at the heart of the world solar cooking community is the skilled solar cook who captures the benefits
my two daughters grew up in honduras, the dominican republic, haiti and zambia. many children in those countries never grow up - they die in childhood of preventable, waterborne diseases.
millions of women spend 20 or more dangerous, back-breaking hours per week collecting firewood so they can cook for their families.
the suffering - of someone's mother, someone's daughter - is needless. solar cooking and solar pasteurization of drinking water relieve that suffering.
in 1987 a group of volunteers formed solar cookers international to make solar cooking easily available worldwide. through long, dedicated labor, sci and a handful of other solar cooker groups around the world created a solar cooking community that today embraces hundreds of groups in scores of countries - and tens of thousands of grateful solar cooks.
now we are improving the services sci provides to that international community, with an aim to help it grow wiser, stronger and more effective.
moving the start of our fiscal year to july 1 (why this report covers 18 months) is the smallest change. our board of directors has revamped our mission statement, goals and strategic planning process. while still emphasizing solar cooking, we will work more with solar pasteurization of water.
we've adopted a three-year plan to enable delivery of greater technical support to other organizations.
by improving project design, we are making our field projects more effective and useful with:
in analyzing our strengths and weaknesses, we found three key strengths.
1. in promoting affordable cookers, sci pays attention to the needs of the solar cooks. designing projects to emphasize learning from grassroots solar cooks and solar cooking teachers will build on this strength.
2. sci provides unique information and networking services to thousands of solar cooking activists in over 100 countries.
3. we have a good base in east africa, with staff, a network of allies, a functioning office in nairobi and official recognition as a registered non-governmental organization in kenya. we will build from this base to create a full scale solar cooking resource center in east africa, adding greatly to our ability to provide technical support and information in the region.
our greatest weakness has been that growth in sci staffing has not kept pace with growing demands. from our projects and worldwide contacts, we have gained a mountain of knowledge - knowledge to be analyzed, organized, and shared with the rest of the solar cooking community. new opportunities arise often; we must be able to seize them. we need sufficient staff with the training to do the job right.
to begin meeting this need, we hired faustine odaba - a solar cook of nearly 10 years experience - as field assistant in our east africa base. also, we sent our east africa regional representative, margaret owino, to intrac's training course on "managing a participatory monitoring and evaluation process."
we will add more program staff, especially in east africa, thanks to the generous loyalty of sci member/donors, a recent 30% increase in sci's membership, and $229,000 in grants already lined up for the next two fiscal years.
our record in the past 18 months, highlighted in this report, and the steps taken to improve our work are shaped by one purpose - helping women and their families gain real, life-sustaining benefits from solar cooking.
to ease burdens, save lives and protect the environment.
solar cooking can free hundreds of millions of women who collect wood to cook family meals over hot, smoky fires - giving women more time and less hardship; time for herself, for her family and children and for taking her place in the community.
solar cooking frees women who buy firewood from the crush of rising prices, providing a clean, safe alternative. fuel wood shortages affect 2 billion people, the world food and agriculture organization reports.
simple, affordable solar cookers also can be used to heat drinking water to kill bacteria, virus and parasites, controlling a host of deadly diseases.
6 interlocking strategies
strategy: field project management
field projects put solar cooking to work to meet vital needs and create models of sustainable projects that others can copy.
sci is directly involved in two field projects in refugee camps - kakuma, kenya and aisha, ethiopia - that provide a life-support system for refugees living on the margins of survival. we've introduced solar cooking to tens of thousands of refugees. project emphasis now is on improving cooking skills and ensuring that solar cooking will continue after sci's involvement ends. in kakuma, where drinking water is sometimes unsafe, solar water pasteurization has been introduced.
highlights - january 2000 to june 2001
strategy: technical support
sci's expertise can help other organizations run solar cooking projects.
for several years, sci has been providing technical support and some funding to a project in zimbabwe managed by the development technology centre (dtc) of the university of zimbabwe.
the dtc/sci project in zimbabwe trains local women to work as solar cooking teachers, promoters and sellers.
in 2000/2001, the project was re-evaluated. we met with solar cooks, solar trainers, coordinators and project leaders to discuss objectives, expectations and guidelines. we learned that trainers and project managers had very different ideas of the project objectives, and the discussion helped bridge that gap. we learned that trainers wanted more training, and we arranged a training of trainers seminar led by our east africa regional representative, margaret owino. we learned that the trainers wanted more contact with project leaders, so we agreed to focus activities on three communities - epworth, zvimba and chitungwiza - and to schedule visits three to four times per month.
meanwhile, the rotary club of bulawayo and the girl guides organization have taken up solar cooker dissemination work in ntabazinduna and other communities.
dtc reports that people respond to solar cookers because of the high cost of firewood and paraffin. dtc conducts public demonstrations of solar cookers versus other fuels. cooking 300 grams of meat and 300 grams of potatoes used 2.5 kilos of wood - worth z$12.50 (zimbabwe dollars) - while the solar cooker used only free sunlight to cook the same food. a solar cookit costs about z $90.00, so it could pay for itself after cooking eight large meals.
strategy: produce/ distribute educational materials
highlights - january 2000 to june 2001
strategy: networking/ information exchange
sci is one of hundreds of organizations that are creating a worldwide wealth of knowledge. sci works to increase the flow of shared wisdom in the world solar cooking community in various ways.
in the past 18 months, the sci solar cooker review published accounts of 40 solar cooker projects - with contact information - in 25 countries. one of those featured, gnibouwa diassana of mali, wrote that he soon heard from other solar cooking activists in burkina faso, cote d'ivoire and nigeria. we routinely introduce solar cooking groups to potential allies in their regions, through networking services.
sci's solar cooking archive (solarcooking.org), mastered by volunteer tom sponheim, is an excellent resource for finding solar cooking information and exchanging ideas. in 2001, visits to the archive passed the 500,000 mark.
sci also contributed publicity, funds and a representative to the iberoamerican congress on solar cookers, held in honduras, march 2001.
sci research aims at improving solar cooking devices and refining the best methods for spreading solar cooking.
in the past 18 months, sci contributed research on lessons learned in solar cooking activities in zimbabwe to the world solar cooking conference held in kimberly, south africa, and research on the "role of energy in poverty reduction" to three international conferences.
a uniform, international testing standard for solar cookers has been developed by sci board member paul funk, ph.d., working with other solar cooker researchers. the standard is increasingly being used by researchers in different parts of the world.
two technological breakthroughs contributed by sci volunteer researchers have become more widely used in the last few years. the cookit has been picked up for use by organizations such as sunseed tanzania trust, rotary-sponsored projects in five countries, and others. (see back page.) the cookit is the lowest cost, mass-produced solar cooker in the world to date, making it cost effective and affordable for low income families.
the wapi is a low-cost, re-usable indicator that shows when water has been heated enough to kill the germs that cause many life-threatening illnesses. the wapi is attracting attention from several organizations who are trying it out in bolivia, haiti, ghana and elsewhere. volunteers with north star devices of minnesota recently developed a system for producing wapis by the thousands.
strategy: advocacy/ outreach
solar cooking will spread more rapidly with more support from the public, the media and institutions.
sci representatives took part in a number of united nations meetings and events in both geneva and new york, including the un forum on forests, in june, 2001, and the un commission on sustainable development meeting in april, 2001. we also showed off solar cooking at interaction's forum 2001. our east africa staff gave 18 solar cooking demonstrations at various conferences and other sites, including presentations to the kenya institute of organic farming, the zimbabwe ministry of national affairs, the national association of cooperative savings and credit unions of zimbabwe, plan international officials in ethiopia, east africa's inter-governmental authority on development, and other important potential supporters of solar cooking. in addition, hundreds of volunteers gave countless solar cooking presentations at energy fairs, earth day celebrations and schools and to farmers organizations, water quality specialists, scouting groups, and others in many parts of the world.
"before, we would have used all the firewood distributed in four days cooking. then we would have had to sell our food [for fuel]. now we save food and even money."
"the amount of firewood stacked on the side of the houses of frequent solar cooks are the evidence of what is saved by solar cooking. often their neighbors have very little or nothing and come to borrow from them."
"if all the refugees depended only on the firewood distributed, then some of us would be dead, since not all get firewood and even for those who get it, it is not enough."
"when the family is broke, solar is our savior."
reducing serious illness caused by contaminated water is the aim of a new project in tanzania.
sci has begun providing technical support to ahead, inc., a development organization with 16 years of field experience in tanzania. research results from the project will guide design of future safe water projects by sci and other organizations. ahead's executive director is elvira williams, an sci board member. technical services are provided by dr. bob metcalf, sci founding member, volunteer and professional microbiologist.
ahead provides health outreach services to 17 villages in the meatu district, where people's incomes average less than us $85 per person per year. in tanzania, most people have no access to safe drinking water. in meatu, water sources are usually holes dug in the sand of dry river beds. dr. metcalf tested the villages' water sources. all were contaminated.
in 2001, dr. metcalf, assisted by sci's margaret owino, gave an extended workshop in tanzania's capital for 50 government, university, and un people professionally involved with water and health. two more workshops in meatu served 34 village health workers and 17 chief village officers from each village. people were taught innovative ways to test water for safety, how to build solar cookits, how to pasteurize water with cookits, and how to verify that pasteurization conditions have been reached using sci's water pasteurization indicator (wapi).
eight groups from the capital and all 17 villages received water testing supplies. each village has two cookits and wapis to use and evaluate. these village evaluations and feedback will shape the next steps in bringing cookits and training to the people in each village. the ultimate goal is to reduce diarrheal diseases, especially to protect the most vulnerable - very young children.
solar cooking information developed by sci becomes most valuable when it is put into the hands of dynamic individuals and groups worldwide.
pictured at right are new solar cooker users in gonaives, haiti, trained by the free methodist church solar cooker program in port-au-prince. program leaders write, "we want to thank you for your efforts at spreading information on this most important technology. with the ripple effect, your organization has been responsible for more good than any of us will perhaps ever know."
mr. keshav jaini of new delhi, india, has been in touch with sci for over three years, and a sampling of the correspondence tells a powerful story:
january 1998 "i just read your article on solar cooking in kenya in home power magazine. congratulations on a very effective job. ... as you know, we have had major landslides in the himalayan region, one of the main reasons being deforestation. ... we find that at least in the villages in the mountains, there are two main energy needs, cooking and warm water, and if these could be met by a cheap solar project, it would go a long way to reduce pressure on the forest wood. ...i would like to learn more about solar cooking, so please post me information on how i can do that.
march 1999 "i would first of all thank sci for having shown me the great possibilities that exist to help people with such simple and easily made products. ... i have been doing demonstrations and workshops and developing different types of cookers from locally available materials. ...i have also collected data from various sources (mainly from sci material) and am getting a pamphlet made so that it can be freely distributed.
november 2000 "we have now started getting the spc (solar panel cooker or cookit) manufactured in delhi and have already made over 400 and distributed them. the next lot of 400 (is) under production.
may 2001 "you may not be exactly a big organization, but definitely an effective one with a very good reputation in the concerned circles."
mr. abdullah s. paksoy, a rotarian from adana, turkey, first contacted sci in 1999. by february 2000, his rotary club wanted to sponsor a solar cooker project in southeast turkey. over the next 15 months, mr. paksoy consulted often with sci on topics such as specifications for plastic insulating bags, sources for pre-foiled cardboard for mass producing cookits, and ideas for creating public awareness. through networking, sci helped the adana rotarians find two north american rotary clubs to offer support. california rotarian wilfred pimentel, who helped launch rotary solar cooker projects in five other countries, contributed his experienced wisdom. sci directed mr. paksoy to solar home energy, inc. (she), which sent dr. barbara knudson (who is also an sci board member) to train solar cooking teachers in turkey. in may 2001, a pilot project provided over 100 new solar cooks with cookits and training. project leaders in turkey hope to reach 15,000 families over four years.
"your help is really very valuable to us - without that - the project would not have come this far. please forgive me if i neglect to thank you enough." -abdullah paksoy, seyhan rotary club, adana, turkey.
full audited financial statements are available on request. sci is a member of interaction and meets all of its standards for private, voluntary organizations.
*sci received grant monies totaling $125,000 from good works institute, inc. during fiscal year 2001 which are restricted to use during fiscal year 2002.
2000-01 foundation gifts $2000 and above
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