped within two years. Next, Mr. Kachwaha told of a system that was installed in a silk processing plant. Not only did this system reduce energy costs, but it also reduced noise and air pollution within the plant, resulting in a better work environment and greater productivity. The system has since been repurposed from solar steam generation to solar water heating, with a daily capacity of 1600 liters.

After the gathering, participants toured the world’s largest solar steam cooking system at Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. The system is comprised of 106 rooftop-mounted parabolic concentrators that generate steam for cooking up to 30,000 meals daily. The gathering was covered in a number of newspapers and appeared on television news stations.

(Photo shows the solar steam cooking system mounted atop Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam.)

Contact: Jagadeeswara Reddy, Non-Conventional Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh (NEDCAP), 10-161, Gandhi Road, Chittoor - 517 001, India. E-mail:

Last January, Professor Ajay Chandak, of Promoters & Researchers In Non-Conventional Energy (PRINCE), led a workshop titled “Manufacturing Parabolic Solar Cookers and an introduction to renewable energy technologies.” Twenty people from eight states participated in the workshop, mostly renewable energy professionals. Mr. Chandak hopes that several of them will consider manufacturing parabolic solar cookers in their own states. Large community-size cookers, two meters or more in diameter, proved quite popular. These cookers can cook meals for 30-50 people. Smaller, family-side cookers were also shown, as were related technologies like solar food dryers.

Contact: Professor Ajay Chandak, Promoters & Researchers In Non Conventional Energy (PRINCE), Jankibai Trust, Shamgiri, Agra Road, Deopur, Dhule - 424005, India. Tel: +91-9823033344, e-mail:, Web:


The Centre for Rural Technology, Nepal is promoting solar cooker use by lodge owners and other entities involved in eco-tourism. With support from Germany-based Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, 200 SK-14 parabolic solar cookers will be distributed in the country, reducing energy expenses and promoting the use of solar energy through eco-tourism.

Contact: Ganesh Ram Shrestha, Centre for Rural Technology, Nepal, P.O. Box 3628, Tripureswore, Kathmandu, Nepal. Tel: 977 1 4260165, e-mail:, Web:

Vajra Foundation Nepal (VFN), in partnership with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), will receive over $850,000 from Dutch Postcode Lottery to expand its solar cooker program to six additional Bhutanese refugee camps. VFN’s first project, launched in 1998, has benefited over 2,000 families in Beldangi refugee camp. The expanded program will allow refugees to make nearly 7,500 solar cookers, to be used on a shared basis by over 14,000 families. Each family will also receive two cooking pots and a retained-heat cooker. (A retained-heat cooker, also known as a fireless cooker or “hay box,” is an insulated enclosure in which is set a pot of food that has been brought to a boil, allowing it to continue to cook after being removed from its heat source.) Stichting Vluchteling and Vajra Foundation Holland helped procure funds.

Papua New Guinea

From Papua New Guinea’s leading daily newspaper, the Post-Courier:

“Technology using sunlight, aluminum foil and cardboard boxes could replace firewood as fuel for cooking, says RiftOil chief executive Jenni Lean. Mrs. Lean, the only female chief executive of an oil exploration company in the male dominated industry in the country, said she would like to introduce this simple technology to the women and children of Papua New Guinea so that it could save them time from collecting firewood. ‘As well as being hard on the environment, [use of firewood] means a lot of trees are cut down around Port Moresby which could otherwise provide shade and an environment for people and wildlife,’ she said. She would like to work with women’s organizations such as the Girl Guides and others so that local people can make their own decisions as to their value and use in Papua New Guinea. Solar cookers are made of a cardboard box covered with aluminum foil and shaped so that sunlight reflects on a black pot with the food in it. Mrs. Lean said this should be inexpensive and useful for cooking when there is sunlight. ‘Even if they are only used [on sunny days], they should make women’s and children’s lives a bit easier here,’ she said. ‘They have been successfully introduced in Africa. Where people have easy access to the bush, they may not want to bother learning this new way of cooking, but where fuel is scarce, the motivation may well be there to make them work.’ She said she had cooked chicken and rice in her cooker using just the sun. … Mrs. Lean was part of the senior management team that founded Austral Pacific Energy Ltd, a successful oil and gas company based in New Zealand.”


Rotarian Abdullah Paksoy and his solar energy/fuel efficiency team from Misis, along with trainers from the United States, led multi-day demonstrations in the cities of Gazientep and Adiyaman. Rotary Club members attended presentations and saw examples of solar cookers and fuel-efficient wood stoves in action. Fifteen household solar cookers and one community solar cooker were on display at a village square demonstration witnessed by more than 70 people. Bulgur, chicken, rice, and eggplant were among the dishes cooked. A fuel-efficient wood stove was used for baking bread. Forty women attended a demonstration held in a cotton field where they worked. The women brought food to be solar cooked for their midday meal.

During the past five years, the Adana-Seyhan Rotary Club, with leadership from Mr. Paksoy, has developed a functioning education center in Misis for teaching about solar cookers and for housing inventory and equipment. About 3,000 CooKits have been manufactured in Adana, and over half have been distributed. Mr. Paksoy admits that teaching women to adopt changes in their long-established, traditional cooking habits is a very slow process. Firewood shortages and rising gas prices play an increasingly important role in this transition.

Mr. Paksoy’s team has also begun to spread solar cooking to Armenia.

Contact: Abdullah Paksoy, Adana-Seyhan Rotary Club, Kurtulus Mah, Sinasi Ef. Cad 9/1, 01120 Adana, Turkey. Tel: 903224540733, e-mail:



Mr. Vazja Racvieshvili spent a week in the Netherlands with Workgroup Solar Cookers Sliedrecht NL (WSCS) learning to construct an expanded Dierx-type solar box cooker. The cooker — dubbed the BC.122 — is 122 centimeters wide, making economical use of plywood sheets of the same width. During summer tests, the cooker reached temperatures of 175°C.

With tools and funds from WSCS, Mr. Racvieshvili will set up a small workshop in his village of Gurdzhaani. He believes that solar cookers can help reduce the cost of living in Georgia, a country with high unemployment.

Contact: Workgroup Solar Cookers Sliedrecht NL, Recycle Shop Sliedrecht, Rivierdijk 677, 3361 BT Sliedrecht, The Netherlands. E-mail:


Armando Herculano Lopes Ferrera reports that he leads solar cooking demonstrations and workshops for schools, nongovernmental organizations, and local agencies. He recently designed a panel-type solar cooker called Girassol (“sun flower”). Its pentagonal shape eliminates the need to reorient the cooker to track the sun’s movement. With teacher friend António Serafim, Armando Herculano introduced the solar cooker to classes at National University of East Timor. This event was covered in local newspapers as well as on television.

Contact Armando Herculano Lopes Ferrera by e-mail:


Marc Ayats made a parabolic solar cooker by purchasing an umbrella, covering the inside with ordinary aluminum foil and cutting off the handle (because the handle would be at the focal point of the reflector — where you must put your cooking pot). He used ordinary white adhesive to glue the reflective sheet to the umbrella’s cloth. He says it is a very simple cooker to make because umbrellas are normally parabolic in shape. He also says it is easy to move — it folds up like a regular umbrella. The pot is held in place with a wire frame used for holding flower pots.

Contact: Marc Ayats Plana, C/Pinto S. Abril, No 8, piso 2, 46005 Valencia, Spain. E-mail:


International solar cookers conference

Granada, Spain, 12-16 July 2006

One billion people suffer cooking fuel shortages. Many of them live in sun-rich areas, and could greatly benefit from solar cookers. This July, experts in solar cooking, water treatment and food processing from government, business, health, education, humanitarian and communication sectors will meet for four days in Granada, Spain. Their efforts have enormous potential for reducing health and environmental hazards related to traditional open fire cooking and growing fuel shortages. Already, many thousands are using these simple, practical technologies, but many millions more could benefit.

This first such conference in six years is a much awaited opportunity to share vital recent progress in devices and dissemination to meet ever-growing needs. Eighty people have been invited to present papers: 29 from Asia, 16 from Africa, 14 from Europe, 12 from Latin America, and nine from USA. For details, visit



Tuesday, 11 July

  • Welcoming reception

Wednesday, 12 July

- Paper presentations:

  • "Global panorama," samples of diverse solar cooking and food processing programs
  • "Dissemination strategies"

- Collective action groups discussions, by sector:

  • Government, business, health, education/youth, and communications/media

- International networking — discussion #1
- Evening session for the public:

  • Worldwide overview of solar cooker types, uses and activities

Thursday, 13 July

- Paper presentations:

  • "Advances in solar cooker designs"
  • "Advances in solar water treatments"
  • "Advances in solar food processing"

- Collective action groups discussions, by geographic clusters:

  • Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe/USA

- International networking — discussion #2

- Evening session for the public:

  • "Diverse applications of solar cookers"

Friday, 14 July

- Paper presentations and panels:

  • Solar cooking/pasteurizing and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals”

- Closing ceremony and dinner

Saturday, 15 July

- Exhibitions and workshops

Sunday, 16 July

- Post-conference field trips


Honorary Advisors

  • Dr. Lester Brown, Earth Policy Institute (USA)
  • Dr. Vandana Shiva, Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy (India)
  • International Advisory Committee
  • Ms. Beverly Blum, Solar Cookers International (USA)
  • Ms. Pascale Dennery, Solar Cookers International (USA)
  • Mr. Deepak Gadhia, Gadhia Sustainable Energy Systems, Pvt. Ltd. (India)
  • Dr. Sonia Heptonstall, Solar Cookers International (Switzerland)
  • Dr. Agnes Klingshirn, advisor to German Agency for Technical Cooperation – GTZ (Germany)
  • Mr. Jordi Miralles, Fundació Terra (Spain)
  • Dr. Sathyavathi Muthu, Avinashilingam Deemed University (India)
  • Dr. Shyam S. Nandwani, Universidad Nacional (Costa Rica)
  • Mr. Joseph Odero Huma, Solar Cookers International (Kenya)
  • Mr. Vincent Okello, ITDG-EA, Kisumu Office (Kenya)
  • Mr. Sanu Kaji Shrestha, Foundation for Sustainable Technologies (Nepal)
  • Mr. Ganesh Ram Shrestha, Centre for Rural Technology (Nepal)
  • Ms. Marlett Wentzel, Palmer Development Corporation (South Africa)

Sponsoring organizations (as of March 2006)

  • Fundació Terra
  • Solar Cookers International
  • Good Works Institute
  • Earth Policy Institute
  • International Solar Energy Society

Kids are safer with solar cookers

In Nyakach, Kenya, most local water sources are contaminated and water-borne diseases are a major concern. Solar Cookers International (SCI) is teaching solar water pasteurization skills that complement other water treatments. In addition, SCI has introduced water pasteurization indicators (WAPIs), devices that let families know when water has been sufficiently heated and is safe.

Baseline data indicated high awareness of the need to treat water but low actual treatment due to lack of fuel for boiling and the unpleasant flavor of chlorine-treated water. A recent survey of 47 Nyakach households, with a total of 87 children under the age of five, revealed that most families who bought solar cookers also quickly began solar pasteurizing their drinking water. Families that solar pasteurized water part of the time and boiled water part of the time had nearly half the number of diarrheal incidents of those who boiled water exclusively, which was the previous best method.

For this survey, each household was interviewed every two weeks over a ten-week period and asked which water treatments they had used during the previous two weeks and how many diarrheal incidents their children experienced. (Thirty-nine households had solar cookers, eight did not.)

Solar pasteurizing appears to encourage more frequent water treatment. Solar pasteurizing was mentioned 92% of the time as having been used in the previous two weeks, and those whose water treatments include solar pasteurizing had fewer diarrheal incidents. No one method is perfect — chlorine gives water a bad taste, boiling requires fuel and time, and solar pasteurizing requires sunlight.

Method of water treatment used (n = number of kid weeks) Incidence of diarrhea/child/week Percent using these methods during a given two-week period
Chlorine (n=36) 0.28 7%
Solar or chlorine (n=151) 0.24 28%
Boil or chlorine (n=22) 0.23 4%
Solar (n=48) 0.16 9%
Boil (n=28) 0.13 5%
Solar or boil (n=241) 0.07 44%

In sum, solar pasteurizing — using solar CooKits and WAPIs — has been quickly adopted and has reduced diarrhea among small children in Nyakach by about half. Heating water to pasteurizing temperatures is most effective, and solar and traditional heating fuels complement each other for best protection of children.

Other benefits to children of solar cooker use include reduced exposure to cooking smoke and open fires.

The CooKit: dream of every woman in Nyakach

By Dinah Chienjo, SCI Sunny Solutions project officer

Solar Cookers International’s Sunny Solutions project — in the western Kenya community of Nyakach — is speeding along towards achievement of its objectives as it moves toward phase-out by 2008. Having started with only one staff member, Sunny Solutions has grown to six staff and 23 commission-based solar cooker representatives (SCOREPS) covering all parts of Nyakach.

Each SCOREP is responsible for creating awareness in a demarcated area through public demonstrations, school presentations, group meetings, home visits and shows, etc. SCOREPS also train new solar cooks, and market and sell solar CooKits in women’s groups, churches, youth organizations, self-help groups, and directly to individuals, as well as through four new energy shops.

Already, over 95% of the Nyakach population knows about solar cookers. Community members, especially women, appreciate the technology for its convenience, efficiency, effectiveness, cleanliness, and safety, as well as its ability to pasteurize water easily.

Solar cooking enjoys enormous support from governmental agencies in Nyakach — especially the Ministry of Agriculture, the Provincial Administration and the Forest Department, not to mention partner organization Nyakach Community Development Association (NYACODA). Along with several other nongovernmental organizations, these agencies recognize the important role this project plays in both environmental conservation and women’s empowerment.

To date, about 700 CooKits are in use and another 900 are being paid for in installments. Therefore, 7-8% of households have purchased or are purchasing a CooKit. Though unit sales could be higher, the project seems on track to reach 15% of households by 2008 as sales rates increase over time.

Despite being highly valued, many factors influence whether or not families can purchase CooKits. Obstacles include:

High poverty levels. Over 60% of the population lives on less than $1 per day. Despite having an installment purchase option, many people are still unable to afford the $6 CooKit / water pasteurization package. The area is food deficient, due to erratic rainfall, and thus food purchases are the highest priority.

Cultural gender roles. Most monetary resources are in the hands of men, who regard cooking as a woman’s affair and are hence reluctant to facilitate acquisition of cooking devices.

High prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Large numbers of widows and orphans increase burdens on those with gainful employment, negatively affecting purchasing power.

Governmental and nongovernmental agencies are intervening to address these obstacles. Indications are that the economic and social situations of Nyakach families will improve, and that CooKit sales will continue to rise.

One thousand Mexican families buy solar cookers

By Louise Meyer, of Solar Household Energy, Inc.

Solar Household Energy, Inc. (SHE) is a nongovernmental organization (NGO) advocating solar cooking. It spent several years developing a panel-type solar cooker — the “HotPot” — a variation on Solar Cookers International’s “CooKit.” In 2003 SHE competed for a grant from the World Bank’s Development Marketplace to mount a HotPot promotion project in Mexico.

SHE partnered with the Mexican nature conservancy fund, Fondo Mexicano para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza (FMCN). FMCN’s director, Lorenzo Rosenzweig, had taken an early interest in the HotPot and had arranged for its manufacture in Monterrey, Mexico.

Before applying for funding, SHE sent 18 HotPot prototypes to solar cooking experts and engineers around the world for evaluation, and conducted field tests in remote Mexican mountain communities to confirm the HotPot’s utility and cultural acceptance. I organized the infrastructure necessary to sustain large-scale introduction and evaluation of results.

As reported in the July 2004 Solar Cooker Review, the SHE project won a Development Marketplace grant. Why was the SHE project chosen? The HotPot is “affordable” and is manufactured in the beneficiary country. And, it was designed by the prestigious Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) against SHE’s stringent requirements based on research and field experience. Furthermore, this project addressed six of eight United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals. Worldwide respect for FMCN’s successful biodiversity projects also helped.

The project goal was to sell 2,000 HotPots to Mexican families in need of alternative cooking fuel. This required market research and publicity, and the development of materials, including brochures, posters and a cookbook.

These women sneak a peak as lentils cook in a HotPot.

Flan, cake and milk rice are easily cooked by the sun.

By July 2004 2,000 HotPots had been manufactured and trucked to eight Mexican conservation NGOs that agreed to participate in the HotPot initiative. I hired two experienced solar cooks as trainers: Heike Hoedt from the Solarbruecke organization in Germany, and Ruth Saavedra de Whitfield from CEDESOL in Bolivia. They spent 10 weeks training new solar cooks in Queretaro, Oaxaca, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila, with methods used by Solar Cookers International in refugee camps. By October 2004, two regional coordinators had been hired: Lorena Harp (Oaxaca) and Enrique Cisneros (Coahuila).

Over 1,000 HotPots were sold by the end of the World Bank funding year in September 2005. The World Bank was satisfied with the results. Radio and television coverage had reached tens of thousands of Mexicans, spreading solar cooking awareness where little or none existed before. Also, a long-term HotPot distribution network had been established. However, the project’s 12-month official duration proved insufficient for us to achieve solid infrastructure.

With its custom glass-enclosed cooking pot,
ingredients are easily added to the HotPot at
any point during the cooking cycle]

SHE has now begun marketing the HotPot in other countries. This effort began in mid-2005 when a Monterrey-based entrepreneur, Oscar Guajardo, took over logistics and oversight of HotPot manufacturing. Orders for the HotPot are now coming in from many parts of the developing world, as well as from retailers and individual customers in the Unite States, Europe, and Australia.

The HotPot is still too expensive for many people who need it most, particularly when transportation costs and local distribution start-up expenses are added in. SHE’s focus now is seeking ways to lower the cost. Economies of scale, less-expensive manufacturing sources, consumer loans, and women’s support groups are some of the tactics that can help. Suggestions are welcome.

Louise Meyer is a founder, board member, and staff member of Solar Household Energy, Inc. She was also SCI’s Volunteer of the Year in 1996. An interview with Ms. Meyer and co-founder Dar Curtis can be heard on the Solar Cooking Archive at Contact: Louise Meyer, Solar Household Energy, Inc., P.O. Box 15063, Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815, USA. Web:

Highlights: new communities and more

By Bev Blum, SCI executive director

Every morning, the sun rises over a billion people suffering heavy burdens of fuel scarcities: women carrying wood for miles, children missing school and dying from smoke and water-borne diseases. What’s missing from this picture? Access to solar cooking and solar water pasteurizing.

You and Solar Cookers International (SCI) are filling in the missing access. Thanks to your generous support, SCI is growing and expanding to new places.

Here are some of SCI’s exciting highlights:

  • Spreading through women’s micro-enterprises: We’re empowering women in two more communities in drought-plagued Kenya, and working with local partners such as Peace Corps, Africa Inland Church, and Intermediate Technology to create awareness and access to solar cooking and solar water pasteurizing through women’s small businesses. We believe selling affordable solar cookers in local markets is the best method for sustainable spread.
  • Bringing solar cookers to Darfur refugees: By channeling designated donations through KoZon, a Dutch NGO, we will bring more solar cookers to two Darfur refugee camps in Chad.
  • Reducing water-borne diseases: Solar cooking families in Nyakach, Kenya, report fewer diarrheal diseases among their young children. (See cover story “Kids are safer with solar cookers.”)
  • Becoming visible: Recently, SCI volunteers were highly visible at United Nations meetings in New York and Beijing, and SCI’s eastern Africa Director, Margaret Owino, drew national television, radio and newspaper coverage in Kenya.
  • International synergy: This July, solar cooker leaders worldwide will converge on Granada, Spain for the first international solar cookers conference since 2000. (See cover story “International solar cookers conference.”) It is co-sponsored by Fundació Terra and made possible in part by grants from the Good Works Institute. Leaders expect to plan future collaborations to spread access to solar cooking and solar water pasteurizing worldwide.

New educational resources:

  • Video: Acclaimed Australian filmmaker Cathy Scott is just finishing a broadcast-quality video on solar cookers in Kenya.
  • Growing websites: Hundreds of documents from solar cooker promoters around the world are being digitized for posting on SCI’s two websites, and

Special individual opportunity: As I prepare to retire later this year, a national search is underway to fill this wonderful and challenging position I have enjoyed so much. This dynamic and visionary community of staff, board, international advisors, other volunteers and members will surely inspire that new leader, too.

Growing members: Your support is making all of this possible, with 75% growth in the last four years. When each of us finds and involves one new member, we will double these growth rates.

For people today — and their children tomorrow — solar cookers promise brighter futures, thanks to you.

Solar Cooking Archive informs, inspires Brazilian promoter

In the following letter — written to Solar Cookers International (SCI) founders Barbara Kerr and Sherry Cole — Jose Albano describes how he came to learn of solar cooking by visiting the Solar Cooking Archive, SCI’s educational Web site (

“It’s been just over one year now since I discovered, through a link, the ‘Solar Cooking Archive’ and the amazing amount of information on solar cooking available through its many links. I had been interested in solar cooking because I live in Fortaleza, on the northeastern coast of Brazil — the ‘hot’ area for the use of solar energy. But, I had always thought one needed a high-tech polished metal parabolic device to solar cook, much above my economic means and not available for sale here. So, I was greatly surprised to know of solar box cookers and specially the cardboard solar box cookers you have introduced and spread to the world. Skeptical, I decided to build one, following the instructions on the Archive. In utter disbelief I took out of it my first pots of brown rice and lentils, perfectly cooked and delicious! The experience has changed my life! Just one year later, I have cooked hundreds of meals, have built some 20 solar cookers (mostly the box type, but also some panel type), have researched and designed modifications, … have shown one of my solar cookers on television, and have conducted a number of workshops to teach interested folks. I also come back to the ever expanding Archive … and I have been trying out and adapting or developing new recipes almost on a daily basis. Like yourself, I feel the urge to spread the good news. At 61 years old, and going strong, I am convinced that if there is such a beast as a solar cooking virus, then I have certainly been seriously infected!”

Volunteers broaden access through translations

Solar Cookers International would like to thank a number of volunteers for their invaluable contributions to the Solar Cooking Archive (, the Internet’s hub of solar cooking information. Amir Mahdi Komarizade, Pedram Esfehani, Nguyen Tan, Eduardo Camboim and Jean Luc Montagu have all been busy translating existing documents from English into a number of other languages. Another volunteer, Beth Ogilvie, has helped publish many of these translations to the Web site. Thanks to the efforts of these and other volunteers, the Solar Cooking Archive now has human-translated mini sites in Spanish, Portuguese, French and Catalan, as well as several documents in a number of other languages, including Vietnamese, Persian and Italian. As always, many thanks also go to Webmaster Tom Sponheim for organizing these efforts and bringing them to fruition. (Photo shoes Amir Mahdi Komarizade with an award he won as part of the Iranian Solar Energy Society.)

Expanded teacher’s kit available now!

Solar Cookers International has expanded its teacher’s kit, improving upon an already excellent collection of materials. Based on feedback from teachers, we’ve added a set of three full-color posters, highlighting the following topics: Why Use Solar Cookers?, Types of Solar Cookers, and How Solar Cookers Work. These posters nicely supplement science and social studies lessons, and also work well for presentations and exhibits. Also new to the kit is a series of handouts with various diagrams and solar activities, basic solar cooker concepts, and frequently asked questions.

The teacher’s kit still contains the same core materials: a CooKit solar cooker, a black pot, a water pasteurization indicator (WAPI) and the plans booklet “How to Make, Use and Enjoy Solar Cookers.”

The teacher’s kit also doubles as a disaster preparedness kit, and makes a great gift for anyone. At the new price of $50, it remains a bargain.

Calling all U.S. federal employees!

Over one million U.S. federal employees participate annually in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC): the world’s largest workplace giving campaign. This year federal employees have the option, for the first time, of supporting Solar Cookers International (SCI) with a one-time gift or recurring payroll deductions through the Aid to Africa Federation. SCI is proud to qualify for CFC’s rigorous financial, accountability and governance standards. (CFC #9985.)

More information is available on the Internet:


Tribute gifts have been given to Solar Cookers International by:

  • Mark and Patrice Cotham in memory of Mark’s mother
  • Sylvia and Bill Wilson in honor of Anne Zwagerman
  • Roberta Whitby in honor of Bob Karpinski and Sara Nerken
  • Catherine Mumaw in honor of Clif & Lois Kenagy
  • Phyllis Elliott in honor of Phillip M. Elliott
  • Pat Adams in honor of Phoebe Austin
  • Robin Datel in memory of Kerry Joyce Datel
  • Jenny Murphy in honor of Robert and Betty Renfer
  • Deborah Glass in honor of her father, Robert Renfer
  • Thomas Danfield in honor of Marlene Sylvia
  • Jill De La Hunt in honor of Larry and Jay Leek
  • Robert and Helen Campbell in honor of their son, Jay Campbell
  • William Shelton in honor of Alice Ann Glenn
  • Christopher Gronbeck in honor of Margaret Owino and Mama Solar
  • Anne Ellis in honor of Rose Blake
  • Carol Gerlitz in memory of her husband, Bill Braddock; in honor of her son, Eric S. Johnson; in honor of her son and daughter-in-law, Kirk L. Johnson and Heather Walters
  • Chuck and Dana Larson in memory of Robert H. Larson
  • Amy Williamson in honor of Gordon Williamson
  • The Crowell family in memory or Robert Newman
  • Cathy Sellitto in honor of Rev. Andy Kurovsky, Noreen Nielson, Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Flaaten, Jewel Gadiano, Marguerite Kummrow, Mr. and Mrs. Marty Getz, Gladys Williams, Marybeth Harper, Mr. and Mrs. Craig Chappell, Dollie Himmel, Veronica Sewell, Mr. and Mrs. Terry Reagan, Penny Johnson, Rosemary Strube, and Mr. and Mrs. Ruben Esparza
  • Mary Yerdin, Anne Kennedy and Maria McKee in honor of Betty S. Cuccurullo (who kindly requested donations to Solar Cookers International instead of gifts for her 80th birthday)

Plan this win-win way to give!

Did you know that establishing a Charitable Gift Annuity for Solar Cookers International (SCI) gives you income and spreads great hope for others?

A Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA) benefiting you and SCI is a simple agreement with the Sacramento Region Community Foundation (SRCF), in which — for an irrevocable gift of cash or securities — SRCF agrees to make fixed payments to you for life. The payout rate is base upon your age at the time of the gift.

Sample charitable gift annuity rate chart

Age Rate (%)* 70 6.5 75 7.1 80 8.0 85 9.5 90 11.3

Ms. Margaret Elizares, our second celebrated CGA donor, purports, “It works for me. It’s what everyone should do. This planned giving vehicle is such a win-win situation. … CGAs generate income to sustain us and provide independence in our senior years. … If we don’t support good works, who will?”

To learn more about CGA benefits, or to see a personalized gift annuity illustration, please call Virginia Callaghan at (916) 455-4499. Thank you.

*Sample rates effective 07/01/03. The minimum gift amount is $10,000. Before implementing any plans, be sure to seek the advice of your professional tax or financial advisors.

Gifts that keep giving

Does Uncle Harry really need another necktie? Does Aunt Mary really need another box of chocolates?

Alternative Gifts International (AGI) offers a different kind of shopping experience.

In a market setting, shoppers peruse colorful booths representing humanitarian projects from around the world. Shoppers then select projects they want to support and make a contribution (“purchase a gift”). Contributions to the projects are made in honor of family, friends, business associates, etc., who then receive an attractive gift card explaining the unique gift. Solar Cookers International is honored to again be an AGI beneficiary organization.

If you would like to host an alternative gift market, contact Alternative Gifts International, P.O. Box 3810, Wichita, Kansas 67201-3810, USA. Tel: 800-842-2243, e-mail:, Web:

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

Solar Cooker Review

Solar Cooker Review (“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:

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

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