Solar Cookers World Network

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Eldoret, Kenya students 2010

Eldoret, Kenya students with their recently constructed solar panel cookers.

  • February 2011: Student success shows independent spread of solar cooking - The Eldoret Student Projects in Kenya, spearheaded by Camily Wedende of Sun Cookers International, and aided by long-distance advisor, Sharon Cousins, of Solar Cookers International, have taken an important step in that spread with a student team who not only learned how to cook with sunshine but also learned to take a creative and scientific approach to solar cooking. Students researched existing solar cookers on the Solar Cookers World Network site. They put their heads together and came up with new ideas to try. They performed comparative tests on an existing model and two of their prototypes. While all three reached cooking temperatures, one innovation showed the strongest performance at their location. All twenty students built durable solar panel cookers to take home to the camps where they live, and have been using them to prepare food and provide water pasteurization for their families. They keep records of their progress and experiments, amazing the neighbors who stop by to see food cooking in a stove powered by sunshine, a stove that children in their community helped to invent. Camily and the team hope that other schools and clubs can use the example of their pilot project to help more youth become scientists for solar cooking, to aid in the spread of this bright idea whose time has come.
  • January 2011: African solar cooking partnership project visited by Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the U.S. Vice President. Lift Up Africa is a strong believer that partnering and sharing resources is a key to successful implementation and sustainability. This project was designed to introduce solar cooking and related technologies to ten communities in Kenya. The partnership relied on Africa HEART, a Kenyan-based NGO recently visited by Vice President Biden’s wife Dr. Jill Biden, to identify three community groups in each district, the fifty trainees in each community, and training venues. Africa Heart covered expenses and handling logistics related to transport for the solar cooking equipment, distribution venues, and follow-up on usage and other needs. Solar Cookers International East Africa Office (SCI-EA) provided the trainers and supplies, written reports, and conducted the training. Lift Up Africa provided a grant to cover direct expenses related to equipment purchase and SCI-EA’s travel, partnership connections, and worked with Africa Heart on follow-up and project evaluation. This project was a success and 150 families, approximately 1,200 people, have benefitted from their new training and solar cooking equipment. This project demonstrates the value of independent organizations working together, each providing their area of expertise, to achieve substantial results. Hopefully, this will be a continuing pattern for projects initiated by members of the Solar Cookers World Network.
Global Roots Kenya 2010 1

Global Roots in Kenya 2010

Global Roots Keya 2010 2

Global Roots in Kenya 2010

  • September 2010: The necessary fund having been raised by project consultant Sharon Cousins and transferred to Kenya, Camily Wedende and the student team of the pilot project for Eldoret Student Projects are busily constructing the new model of solar panel cooker that is the result of the team's research and experiments. Each student will be taking a Panel Stove Cooker home to the camps where they live, where the cookers will be used to improve the lives of their families, and where the students will continue to keep records of their progress. Mr. Wedende promises more photos soon, and reports that, "It's a wonderful project!"
  • August 2010: A year in review included a number of solar cooking and water purification activities within Kenya, done by Global Roots in partnership with Solar Cookers International. Training occurred in five communities with 85 individuals. See more details..
  • July 2010: Awareness is rising amongst the residents of Machakos District, in the Eastern Province of Kenya. that one can cook using direct solar energy. In July, during the annual agricultural fair, the Mayor of Machakos witnessed the sun cooking and tasted the food, he exclaimed; “Wonders will never cease - you mean to tell us that all these foods were cooked out here in the sun without any fire or smoke!?” “Definitely Sir.” replied Stella, the Solar Cookers International project Officer of the province. The guest of Honor was the Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Mututho, who on seeing the cooked food said “This would be very brilliant for the IDPs in Naivasha who are causing havoc on the environment.”
Geting ready to count jane nyamboks savings of 2&half months kshs.2060.00

Jane Nyambok getting ready to count her savings

  • July 2010: Solar Cookers International (SCI) is working in collaboration with Practical Action in the Kadibo region of Kenya considered to have a total service area population of 49,000. The project description as concerns SCI in agreement with US-EPA is to increase market access to clean cooking technologies (solar cookers, Upesi Stove, fireless cookers) for health and wealth in rural, Kadibo Division of Nyanza province, Kenya. One of the participants, Jane Nyambok, saved all the money she would have spent on fuel for 3 months. She saved her money faithfully, in her words she "wanted to prove it to myself that using the interventions is for “health and wealth” as it said in the fliers." The interventions are the solar cooking technologies. Jane saved Kshs. 2,060! This is the equivelant to $25.42 US dollars. Jane publiclly counted her saving to show everyone just how using clean cooking technologies gave her wealth! "Everyone clapped; others had their hands in their mouths with faces of utter marvel!!! What could I do with the money – many things but one returning it into the tin! I thought of paying back a loan, but no, of shopping with it but no, of sending some to my mother but no….. for the first time had money that I could make a decision on. Wow!"
Kenya Solar Concentrator

Peter Mwathi with the Kenya Solar Concentrator

  • June 2010: Peter Mwathi is shown demonstrating his creation, the Kenya Solar Concentrator. Peter is an agricultural economist as well as solar inventor. He sees a market for this design with local farmers. It will help facilitate the sterilization of soil before the planting of seedlings. Currently, wood fires are set on top of the soil, creating air pollution and depleting the limited timber resouce.
Food tasting in Kenya

Children in line to taste food. Solar Cookers International

CAMILY food tasting photo

Everybody enjoys food cooked by the sunshine. Solar Cookers International

HARMONY parabolic cooker
  • May 2010 Camily Wedende, of Sun Cookers International, and Sharon Cousins, of Solar Cookers International, began a small pilot project involving middle/secondary age students at a school in Eldoret, Kenya. When approached by Camily for advice on solar cooking projects with school children, Sharon encouraged a simple scientific approach, so that students can learn to experiment and observe critically and innovate as well as learning the skill of solar cooking. With Camily to help and advise them, students helped with construction, experimentation, and comparison observations that involved three types of solar cookers: a CooKit, a bowl/basin type cooker with a small vertical reflector, and a variation that Camily and the students came up with for Sharon's invention the EZ-3 Solar Cooker. Now, having experimented and compared, 20 enthusiastic students have chosen the model they would like to construct to take home—the variation on the EZ-3— if a small fund can be arranged for materials. In recognition of the work the students have done in helping with model development and comparison tests, Sharon is trying to raise the needed resources. Sharon says, "We are under-utilizing the power of young people in spreading the good news about solar cooking and making it more accessible. These twenty special young people are showing the whole world that young people can make a big difference. I am proud of them all and grateful to Camily Wedende for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this special solar cooking science project."
  • April 2010: Seat Partnership Foundation support of the HARMONY Center in Kenya - in Malava village, near the Kakamega forest our associates coodinated with the local governmental organization to build the HARMONY awareness center The project is to contribute to solving the energy crisis in western Kenya due to population growth and inefficient use of natural resources. Along with promoting the planting of trees is necessary to teach the villagers to reduce the consumption of wood for cooking, because cooking is still commonplace on fire with three stones. We therefore support the production and use of clay stoves and solar cookers. It currently offers local people the center HARMONY solar cookers, clay ovens with low consumption of firewood as well as advice on how to fertilizing the soil and tree planting.
Nairobi cooking demonstration 3-09

Solar Cookers International demonstration in Nairobi

  • March 2009: As Solar Cookers International (SCI) expands its reach in eastern Africa and beyond, it must grow and strengthen its collaborations with community-based and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), as well as governmental entities. During a trip to eastern Africa in January Karyn Ellis was fortunate to meet with a number of like-minded organizations, nurturing valuable relationships in SCI’s efforts to expand its influence in the Lake Victoria region. She also met extensively with SCI’s Nairobi staff, led by Margaret Owino, about goals for the year and plans for project expansion out of SCI’s new Kenya offices in Kisumu, Kakamega and Machakos. While in Nairobi I attended two inspiring solar cooking demonstrations: the first was in the Kangemi slum outside Nairobi, where children from the Hamomi Children’s Centre were served a solar lunch — their first lunch in many months; the second was for a women’s group in the new SCI community of Machakos, where young mothers learned to use the sun to cook food and save money normally spent on cooking fuel.
Dusty Breeding1

Dusty Breeding, with a high-capacity Villager Sun Oven®

  • March 2009: Indiana native Dusty Breeding first visited Africa in 2006, working with orphans and other malnourished children. He was so moved by the heartbreaking conditions he experienced that he decided to put his culinary arts background to use to help the children learn to bake bread for their own nourishment and to help lift themselves out of poverty. The nonprofit organization Breeding founded, LifeBread, Inc., is dedicated to empowering the people of impoverished nations through nutritional education and food preparation training as a means to curb the severity of world hunger. Breeding is enthusiastic about the use of solar ovens in his programs, and hopes to eventually equip an orphanage with a large commercial model capable of baking 400 loaves of bread daily. During one trip to Uganda, Breeding planned to use a solar oven made out of a 50-gallon drum to help students bake rolls for 200 campers.
AVIF Volunteers in Kenya - February 2009
  • February 2009: The photo on the right shows a community group in the Siaya District of western Kenya that just had a demo by the Solar Cookers International East Africa Office. The demo was given in a local market place with local authority figures present and these wonderful "guardians" of nearly 350 orphans.
Amani Solutions Kenya November 2008

Henry Ogola Oloo (left) explains solar cooking to a cultural group in Kiberia, Kenya

  • November 2008: The Amani Solution Self Help Group began promoting solar cookers in mid-2006 through a series of seminars and demonstrations they conducted in and around Nairobi, including Kiberia and Waithaka. The group had been producing two to three wooden solar box cookers per month, but it has struggled to keep up with demand. Coordinator Henry Ogola Oloo says the group was inspired and moved by four orphans whose parents had died in a car accident. The eldest child, 14-year-old Apiyo, is responsible for cooking for her younger brothers and sisters. The Amani Solution Self Help Group donated a solar cooker to the family, taught them how to use it, and have been monitoring its use and the family’s progress. “It is wonderful and very much different,” says Oloo. “The children say ‘It is just as when our mother was alive. We eat our lunch early and go back to school. Even our supper we eat as early as 7 p.m.’” Prior to owning a solar cooker, the children had to gather firewood before they could begin cooking, delaying their evening meal until about 10 p.m.
  • June 2008: Solar Cookers International (SCI) has begun the Safe Water Project in Kenya led by SCI founder and board president Dr. Bob Metcalf, a professor of Biological Sciences at California State University, Sacramento. Bob’s development of a Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML) will allow rural health workers and community members to test water quality in the field by assessing levels of Escherichia coli contamination. The revolutionary PML can be used anywhere by practically anyone, and it will liberate government ministries in charge of water analysis who have had difficulties gauging water quality in rural areas due to travel limitations and technical expenses. Anticipated outcomes from the project include significant reductions in the incidence of waterborne diseases in over 20 communities, and broader community awareness of simple and effective water testing and water pasteurization techniques. A training was begun in June 2008 with officials and representatives from the Kenya Water Resources Management Authority and the Kenya Ministry of Health. This is the first time that these two government ministries have collaborated on a project like this, and we are thrilled to have their participation and support. Major funding for this program has come from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, for which we are very grateful! See August 2008 article in Solar Cooker Review. A photo blog of this project is also available.
Earth Vision
  • March 2008: Catherine Scott’s documentary film SUNCOOKERS, about Solar Cookers International’s efforts to spread solar cooking and solar water pasteurization in Kenya, won the alternative energy category at the 2008 EarthVision International Environmental Film Festival in Santa Cruz, California. Organizers state that the festival “seeks to raise consciousness about environmental issues, educate people and mobilize support. The films … instill concern for the issues they raise, and they seed enthusiasm for change in the audience. The festival encourages filmmakers to continue with their hard work, while providing a venue in which they can witness their accomplishments being celebrated.” More than 5,000 people have attended the events and screenings. Winning films are also shown throughout the year on community television, available to tens of thousands of households.
Culinary Institute of Africa Sudan 2008

Students at the Culinary Institute of Africa can add another skill to their resume: solar cook

  • March 2008: Louise Meyer reports on a group of internally displaced persons that are students at the Culinary Institute of Africa. As part of their curriculum they are learning how to solar cook. Meyer sent photographs of several students taking “Masters of Solar Cooking” classes at the Institute’s school in Juba, Sudan. Based in Lokichoggio, Kenya, the non-profit Culinary Institute of Africa is a community service division of the AFEX Group, which provides a number of management and catering services to camps throughout Kenya, Sudan, and elsewhere. The Institute began in 2004 when Terry Light, chief operating officer of AFEX, asked Nancy Crooks to train local Turkana with skills that could gain them employment at various camps and other institutions in the region. With technical assistance from Solar Cookers International (SCI), Crooks was able to incorporate solar cooker use and construction into the curriculum. The Institute offers an accredited, professional culinary education leading to a diploma in food production. SCI also provided training services and helped Crooks secure funding from the Lift Up Africa organization for a solar cooker project to teach Turkana women how to make and use solar cookers, heat-retention devices, and Water Pasteurization Indicators (WAPIs), as well as start a small solar cooker shop.
Davis Sud 2008
  • March 2008: Princeton University’s informal motto ends “… in the Service of All Nations,” an ideal being pursued by two undergraduate engineering students spreading solar cooking skills in Kenya and beyond. In 2005, Ishani Sud and Julianne Davis traveled to Laikipia, Kenya to introduce solar box cookers designed by Sud and classmate Lauren Wang, and to build solar cookers with appropriate local materials. To facilitate technology transfer, Sud and Davis chose to work with primary school students and hold special events to spark interest with parents. Covering topics in science, conservation and renewable energy, Davis taught elementary students in the Mpala Research Centre school, while Sud taught middle school students at the Lekiji public school. Lessons for the older students included a series of experiments, such as comparing black metal and white metal temperatures when exposed to sun, that helped them understand how solar cookers work and select appropriate construction materials. The locally available materials chosen for these cookers were Cyprus wood, aluminum sheet metal, glass, and black cloth as a box liner to absorb sunlight. Time was set aside each week for students to work on constructing their own solar cooker. More recently, Sud has returned to Kenya to continue her work on the project, and has launched a similar project at the Aang Serian school in Monduli, Tanzania.
  • November 2007: Camily Wedende, of Eldoret, Kenya, received a grant from Spirit in Action in support of his solar cooker shop. Wedende builds and sells durable plywood solar box cookers, and stocks various solar cooking supplies such as pots and instruction manuals in his shop. He also conducts solar cooking demonstrations and gives out samples.
  • July 2007: Solar Health and Education Project (SHEP) reports holding workshops in both Zambia and Kenya for newly trained teachers preparing to go to remote villages on assignment. The workshops were five days long. The first day was used for basic education about solar cooking and solar water pasteurization, while the other four days were used to practice and implement solar cooking skills. The 70 participants all built their own solar cookers. Based on the success of these workshops two more have already been scheduled. SHEP has developed a relationship with Tetra Pak International — manufacturer of aseptic drink containers — whereby SHEP uses Tetra Pak’s excess foil-lined paper for solar cooker construction. (The foil-lined paper is printed in wide rolls, sometimes resulting in excess material begin generated.) According to SHEP, Tetra Pak is willing to accept proposals from other nongovernmental organizations that may want to use the reflective material as long as the material will be used for workshop participants to construct solar cookers.
Sun Fire Cooking January 2007
  • April 2007: Representatives of Sun Fire Cooking attended January’s World Social Forum in Nairobi, where they organized a group of activists to plan a three-part campaign of education, mobilization and networking for solar cooking. Sun Fire plans to open a solar cooking promotion center in Nairobi with support from Horn Relief, a nonprofit organization in Somalia. Meanwhile, Sun Fire Cooking continues its work spreading solar cooking in Puntland, Somalia, and plans to expand to the Hargeisa area. The organization also has experience in Djibouti, having sold 25 solar cookers there. Contact: Jim Lindsay
ALTENER kenya1

The staff of the Mathare Community Outreach organization discover solar cooking at the AltEner Energy Technologies demonstration center in Nairobi

  • November 2006: Based in Nairobi, AltEner is a "business with a philosophy" that promotes renewable energy and delivers custom solar energy solutions. In addition to solar cooking, the company works in the fields of solar water heating, solar electricity, wind energy, and energy planning and management. AltEner has installed large scale, concentrator-type cooking systems, based on the Scheffler community kitchen concept, in several countries. The company can also design high temperature trough solar cooking systems. Charles Onyango-Oloo, the principle force behind AltEner, wrote an interesting paper titled "The Special Challenges of Solar Cooking." In his paper, Onyango-Oloo urges solar cooking promoters to endorse a mix of technologies instead of only one type of cooker. "Because technology can be intimidating to the uninitiated, the technological simplicity or sophistication of the solar cooker should match the background of the prospective user as closely as possible to avoid ‘socio-technologic disconnect.’… Where promoters of particular technologies aim to justify their choices by playing down the role of other technologies in the appropriate technological matrix, the end result usually is an overall loss of faith in the entire process of solar cooking amongst the intended beneficiaries." Onyango-Oloo’s paper also urges that projects be designed in phases, so that lessons learned in early stages can be applied to later stages as the project grows. Contact: AltEner Energy Technologies, P.O. Box 8876-00300, Nairobi, Kenya. Tel: +254 721-727830, e-mail:
  • June 2006: Solar Household Energy, Inc.'s Director of Programs for Latin America and East Africa, Camille McCarthy, traveled to Kenya and Tanzania to meet with governmental agencies, NGOs, and private sector representatives to explore the feasibility of cooperative solar cooking ventures. Many groups expressed interest in SHE pilot solar cooking projects. SHE expects to conduct initial solar cooking training, marketing and sales projects in Kenya and Tanzania in early 2007.

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