Last updated: November 29, 2014
The Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network (HoAREC), based in Addis Ababa has implemented (with support from the EU Energy Facility) an "Integrated Approach to Meet Rural Household Energy Needs" in three regions of Ethiopia. The Solar Cooking Netherlands (SCN), which has been involved in the promotion of Integrated Cooking Method (ICM) technologies in Eritrea, Uganda and Ethiopia, is one of the implementing organizations. ICM includes the use of a solar cooker, an efficient combustion stove, a heat-retention basket and a Water Pasteurization Indicator.
News and recent developments
- May 2014: Renewable Energy Technology is a relatively new concept in Ethiopia. The Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network (HoAREC), based in Addis Ababa has implemented (with support from the EU Energy Facility) an "Integrated Approach to Meet Rural Household Energy Needs" in three regions of Ethiopia. The Solar Cooking Netherlands (SCN), which has been involved in the promotion of Integrated Cooking Method (ICM) technologies in Eritrea, Uganda and Ethiopia, is one of the implementing organizations. ICM includes the use of a solar cooker, an efficient combustion stove, a heat-retention basket and a Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI).
- February 2013: SCN reports their Uganda partner, Solar Connect Association, under the direction of Kawesa Mukasa, has his promising ISC Small Enterprise, is now making a profit and is completely financially independent. Thirty people are generating income by manuafacturing, public promotion and marketing activities, all combined with intensive ISC sale programs. We are really very impressed by their work and consider this as a model for other ISC initiatives. SCA has been invited by NGOs in Ethiopia/ and Addis Ababa University to perform an ISC training to thirty young people and future small enterprise employees on the Improved CooKit, April 1-5 in Ethiopia; In Ethiopia SCN together with partner HoA-REC (Horn of Africa Regional Environment Center), twenty Renewable Energy Centers for Rural Households are being built and developed. In all the centers integrating solar cookers will be part of the small enterprise. HoA-REC and SCN assigned Fikirte Regassa Beyene being SCN representative in Ethiopia and becoming ISC expert for Ethiopia. She has an important innovative and organizational responsibility.
- December 2012: A new Solar Cooking Business is started in Awra Amba, Ethiopia an exceptional community north Ethiopia. Together with Solar Cooking Netherlands the action plan is completed and the construction of the production centre is started in the village's distinctive building style: a wooden construction finished with a mixture of available loam and soil. The production of CooKits, hay baskets and wood-saving stoves is to start next spring. Solar box cookers will be introduced and produced as well. After about three years, the project will be financially independent.
- November 2012: Solar Cooking Foundation in the Netherlands promotes the Integrated Cooking Method in Rural Ethiopia - The Solar Cooking Netherlands project to promote the Integrated Cooking Method included using the Cookit, heat retention baskets, solar box cookers, solar dryers and water pasteurization indicators (WAPI). In addition to these appliances, SCN further integrates and promotes energy efficient stoves including the Mirt and Tikikil stoves. Read more at: Solar Cooking Netherlands addresses Energy Problems in rural Ethiopia.
- November 2012: Partnership for Integrated Sustainable Development Association(PISDA) promotes solar cookers in Ethiopia – PISDA a non-government, local organization, has re-registered as Ethiopian Residents Charity Association. PISDA was initially established with the name Donkey for Development organization in May 27, 1999. PISDA is a member of the Consortium known as Christian Relief and Development Association. The organization was established by individuals who acknowledged the needs of female heads of households who support their children by collecting and selling firewood, cow-dung and grass/straw for small amounts in the market. It is believed that the current EU project will enable PISDA to promote the Integrated Sustainable Fuel Saving Stoves particularly the CooKit on a wider scale. To date, they have distributed 3,686 CooKit solar cookers, 2,139 Mirt and 1,540 Rocket Stoves, and 1,929 Hay baskets. Read more about Ethiopia Donkeys for Development.
- July 2012: Fikirte Regassa Beyene is working as representative for Solar Cooking Foundation the Netherlands (SCN) on HOAREC/N's team for the eu-energy-facility-project as Integrated Solar Cooking Project Officer in Addis Abeba. She is appointed since several months to ensure SCN's role as advisor and technical assistance in this project .
- Febuary 2012: The first National Project Steering Committee (NPSC) organised by HOAREC/N took place in Addis Ababa. The NPSC has the overall responsibility on quality control, development and - assurance related to the objectives of the European Union RET / EE project for Integrated Solar Cooking in Ethiopia in three areas. The target group is 10,000 households. Solar Cooking Foundation the Netherlands (SCN) is Associated Partner in this project and member of the NPSC.
- February 2012: The Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre has posted a job listing for an experienced 'Integrated Solar Cooking Project Officer' to work on programs in Addis Ababa, Shoa, Ethiopia. MA/BA: in business management, environmental sciences, geography, environmental management or a related field is required. More Information...
History of solar cooking in Ethiopia
Ethiopia has much to show in terms of work with solar cookers. Two activities stand out, and will be discussed initially. The first is a long lasting, though now ended, program in a refugee camp located near the border with Somalia and Djibouti, in a place known as the Aisha refugee camp.
The solar cooking work in Aisha was initiated at the request of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, through a staff member named Christopher Talbot who had seen the project in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. At that particular time, the UNHCR was being severely criticized for the massive destruction of forests caused by refugees from the southern Africa civil wars in Mozambique and Angola. A UN "pledging" meeting had been held for the purpose of raising millions of dollars to restore terrain ravaged by refugees in camps run by UNHCR in that part of Africa. Funds were in fact given for additional refugee work, of course, but with the strong admonition to UNHCR and its allied organizations and governments to take great care to see that damage to the environs of camps from uncontrolled collecting of firewood by refugees be strictly curtailed. UNHCR was thus urgently seeking solutions. Seeing the solar cooking project in Kakuma led them to undertake an experimental program in a small camp in an isolated corner of Ethiopia.
The camp's inhabitants are almost entirely refugees from nearby Somalia; the camp is located near enough to the border that it was even possible for refugees to make visits to their former homes from time to time. The area was one with limited forest cover even at the time the camp was established, and soon the landscape was nearly desolate. Refugees who at first could make a fuel gathering trip and back in a/day soon had to change to a pattern of using draft animals to go longer distances requiring two or three day trips. Fuel gathering thus ceased to be one in which women and children gathered wood nearby to one in which commercial arrangements were made by entrepreneurs who hired woodcutters and draft animals, then sold the wood to refugees. The difference was immaterial to the environment, of course, which suffered substantially from both practices.
Aisha was not large, as refugee camps go. It housed around 2,000 households and between 14,000-15,000 individuals. The site itself was far from Addis Ababa, both difficult and time consuming to reach. But the site also offered a place where need was great, where sunshine was abundant, where the population was relatively stable (for a refugee camp), and where careful and detailed evaluation would be possible. A baseline study of fuelwood use was done for later comparison, and the project began in 1998.
The project in Aisha continued until 2002, by which time all refugees who were interested had been supplied with cookers and trained in cooker usage. Refugee women and men were trained to be the trainers of others and an Ethiopian coordinator oversaw the project for SCI. Before formally closing the work as an SCI sponsored project, a final evaluation of the project was undertaken by an Ethiopian social scientist, with noteworthy results. About 95% of all householders in the camp used solar cookers, at least part of the time. Spending for fuel declined by 42% from pre-project days.
Refugees spend substantially less time gathering wood, allowing children to attend school and women to engage in community and income generating activity. Additional details of the project's operation, management, and outcomes are provided for the reader in the case study on this project. Aisha Solar Cooking Project
Climate, culture, and special considerations
Solar Cookers International has rated Ethiopia as the #4 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 Ethiopia with fuel scarcity but ample sun in 2020 is 24,200,000.
Climate makes a big difference in how much value is derived from solar cookers. All of Ethiopia is close enough to the equator to get plenty of solar power whenever the sun is shining (not counting the first hour or so after sunrise and before sunset). To get more good use from solar cookers, one wants not only ample hours of sunshine during daylight, but predictable sunshine--reducing the guess work about whether one's food will cook with solar power today or not. With the lower cost cookers made of cardboard, surprise rain can also damage the cookers severely.
In one of our field projects--in Kakuma, in northwestern Kenya--our field staff kept track of the weather on a daily basis for years and figured there were about 200 sunny days good for solar cooking in that climate. People could reduce their use of combustible fuels by 40% or more annually with that number of sunny days, and the people who learned solar cooking were grateful. They were using the low power, cardboard CooKit type cookers.
Twelve months of sunshine is not a necessary condition for successful solar cooking. But clearly, 300 sunny days per year will enable more fuel savings than 200, and 200 will be better than 120. How does one decide whether the local climate is sunny enough? From an economic point of view, it would depend on the cost of the cookers over their lifetime compared to the amount of fuel they would save over their life time and the price of that fuel. So one can afford to pay more for cooker A compared to cooker B if cooker A lasts sufficiently longer or if it saves more fuel. Also, one can pay more for cookers and still save money on fuel costs in places where fuel prices are higher.
The question becomes very local. How much sun do I get, at what time of the day, when do I cook, how many people do I cook for at once, how much does cooking fuel cost?
As far as I know, there is no definitive science that tells us the cost/benefit ratios for the many different variations on solar cookers that exist today, nor can it be said that cooker X is definitely best for this climate or that economic niche. A process of discovery is gradually unfolding. Making choices for your project will not be fool-proof, but familiarity with local conditions, habits and attitudes coupled with reasoning and gathering feedback from a variety of sources should help. Also, it would be great to talk to the people who will be doing the cooking to find out how they feel about switching to a new system and what sort of system they would want.
When one thinks of cooking in Ethiopia, one thinks immediately of njera bread, which must be cooked with fairly high heat. If the ethnic groups you work with are not eating an njera-based diet, then you probably don't have a problem--but if njera is a staple, then you will need to be sure that your cooking system can handle it. Open "panel cookers" like SCI's CooKit are not njera-friendly, and neither are the simpler, home-made box cookers. Parabolic cookers should be able to cook njera. I would think the Scheffler reflector system would have no problem making njera bread, but I think I would double check with the designers and be sure to include temperatures suitable for njera when you discuss your specifications for what you want. The type of fluid (and its particular boiling point) that circulates carrying heat in a Scheffler system could make an important difference in the maximum cooking temperatures you could get, and therefore those desired temperatures would be something to discuss with designers of Scheffler type systems.
Availability of materials
- Cardboard: Locally produced cardboard is available, but it is of very poor quality.
- Aluminum foil: Needs to be imported.
- Plastic bags: Heat-resistant bags are produced locally.
See Solar Bereket for more information on obtaining these materials.
- A detailed discussion of the energy situation in Ethiopia - HOAREC/N
- The foods of Ethiopia
- Discussion of eastern Africa's suitability for solar cooking
- Solar cooker dissemination and cultural variables
- Baking Injera - Stichting Solar Cooking Nederland
- Injerra high temperature Solar Cookers for Ethiopia, a Preliminary Review- Arnold Leufkens and Clara Thomas (SCN)
- A comprehensive guide to solar cooking produced by Solar Cooking Foundation the Netherlands is now available. Included are sections on the use of the solar CooKit oven, a water pasteurization instrument(WAPI), a heat retention cooking basket, and also information on cooking for a six person household. See more information at: Integrated Sustainable Solar Cooking
- The final evaluation report of the Solar Cookers International solar cooking program in the Ashai refugee camp
- Lasting Impacts of Solar Cooking Projects in Ethiopia - Melanie Szulczewski, Ph. D.
- First Recording of ISSC Project Essentials and Proceedings, a review of completed projects by SCN in various African countries.
Audio and video
- January 2010: