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Hard-won lessons

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Solar cooking integrated into village life

How solar cooking can integrate into village life

Longtime Solar Cookers International information exchange specialist Ramon Coyle advises that it is best to focus on small goals and accomplish them with great intensity. It is better to drive one nail all the way into the wood than to only scratch the surface with ten nails. It is better to plant one tree and nurture it to full growth than to plant a hundred trees that wither away quickly in the dry season. Applied to solar cooker promotion, these comparisons suggest a few other ideas:

  • It is better to take the time to teach one woman to become an expert solar cooker user who makes great solar cooked food, than to demonstrate solar cooking to 10 government officials who will nod their heads in agreement but never do anything with the idea.
  • It is better to show one skilled handyman or handywoman or carpenter how to make usable solar cookers, than to demonstrate the concept to 300 people who won't be able to make use of the concept because they have no solar cookers and no one to teach them how to use one.
  • It is better to make sure that one new solar cook learns all that is needed to make good use of a solar cooker and to gain practice and confidence in using it, than to give brief lessons to ten solar cooks who might later give up on solar cooking at the first obstacle or setback.

Solar Cookers International former East Africa Office in Nairobi, Kenya recommends:

  • You may need to be a little cautious as it looks so urgent - yet people's initial magical enthusiasm dies off and they go back to their old ways - so initiating solar cooking projects require a long term commitment and funds, to undertake training and follow - up so that the practice and skill is instilled in the beneficiaries.
  • You may also need to familiarize yourself with some basic knowledge of the people and their felt needs - they may not be placing a new cooking technology as their first choice given a chance to prioritize.
  • The peoples diets and cooking times may need to be considered - solar cooking is slow and may not always suit some cultures.
  • It costs approximately $40 to put a solar cooker in the hands of a family - this may guide you in your funding quest.
  • Finally, I feel what you feel that there is need to assist these communities, so do not feel discouraged with the issues above - the greater the challenge the more exciting the success!

See also The Special Challenges of Solar Cooking.

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