News and Recent Developments
- April 2007: Solar Household Energy, Inc.'s partners in El Salvador and Guatemala are currently implementing HotPot solar cooking pilot programs. One partner organization was so excited about the project that they initiated a technology exchange between local communities to spread the word about solar cooking! To read more go to http://www.she-inc.org/projects-2.php
- Fall 2006: Currently, arrangements for shipment of HotPots to Guatemala are in the final stages. In early 2007, SHE’s formal training and follow-up programs will begin in four communities throughout rural areas in Guatemala. After the initial trainings, the in-country NGOs will continue training sessions and begin HotPot solar oven use monitoring. The initial pilot phase will last one year and will include 300 women.
The History of Solar Cooking in Guatemala
The Central American Solar Energy Project (CASEP) includes projects in five Central American countries. The model is explained in more detail here, as Guatemala was one of the first projects; others have developed in similar manner, with minor differences for specific cultural, economic or ecological reasons. The model is based on a number of assumptions, including the need to shift from fuelwood and health problems involved with indoor air pollution. But other aspects of the model are unique to CASEP and need to be stressed. One relates to the assumption that innovations introduced by foreigners, who leave after the initial dissemination of information, are not likely to be sustained by local people. The process therefore carefully assesses suitability in a lengthy trial period, designed to assess the technology, the climate, and, most importantly, local interest in the potential offered by solar cooking devices. Public demonstrations of solar cooking are carried on and ovens are loaned to families for trial periods, in order to be certain of suitability and interest. Only when those have been carried out for a period of up to six months does the workshop, the heart of the effort, take place. In the workshops, teams of women (based on the assumption that since they are the cooks, they should be the students) are taught how to make their own ovens. They work collaboratively and continue until ovens have been completed for all team members. The ovens are expensive (around $100 or more) since materials are purchased locally to be certain that the project can easily be duplicated in other parts of the country. An extended period of follow up occurs after the workshops, with experienced cooks visiting each new user to encourage and help solve any problems with the new method of food preparation. This period can last for a year or more. Each recipient of a stove signs an agreement that they will return the stove if they do not find it useful, or if they move to a different locale. Each also agrees from the beginning that she will work cooperatively with others in the making of ovens until all participants are equipped with an oven for their family. In a larger sense, the introduction of solar ovens is conceptualized as but one part of a much larger community and national development effort, in which individuals and families are both personally empowered by the experience and materially aided, while families and their collective environs are protected.
Beyond the activity described, each of the projects was assisted until the time when it became able to achieve an independent status in its country, i.e., finding the necessary local funding to continue the work and create a non-profit governing group, indigenous to the nation. Each NGO is legally and fiscally independent, with its own board and procedures, but with CASEP (U.S. based) acting as backup and advisor when called upon. From the national organizations, new community projects have followed in many parts of each country. Each of the national projects is slightly different; linkages exist largely for exchange of information and encouragement to one another rather than to insure uniformity or to conform to group regulations.
This large and well-organized project has drawn considerable attention to solar cooking in the Central American region. A number of overseas volunteers have worked for short or long periods, as technical and communication advisors. However, the special genius of CASEP is the degree to which the affiliates exercise true ownership of their project, adapting it to the specific needs of their own country, and administering activities in manner appropriate to their particular circumstances. In total, more than 1500 solar ovens have been introduced by these separate but linked organizations in the period since 1986 when the work of CASEP began in Guatemala (Varese, p. 97).
Another project of note in Guatemala was one sponsored by the New Forests Project, a Washington, D.C., and organization. The project occurred in the early 1990s on the south coast of Guatemala, working collaboratively with the National Association of Peasant Farmers for Land (ANACAMPRO). Two women trainers from Honduras, members of the organization for the Entrepreneurial Development of Women (ODEF) in that country, participated in the training of representatives of Guatemalan NGOs. They estimated that around 850 people participated in over 60 demonstrations held in six communities in the area. Solar cooking training was provided to 180 people at a New Forest Project (NFP) training center.
THE NFP method utilized leaders from community organizations, preferably women, as trainers. They held demonstrations widely, and then offered specific and detailed training to those who were interested. Following the training, an intensive period of follow-up was employed.
NFP also made a careful examination of obstacles. They found the following to be barriers which required careful thought to overcome: cultural resistance to change, cost of the cookers (around $46); and climatic-factors such as humidity (affecting the cardboard cooker they used). Programs, which followed, made attempts to deal with the obstacles by hiring community promoters/extension workers to educate users, the use of partial subsidies of the cookers, and testing other materials for the cooker (See Costa Rica). No recent news of this project has been located; reports indicate that it was suspended some years ago.
Climate, Culture, and Special Considerations
Possible funders for solar cooking projects in Guatemala
- July 2003: Thermal Efficiency and Fuel Use of Cookstoves - Yu Kuwabara
Articles in the media
- November 2011: Saving Lives with Clean Cookstoves in Guatemala - Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves
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