News and Recent Developments
- October 2010: Alliance 3000 has developed a Parabolic solar cooker for use in a project in Burkina Faso. It consists of eight removable panels covered with reflective material that are attached to a trolly. The assembled unit is rotated with a long handle, making it easy to adjust the oven position to receive the most sunlight. A prototype was tested successfully this past summer. The Allainace 3000 is designed for easy assembly and will be produced in Africa, made entirely from local materials.
- November 2007: Solar Energy for Western Africa trained 25 members of the RIMTEREB-SOM womens' group in the use of the Papillon solar cooker. More information.
- July 2007: In Senegal and Burkina Faso, people are finding many ways that the HotPot can improve their daily lives. Currently 220 men and women in Senegal and Burkina Faso are cooking with the HotPot; they are excited about the variety of meals they've cooked and the fuel they’ve saved doing so. Read more about Solar Household Energy's West Africa programs at http://www.she-inc.org/projects-3.php.
- April 2007: Community members in Bobo Dioulasso formed Association TLE NAFA in 2004 to promote solar energy and reduce deforestation. In 2005, the association carried out two projects with 35 Papillon solar cookers. The cookers were made in Ouagadougou and assembled in Bobo Dioulasso. After a 20% subsidy, the cookers sold for about €120 each. Sales proceeds were used to buy additional supplies. TLE NAFA planned to sell at least 15 more in 2006. The group is currently seeking financial support. Contact: Monika Hermann-Sanou
- April 2007: “Bon Appétit Monsieur Soleil,” a film about solar cooking in Burkina Faso, earned top honors and a 5000 euro prize at the International Ecological Film Festival in Bourges this past October. The film was directed by Boris Claret and produced by Association La Trame documentary film studio. The festival program described the film as follows: “At the edge of the Sahel, firewood is rare and expensive. To counter deforestation, a whole network of nongovernmental organizations, craftsmen welders, and women’s associations have developed for 10 years an effective alternative: parabolic solar cookers.” For more information visit La Trame’s Web site: http://www.la-trame.org
- April 2007: The KoZon Foundation began introducing solar CooKits in Gorom-Gorom, Oudalan in 1997. As is often the case, initial acceptance was very high. To measure long-term acceptance and usage, KoZon surveyed more than 50 families multiple times from 2002-2005. During the dry season, lasting from March-June, 30-45% of the families used their CooKits regularly (approximately 3-7 times per week). The month of April had highest usage, followed by May and March respectively. CooKits were used to cook a variety of foods, especially rice and sauces of meat, chicken or legumes. Nearly all families rated food taste as good to very good. CooKits were also used to heat milk for making yoghurt, and to heat water for making tea and coffee, as well as for washing purposes. Several families said that the capacity of one CooKit was not enough for large families, and that two CooKits would be better. Durability of the cooker was also mentioned as a concern, given that the cost of a CooKit and a cooking pot is 5000 to 7500 CFA franc, or about $10 to $15. Even though this is quite expensive for the families of Gorom-Gorom, each solar-cooked meal saved an estimated 50-180 CFA in fuel costs. Over 90% of the families said they planned to buy a replacement CooKit when theirs wears out. KoZon lists several lessons learned during this process, including: 1) One CooKit is best suited for families of less than six members, or for single male households; 2) Complementary technologies, such as fuel-efficient wood stoves and heat-retention cookers, should continue to be taught in addition to solar cookers; and 3) Ongoing guidance, encouragement and follow-up should be provided by trained members of local institutions. Contact: KoZon Foundation
- Fall 2006: Solar Household Energy, Inc.’s partner Centre Écologique Albert Schweitzer in Burkina Faso, which was impressed with the HotPots durability and performance, is currently planning pilot projects at four sites.
The History of Solar Cooking in Burkina Faso
A thriving solar cooking promotion has been underway for several years, initially through the efforts of a young Burkinabe, William Ilboudo, who founded ISOMET, a business enterprise in the late 1990s. Other organizations also work in this Sahelian nation, which is ideally suited for solar cooking.
William Ilboundo had studied in Germany where he came to know about solar ovens. When he returned to his country, he started a small business, basically in his own backyard and with the assistance of family members, making and selling wooden box cookers. Because of the cost of the boxes, the audience was primarily a middle class one, at least initially. Even then, the ovens were usually sold on a pay-over-time business, and collecting the money proved problematic. Efforts to assist in the development of a micro-credit scheme, to be managed by a banking firm, were not successful.
In 2000, William, who is loosely allied with Solar Household Energy, Inc. as one of that organization's roster of solar entrepreneurs, returned to Germany for another course of study. On his return, a larger scale business plan was developed - one that would create a proper workshop and permit a number of employees to be used in expanding cooker production. Technical assistance in management of this effort was provided to Mr. Ilboudo by a Dutch representative of an association of retired business executives.
A number of visitors and observers have evaluated the work done by ISOMET. All who have visited the project were impressed with the dedication of the workers and the quality of the solar products. Throughout the early years, Mr. Ilboudo continued to receive support from a number of German solar cooking experts, including Rolf Behringer, a well-known solar cooker promoter. In 2000, a Swiss expert visited this Burkina Faso business and reported that over 150 excellent ovens had been built, and demand appeared to be steady if not spectacular
In 2003, M. Bonello, a European solar cooking promoter, visited programs in three West African nations, one of which was Burkina Faso. He reported that ISOMET now has four employees and is manufacturing a range of types of cookers. After several years of only working with box cookers, they now are also manufacturing the CooKit, the cardboard reflector that is the least expensive, but efficient, cooker available. 300 of these had been sold, following a major promotion on television. Currently, they sell around 50 of those per year.
In addition, William is importing kits for the assembly of small-scale parabolic cooking devices, far more expensive, but able to cook for up to 10 people. One negative aspect of this part of ISOMET's work is the necessity to pay a heavy custom duty of around 33% on the imported goods. (Paradoxically, the government subsidizes gas products, such as kerosene, at around 40%). Yet another part of the work of this organization is equipping school cafeterias with large-scale Scheffler parabolic devices, some equipped with tracking devices made from bicycle parts in the ISOMET workshop.
Maintenance problems have been severe however with these more complex devices. Topping off the work of ISOMET, Mr. Ilboudo and his workers have recently installed a solar bakery capable of producing 1500 loaves of bread a day. The bakery is equipped with 16 large parabolas, and has a heat retention system using a container filled with stones. This effort has been led by the Solar Institute Julich, using ISOMET staff. The organization is currently building more spacious quarters and has additional large projects in mind.
Other promoters work in this nation, as well. Centre Écologique Albert Schweitzer is located in Ougadougou; a part of its work is a Workshop for Solar Energy and Appropriate Technologies. The latter is a research and training center for farmers, artisans, and small business owners. An affiliate of the center is the German non-governmental organization, the Association for the Promotion of the Use of Solar Energy (APEES). That group has, in turn, affiliated itself with local artisans and with women's organizations to distribute solar cookers and dryers. In 2003, as reported by M. Bonello (see above), they had sold around 500 such units in the past decade.
Another company, SED, has been created by Boudacar Zongo, who was already in the business of provided various cooking devices, through his business, Solar Household Energy (SHE). The focus of SED is on fuel conserving stoves, but they actively promote solar cooking as well. One promotional scheme included a small store located in a low income area of Ougadougou, where cakes, chicken, or other food cooked in solar ovens are sold.
To increase traffic, they even installed a pay phone. SED receives technical assistance from the Centre Écologique Albert Schweitzer and its unit on renewable energy. Ougadougou would appear to be an excellent site for initiatives established by local entrepreneurs, perhaps a model for other cities and nations.
On the other end of the solar cooking range from the large scale parabolics is a project developed in a rural area of Burkina Faso. The pioneering site was the village of Goram-Goram, in the northern part of the country. Wietske Jongbloed is a volunteer associated with the Dutch NGO, the KoZon Foundation. Wietske started with 20 CooKits to introduce to village women. She is a very experienced solar trainer who first went to Goram-Goram in 1999. Already well acquainted with and supportive of the activities of ISOMET, where experimentation with the CooKit was underway, she decided to see what success might be had with the far less expensive CooKit in the rural areas.
The first 20 CooKits were given to two groups of women to try with their own cooking practices. Reaction was very positive and many asked that more CooKits be made available. After this "pilot", the KoZon Foundation was willing to support a larger project. In 1999, 300 Cookits were made available for sale, though subsidized to make the price low enough to be feasible for the potential customers, who are very poor. The cooking kit comprised a thin aluminum pot, two plastic bags (used to retain heat in the pot) and the cardboard CooKit; the price was about $2.50 (actually, about the cost of the pot alone). Experienced solar cooks from the initial project later served as trainers for new buyers of CooKits. All the solar cookers sold very quickly and many more people inquired about availability of more such devices.
Sixty percent of the kits were purchased by women, 25% by men for their families (sometimes several, as multiple wives are common), and 15% to young single men, the latter becoming very enthusiastic users of the CooKit. Many families would like to have more than one CooKit, as their families are large. This very positive reception appears to be related to a number of factors: the use of village women as trainers, familiar foods for demonstrations, cooking that is normally done out of doors, the excellent insolation, and the high cost of alternative fuels, plus, no doubt, Wietske Jongbloed's skill and persistence. The generosity of the KoZon Foundation in subsidizing the poor of the nation is also a major factor.
The Kozon Foundation has since promoted solar usage in other nations (see Mali and Chad) and other areas of Burkina Faso. CooKits are being made in Burkina Faso, rather than imported, which both provides jobs for Burkinabes and is less expensive, making support dollars go further.
One of the very interesting parts of the KoZon support for solar cooking in West Africa is their support of an evaluation of the project. A masters level student from at a Dutch university (and from Benin) was assisted to conduct the evaluation which carefully studied and observed solar cooker purchasers, their motives and the consequences of solar usage. Those findings were summarized, and the staff and board of KoZon very systematically examined each and made appropriate changes in their approaches as the data indicated. This outside evaluation and the uses made of it are fairly rare in the solar cooking world, and hence to be noted and commended.
A more recent report from Burkina Faso tells of the work sponsored by other European groups in West Africa. BSW Alternative Energy, a German company, makes a somewhat different type of parabolic cooker known as the Papillon. Instead of an inverted dome like most parabolics, the Papillon has two wings, with room for the cook to stand between for ease of cooking. In addition, the device folds to go through a doorway. The device can cook for up to 15 people, since it holds several pots, and is very powerful.
The BSW Solar Energy group is promoting the Papillion for West Africa (SEWA) where they have been working since 1994. They recently have introduced 70 Papillion cookers in Gaoua, Burkina Faso. The devices were manufactured in country with technical assistance from BSW. The Papillion can also be purchased as a kit for home assembly, and a scheme is in place for payment over time with savings from previous reductions in fuel purchasing. The cost is repaid in around 18 months; once repaid, the funds are available for another family to use for a cooker and pay back in the same manner.
The promoters of this scheme include Willi Heinzen, Bernd Hafner, and Paul Kraemer, chef, scientist, and medical doctor, respectively. Their recent book, Solar Kocher, (Munich, Germany, 2002: Sud West Information) unfortunately for many of us, is published only in German. It provides an excellent discussion of solar cooking technology and practice, with detailed diagrammatic drawings of various types of cookers and marvelous pictures of fuel scarce West Africa.
Climate, Culture, and Special Considerations
Solar Cookers International has rated Burkina Faso as the #17 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 Burkina Faso living in sunny portions of the country and having fuel scarcity in 2020 is 3,400,000.
More than 90% of the wood cut in Burkina Faso is used as fuel. Consumption is higher in urban than in rural households. Under these conditions, rapid urbanization will lead to accelerated deforestation, the more so as the wood reserves have been overexploited for a considerable time. Imported forms of energy are not an alternative for economic reasons. Because of high and still rising costs of wood and other forms of household fuel the link with the problem of poverty is obvious. In the context of globalization and urbanization the relationship of modern sector growth and increasing poverty, the relationship of acceptance of solar cookers and socio-economic standing is discussed, as is the possibility of hybrid solutions at the local level.
Throughout the country it is sunny with little firewood. (Source: Juan Urrutia Sanz, 2010-Feb-25)
- Discussion of West-central Africa's suitability for solar cooking
- Solar cooker dissemination and cultural variables
- June 2006: Evaluation of Three Solar Cooker Projects in Burkina Faso/West Africa - Monika Hermann-Sanou
- 2006: A report on the evaluation of the KoZon Foundation Cookit projects in northern Burkina Faso - Jantje Struif Bontkes and Wietske Jongbloed
- The Fuel Wood Crisis in Burkina Faso: Solar Cookers As An Alternative - Paul Krämer