March 2011:Solar Household Energy (SHE) was commissioned to test acceptance of the HotPot solar oven in the Gaga Refugee Camp in eastern Chad. It shelters 20,000 people from Darfur in Western Sudan. Patrick Fourrier, a French solar cooking expert affiliated with Bolivia Inti Sud Soleil, completed the first phase of the project last month. He will also ensure that local support systems set in place to encourage continued use of the solar ovens are working effectively. Meanwhile, SHE has begun a cooperative relationship with Grupo Jaragua, a highly respected non-governmental organization in the Dominican Republic, to support a solar cooking initiative. Grupo Jaragua is aided by a Dominican eco-tourism and solar cooking advocate El Fuego del Sol, which conducts the local assembly and subsidized sale of Sun Oven box cookers in rural communities near the Haitian border. They are also supporting The Nature Conservancy’s office in the Dominican Republic to add the integrated cooking method as a component of their reforestation project in Haiti, and working to expand the solar cooking promotion efforts it undertook in Mexico with the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature (FMCN) begun in 2004. On the public education front, SHE founding director Dar Curtis is participating as a contributing member of the Technology and Fuels Working Group of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. This alliance of governments, corporations and non-profits is promoting cleaner cooking solutions than the open cooking fires and inefficient cookstoves used by three billion people around the world. Read more in the SHE spring update 2011.
April 2010:Kevin Adair hopes to distribute an additional 300 Global Sun Ovens in the Dominican Republic and Haiti by mid-2010 (photo: Kevin Adair) While shuttling between jobs at a number of resorts in the Dominican Republic, entertainer Kevin Adair witnessed the daily struggles many women go through to collect cooking fuel and the health problems incurred by them and their children due to continuously breathing in smoke from cooking fires. Adair also sensed that the resort vacationers he was entertaining were not being offered opportunities to really experience the people, culture, history, and food of the Dominican Republic. Adair began to address these issues in 2005 when he purchased 40 acres of lush land near Higuey, Altagracia, and formed El Fuego del Sol — a “GeoTourism EcoVillage” that offers alternative travel experiences for individuals and groups looking to delve a bit deeper into the geographical character of the area and its people in an ecologically sustainable way. Partnering with Sun Ovens International, Adair opened Force of the Sun, a Global Sun Oven® manufacturing facility that serves the Dominican Republic and Haiti while providing local jobs that meet fair-trade standards. Visitors to El Fuego del Sol are served traditional meals cooked using a non-traditional fuel source — the sun. They not only taste how wonderful solar-cooked food can be, but also learn about the many health, economic, and environmental benefits of solar cooker use in the region. A requirement of staying at the center is the purchase of a Sun Oven that will be made available to a development organization or a local family in need. In 2007, to expand the reach of this solar cooker distribution program, Force of the Sun began working with Grupo Jaragua, a Dominican nonprofit organization that operates a number of community centers. They developed and continue to use a solar cooker training and purchasing system that involves subsidies and/or volunteer credits. Before a family can purchase or earn a solar cooker, they must learn to use it and cook several meals at the community center. According to Adair, potential solar cooker recipient families must “first cook with the Sun Ovens, preparing food for other volunteers, and do additional community service. … This keeps the Sun Oven from being taken for granted, and familiarizes the recipient with solar cooking techniques well in advance of their receiving a Sun Oven.” Next, a reasonable price is set for the subsidized solar cookers. Families are given the opportunity to lower that initial price by keeping a month-long log of wood and propane cooking fuel purchases. A payment plan is then established, wherein the families receive their solar cookers, and pay a weekly amount that is less than the amount of money saved in cooking fuel costs. If the family continues to log fuel purchases, along with solar cooker use, they can submit the journals for additional credits towards the purchase price based on the number of months tracked. The purchase price is further reduced or even waived by volunteering at the community center through activities like reading to children or planting trees. All family members can volunteer, but the men are especially encouraged to participate because they have been shown in this project to be the most hesitant. By requiring that community center meals be cooked with Sun Ovens whenever possible, families that volunteer become accustomed to the food and the solar cooking process. Volunteering to cook at the community center is a great way for families to become familiar with the technology and earn a Sun Oven. Using this distribution model, Adair hopes to provide an additional 300 Sun Ovens by mid-2010. Visit http://www.elFuegodelSol.com to learn how to buy a Sun Oven for a Dominican or Haitian family & Buy a Sun Oven of your own.