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Events

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News and Recent Developments

Sunoven

The Sun Oven solar box cooker

  • April 2013: Interesting facts about the Sun Oven - Recently Paul Munsen, Sun Ovens International president, was questioned about where their ovens were being sold. They have been sold in over 130 countries. The Sun Oven is usually considered to be the standard which other solar box cookers are judged by. They are well made of quality components and quite durable. They have a revised version of the Sun Oven called the All American Sun Oven that has a 20% larger cooking area and new wind resistance features. Interestingly, forty-two percent of the Sun Ovens sold worldwide are sold in the state of Utah, USA. Munsen believes seventy percent of the ovens are being kept on shelves with emergency food supplies, the rest are used on a regular basis. The owners appreciate the versatility of the cooker, with the added benefit of helping to lower household kitchen temperatures during hot summer months. When Munsen was recently demonstrating in the Sun Oven in Afghanistan to a group of local women, he was told the cooker could not provide the smoky favor desired in their flatbread, known as naan. Paul's wife suggested adding a few drops of liquid smoke to the batter. A recent delivery of ovens was accompanied by a 55-gallon drum of liquid smoke. The liquid smoke offers some advantages over smoky fires. Munsen says women cooking over fires can inhale as much smoke as they’d get from smoking three packs of cigarettes a day, and children are more likely to contract acute lower respiratory and eye infections. Read more...
Trust in Education Afghan family with cooker, 4-7-13

Afhgan family receives their Trust in Education solar cooker.

IMGP4481

The Trust in Education variation of the CooKit, which uses recycled Peet's Coffee bags for the reflective material.

  • April 2013: Jack Howell reports that once the 100 volunteer-built solar ovens were delivered, a solar box cooker variation with a wooden base and 1" of rigid insulation, refugee families were bused to the Trust in Education office in Kabul, Afghanistan. They were given a four-hour lesson on how to use the solar ovens, and each family was given an oven to take back to their camp. Since this initial project, the new cookers are a CooKit variation, being produced at a local box manufacturing company in San Leandro, California. The reflective material used for the solar panel cookers is recycled Mylar coffee bean bags from Peet’s coffee headquartered in Berkeley, California. They are cut open and cleaned by adults with developmental disabilities by the people from Futures Explored in Lafayette, CA. With the reflective interior surface facing out, they are then stapled to the cooker panels by the Afghans. We have delivered 2,000 cookers to Afghanistan and collected over 20,000 bags from Peet’s (keeping many Mylar bags from the landfill.) The new cookers are working very well and Afghans love them.
Jeff Waalkes Afghan woman, 10-18-12
Jeff Waalkes Afghan valley , 10-18-12

Delivery of the parabolic solar cookers to the Kirghiz tribe arrive on the backs of yaks.

  • October 2012: Parabolic solar cookers delivered to Afghanistan's remote Wakhan Corridor. The Kirghiz tribe live at the end of this slender finger of land in northeastern Afghanistan. Their primary fuel source for cooking has been dried yak dung, creating smoky conditions in their yurts. The buffalo-like yaks are used for most of their transportation needs. In June, Jeff Waalkes in Kirghizstan and Grace Magney with the Global Hope Network in Kabul were able to deliver ten parabolic solar cookers to the tribe. Grace organized the procurement and had the cookers loaded onto a truck. Jeff's responsibility was to get the truck into the Wakhan Corridor, and where the road petered out, strap everything including the solar cookers to the backs of yaks to deliver them to the Kirghiz. Initially hesitant, members of the tribe were soon cooking food and boiling water. See more of Jeff's photos of the delivery.
  • September 2012: Kabul parabolic solar stove company, Starlight Afghan Free Energy Co. improve their reflective surface with a tested 95% reflectivity and are proudly manufacturing 100% Afghan made stoves.
  • August 2011: The Spendid Table radio show inteviews SCI Board Member Patricia McArdle - Listen to Patricia discussing solar cooking in Afghanistan.
  • July 2011 Patricia McArdle was interviewed on the Kojo Nnambi Show by Rebecca Roberts to discuss her first book, Farishta, and her work bringing solar ovens to the rural poor in Afghanistan. Listen to the interview.
  • June 2011: Voice of America interviews Patricia McArdle about her novel Farishta - Solar Cookers International board-member Patricia McArdle discusses her award-winning novel in which solar cooking in Afghanistan is featured. Audio available here.
  • September 2010: Trust in Education is a nonprofit that has been involved with building schools in Afghanistan, and has recently begun to send a few solar ovens to the area where they have projects. They hope to build up their efforts helping to introduce solar cooking to local villagers.
  • June 2010: SCI board member Pat McArdle's novel about solar cooking in Afghanistan wins Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award!
Jamhuriat Girls School Kabul Scheffler array.jpg.

Scheffler Community Kitchen array at the Jamhuriat High School for Girls in Kabul

  • May 2010: A Scheffler Community Kitchen is currently being installed at the Jamhuriat High School for Girls in Afghanistan, through the efforts of Solare Brücke. Located in the heart of Kabul, it is planned to be operational in June. Of the current enrollment of 1000 girls, the new kitchen will serve approximately 700 students who have lunch at the school each day. Everyone there looks forward to stop using the wood-fired kitchen stove, and are quite proud that the entire new solar kitchen has been produced in Afghanistan.
  • April 2010: Afghan Scouts Harness Solar Energy - U.S. Army Soldiers are teaming with the Afghan Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts in Kabul, reducing the need to use wood as a fuel source. Through finding an alternate fuel source they are helping to create a cleaner Afghan environment while creating a more economical way of cooking. The solution: a solar oven, a box with a glass lid and reflective panels that absorb energy from the sun, trapping the energy inside the box to heat food and water. Solar ovens can bake, fry or steam any type of food.
  • August 2005: Manufacturing of the first Scheffler Community Kitchen in Afghanistan was started in the Afghan Bedmoschk Solar Centre. The Solar Centre is initiated and run by our partner organisation Afghan Bedmoschk Solar Centre e.V. Scheffler reflectors can be used for solar cooking, solar baking, solar food processing and as well for production of steam for applications of process heat or for the requirements of hospitals (laundry , autoclaves, cooking). The first application planed in Bedmoschk is a Solar Tandur for cooking the local flatbread. The technical part of the project is done by Solare Brücke e.V.

The History of Solar Cooking in Afghanistan

This country, much in Western news in the last years as the refuge of Al-Quaeda members, has actually had solar activity for some time. A newspaper account (Kabul New Times, July 6,1985 (in the Soviet era) discusses research activity for utilization of solar energy, conducted under the auspices of the Solar Energy Institute, a part of the Academy of Sciences of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. The effort was principally directed towards the potential heating of houses (not cooking, in the article shown) in recognition of "an increasing deficiency of traditional (presumably meaning wood) and other energy sources". The article further states that since Afghanistan has 300 sunny days per year, conditions are favorable for generating solar energy. The device pictured in the article is a flat plate collector, with two scientists working on its development. Not long after this article was published however, the solar research work most likely ceased with the end of the Soviet regime and the beginning of the Taliban period.

In a later era, this one under Taliban rule, the SERVE Solar Project, operating in Peshawar, Pakistan, moved its operations to Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in order to serve the population of refugees then returning to Afghanistan, after the departure of the Soviets. SERVE is a British humanitarian agency with projects in health, disability services, relief, and environmental issues. Its work in Pakistan began in refugee camps filled by an Afghan population in 1980. While working on other problems, SERVE discovered the severity of fuel shortages and based on that need, developed a large scale and very successful solar cooking project (see the report on Pakistan). Refugees who moved back took their box cookers with them and demand in Afghanistan was substantial. Initally, SERVE trucked box cookers to Kabul for sale in the market places. Later, they established an office in-country. In 2001, as Taliban rule tightened, SERVE (considered to be a "Christian" organization and hence not acceptable) was forcibly ejected from the country, its gates locked, its staff deported. (Newspaper clipping, NYTimes, date?) After Taliban rule ended, and under the present US led military assistance while the provisional government becomes established and stable, solar cooking has returned to the country. Several projects are underway currently, all too new to have been evaluated for the achievement of their goals. The following agencies are known to have a presence in the country, with a solar cooking component.

Under the leadership of retired SERVE staffer, Gordon Magney (now desceased) and his wife Grace Magney, who returned to live in Kabul in 2002, a small project is underway utilizing a new box cooker developed by an American NGO, the Solar Oven Society (See section in chapter Multi-National Promoters). The new cooker, called the Sport is made of recycled soda bottles with a Mylar cover and (soon to be available) shiny reflectors. Four hundred of the cookers were shipped to Kabul, unassembled, along with the equipment required to assemble the finished product. Under the supervision of Magney, that has now been accomplished. Training of users and sale of the cookers at a cost subsidized by a number of Minnesota churches is underway.

Another project in Afghanistan is sponsored by the Rotary international network (also discussed in the Multi-National Promoter section). A humanitarian unit called The Temple Solar Project was established by several Rotary groups in November of 1998. It has been supplying large community sized cookers called The Villager (produced by Sun Oven) to communities around the world. The cost of each villager is $10,000, plus shipping costs of an additional $3,500. Five of the Villagers have been shipped to Afghanistan; two are already installed and in operation. The others are in transit or awaiting delivery. The first oven was installed in a school, in collaboration with an organization called Friends for Afghan Redevelopment, cooking food for students and staff.. Some smaller solar cookers are not particularly effective in cooking the traditional Afghan bread, an unleavened "naan"type, which is however easily made in the Village. The large oven can also be used for bakeries as income generating projects or in institutional settings such as schools or hospitals. Logistical difficulties are continuous, including moving the goods through customs, appropriate training, and so on, but the projects are proceeding according to plan.

An individual, Laila Petty, was prepared and equipped, by an experienced solar cook associated with SCI, to promote solar cooking, prior to a extended visit she was planning to make to Afghanistan. A native Dari speaker, Ms. Petty was particularly interested in the plight of the "internal displaced persons"(IDP) in Afghanistan who do not receive international assistance from refugee organizations, but are nonetheless homeless and poorly served by charitable organizations. Early in her yearlong stay in Afghanistan, she made a number of contacts with relief agencies; did a number of demonstrations, more or less on her own, and conducted training for cooks in several IDP locations. Her work was well received, but agencies in the country were already overburdened by the difficulties of working in the country and none took up her offer to assist in development of a solar cooking project. She was even able to locate a, potential manufacturer of CooKits, the device she was using to demonstrate, and the cheapest solar cookers available. However, none of her work resulted in any substantial interest. She ultimately found a different cause to work on, but would be willing to assist in a solar project should one develop.

[Information for this section was taken originally from State of the Art of Solar Cooking by Dr. Barbara Knudson]

See also

Climate, Culture, and Special Considerations

Solar Cookers International has rated Afghanistan as the #10 country in the world in terms of solar cooking potential (See: The 25 countries with the most solar cooking potential). The estimated number of people in Afghanistan with fuel scarcity in 2020 is 6,800,000.

See main article: Promoting solar cooking in Afghanistan (Detailed report discussing the choice of solar cookers for use in Afghanistan based on cultural, economic, and logistical considerations)

See also

Resources

Possible funders of solar cooking projects in Afghanistan

Reports

Audio and Video

  • August 2009

Articles in the media

Afghanistan contacts

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

Government agencies

Educational institutions

Individuals

Manufacturers and vendors

See also

    References

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